With a little over 2 weeks to go until we hit the road, one of my main priorities was to “officially” launch the blog. The posts that I have done to date (only 4 of them) have been so that I could learn how to use the tools and to begin to think of ways to organize the content. Now, with just a few more days to go, it’s time to get moving and go live!
We’re in the home stretch of preparations now, tying up loose ends and finishing out to-do list. Back at end of January I set a schedule with a task or two assigned to each week: update passport photos, get immunizations, rent houses, get notarized letters so that if something happened to Colburn and me, someone could take the kids back to the U.S…..yes, we’re a little paranoid but better safe than sorry. But, the good news is that the vast majority of stuff has been done and we’re just getting the loose ends tied up.
As the academic year wrapped up for each of us, there have been a myriad of social events to attend. At each event, I have found my self answering certain questions again and again from people who are curious as to how we have gone about organizing a year or two on the road. Below are answers to some of the common questions.
- Where are you going? That has yet to be determined. We’re starting off visiting Colburn’s family on the East Coast then heading to Costa Rica and Nicaragua for a vacation. Both countries have very well-developed infrastructure and are well trod tourist destinations. While not a true ‘adventure’, after the past few years, we’re ready for fruity rum drinks on a beach! After our Central American vacation we’re heading to Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, and a smidgen of Chile (Torres del Paine National Park). We’re planning on meeting up with Colburn’s brother (Richard) and his family who live in Buenos Aires for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. After that, we really don’t know. We know we’ll be heading to southern Africa, but not sure where or for how long yet. Realistically, we need to get on the road to see what life is like before we make any big decisions about the future. The analogy that I use is that it is like planning a meal – if you are planning for the one big day, say Thanksgiving perhaps, you can put a lot of effort in to every little detail of the meal. But there is no way you can do that for every day of the year without frying your circuits. Some days you have to go to the pantry and ask, “Well, what do we have? Mac and cheese with hot dogs, great!” Planning for an extended trip is much like that. If you only are going to be gone for a week, or even a month, you can plan every aspect of that trip. However, when you’re gone for a year or more, you just have to take it as it comes.
- Are you booking a lot of tours? No, for the vast majority of situations we prefer to make our own itinerary. I am an obsessive researcher, so I scour the internet for ideas. It is very easy to arrange with the internet.
- How are you getting from place to place? For us, it is a mixture of planes, trains, automobiles, busses, boats, jeeps, donkeys, yaks, camels, etc. No, we’re not sailing around the world (although Colburn did talk about it once – but I was not in favor of the idea since neither he nor I are really sailors – seemed like a bit too much of a risk). We’re taking more than a few flights, but also planning on a fair bit of ‘over-landing’ since we have the time.
- Where are you going to stay every night, in hotels? No, I don’t think I would do a trip like this if I knew I had to sleep in a hotel every night. I hate hotels. For me, personally, hotels are often the most stressful part of travel – I don’t sleep well in them, I get creeped out by what I can’t see but might be on the bedspread, and basically feel like an automaton when I am in one. I try to avoid them whenever possible.
With the wonders of the internet, you can find awesome flats, houses, rooms, villas, and heaps of other amazing accommodation that costs a fraction of what a generic hotel would cost. Sites like VRBO.com, Airbnb.com, FlipKey.com, etc. have literally thousands of international rentals. When we went to Turkey a couple years ago, we found a great flat for 8 people with a balcony overlooking the Bosphorus and it cost about the same price as one nice hotel room. The additional benefits of renting an apartment/house/villa are that you can have your own food so don’t have to eat out unless you want to, you are living in a neighborhood instead of a tourist compound, and you have a great deal more space. We’ve rented several times from these sites and have never been disappointed. We will keep you posted on those that were awesome and those that weren’t.
- What about the kids education? Are you just going to hold them back for the year? This one cracks me up. Since both parents are educators, it’s not something that could have easily “slipped our mind” — imagine us, two teachers, 3 months in to the trip when we dope-slap our foreheads saying, “Crap, what about the kids education? We forgot to do something about that!” We are much too neurotic about education to not have a plan.
The real answer is that we are going to be officially home schooling the kids while we’re on the road. In fact, Colburn titled his blog “Road School” (you can find the link on the bottom of this page) and we have authorization to do so from the State of Nevada (surprisingly easy to get – all you have to do is tell them that your child will “progress from where they are right now” and provide a list of either types of materials or subjects to be covered – really kind of shocked me that there is assessment or evidence of learning needed at all). From reading the blogs of other families who have done this, most folks say that they only had difficulty keeping up on math – everything else is easily worked in to the fabric of the trip. So, what we have decided is that we’ll do 30 minutes of dedicated math plus 30 minutes of directed study (grammar, specific writing exercises, history, etc.) every day. Sounds like a good plan, we’ll see how it goes.
- Isn’t it really really expensive to travel for that long? Well, that depends on what you mean by “really” expensive. We don’t know for sure yet, but the thing that many people forget is all of the usual expenses of living at home that we won’t have while we’re abroad. For example, we will not have a cable bill, car insurance, or propane bill until we return. Health and evacuation insurance for the whole family was $2,400 for the whole year, not $350 per person per month. Another aspect that many people do not realize is that when you slow down, the price can actually be cheaper. Instead of spending $200 for flying between cities, you can take a bus for $25 because you can spare the 8 hours it will take. Similarly, we were considering a Galapagos cruise which cost $2800 per person for 8 days. Yes, it would be a total budget-buster, but hey, after all, it is the Galapagos! Then I realized that you can rent an apartment or a house for less than $100 per night on 3 of the 4 inhabited islands. So this means that we can be in the Galapagos for a 28 days for the price it would have cost us for 1 person on an 8 day cruise. Getting from place to place is expensive, once you’re there it is relatively “cheap”. We’re going to try to balance the expensive with the frugal.
These are just some of the common questions. If you have any other ones, please feel free to post them and I will do my best to answer! The journey begins in just a couple weeks!