Why chuck it all and travel?
If we hadn't moved to London, I can't imagine that we'd be doing this. We met a lot of people who had traveled and somehow taking the time off to travel ourselves became a dream of ours.
Without work, we have alot of time to think. We both find that we're remembering things from our gradeschool and highschool years. Maybe it's been that we've run across alot of music from 20-30 years ago or maybe it is because we have so much time on our hands. Whatever the reason, here are some of our observations, opinions, ideas.
Tara: I really want to add up the number of different beds we'll have
slept in since our bed went into storage in June of 2000!
I also notice different bedding arrangements in different regions. For example, I really like a single comforter/no sheet in Scandinavia & Germany, but I didn't care for a single pillow in Spain & Andorra (except for Barcelona)
Scandinavia had exposed plumbing in even the most modern of bathrooms. I wonder why they don't put it into the walls?
I'm happy to fix little things in places we stay that I like. For example: kitchen sink flow in Murnau, toilet pull robe in Pisa, shower head rubber ring in Nice, train ladder Milan to Munich, bathtub plug in Sort. Remembering my ma fixing the heater on the train from Chi to NY.
Toilets of Europe - no squat ones yet - push this button, big flush/little flush, sharing is no problem, turn the handle on the wall and it flushes until you turn it back - pull up on a knob in the top center, flush by pushing down a knob on the upper right (like America), pump the knob on the upper right (ie. Kelly and proper flushign tequinique). Pull a cord hanging down from a tank suspended above - step on a button on the floor - step on a pedal near the floor. etc. etc.
The instant "add water" and you have a yummy meal food in Murnau
1970's music in Murnau.
We really enjoyed the 3 nights we spent with Bob & Eileen on Salt Spring Island. It was our favorite since it was so relaxing to do nothing more strenuous than go into town for Dairy Queen on Tuesday so that Eileen could get chocolate ice cream.
The night in San Marino was also very special since being ontop of an old-fashioned hill town totally surrounded by fog was kool!
Tara really, really, really, really was excited when she reached Ottestad, Norway (where her grandparents lived).
She also was extremely happy with her German class at The Goethe Institute in Murnau.
We both really enjoyed our time spent with family and friends over the holidays.
Three weeks in Japan was not nearly enough!
The Palm Grove Lodge on Rarotonga in the Cook Islands was our idea of paradise!
Easter Island was kooler than we even imagined. Giant, mysterious statues
in GORGEOUS scenery.
Credit card separations occured:
Once in Stockholm - Seth had put the whole wallet of cards ontop of a kitchen cabinet in the small studio apartment we were renting. He put them up there for "safekeeping" so that they couldn't be found easily if someone broke into our room. Well, we left the apartment (sans credit card wallet), slept the night on a train heading North, woke up in the morning and were eating breakfast when Seth said "Did I bring the credit cards with me?" We hadn't - so we called the apartment landlord, she found them ontop of the kitchen cabinet for us and kept them for the next 3 or 4 weeks while wetravelled around Scotland. We did have one credit card with us at least in our pants pocket.
Again in Florence - I'd paid for a hotel booking at Tourist Information in the train station with my credit card after a long night on a night train. I was eating breakfast in a nearby little cafe when all of a sudden it hit me - they hadn't given me my credit card back. We rushed back to the train station and they had the card. Total separation time = about 1 or 1.5 hours.
Again in Papeete - I'd paid for a night in the Royal Papeete Hotel (the
dump where we found a sausage under the bed) with my credit card. Then
we went to Easter Island, came back from Easter Island and went to Bora
Bora. The morning after our first night in Bora Bora, I tried to pay for
the hotel room. I couldn't find my credit card. Thereafter ensued a massize
search through both of our bags. Halfway through the search, I found the
receipt from the Royal Papeete Hotel and figured that was the last place
I'd used the card. I rung them up and sure enough, the card was there.
Another case of the merchant probably not handing me back my card. This
separation stoyr though is classic since it took me more than 10 days to
even realize that I no longer had my credit card!!
