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:
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 GoodRx.com. 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 GoodRx.com 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 GoodRx.com 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