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The Perfect Pack: What’s in Our Bags for the Next 10-Months

The Perfect Pack: What’s in Our Bags for the Next 10-Months

I began research on what to pack for our around the world trip almost a year before the trip began.  I wanted to create the ultimate efficient travel wardrobe – smart, versatile, compact.  I wanted to carry the perfect combination of technology items to maximize convenience and minimize bulk.  Finally, I wanted it all to fit into a reasonable sized backpack.  I was on a mission to achieve The Perfect Pack.

The tricky thing about this ambitious goal is that you don’t really know exactly what works best for you until you are on the road.  In the past 4 weeks, I’ve already changed out some of my toiletries and replaced several clothing items.  I expect this evolution will continue, so I will refrain from reviewing any items or packing strategies now.  This post merely chronicles my first attempt at The Perfect Pack, and I will certainly update you on it’s effectiveness as the trip progresses.

What you can find in this post:

1. Photos and lists of our packed items

2. A video of how I’m packing my bag

3. A list of websites I used to research The Perfect Pack


Her Bag: Deuter 60L Women’s

What to bring traveling

  • 5 t-shirts, one of them dressier
  • 1 tank top
  • 1 long sleeve shirt
  • 1 button down shirt
  • 1 light weight sweater
  • 1 sweatshirt

What to pack for a round the world trip

  • 2 dresses
  • 1 long skirt (converts to a dress)
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 pair of convertible outdoor pants
  • 1 pair of leggings (for under dresses, sleeping, and working out)
  • 1 pair of shorts (for over the bathing suit, sleeping, and working out)
  • 1 bathing suit

shoes for a round the world trip

  • 1 pair of Tieks (for looking more professional when we visit schools)
  • 1 pair of flipflops (double as shower shoes)
  • 1 pair of Chacos
  • 1 pair of Salamon hiking shoes

what to bring traveling

  • 1 rain jacket
  • 1 LL Bean winter jacket (folds into its own pocket)
  • 1 water bottle
  • 1 sleeping bag with compression sack

toiletries to bring traveling

  • moisturizer
  • sunscreen for face (I have sensitive skin)
  • hair elastics & bobby pins
  • solid shampoo and conditioner
  • hair clip
  • dry shampoo
  • 2 diva cups
  • bar of soap
  • q-tips
  • contacts & solution
  • dry brushing mit
  • emery board
  • razor
  • scissors
  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • floss
  • regular sunscreen
  • deodorant & a deodorant crystal (I prefer the crystal, but it requires water, so I have a backup)
  • make up

what to pack for travel

  • travel towel
  • bandana (mosquito repellant)
  • malaria pills
  • diarrhea kit
  • year’s supply of contacts & birth control
  • hat
  • two pairs gym socks, 1 pair wool socks
  • underwear (2 bras, 1 strapless bra, 1 sports bra, 10 pairs underwear)
  • Not pictured: small stash of Advil, Zantac, bug spray, tissues

what technology to bring traveling rtw

  • Surface 2, keyboard, charger
  • screen cleaner and wipe
  • wireless mouse
  • smartphone & charger
  • headphones
  • external hard drive
  • water purifying wand
  • mini SD card
  • universal adapter
  • tablet sleeve

What to pack for extended travel

  • Nikon D40 & case
  • Timbuktu day bag
  • wallet
  • hairbrush
  • money belt (for when we are in transit)
  • passport
  • eyeglasses (not pictured: sunglasses)
  • notebook & pen
  • small, foldable backpack (for day trips or when we are in transit and checking our big bags)

His Bag: Deuter 65L Men’s

Will has many of the same items that I do – same technology,  toiletries (minus the female only items), and gear like a water bottle, sleeping bag, and meds – so they are not re-pictured here.  I’m just listing his clothes and items not already pictured.