In the first 365 days of travelů
Continents visited: 4
Countries visited: 28
Beds slept in: 118 (10 of which were in motion as we slept)
Flights flown: 48
Airports visited: 35
Trains traveled: 86
Buses ridden: 23
Cars driven: 16
Boats sailed: 17
Campervans driven: 1
Ambulances ridden: 1
Greatest number of books carried with us at once: 19
Left/Misplaced/Lost Items: 7 (1 pair Seth's underwear, 2 pair Tara's underw=
ear, 1 pair shorts, 1 sunglasses, 1 clock battery cover, 1 Scandinavian/New =
Zealand plug adapter)
Number of times our credit cards have been left behind and recovered: 3
If you dream of taking time off of work to travel ----- DO IT! We do not regret for one minute that we've left our jobs. Preparing to 'chuck-it-all', take a year off and travel was relatively easy for us since we've been planning our trip for a long
time. We actually started saving money for what was to become this trip as soon as we paid off our credit card debt in 1996.
Read as much as you can from others who have taken time off:
We used Mark Brosius' http://www.travel-library.com/rtw/html/ Round-The-World Travel Guide primarily. We've printed out the 'Planning & Prepration' pages, read through each point and noted down which month it should be done in and are working by that original schedule. Plus, we bought two useful books: The Practical Nomad and World Stompers.
Make "To Do Lists" months before you leave with a time scale of when
each item should be done plus a priority:
We made our lists about four months before we planned to leave and assigned each item to either Seth or Tara. As the time to July 9th approached, we either got things done or decided they weren't critical to have done before we left. We did end up schlepping a bunch of papers with us since some things that would bring in money for us didn't get done before we left (ie. expense accounts from work, health insurance claim forms). We also brought along some things that were just added, unnecessary weight (ie. make-your-own will papers & hand written addresses to turn into an electronic list).
Organize your belonging before you store them
While we travel, we are storing our belongings and there has been alot of preparation towards that goal - especially since
when we moved from London to Tokyo we took the path of least resistence and had EVERYTHING packed up. For many weekends leading up to our year off, Tara looked through old photos, old clothes, old appliances, old books etc. etc. Over the course of six months, we organized enough to be confident about what we were going to give away, put in storage and keep at our parent's house for extra safe-keeping (or things we'd need access to on our year off, but weren't going to carry along with us). Carrying our books into work to give away in small bunches worked well. We also had a final "come over to our house and take anything you want from this corner" pre-leaving open house.
Try to keep your travel schedule and destinations flexible
This was hard for Tara. She likes to plan things. But in the end, even she came around to the 'last-minute is better' way of thinking. We enjoyed the times when we had flexible travel plans much more than when we had pre-booked frequent flier tickets. It was true that having frequent flier tickets enabled us to visit many more places than we would have otherwise, but we think that we would have enjoyed our time more if we hadn't know when we had to leave a place. This was especially true throughout the tropical pacific islands when it took two or three tries to find a hotel we preferred. It seemed that by the time we'd found a hotel we really liked, we had a ticket to fly out. After our experiences, we are now willing to pay more in order to have flexibility. One of the things we relished about our time off was no commitments. And after three months of pre-planned, pre-booked frequent flier flights, even Tara really started to realize how much a non-changeable ticket is a commitment.
Pack Less Rather Than More
This is what Tara remembers packing for "Phase I" of our trip from July 2000 to January 2001.
Clothes: plain black T-shirt, white sleeveless shirt, dark grey long sleeved shirt, blue button-up sweatshirt cardigan, red sweater cardigan, jeans, travel kahki pants, dark grey stretchy shorts, kahki many pocketed shorts, dark grey travel shorts, 5 pairs T-back panites, white bikini panties, black bikini panites, thick hiking socks, 2 pairs black socks, 3 pairs white socks, 4 pairs Bras, blue swim suit.
Clothes aquired/lost/gave away/mailed on the road: gave away black wedding shoes to Mike's friend, free 'buckle up California' Tshirt from CHIPS, lost white bikini panites at Chris & Sam's in San Jose, black dress that I wore to Mike's wedding sent to my Ma from O'Hare before going to Europe, lost white panties at Chris & Sam's house in San Jose, lost black bikini panties at Sophie & Alberto's house in Geneva, bought grey Scandinavian wool sweater in Narvik, the swim suit the cleaners took from our room in Imperial College and remembered finding, but then lost again. black with colored stripes Speedo suit purchased.
