We traveled for a year and now we’re home. Our project is completed. Now I feel comfortable to write about logistics and comment on what worked (or didn’t) as a reference for anyone else out there planning to do an around the world trip with or without children.
All questions relating to trip logistics fall into four general areas: home-related, medical, school-related and trip-related (planning, booking, etc) so this will likely be a four-part series ( I have a storage unit to unpack and a job to find, but be assured the intent is there). In this post I’ll focus on home-related topics.
We did not sell our house, we rented it for a year. This meant we spent most of the month before leaving emptying closets, packing boxes and carting stuff to the dump, Goodwill or a storage unit. It was like an archeological dig through the history of our family. I guess if I had a regular closet-cleaning routine it wouldn’t have been so bad but I don’t so it was a very worthwhile, if monstrous, effort.
I listed the house on craigslist in June and had a lease signed within a month. (I bought and downloaded the lease document from an online vendor such as uslegalforms.com). The rent paid our mortgage for the year.
I sold some pieces of furniture (on craigslist) – including my kids’ bunk beds. I think they may hold that against me for a long time. They came home from camp to find their beds gone and were not impressed.
We gave our tenants the option of choosing furniture they’d like to keep in the house to use which helped them and us. In the end, we needed only to store a couple of sofas, rugs and a coffee table – and a gazillion boxes of books, clothes, bedding, towels, dishes, kitchen equipment and every single little knick-knack my boys have made or bought ever. (That last is staying in the storage unit until I have every other box emptied and then we’ll see whether or not it comes back into the house or “accidentally” gets routed to the dump).
Using usps.com we opened a P.O. Box and registered a change-of-address routing all our mail to the P.O. Box. We had “home team” support: J, a friend who cleaned out the P.O. Box monthly, dumped the junk mail and let us know (via email) if there was anything that needed our attention. We let all magazine subscriptions expire – except the Economist so we could continue reading it online.
I switched to managing our bills electronically using our bank’s bill payment services a number of years ago. Before we left, we changed any bills for which we were still receiving the paper copy to e-bill – any I missed were picked up by J from the P.O. Box. Although, it’s worth noting that since all utilities were changed to our tenants and we no longer had subscriptions and services to pay for, we only had four or five monthly bills to think about while traveling.
Our second “home team” member was a different friend who had power-of-attorney over our finances so that in the event of an emergency there would be someone in the U.S. who could represent us.
We put originals of all important legal documents (birth certificates, rental lease, and the like) into a safe deposit box in our bank.
We parked our cell phone numbers with family-phone.com a handy service which keeps your number active, records voicemails and emails the voicemail to the email address you provide. Google Voice may provide a similar service today, but I haven’t researched this service yet – even though Murph keeps telling me I need a Google Voice number
Initially we thought that this and Skype would be sufficient for the year but a family medical emergency in October prompted us to sign up with OneSimCard.com. The roaming international rates with this provider are super-low, but again, we kept this just for emergencies, picking up cheap sim cards locally when we needed to have a phone for travel planning.
Murph did keep his iPhone but without a service plan so that he could use it to connect to the internet whenever there was a wifi connection available. We also used it a handful of times to make phone calls via Skype.
I wrote about the cost of our trip in RTW Travel – How Much Does it Cost? The only additional logisitical detail I’ll add here is that while on the road we used a Fidelity mySmartCash account as our primary checking account. This account reimburses ATM fees – even when the ATMs are in out-of-the-way countries – a big bonus when you know you’ll be hit with a charge for every ATM withdrawal for a year. We managed cash-flow and transactions using a combination of our banks’ online tools and Mint.com .
Family World Trip Logistics Part I: What We Left At Home
Family World Trip Logistics Part II: Insurance and Medical
Family World Trip Logistics Part III: Schoolwork
Family World Trip Logistics Part IV: Travel Planning and Booking