Clothes for a round the world trip

  • 1 undershirt
  • 4 t-shirts
  • 1 button down t-shirt
  • 3 button down shirts
  • 1 button down, vented hiking shirt (Ex-efficio)

What clothes to bring traveling

  • 1 hoodie
  • 1 sweater
  • 1 rain jacket
  • 1 winter jacket
  • 2 khaki pants
  • 1 convertible hiking pants
  • 1 shorts
  • 1 bathing suit
  • Not pictured: 3 pairs socks, 10 pairs underwear

What I need for a round the world trip

  • 1 Chacos
  • 1 Teva hiking shoes
  • 1 camel-skin satchel
  • 1 hat
  • Buff bandana (I have one too)
  • Spanish grammar book
  • notebooks & pen
  • belt
  • Martin Backpacker travel guitar

How all this fits into our bags…

The Perfect Pack Research Resources

Travel Fashion Girl Packing Lists

The Art of Simple Travel

Half the Clothes

Her Packing List

A Little Adrift

Adventurous Kate’s Travel Resources (scroll to Travel Gear)



Gallery: US Road Trip Roundup

Gallery: US Road Trip Roundup

Our road trip around the US has come to a close.  We are now relaxing in New Hampshire for a week and a half before flying to Peru.  We are spending our days putting the final pieces together for our 10 months abroad.  We hope you enjoy these highlights from the past three weeks!

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Community and Purpose: An Evening with The Possibility Project

Community and Purpose: An Evening with The Possibility Project

On Wednesdays The Possibility Project meets in a small rehearsal studio in New York City’s Lower East Side. A dozen teenagers and four adults cluster into various groups. Some sit on the hardwood floors, others sit on metal folding chairs, and others stand, acting out the words they’ve just written. The youth lean forward into one another’s comments and ask questions. They come to agreements and put pen to paper. Their conversations are intense. They talk about how to bring to life to scenes of domestic abuse, sexism, and the tensions of being an ambitious young person on the streets. They’re in the process of creating a musical inspired by their own lives.

The adults float around the room to ask clarifying questions and encourage indecisive groups to stand and ‘act it out’ to see if an idea lands. Everything about their body language communicates a feeling of collaborative deference toward the youth. Some teens roll away from their group, kick their legs in the air, walk out of the room without notice. None of these actions are acknowledged or ‘corrected’ by the directors. This isn’t that type of program.

“It’s the relationships with one another that are the mechanism for all the positive change.”

The show’s narrator is by himself in the corner. He wears sweatpants, a white t-shirt, and a du-rag. He lays on his stomach to write, occasionally looks up with a pensive expression, and then returns to the page. He’s been writing like this for about 30 minutes when I introduce myself. He explains that he wants the narration to have a spoken word poetry feel. I ask if he can share one of his poems and he smiles:

I was raised by killers,

I wanna’ be a king.

They forgot about their soul,

Chasing material things.

The poem is a powerful statement about rising above the static of one’s environment to become the person you know you can be. When I stand up, he offers his hand and thanks me for taking an interest in his writing.

The Possibility Project is many things. It’s a performing arts program, a youth development program and a social change program, but most of all it’s a community of young people. This is by design. As Paul Griffin, the founder and Executive Director, explained to me earlier in the day, it’s the “relationships with one another that are the mechanism for all the positive change.” This idea that the most powerful impact doesn’t flow from adult to young person, but between young people, was one of the earliest insights of the program.

“But there ain’t no power til we all have it.”

It’s interesting to think about this in the context of many high-performing district and charter schools, where teachers and administrators are more committed to containing and minimizing the social nature of teenagers than tapping into it. What would it mean to instead see this as teenagers’ greatest asset? What could that look like in a K-12 environment?

When I talked with the youth during their break and after rehearsal they were remarkably consistent on the point of community. Each of the five youth I talked with mentioned the importance of ‘trust.’ The thing about writing a musical inspired by the most difficult challenges in your life is that you need to share what those challenges are. “It’s made me less angry. I keep everything bottled up always. It’s helped me be open and trust people but the best part is learning to let go of the past cause I like to cling to it,” said A. She went on to say that the scene coaches are the “most important people in the world. They never judge you. Kenny and Elizabeth saved my life, literally.”

A first year cast member, JC, told me, “It keeps me calm. I talk my feelings out instead of keeping them in. And there’s lots of people I can trust. You can express life and feelings and no one gonna judge you because everyone has their own story. Everybody has love for people. We have a voice and we can be heard. All of these parents don’t want to listen cause they think they have the power. But there ain’t no power til we all have it.”


