Preparing for World Travel

When people are asked what they would do with a million dollars, a common response is: “I would take a trip around the world!” What they don’t take into account is: everything that needs to be taken cared of prior to departure. And, while a million bucks would certainly soften the blow, there are still many details to be taken cared of.

Like: what to do with your house (if you own one). How about pets? What do you do about your utilities? Your mail? Magazine…and what about Netflix?!

Having quite a bit less than a million dollars, I simply can’t outsource these details to an assistant, I have to figure all of these things out on my own.

I found out I could probably rent out my small 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath home for $1,600 dollars. My mortgage is about $1,100 – so a profit of about $500/month. In order to do this I would hire a Property Management company for around $160. Profit drops to $340.

The only thing I have to do is empty my house.

After talking with the Property Manager, it was decided that because of how my 2 car garage is constructed, I could completely block off 1/2 of my garage, which I could use for storage. The renters would still have a large parking area outside, as well as a 1 car garage (their half of the 2 car garage).

My small 13′ RV I could store on the side of my garage. With the house contents stored in the garage, and the RV parked on the side of my house I don’t have to shell out for storage, which can get pricey. The cheapest 10’x10′ storage in Wheat Ridge is $138/month. That’s $1,656/year, and that’s without a drive-up location. It’s an indoor location, which means hauling stuff through hallways, and possibly stairs – no thanks!

And with rooms in Thailand going for $10/day, that’s a potential 165 days of Thai housing the storage would cost me!

So, I have a somewhat unique situation, but many folks with a house they’ve paid for for 10 years would probably be in a similar situation. The decision point of whether to sell or rent my home became moot after I found out I could have an income stream if I rented.

Because it’s possible I would want to move back, and with housing in Colorado rising like it is it’s debatable whether I could even buy back into the market!

Packing a house

Packing a house, even a small home like mine, is a huge chore. What I’ve done is to go room by room, and even just a section of a room at a time. This seems to work for me. I also gave myself a good amount of time to move out – at least 2 months. This allows me to take a more leisurely pace in packing and moving items from the main house to my half of the garage.

What I’m finding is that, like many things, it’s the mental blocks that make packing hard. As I pack, I am also ridding myself of things that I no longer need. Certain items with sentimental value, such as photos I will understandably keep. But then there are other items, like yearbooks, or comic collections, and (the hard one for me) books!

Everyone has a sticking point on certain things – it may be baseball cards, or tools, or photos and books. And while I’ve been fairly ruthless about dumping stuff, I know what slows me down too.

Going through a house that has been lived in for 12 years, I forget how much that remains unlooked at, and in some ways uncared for. Old photos I haven’t looked at in years, books I would never read again, but were gifted to me at some point.

Getting rid of stuff in order to travel becomes an exercise in Minimalism.

Some questions I use to decide to keep or discard are:

  • The 90/90 rule: Have I used it in the past 90 days? If not, will I use it in the next 90 days? If the answer is “no” for both questions, it’s likely I can discard it.
  • 20/20 rule (from the Minimalists) If I need it, can I In 20 minutes buy the same thing for $20? If so, discard.
  • How much of a pain in the ass would it be to move it (and to move it back in)? This question got me to give away my couches, coffee table and end tables.

Having rules in place helps move things along as well, such as:

  • Getting rid of things means you don’t have to store it. This is the first rule of organizing – fewer things makes organizing easier.
  • Move at least a few things every day. This rule has helped me make progress when every fibre of my being says to check my Facebook, or anything besides moving stuff.
  • “A little at a time is a lot over time.” This little quote has helped me through the process of moving or discarding stuff.
  • Know where you can donate. Simply knowing where the nearest Goodwill, or clothes dropoff, or even the phone number for big trash pickup removes another barrier to accomplishing your move. No excuses.
  • Move out of a room completely, even if it means some items are (temporarily) moved into a different room.

This last bit has been really helpful. Clearing out an entire room, even if it means leaving some things in a separate room (for now), is mentally rewarding. Just seeing the open cleared off space makes you want to do the next room!

It’s actually a freeing exercise – and the result is figuring out what you don’t really need – which is most things! I think I’ll miss my bed with it’s down comforter the most. It’s a thick memory foam mattress that gives me amazing sleep.

It’s hard leaving the Shire!

Making money while traveling

Like hundreds of other people I am planning on making a boatload of $$$ from my blogging. That being said, between here and boatloads of $$$ may be a long dry period. Luckily, I already have had a modicum of success with my blogging, making a small recurring revenue that I plan on increasing as my blogging activities continue.

