Posts Tagged With: Trip Prep

Reading on the Road

Great Japan RTW Travel ReadingIn an attempt to make the very best of our forthcoming trip, we’re constantly soliciting advice from others who have traveled on this kind of scale. Last week, we met a guy who had attempted a year-long sojourn several years back, but cut his trip short after about six months when all of his gear was stolen in the Czech Republic. Bummer.

Anyway, when we pressed him to give his single, best piece of advice, he offered the same counsel that we’d heard a few times before: Take the time to read books written in the countries that you’re going be visiting. Immerse yourself in the culture by connecting through some of the classic written word. The theory is that by diving into a world created by a legendary author, you may add level of depth to your visit. For example, one might want to read Kafka while sitting in coffee houses in Prague or plod through crazy-looking Tolstoy while riding on a train between Russian cities. Admittedly, it is not the most original or creative advice, but we’re still taking it to heart.

Great New Zealand RTW ReadingToday we picked up two books for the first two legs of our journey: New Zealand and Japan. We prefer fiction and after some research we picked up The Bone People (a Booker Prize-winning Novel by Keri Hulme out of New Zealand) and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (a lengthy but seemingly fascinating novel by prolific and renowned author Haruki Murakami out of Japan).

I’ve always been one of those guys who says that he enjoys reading, but never seems to be able to make time for it. So, I’m looking forward to jumping into to these first two books and start dog-earing the pages immediately. I’ll be reading thick, heavy paperbacks that I can attack with a pen and flip through at will. Brooke, on the other hand, will be enjoying both on the convenience of her Kindle. Well, only if she can find The Bone People. Amazon may not have it available…load of bunk.

We are always seeking advice and input, so let us know if YOU have a must-read classic suited to one of the countries we will be visiting that we should pick up and start bookmarking.

-Phil

Categories: Diversions, Japan, New Zealand, Packing, Reading, Trip Prep | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Hardest Part about Leaving New York

It is official.  We no longer live in New York City.  Actually, we no longer live anywhere—we are homeless. As we drove the 11 hours to Cincinnati today, we had a lot of time to reflect on our time in New York and where our future will take us, both with the trip and beyond it.  Here is what I have realized.

The most difficult thing about making the decision to go on a trip around the world and leave New York is not quitting our jobs or giving up our apartment.  That was actually pretty easy.  The hardest part was leaving our friends.  Last night, we spent what has to be the perfect final evening in New York City.  Phil and I went to Moran’s to celebrate our 1 year wedding anniversary (this was the spot where we had our wedding reception).  Then we went to meet up with our friends for one more beer (or 3) before heading out of town in this morning.

Final Friends Farewell

As an adult, I know that friends are precious.  Good friends are surprisingly hard to make…it isn’t like it was when we were kids and you became friends with the kid next door because they were there.  We’ve always found that in a city as large as New York, it is really easy to meet people, but it is a whole lot harder to find people with whom you make a lasting and meaningful connection.  We have been so lucky.  We have made friends here in the last few years that I can’t imagine not seeing on a weekly basis.  When you live in a city like New York, with little to no family to spend special occasions with, your friends become your family.  Our friends are our family and saying goodbye to them was so much harder than I anticipated.

Here’s the thing—I know last night was not really goodbye.  Friendships are always changing.  Of course, things will be different.  They have to be.  However, I am sure some of the friends who I’ve gotten to know during my time in New York will be friends for the rest of my life.  I am so glad for that.  I will miss them so much…more than I even realized.  Last night was wonderful, but also incredibly hard, only because I love them deeply.  I know we will see them soon and we are already anxious to catch up with them, tell them all our new stories and hear all of theirs.  Honestly, that day can’t get here soon enough!

-Brooke

Categories: Friends, Leaving, Trip Prep | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

More on Getting Vaccinated

In a recent post, we wrote about the process of getting vaccinated and immunized for our upcoming trip. Just the other day, we completed the final steps of getting our shots, pills and more. Thus far, this process has been one of the more cumbersome and time consuming affairs to prep for the trip. While at the medical Center on Monday, we certainly got the impression that they don’t have a ton of people coming in for world travel vaccinations. There was revolving confusion, waiting and more waiting. Once back from our trip, we look forward to leisurely paced suburban medical practitioners. You know:  Giant fish tanks. Friendly nurses. Etc.