The Possibility Project’s Artistic Directors (left to right); Meagan Baca-Dubois, Elizabeth Howard-Phillips, Kenneth Phillips, and Niquana Clark

Of course, the youth in The Possibility Project don’t bear their souls to one another as an end in itself. If TPP is most fundamentally a community of young people, it’s most visibly a high-octane performing arts program. Their performances are a powerful mix of song and dance, revolving around scenes that depict the most gut-wrenching experiences teens in the city experience and overcome. They leave audiences slack-jawed and sometimes unbelieving that every aspect was created by the youth themselves. “We don’t recruit for talent but at the same time we expect the sky in terms of talent,” Paul Griffin told me. “We take excellence very seriously.” It’s this kind of nonchalant, yet intensely focused belief that, all young people are capable of rising to previously unimagined expectations, which brings authenticity and depth to the social-emotional and community building parts of the program. Expectations are everything. Earlier this year, they even released a movie, Know How, that was written and performed by students in the foster care program. You can stream it on Netflix.

At the end of rehearsal, the group circled up and gave each other shout outs. After the shout outs the rehearsal was over, but the teens still ran up to one another for their ‘three hugs,’ which is basically what it sound like. It’s an impressive sight, a room of smiling faces. Outside, most of the youth milled about on the sidewalk. I approached a pair of them to ask about the difference between The Possibility Project and school. “School is just to do work that’s not really helping you,” they said, “working hard for credits and a degree. Here you just come as who you are. It’s all encouragement. All good vibes. You work to speak your voice. It teach you how to deal with emotions. How to understand your point of view on life.”

The Possibility Project is different from a K-12 environment. But still, I wonder what lessons classroom teachers and administrators could learn from the work that they do?

– Will

Over 99% of The Possibility Project’s cast members stay in High School. High School GPAs rise .5 points on average and over 90% of students go to college. Maybe even more impressive, over 90% of cast members report resolving conflicts in their lives differently because of their experience with the program. There are no photos or names of youth in this article because, unlike teens in the Tuesday/Thursday program and the Saturday program, all of the youth in the Wednesday program are in the city’s foster care system and are subject to clear laws prohibiting publication of their photos.

For a more in-depth discussion of The Possibility Project’s history and approach, look out for my extended interview with Paul Griffin.

Here’s a Netflix link to the movie Know How.


Gallery: Philadelphia’s Surprising Magic Gardens

Gallery: Philadelphia’s Surprising Magic Gardens

Back in college, I remember passing this mosaicked lot every time I took the South Street bus.  I always figured it was some fantastic person’s private courtyard.  Little did I know, artist Isaiah Zagar was in the midst of the 14 year creation of Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. Opened in 2009, it is by far one of the coolest things I’ve seen in Philadelphia.  Hallways and bridges of mosaics connect the garden spaces, creating an inspiring treasure in the city.  It is a must see if you are in the city of brotherly love.

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A Marriage on the Road (Part 1)

A Marriage on the Road (Part 1)

Back in June, as we were moving out of our house, Will left the back of the moving truck open and got on the interstate. We were lucky not to lose much, but what we did lose was a filing cabinet full of all our important documents – birth certificates, marriage certificate, tax returns, etc.

Will did something very smart in this moment. I was in a separate car, unaware of these events, and he chose not to contact me until he had dealt with the situation. Luckily, Will found the filing cabinet in the middle of a (busy) on ramp having not yet caused injury to anyone. The cabinet fell on its drawers, trapping the documents inside. When my husband called me to tell me what happened, and why he’d be delayed to the storage unit, I was shocked, but relieved.

This could have been the first blow out fight of our trip. Let’s be honest, I could have freaked out when I heard about the moving truck incident. I did get mildly worked up when I first heard the story (who wouldn’t.) But while Will was still talking, I had this very clear moment – what kind of wife did I want to be? How did I want to start this trip? Whether or not this results in additional tension is completely up to me – and I could choose whether to be frustrated or generous about it. On this, the first day of our trip, I would get to set the tone for how we would handle obstacles together. I stopped at a gas station and got Will some food and water for when we met up at the storage unit. He had been moving boxes all day and was tired, hungry, and dehydrated. He needed a little love.

