Monday, December 26, 2011

Creating Web Profiles -

I went ahead and created an airbnb online profile. Why now? I think it takes some effort and thought into creating a profile that resonates with other members who may be willing to rent their space to us. We don't want to sound creepy or suspicious or anything! Also, the profile reveals your track record and how long you've been a member. I figure, it's better to start building a long-standing membership profile now, hoping for good reviews and references. Next? Set up some house sitter profiles. You never know when we can jump on an opportunity overseas to house sit.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Maintaining Health Insurance During a Career Break. Who Knew There Were So Many Considerations!

Although we feel our travel insurance would be adequate while traveling, what happens if one of us needs medical attention and we are sent back to the States?  Unfortunately, travel insurance typically ends as soon as you land on U.S. soil.  A more likely scenario is upon our return where there is a vulnerable period where the travel insurance will no longer protect us, yet we may not be employed in order to qualify for employer-provided-healthcare.  Even if we did find employment, there may be a pre-existing condition clause with a waiting period on that policy.  Either way, we would be uninsured when we return to our “real” lives – something that makes us very nervous. 

One way to avoid being uninsured when we return is to maintain continuous coverage in the States during our absence.  Sounds easy enough, but apparently it’s very complicated.  A couple of excellent blogs have helped highlight some of the complexities with health insurance in the States.  Both blogs are available through the Meet, Plan, Go website.  They are both, a “must read”:  TravelHealth Insurance Providing Creditable Coverage and HealthInsurance for American Travelers.   Frankly, we hadn’t even thought about needing to maintain health insurance in the States while we travel, but after reading these blogs, we definitely think that is the way to go. 

Let us break it down for you.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Quotes We Like

"Experience, travel - these are as education in themselves." -Euripedes

Quotes We Like

On courage...

"Never grow a wishbone where your backbone ought to be." -Clementine Paddleford

International Power Plugs

When using electronics from the US in other countries, you need to ensure you have a converter to convert the foreign voltage and frequency to US standards (110v & 60hz); otherwise, you will run the risk of frying your electrical item since most other countries use voltage greater than 110v.  Also, you will need adapters so your US plugs will be able to actually plug into the sockets in foreign countries.   The only electrical items we will carry are our iPhones.  Luckily, Apple had the forethought to make the standard USB plug converter that comes standard with most apple products - including iPhones - capable of running on voltage from 110v to 240v and both standard frequencies (50hz & 60hz).  So, we will not need an actual converter; only the adapters to allow us to plug it in. 

I used the following web site to help determine which plugs/sockets are used in the over 20 countries we plan to visit so we could get those adapters.

Although a lot of the countries we will visit have different sockets, the European "C" plug is compatible with most of them.  The "C" doesn't work in the US or Japan, but that is okay since our normal plugs work there. The only adapters we think we will need are the "C" and the "I" that is used in Argentina. We could just buy simple adapters fairly cheap, but we bought the Apple World Travel Adapter Kit for ~$40. It has more adapters than we need, but felt more comfortable using the Apple products since we know the quality is great and they are made to work specifically with Apple products. 

We could probably get by with just one set of adapters, but we'll plan on two sets so we can charge both our phones at one time.  No need to start friction on who gets to charge first. I'm sure there will be plenty of other opportunites for disagreement along the way :)

P.S. Since the iphones coverter is actually connected via an USB cord, you could also just plug that into any computer to charge the iPhones.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

9 Steps to Knowing the Required and Recommended Travel Immunizations and Pills

Another major item on our 6-month to-do list was figuring out the necessary travel immunizations.  6 months ahead seems like a long time, but with over 20 countries we plan on visiting, there are bound to be immunizations that are required, or at least highly recommended – some vaccination series requiring at least a 6-month head start such as the hepatitis series. 