Typhoid and more

The precautionary steps that Dr. Park recommended included three series of shots to prevent diseases that I’ve only really read about and some that I can barely spell (Hepatitis A, Polio Booster and Japanese Encephalitis), one oral vaccine prescription (Typhoid), and one set of pills to prevent…um…gastrointestinal emergencies (Ciprofloxacin –made famous by the Anthrax scare which also has an efficacy to treat diarrhea). We topped it off with a regimen consisting of boatloads of Dramamine for motion-sick-prone Brooke. Trust us, with sixteen different flights scheduled – she needs it.Getting Vaccines

The nurse was actually a lot of fun. She told us a few jokes to distract from the combined the six pricks that we received in a few minutes. The shots were overall painless with relatively small needles. One burned just a little bit, but other than that it hurt less than a Tetanus shot and only the Hepatitis burned for a second.

All in all, it put a pretty hefty dent in the wallet: Almost $400 per person. Oof. Insurance should help pay back for a couple of the shots which helps. Are the odds high that we would have contracted these illnesses had we not taken the time and cost to get immunized? Who knows. Probably not very high and we’ll be taking other precautions to stay healthy. But one of the big reasons that we’re taking this tip is because we didn’t want to look back regretting something we didn’t do. And, let’s face it—contracting a horrible, debilitating case of Japanese Encephalitis somewhere in Vietnam because we didn’t get a vaccine falls into the same category.

Now, I have to end this post in order to go to the fridge to take my semi-daily Typhoid vaccine. Hunh.  That’s something I never thought I would type.

-Phil

Ouch!

Categories: Health, Insurance, Trip Prep, Vaccines | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bling!

I have been married for about a year (actually, tomorrow, July 10, will be a year exactly–Happy Anniversary!) Anyway, Phil went through a painstaking process of choosing the exact perfect ring for me–he took our friends Stacy and Robin to help him choose, he inspected several different diamonds to get the one he really wanted and he ended up choosing a magnificent ring. The kind a girl dreams about. I love it!

It is important to note, I am a middle school teacher whose is constantly telling my students before our big end of year field trip to Washington, D.C., “Don’t bring anything that you don’t want to lose.” Now, when you think about it, this is a pretty good philosophy, especially for 13 year-olds. However, I’ve decided the same is true for me.

Travel Engagement Ring

I would be absolutely devastated if anything happened to my rings–if I lost them, or if they got stolen, I would be totally heart-broken. Yes they are insured, but that really isn’t the point. This is the ring Phil chose for me–I certainly don’t want to risk losing it. Also, I’m pretty sure it will be clear to most people that we are American tourists and I don’t want to give anyone more reason to try to rob us. I have some visions of someone just cutting off my entire left hand to get my rings. (Don’t they know those extreme measures are unneccesary?)

The solution, of course, is to leave my rings safely at home. However, I still want to have a wedding band so I still look respectable traveling with this married man. I decided to get a fairly inexpensive, very plain wedding band for the trip. I went to my friendly neighborhood Zales at 79th and Broadway and bought the band you see below. With taxes, it was about $185.00. I have worn it quite a bit since I bought it as it is perfect for playing softball, cleaning the apartment or going for a run (all things I would have just done without my rings on before). It is really comfortable and I kind of love the simplicity of it. Also, it is nice that even in those small moments when I am sweaty from working out or up to my ears in dust and grime, I have this ring on my finger. It makes me smile.

-Brooke

Categories: Clothes, Safety, Trip Prep | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Communicating While Abroad

Planning a trip the size and scope of what we’re doing has taken some planning, but overall has been relatively manageable. So far, we’ve just needed some time, patience and organization. The more we learn, the luckier we feel to be planning travel like this in 2012 instead of 1972. The world seems to have gotten a bit smaller in the last forty years and in no section is this more apparent than in the area of communication.

Between expected near-universal internet access, e-mail and even this blog, we really don’t anticipate any issue with maintaining a link with everyone back home. The one area that we thought might be tricky is turning out to be a breeze: Phone calls.