On the Same Page6

On the same page

Some friends and family have asked us about the trip and our marriage. The questions and comments fall into two categories: “what a wonderful way to start your marriage!” and “do you think you’ll be speaking to each other when you get back?” I don’t know what the secrets are to nomadic marital bliss, but based on the past three weeks, I’d bet that generosity is one of them.

Will is also very generous with me. I get what Will refers to as “grumpy” sometimes during our travels. “Grumpy” can be defined as a complete loss of patience for anything and anyone. We have already almost missed an early morning flight, suffered altitude sickness, and have started editing each other’s blog posts – all of which have caused some grumpiness. When we almost missed our early morning flight to Salt Lake City – anticipating the effects – Will got me a caffeinated drink even though I said I didn’t want it, and gently encouraged me to drink it throughout the flight. He was right. I really needed that caffeine. Will is never harsh with me when I lose my patience. He knows it’s usually hunger, dehydration, or lack of caffeine that is the cause. He just puts his arm around me, kisses me on the head, and tells me what we’re going to do when I’m not grumpy anymore. He makes a decision not to turn those moments into more tension, but meets them with generosity.

On the Same Page 2

Not on the same page

There will be more significant trials in the future. We may get sick at the same time, or miss our transportation, or disagree about the direction we need to go. We are also blogging together, which adds another layer of joint decision making. The next year will be a constant exercise in getting on the same page.

All that aside, travel will transform us in wonderful ways – and the great gift of travelling as a couple is sharing that transformation with each other. I wouldn’t want to do this trip without Will. I look forward to the many memories we’ll be able to share for a lifetime – even if there are a few epic fights scattered in there. In fact, we will be stronger for them.

I’m convinced generosity will help us grow closer through this experience and prevent travel problems from becoming relationship problems. I’m also convinced it’s not the only ingredient for success. We will keep you posted as the recipe for this nomadic marriage unfolds…and our ears are open to lessons others have learned about relationships on the road.

A Run Around the National Mall on the 5th of July

A Run Around the National Mall on the 5th of July

When I woke up this morning and decided to take a jog around the National Mall, I didn’t expect to spend much time reflecting on the nature of America or my American identity. Maybe it’s a credit to the design of the Mall, or the fact that I had spent the previous night watching fireworks from a rooftop to shouts of ‘U.S.A.’ Maybe it was the impending U.S. v. Japan World Cup finals, or just the fact that traveling the world to get a better idea of what it means to be an American is one of the themes of this blog. But a few miles in, I had trouble thinking about anything else.

The reflections started with a sense of frustration. I began my loop near the Capitol building. The Capitol looms above the Mall and the dome is covered in scaffolding. ‘A nation under construction,’ I thought. As I rounded the water in front of it, already a bit out of breath, I felt a lukewarm disappointment seep into my thoughts. The actions of those inside seemed pale and weak compared to the dignity of their surroundings. I thought about how the idea of self-sacrifice for the greater good was such an obvious concept when I was younger. I felt a worn out anger at the role of self-interest in the building disappearing behind me.


It had been too long since I ran regularly and I didn’t stretch as much as I should have. My hamstrings were feeling tight. The Washington Monument grew larger as I approached. ‘An obelisk,’ I thought. ‘Just like the ancient Egyptians.’ I was amused by this continuity, across millennia, between the two civilizations.

At the Vietnam Memorial, I slowed to a walk out of respect. Families beside me looked for specific names. So many names… As more people stopped, I was struck by how the sacrifices from this too complicated war still ripple in our Nation’s families.

The Vietnam Memorial


photo 3

By the time I reached the Lincoln Memorial, it was nine in the morning and small crowds had begun to form. Members of a Chinese tour group looked on with faces of respect, curiosity, and maybe boredom. I considered the crowds, wondered if I might have a slight odor at this point in my run, and decided to hike up the steps anyway. The steps are steep and add to the overall majesty of the memorial. Lincoln’s second inaugural address is chiseled into the wall on the right side. It starts by saying that there’s not much to say, so I figured I could read it through. I stood looking up, my eyes straining without my glasses, while the crowds focused on the statue behind me. The country is in the midst of a war that nobody wanted and he offers no predictions of how it will end. Throughout the speech there is a focus on what both sides have in common. Lincoln acknowledges the absurdity of both sides praying to the same God to ask that He cause other men to suffer. We must stand together as one nation no matter the cost. ‘With malice toward none. With charity for all.’ We must bind the nation’s wounds. When people say our politics today are the most divided they’ve ever been, I want to grab them and shake them, ‘Don’t you know we fought a Civil War?!?!?’

photo 4 (1)

Around this point I realized that my morning jog was proving more interesting than I expected. I started to think it might make a decent blog post. I decided to start taking pictures.