Shoes: Reva sandals & hiking boots
Others: tropical wrap, hula kitty beach bag, blue shoe bag, white washcloth
Others aquired/lost on the road: took the United blue blanket from the airplane on the way to Europe
red medical bag (bandaids, sewing kit, aspirin, cold medicine, extra pills, replacement head lamp battery)
pink doraemon bag (doraemon alarm clock, head lamp, mag light flashlight, little magnets from Chicago, some APS film rolls)
red toiletries bag (neosporin, extra razor blades, extra contacts, shampoo,
little black toiletries mesh bag (toothpaste, toothbrushes, razor, shampoo packets, small soaps, shaving cream,
Books: LOTS of fiction books - at one time as many as 13 between the two of us!! - Japanese stories book, red diary book
Japanese translator with calculator
extra papers that we didn't have a chance to get to in Chicago: expense report for Chicago househunting, health care reimbursements, do-it-yourself will papers, Arthur Fromer's little black book of hotels
"Phase II" from January 2001 to ??? 2001 - when we packed, we didn't know if we'd be going: Japan, Hong Kong, India, Dubai, Maldives, Singapore OR Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands.
What changed/stayed the same:
Clothes that came along again: plain black T-shirt, white sleeveless shirt, dark grey long sleeved shirt, blue button-up sweatshirt cardigan, red sweater cardigan, jeans (had to buy a larger pair since I'd gained weight), dark grey stretchy shorts, kahki many pocketed shorts, dark grey travel shorts, thick hiking socks, grey Scandinavian wool sweater
Clothes that were left in Columbus, Ohio with Seth's parents and why:
- travel kahki pants (didn't need them. Only one place, Oxford, required non-jeans pants)
- 5 pairs T-back panites, white bikini panties, black bikini panites, 2 pairs black socks, 3 pairs white socks (most of my socks and underwear had seen better days by the end of nearly 6 months constant use)
Clothes/Things that were acquired during Phase II
Skirts in Australia to wear in the Pacific Islands: Paid A$1 for a sarong made of "curtain material" according to Seth. He wouldn't let me wear it. Used brown and white, long skirt for A$1 at Trash & Treasure market; then a 2nd used skirt that was my fanciest piece of clothing at the same market for only A$.50
Utensils (2 forks, 1 knife, 1 spoon) aquired at the same Trash & Treasure market
Doraemon plastic liesure sheet bought in Japan
Doraemon beach bag (Hula Kitty had been left in Columbus at the end of Phase I) since when we left Columbus we didn't know where we'd be travelling.
Black speedo swim suit in Auckland Airport since Hideaway resort, Fiji, pool had ruined the elastic in current suit
Shoes: Reva sandals & hiking boots (kept the same)
Others: tropical wrap(didn't pack again), hula kitty beach bag( didn't pack again), blue shoe bag (kept), white washcloth (kept)
Others aquired/lost on the road: took the United blue blanket from the airplane on the way to Europe (kept)
red medical bag (bandaids, sewing kit, aspirin, cold medicine, extra pills, replacement head lamp battery) - cleaned up and took again
pink doraemon bag (doraemon alarm clock, head lamp, mag light flashlight, little magnets from Chicago, some APS film rolls) -kept the same
red toiletries bag (neosporin, extra razor blades, extra contacts, shampoo) - kept the same
little black toiletries mesh bag (toothpaste, toothbrushes, razor, shampoo packets, small soaps, shaving cream - kep the same, acquired a smaller shampoo bottle from Norma
Books: LOTS of fiction books - at one time as many as 13 between the
two of us!! - Japanese stories book, red diary book
TOO MANY BOOKS. This was Tara's BIG MISTAKE.
Japanese translator with calculator
extra papers that we didn't have a chance to get to in Chicago: expense
report for Chicago househunting, health care reimbursements, do-it-yourself
will papers, Arthur Fromer's little black book of hotels
Extra papers dealt with. Arthur Fromer's book came along.
Acquired: in New Zealand - orange towel rag from Hilton, Hilton 1 bear