By Myscha Theriault, Tribune News Service (TNS)
It’s all well and good to say you’re hopping on a plane to start your new life, but the universe may have other plans. In our case, Murphy’s Law has come into play, temporarily delaying our departure. Simply stated, our success with unloading the largest remaining items from our inventory of assets made us cocky. We seriously underestimated the amount of time required for some of the last remaining details. The result? Fluid accommodation arrangements and a great deal of problem solving on the fly. Following are a few of the things that went wrong, and details as to how we’re rolling with the punches.
Vaccinations: Be advised, signing up for a full battery of international vaccinations is no joke. Whenever my husband and I have traveled long term in the past, it was with a rough idea of a handful of countries on limited continents. Now that we are hitting the road indefinitely, leaving all destinations and types of travel open, the list of shots necessary to protect us against a wide range of diseases has grown exponentially.
My assumption that we would be able to check them all off our list with one or two office visits was naive at best. The clinic we’re using informed us one particular shot series will take roughly a month, with other injections only possible on an as-available basis with a wait list. Further, it isn’t safe to receive too many at once. Multiple weekly visits to the immunization clinic are now part of our updated departure plan.
Wrinkles: An extended shot schedule hasn’t been the only fly in our travel ointment. The simple plan to have an extra key made for the storage unit in order to have friends ship items to us midtrip turned out to be more complicated as well. Apparently, many key-making kiosks and establishments only create certain types of keys. Who knew? We’ve been having backup keys made for most of our adult lives, and I can honestly say this has never been an issue. Fortunately, we were already delayed with the vaccine situation so this didn’t cause any last-minute meltdowns on departure day. We have plenty of time to research where to accomplish this task. Still, this travel snag served as an excellent reminder to always leave a buffer day or two when heading out for long-haul adventure.
Another unexpected wrinkle has cropped up relating to the prepping of our Jeep for sale. While we have found numerous establishments capable of detailing the vehicle’s exterior and interior, finding a place that will also clean and detail the engine is proving to be quite the quest. While not mandatory, it’s a step I always like to take when selling a vehicle and take note whenever I purchase an automobile where someone has bothered to do the same. In a metropolitan area the size of the one I currently reside in, I’m surprised to be a dozen calls into the process and still searching for someone who will include engine cleaning in their detailing efforts. Will it work out eventually? Sure. Still, I’m grateful for the extra time the vaccination extension has given us to ferret out the proper venue. Since we don’t feel we can put the for sale sign on our Jeep Liberty until this detail is crossed off our list, it’s a blessing to have a little extra time to make it happen.
Electronics: When it comes to modern professional gear, few issues are more time consuming to tackle than incorporating new tech gear into your daily travel and work routine. While our two new mobile phones took only a day or two to become fully integrated into our lives, the new laptops are in their second week and counting. A nearly immediate chain store return across the state from point of purchase resulted in an extra night’s hotel stay at one of our stopovers. Additionally, the newly released operating system and migration of professional software packages has been less than smooth. Shepherding new computers into our lives has rarely gone smoothly, and this time is no exception. Still, two weeks seems a bit excessive and we are reluctant to hit the road until we feel confident the transition is complete.
Solutions: So, what happens when your plan to hop on a plane to South America and test drive your new packing protocols for full-time travel takes a temporary detour? In our case, since we’re now homeless by choice after liquidating all of our real estate, we’re largely rolling with the punches and sucking up the cost of North American prices. However, we are implementing a few cost-control measures. First of all, we’re making sure any and all discounts we’re qualified to receive are credited to our various accommodation bills. Second, we’re using up any remaining grocery items with creative hotel meals. If we splurge on a meal out, it’s usually breakfast or lunch, since those are more affordable times of day.
The third, and perhaps most powerful way we’re reducing the overall cost of our delayed departure is by incorporating short-term house sits. While many sitters only take longer-term gigs, our current situation provides quite a bit of flexibility as we can change where we’re sleeping each night with a day’s notice. Coincidentally, the first two we accepted also easily qualify as extreme house sits, which beefs up our street cred nicely before we hit the international circuit.
The initial condo sit was in the middle of a major renovation between renters while the owners traveled back to their home country. In addition to keeping a general eye on the place, we coordinated communications and project management with the contractor, rental manager, property HOA officials and the owners themselves. Our efforts made them confident with our capabilities, and got us invited to turtle sit at their rural lake house in Sweden next summer. This second house sit is at a 13-animal rescue property where nearly all of the fur children in our care have been saved from some sort of severe abuse. This means keeping a tight routine, alternative behavioral management protocols and making sure those with challenging personalities are kept in their pre-established subgroups. With six dogs, a high-strung horse and six cats — one with twice-daily diabetes injections — there’s certainly never a dull moment. However, it balances out our North American hotel costs nicely and we feel blessed to have the trust of the owners as they enjoy a much-needed getaway.
Bottom line? Delays will inevitably happen, especially when you are carving out an entirely new life from scratch. Dealing with them requires not only some financial flexibility, but some out-of-the-box thinking and patience as well.
(Trekhound.com founder Myscha Theriault has sold her home, all her furniture and most of her other belongings to travel the world full time with her husband. You can follow her adventures on Twitter via @MyschaTheriault.)
©2015 Myscha Theriault. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Photo: ©afp.com / Scott Olson.