My extended stay with brother Abe left me physically rested, and I picked up my pace as I jogged away. I began to cycle through the impressions that had been made on me during the run. I thought of the engraving at the WWII memorial saying that America came to liberate and not to conquer and how unusual that was in the history of the world. The WWI memorial is embarrassingly boring and no one was there. Good architecture goes a long way.


World War II Memorial

photo 1

World War I Memorial 

During my two years teaching U.S. history, I discovered that Martin Luther King and FDR are my favorite historical figures, so I felt a swell of excited anticipation as I crossed the road toward their memorials. The Marin Luther King memorial is beautiful and the quotes on either side are well chosen. Dr. King has become so identified with the black community in the United States, and with the struggle in the south in particular, that it can be easy to forget how global his perspective on peace and justice truly was. All people are connected. When we fight for the good of others we become greater ourselves. Love will triumph over hate. These would be powerful sentiments from a man of thought, but they echo more deeply coming from a man defined by his actions.



The FDR memorial is more of an experience than the others. Successive courtyards pay tribute to the different terms of his presidency. Large granite blocks cut off the outside world. The sound of falling water murmurs above the silence. ‘All we have to fear is fear itself.’ I didn’t understand what that meant the first hundred times I heard it. But now I’ve seen how fear can paralyze, how it brings out the worst parts of ourselves. It is better to lean forward and act. To create what hasn’t existed before. ‘Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.’


I ran along the edge of the lake to return to the main stretch of the Mall. The Jefferson monument reflected in the water to my right. I noticed that the frustration that marked the first part of my run had turned to something else. I understand that monuments and memorials don’t make policy, but they do tell us something about what we want our country to be, what we choose to remember. I began to feel a sense of pride in the people and ideas we have chosen to memorialize. The ideas engraved at the Mall are ones of sacrifice and brotherhood. We are greatest during the most difficult times because that is when we come together. We believe in the dignity of our fellow man. America is, and always has been, far from perfect. Our history is defined by the struggles of people fighting for rights they should never have had to fight for. But the idea that anyone born anywhere should have the same shot at opportunity as anyone else, is pretty new in the history of the world, and we have those ideas, more than other countries, intricately woven with the type of nation we want to be. America is a promise projected into the future. A commitment to work for a more perfect Union.

photo 3 (1)

I understand that this kind of personal pride in America comes easier to me as a white male than others. I often think of one of my favorite team building activities to do with young teachers. I ask them to come up with the three identities that are most important to who they are and then share out why they chose those identities. Every time a few people say ‘American,’ and every time those people are also white males. But I do think we’ve come a long way since Frederick Douglass gave his remarks on how limited the independence gained on July 4th really was, and I think, as a country, we’re starting to acknowledge just how far from perfect our Union currently is. But even given all of that, people from all over the world still aspire to come to cross our borders and sail to our shores and that’s a good thing, Mr. Trump. That’s how we’ve become who we are.

As I passed the Washington monument, I looked back and remembered that a guide in Egypt once told me that obelisks were designed to draw a person’s eye toward the sky. To create a sense of awe in something greater than ourselves.


I returned to the place where I began, slowed my pace to a walk and checked the time. It had taken me over two hours to run about five miles, but I was still winded, and I struggled to catch up to my thoughts.

Thanks for helping me to find a way to give them order,



(And just in case there are any doubts about the fact I was running throughout this. Here’s my sweaty-faced selfie with FDR):

photo 2



Yellowstone Photo Gallery

Yellowstone Photo Gallery

Scenery so beautiful you won’t believe you took the pictures yourself.