If we were 20-something backpackers, would we even care about vaccines?  Maybe, maybe not.  We certainly wouldn’t be as cautious about the possibility of acquiring a number of deadly diseases abroad, had we been 20 years younger!  Alas, the wisdom (or paranoia) that comes with age.  One main reason for taking extra precautions is Akiko’s tendency to attract mosquitos no matter where in the world, and her tendency to have allergic reactions to their bites.  Many of these diseases abroad are carried by mosquitos.  If any of them could be prevented by a few shots or pills, it seems a worthwhile endeavor.   

There are a couple of vaccinations that are required for entry into certain countries or to obtain a visa.  However, most of the time, the choice to be vaccinated is ultimately up to you.  Our advice is to at least research what is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and even make an appointment with a Travel Immunization specialist for a consultation so you can make an educated decision by weighing the pros and cons.  The major ‘con’ being cost, of course, and specifically for malaria – the side effects of some of the drugs. 

The following outlines the steps that we took to research the immunizations for our upcoming travel sabbatical. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

No Backing Out Now!

We are officially committed.  There is no turning back now!  We made Round-The-World (RTW) ticket purchases through AirTreks.  Our travel agent was most helpful in finding alternate routes, cheapest routes, etc. We were only able to make actual flight reservations through the end of September, since reservations are available one-year in advance.  We will have to make the reservations for our final leg at a later time.

After reviewing the various itineraries, our 6-month RTW ticket comes to ~$4800/traveler, which includes travel insurance and cancelation insurance.

Here is a rough outline of our flight pattern.  We will experience layovers in a wide variety of destinations; experience many different airlines we have never heard of; and basically plan on lengthy travel times.  Oh well.  That's part of the adventure!

(We are taking a major detour to Tokyo first, but will be back to the States to start our official RTW journey).  Layover spots in italics.  Atlanta, Georgia > Miami, Florida > Caracas, Venezuela > Quito, Ecuador > Lima, Peru > Santiago, Chile > Buenos Aires, Argentina > back to Quito, Ecuador > Madrid, Spain > Istanbul, Turkey > Riga, Latvia > Tel Aviv, Israel....That's all we've got booked so far.  Destinations past September will include Asia.

Airlines we will be flying: American Airlines, Air Baltic, Lan Airlines, Santa Barbara Airlines.

I must confess.  I have some butterflies in my stomach from two things: our first major purchase towards this trip, and the significance of the purchase towards making this more of a reality than ever before.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Rough Guide to First Time Around the World, by Doug Lansky

One of the most useful books to date on round-the-world trip planning is this one. We have read it multiple times already. It provides excellent tips, packing lists, prep checklists, and so forth. The information on health insurance, travel insurance, budgeting, safety and so on gives us a lot to think about. More than you ever thought you needed to think about...

The World Map

For inspiration, and to get familiar with some of the more geographically challenged areas in my brain, one of the first things we did was to hang this world map in out bedroom so it is the first thing I see when we wake up, and the last thing I think about before we go to sleep.

Setting the Itinerary

It seems premature, but one of our first tasks is to set the itinerary for our major round-the-world destination spots.  This is very important because we want our round-the-world travel agent that we are working with through, to have plenty of time to book the best available flight options.  The longer we wait, the best airfare and schedule may dwindle.  Some travelers may opt to purchase separate legs of air travel on their own.  We feel that going through an agency that specializes in round-the-world travel helps keep the airfare as economical as possible.

Up to this point, we've had a wish list of destination spots such as Vietnam, Thailand, Turkey, Morocco, Argentina, and so forth; however, it's an entirely different story when we need to commit to putting actual departure and arrival dates to these places.

So, we took advantage of the perfect weather on a Sunday afternoon by taking our laptop, iPhones, pen, paper, dog, and a bottle of wine outside on our patio and went to work.

6-Month Countdown

One of the first major decisions is to set an actual target date for when all of this is going to happen.  Setting a concrete date is helpful for not only planning, but also to start acting like this is "for real."  Back in July of 2011, we set our launch date for sometime in May of 2012.  That would give us almost 10 months to plan our sabbatical.