But, it’s always good to have a backup.

I am also taking a “Teaching English as a Foreign Language” (TEFL) course through teflonline.com. I’m starting with the Basic certification course, which currently costs $196. They also have more advanced courses, but apparently this is the minimum needed in order to teach in certain countries. Most prefer 100 hours, but this is a self-directed 40 hour course, which is right for my situation, and something I can do in the evenings when I am not moving my house. They have a TEFL branch in Costa Rica too, if I decide I wanted to go for a more advanced certification. Once I have the certificate in hand, I can use it as a backup revenue source. But, ultimately, it may turn out to be super interesting, and a way to get to interact and get to know people from the area.

Foreign Transaction Fees

One of the realities of traveling is: how do I access my money while abroad? Most of the time it comes down to either using credit cards, or using ATMs for cash withdrawals. But banks often charge “Foreign Transaction Fees,” which could be tacked on when using your credit card, or withdrawing money. A way around this, at least for people from the US, is to open a Charles Schwab account. Their ATMs are free, and their debit card charges no foreign transaction fees.

It does require that you open a brokerage account, but there is no obligation to actually use it. I simply connect my credit union account to my Schwab account, allowing me to transfer money into the Schwab account as needed.

Healthcare

My healthcare is through Kaiser Permanente, and they have a “Trips” division that understands the intricacies of vaccinations prior to traveling. I plan on taking advantage of this before I leave.

I am also getting some appointments taken care of – such as a colonoscopy! Yes, I’ve reached that age now. Also – dental work. Just chipped a molar and had to get a crown. Not sure what the dental work quality will be in other countries.

I also take a medication on a regular basis. What I’ve found is that I can buy a year’s supply from Kaiser if I pay cash. This is something I plan on doing as I don’t know if I will be able to fulfill my meds while overseas. At least a 6 month supply, while I figure out what I can get in other countries.

Kaiser also covers emergency medical care. I would have to pay up to my deductible, thereafter only 30%. This I may keep, but then again I may look into traveler’s insurance. Hopefully, nothing major will occur!

Legal

Well, what happens if something happens that requires you to be back home? Like, for signing legal documents? Granting someone the Power of Attorney will allow that person to act on your behalf – as if you were there in person. Since that person will likely have access to bank accounts and property they will of course have to be someone you trust implicitly. This is also something I plan on doing, granting one of my brothers that live in the area in case something happens.

I’m also thinking of some sort of travel insurance that includes legal. This is a decent article on the value of having legal Insurance while traveling abroad.

Points for travel

I happen to have 70k points on a Chase Mileage Plus card. These were accumulated through my previous career as an SEO Analyst. But, I knew I’d need more. I managed to qualify for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which had a recent promotion of 100k points as long as I made $4,000 in purchases within the next 3 months. Since I had a roofing scheduled, that took care of the entry purchases right there!

There is a yearly fee of $450, but earning 3x on points means you can make that back, and more. As long as you pay your balance off each month you should be good. And, 10 months down the line, if you decide you don’t want to pay the yearly fee – then just cancel the card!

Think of it this way: you pay $450 to get about $1,200 in benefit (100,00 Chase points). That’s like getting $750 free money!

It’s the equivalent of getting an international flight, and maybe a few days  at a decent hotel (depending on where you go). Cancel in the 10th month or so, and you’ll never pay the yearly fee!

Deciding where to go

This is, as they say, a high quality problem. Meaning, if you have this choice, it’s not a problem at all.

Well, at little bit. I mean, in a world of possibilities, where does one start? I decided to have a few rules in place to help limit the decision making process, at least for the first country:

  • Don’t pick a place you’ve been to before.
  • Pick a place where you can learn more Spanish.
  • Has to be fairly cheap.
  • Has to have rock climbing (if possible)

The last point is one I will concede – but not without a fight. After thinking about Central vs South America, as well as Mexico, I decided to go to Costa Rica. Never been there before (check!) Spanish speaking (Check!) Fairly cheap (Check!)

Rock climbing?

Yeah, dunno.

After a brief Google search, I found out that Cartago, Costa Rica is the place to go for rock climbing in CR. There’s a crag there called Escalada Cachí, with 20 routes according to the website.

It’s decided – I’m going to Costa Rica!

From there – who knows!

Hopefully, this has been helpful for you. Maybe you find yourself in a similar situation. I think many of the things I wrote about apply to everyone: traveling for “free” on credit card points, packing, and other items like health and legalities. Having these things thought out prior to travel can smooth out the rest of your travel plans.

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