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What We Talk About When We Talk About Education

What We Talk About When We Talk About Education

We were over a year into planning and saving for this trip when Elizabeth turned to me on the couch. “Why don’t we try to visit schools as we go?” she asked. The idea struck as a bolt of epiphany. It really made a lot of sense. Professionally, this would make the trip less of a hiatus and more of a self-funded sabbatical. It would give me a chance to indulge in something like the journalism career I passed over to pursue education. And most interestingly, it would give us an excuse to talk with locals about something they cared about. In the midst of this excitement, the questions began to pile on top of themselves: What questions would we ask? How would we get connected to schools? What would we do about language barriers? What tone should we take when we write? Which schools would we focus on? What could we hope to better understand by the end?

As we’ve sought to answer these questions, we’ve learned a lot about the differences between American education and the rest of the world Many of the foundations of our education system, from the time commitment we expect of our teachers (much more), to the training we offer them (much less), are dealt with significantly differently in other countries. Other factors, like our staggeringly high childhood poverty rate and complicated (to say the least) history with race and systemic oppression, further add to the uniqueness of the American education landscape. But I’m getting ahead of myself. We’ll go into more detail about what we’ve learned in our preliminary research in a later post. For now, I want to focus on what we aim to achieve with this aspect of our trip.

Dos and Don’ts

What we certainly don’t want to do is suggest that we have a clear grasp of what education is like in a certain country just because we’ve spoken to some people and visited a few schools. We also don’t want to give the impression that we’re searching for best practices to be sent back for implementation in the United States. We’re not looking to pass judgement or discover solutions. (Over the years, I’ve become increasingly frustrated by the ‘reformer as Dr. Frankenstein’ approach to leadership) Instead, we want to focus on the ideas and experiences of individuals. Curiosity will be our driving force. We’ll ask students, teachers, and administrators what they think the goals of education should be and how they seek to meet those goals. We’ll ask about the obstacles they face as well as the programs and ideas they are most excited about. As the months pass by, we look forward to seeing how the voices of the people we talk with reinforce and contradict one another. We hope that these conversations will stir us to ask more interesting questions and spur us to think more creatively about what education can look like in the United States.

We don’t know what we’ll find, but we hope to add something useful to the dialogue around education here at home. At the very least, we look forward to broadening our own understandings of what is possible.

We hope you’ll stick around for the ride. And of course, your voice has a place in this conversation as well so feel free to comment and share.


Will & Elizabeth

Two Days in Yellowstone National Park

Two Days in Yellowstone National Park

We just closed out two full days at Yellowstone National Park, and it was much more impressive than we imagined. As we set out on our round the world trip, we’re glad we could start at one of our nation’s greatest treasures. Preserving our national parks and forests – you got this one right, America.  Here is one of the maps we used.





Now for specifics. There are many things to say about Yellowstone, but I will sum it up in three major points:


1. Yellowstone is all about geothermal features.

Yellowstone sits on top of an active super volcano, so we started our first day checking out the many variations of volcanic activity that are present. This was a good call, because the thermal features (as they are called) are so awesome they snapped me out of my elevation sickness. Thermal features range from geysers (like Old Faithful), to hot springs and mud pots (which look like boiling mud). Microorganisms live on the surfaces of these places, causing some to turn bright colors. We took the lower loop around the park – including the Lower Geyser Basin Paint Pots, the Grand Prismatic Spring, Old Faithful, and the Hayden Valley Mud Volcano.




2. Yellowstone has many landscapes – and all of them are beautiful.

The second day we focused on the Canyon Village region – we did several phenomenal hikes around the canyon and accompanying waterfalls. We then drove the loop through the Roosevelt area to Mammoth Hot Springs. I will let the upcoming gallery do the talking on the beautiful and varied landscapes – but they were all created by a gigantic volcanic eruption half a million years ago.




3. Bison don’t care about your human “roads.”

Bison were the most common wildlife we saw – and we saw quite a few of them – sometimes nibbling grass by the road or rolling around in the dust to cool off. We even saw several calves – which have orange fur. We also saw elk, deer, a coyote, and what we believe was a moose. No bears this trip. Much to my relief and Will’s disappointment.



