Prior to leaving Portland, we got our final round of vaccinations (for a total of 12 injections per person over 6 weeks) and filled our doxycycline (anti-malarial) prescriptions, plus I had a full physical, a final follow up appointment for my toe surgery, an eye exam, and a dental exam & cleaning. We also purchased the majority of the OTC meds we plan to carry with us on the trip (I monitored the weekly ads and took advantage of BOGOF sales at Rite Aid + no OR sales tax).
Other items we recently checked off our to do list:
- We purchased most of our flights from Airtreks along with a special Airtreks-exclusive Travel Guard insurance policy with trip protection & medical coverage. I am letting my U.S. health insurance policy lapse due to the exorbitant $350/month cost (through COBRA) and will apply for a new policy closer to our return date.
- Greg & I both opened & funded Charles Schwab bank accounts because they refund all ATM fees, don‘t charge foreign transaction fees and have no minimum balance requirements.
- I ordered GoSim international SIM cards that will work in our unlocked cell phones. Outgoing calls to pretty much anywhere in the world only cost $0.50/minute with no other usage fees. Incoming calls & texts are free. The catch is that to reach us you have to call an Estonian cell phone number. The better alternative is to set up a Google or Yahoo Voice account so we can talk online for free.
- Greg purchased a AAA membership which gives us discounts & extra car rental protections through their partner programs around the world.
- We purchased our Japan Rail Passes (which are only available outside of Japan).
Since returning to Nashville last week, my primary focus has been completing our pre-trip checklist:
- Greg & I have spent hours researching and booking hostels & looking for couchsurfing opportunities in Australia, our first not exactly cheap destination.
- I scanned & uploaded all of our important documents (passport & visa pages, vaccination cards, international & TN driver's licenses, birth certificates, AAA membership card, insurance policy, wills, health care proxies, itinerary, any tickets bought in advance, front and back of ATM/credit cards, spreadsheets of financial accounts and access info, detailed inventory of items we are taking with receipts to be kept in a file at home) and discussed them with the designated family member who will manage everything while I’m away. This same person will also open & review all of my mail and notify me if anything requires my immediate attention. All of my accounts are online and I receive e-statements so I can pay my bills while I‘m on the road (which should only be for my CapitalOne credit card that I‘m using on the trip). CapitalOne is the only card I could find that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees or an annual fee.
- I paid the deposits for our Egypt tour..
- In the past week we received our passports back from Travisa containing our new 1 year China visas & 10 year India visas, our plane tickets & itinerary from Airtreks, and our Australia train tickets from Great Southern Railroad.
- Greg resigned from his job today!!!
- Packing (again!)
- Scanning or downloading travel guides/destination articles. We are not carrying any guidebooks due to the extra weight so all this information will be electronic and accessible offline on our netbooks. Here are some of the resources I have been using:
- Internet: BootsnAll forum, Lonely Planet Thorn Tree, travel blogs
- Guidebooks borrowed from public library: Rough Guides, Lonely Planet, Frommer’s, Fodor’s, National Geographic Traveler, DK Eyewitness Travel
- Magazines: Shermans Travel, Conde Nast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Budget Travel, etc.
- Make extra passport photos. I will do these at home with my photo printer to save money as it costs around $6 for 2 photos elsewhere and we each need to carry about 20.
- Consolidate all contact info for people we know at our destinations.
- Print homemade “business” cards (I use Avery card stock 5871).
- Complete Greg’s living will/health care proxy (I already have one).
- Suspend subscriptions (i.e. Netflix) & cancel unneeded accounts (e.g. store credit cards).
- Send out final itinerary.
- Say our goodbyes.
So, as you can see, we are making good progress and, for the most part, I am not too stressed about our impending departure date. We’ve already had some fun visits with friends & family and are looking forward to more good times in the coming week.