Planning & Preparation > Preparation Notes
After spending many months developing our itinerary and budget, we were now faced with getting everything together before we left. We had 4 months before we were scheduled to leave, but given Therese's tremendous work load and getting our house ready for renters and leaving for a year, we would need to accomplish numerous tasks each day. I suggest 5 months to prepare for a trip of this magnitude for a family beyond all the research and budget preparation. This included researching and pricing equipment and camera gear, storing personal items, arranging all the finances, yard work and management, finding renters, looking for airfares, researching the micro level of our trip, school work and meeting with teachers and all the little odds and ends that take us by surprise.
After all the research and budget development, we made a commitment to do this trip as a family. Our commitment was solidified with a letter to all family and friends via email and standard postal service. In this letter, we described what we were attempting and why. We also asked for support and any information related to the trip (contacts, relatives, good experiences, financial resources, etc.). Response to this letter was amazing. Yes, there were several people who thought we were crazy and even angry that we would put our children at such risk. However, a vast majority were very supportive of our endeavor. Through this letter we received free housing opportunities, much needed financial resources, an invitation for our children to attend school in Cyprus, local contacts, current safety issues, and detailed descriptions of places people have already travelled to. We mailed this letter out 4 months before our departure date in mid July.
The above letter was also an invitation to all our friends and family to a potluck at our house to talk about our trip. Once again, attendance and support was incredible. About 40 friends came and provided us with more local contacts, places to stay, equipment suggestions, safety and health recommendations, communication and school work suggestions. After this meeting, both Therese and I felt extremely confident we were doing the right thing and that we would succeed in our trip.
Local contact and house manager
We were fortunate to have a good friend step forward and be responsible for managing our house. This has been so valuable to us, as he is able to resolve any issues regarding our house and our mail. In addition, we asked two other neighbors to provide feedback if something dramatic happened and more input was needed. Our friend is responsible for collecting and depositing rents. We also provided a phone list of plumbers, carpet cleaners, handymen, and animal vet we had used in the past.
Renting our house
We needed to rent our house to make this trip viable. Our goal was to rent the house with our furniture to eliminate storage costs. Plus, we were looking for a tenant that would take care of our two cats. We live in a university town, so we felt confident about our prospects. We found out the current rental price for our area and advertised on www.craigslist.com (a free advertising website). We had 6 offers within two days and one of those wanted the house as is.
Banking and Finances
Regarding our funds for our trip. We set up an account that we can access via ATM. Within this account we established a separate money market account and a standard checking account. Through our banks website, we can transfer funds between account. If our cards are stolen, or password forged, only our checking account can be accessed. Of course, we started we the usually $US dollars dispersed throughout our luggage.
In terms of our house, we put our mortgage, insurance, tax payments on automatic debit.
We each set up our own email account and our website consultant set up a contact form to help facilitate communication during our trip. Outside the United States, internet cafes are numerous anywhere travel congregate. Some areas are faster then others (Laos), but we are able to communicate back home when necessary. This has been critical in arranging packages and important papers to be mailed, talking with friends and resolving issues on the home front. In addition, we are able to stop at internet cafes and check up on the latest news about the next travel destination. The information age has made travel information and home contact readily available.
Yes, even while travelling aboard, taxes are certain. Before leaving on our trip I performed calculations to see what our tax liability was going to be, if any. Then I contacted the IRS to ensure I would be able to extend my filing deadline 4 months over the internet. This was not a problem. If income is being taxed while away and you appear to have a tax liability due on April 15, I would suggest making quarterly payments electronically to State and IRS departments to clear up any taxes due each quarter. Therefore, when you file for an extension, there are no taxes due and no penalties or interest will be tacked on. I am assuming a traveller does not have the ability to gather all relevant information concerning taxes on the road.