And now we are traveling west across Nevada. The landscape has gradually changed from forests, to mountain framed grasslands, to rolling desert hills. We plan to spend the night in Reno, en route to San Rafael, CA. Look for more Yellowstone pictures to come…



Elizabeth & Will

The Answers People Want

The Answers People Want


Well friends, we are officially on the trip! On Saturday we loaded up our storage unit and said goodbye to Baton Rouge. Yesterday we boarded a plane to Salt Lake City, rented a car, and made the four hour drive to West Yellowstone, MT – where we are staying at the Moose Creek Cabins.

We’ve been seeing a lot of friends and saying a lot of goodbyes over the past few months. During that time, we’ve heard some recurring questions. Here are the questions we’ve heard the most, and the answers.


What luggage/clothes are you taking?

We will each have a large backpack (Elizabeth – 60L; Will – 65L) and a small messenger bag. Each of us have approximately 20 articles of clothing, 8 pairs of underwear, and 3 pairs of shoes. More on this, with photos, when we get to our packing post.


How long have you been planning/saving?

Will had been saving for a RTW trip since before we met in 2010 – but we really got started planning and saving as a couple in 2012. Our first step was to create a tentative itinerary (most of which has changed at this point) and estimate a budget based on average dollars per day for each place (which we got from Lonely Planet). As soon as we could, we started an automatic savings plan to reach our goal amount by June 2015.

Here are some great resources we looked at as we were planning our budget:

Bootsnall RTW Roundup

The Road Forks

A Little Adrift RTW Budget


What are you doing with your house?

Renting with a Property Manager

We own a duplex and have been renting our back unit for years. We decided to hire a property manager to manage our unit and the other unit while we’re gone. A property manager finds tenants, collects the rent, deals with maintenance, and takes care of anything else that might happen with a property on your behalf. In exchange, they take a cut of the rent (usually 8-10%). There are some upfront fees as well – but all worth the peace of mind that we will not have to call a plumber from Cape Town or place an insurance claim from Mumbai.

Our property manager is amazing – but that was not by chance. I recommend interviewing and checking references.


What are you doing with your cars?

Will sold his to a friend. Mine will stay at my parents’ house until we get back.


What shots did you get and what medications are you taking with you?

Shots: Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A, Typhoid

Medications: Malarone (antimalarial), Cipro (antibiotic used for diarrhea)

We actually started our rounds of shots back in March. It’s important to start early so you can carefully consider which shots you want to get. There are a number that are suggested, but not required (like Japanese Encephalitis – at $298 a pop and relatively low risk we opted out.)

Anti-malarials were trickier. We only had two options because the mosquitos in some of the countries we’re going to have developed a resistance to the more common drugs – including Larium, the one that gives you crazy dreams. We ended up going with a generic form of Malarone – the drug with the fewest side effects and biggest price tag. Luckily I discovered Let me tell you friends, this website is a gem. Malarone is $7 a pill in the US but only $2.50 a pill in other countries – go figure. But will give you coupons to various pharmacies (which ones depend on your zip code- we found our best price at Walgreens) that will cut the price way down. We ended up getting our pills for the nice foreign price. And works for other drugs too.


What are you doing for health insurance?

World Nomads – Worldwide

As it turns out, our employer plan was really great and the COBRA to continue that insurance is wicked expensive. For a moment I thought we were in a major pickle since we would be in the US for six weeks before leaving the country. Then along came World Nomads. I was ecstatic to find out that World Nomads covers you within the US as long as you are at least 100 miles from your home. YES. We will be 100 miles from our home, the whole time! Problem solved.

The downside: traveler’s insurance does not satisfy the rules of the Affordable Care Act. More on that bridge when we cross it.


Do you have connections at schools in the countries you are visiting?

Yes and No.

We have a handful of firm connections, made through our own networking and friends who are currently living abroad. Through contacts in the Teach for All network and the Peace Corps we are continuing to cultivate additional connections. It has been a pleasant surprise, as we have talked about our plans with friends and colleagues – many have offered to connect us to people they know abroad. We’ve been blessed with the connections we have already made and are so excited for the learning and friendships that we hope will grow out of them.


What places are you most excited about visiting?

Will: Southern Africa for the landscapes and friendly people.

Elizabeth: Istanbul for the history and culture.



And now we are off into Yellowstone National Park for the day!  Please keep the questions coming. We love to talk about the planning behind the voyage.


Elizabeth & Will