First, we should mention that we’re shutting down our IPhones. We’ve placed our accounts on hold with our collective carriers. AT&T is charging me about $12 a month to place my account “on hold” for up to six months. No service, but I can restart with number and plan with one call when I get back. I don’t love it, but it’s cheaper and easier than starting over when I get back. Similarly, Verizon is not charging Brooke anything to place her account on hold, but she actually can’t suspend service until the day before we leave the United States, so that’s developing.

The imLocal Phone Reviewportant thing to note is that we’re both going to be able to use our Iphone as WiFi devices. Enter Local Phone!

Local Phone is a highly reviewed app that allows you to call just about any number in any country for a per-minute charge. One loads credit into your Local Phone account which is managed online or through the app. You can manage contacts, determine rates before you call and it looks like a winner even if you’re NOT traveling internationally. The Iphone app is easy to use on Iphone and you can use from a laptop or tablet as well. Rates can be viewed here, but run from a reasonable fraction-of-a-cent to twenty-five cents a minute depending on where you are calling. Most calls to the United States are half-a-cent a minute. That’s a phenomenal deal! And finally makes good use of all those pennies in my Scrooge McDuck Change jar. Of course, you must have WiFi and we haven’t tested it much to attest to quality, but it should be a great addition to our travel plans.

Nice bonus: I apparently have earned $5 in credit just by signing other people up. It reminds me of the old Vonage days when they would give huge bonuses for both parties when you get others to join. In fact, if you’re interested in the service and want to give us a boost, click here to sign up! Please and thank you.

-Phil

Categories: Cell Phones, Communication, Iphone Apps, Trip Prep | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Travel Insurance

One of the many items on our pre-trip checklist was securing travel insurance for the voyage. First we asked ourselves “do we really need travel insurance?” After all, the insurance is just one more cost. And we’re healthy folks who can handle just about anything, right? After researching and talking with others, it turns out that the answer is an unequivocal resounding “Yes.” For the endless number of possible scenarios that could turn an easy going day in Buenos Aires to a long night in an Argentine hospital, insurance is a must have.

Hunting for the right insurance plan was a whole process in itself. There are dozens of plans that cover hundreds of scenarios. Travel Guard Chartis, CSA Travel Protection and The Divers Alert Network (DAN) are three well regarded and well-reviewed companies we found. We had success using the Travel Insurance aggregate site Squaremouth to sort through the plans.

The particular package that we ended up purchasing has similar coverage as those offered by most other plans. Practical offerings that should keep us covered in a handful of relatively likely scenarios: Travel Delay, Baggage Delay, Personal Items Loss, Life Insurance and 24-Hour Assistance Service. But the biggest coverage for us, the one that is more important than all others combined, is the Emergency Medical Insurance and Medical Evacuation & Repatriation. A lost bag we can deal with. Needing to get back to America ASAP due to an unexpected, horrific and terrifying emergency medical condition is where we would likely need a big helping hand.

We ended up choosing the Travel Guard Platinum from Chartis primarily because they’ve earned top marks on taking care of everything when a medical situation arrives after your day has taken a dramatic turn for the worse. No hospital co-pay, all paperwork covered and if something crazy happens where you need to be flown back home (Repatriation), they handle every single step. Most standard healthcare insurance plans offered by companies do NOT include the repatriation part and can be hit or miss with health care coverage abroad.

We recommend scouring through the plans, fine print and costs to find one that is tailored for your specific trip needs. For example, we had absolutely no need for “Employment Layoff” coverage, but the “Missed Connection” might come in handy to pay for a night in a hotel if needed. We also got a kick out of reading some of the disclaimers. Such as the horrifying yet humorous details on what percentage of your life insurance you’ll be compensated for losing just one leg or a finger & a thumb on a flight. Another example, you may receive compensation if your trip is interrupted by a Hurricane or Tropical storm, but only IF that storm has already been named.  Also, we are NOT covered if we need insurance because we were inciting a riot in another country or competing in a professional sporting contest abroad. Oh, insurance people. You know us so well.

-Phil

Categories: Doccuments, Health, Insurance, Packing, Trip Prep | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Getting Vaccinated

Not surprisingly, prepping for this big trip of a lifetime has required a fair amount of effort, planning and time. Working hard to take four months off has been our marching orders over the last few weeks. One of the more important chores on our to do list is making sure that we’re set on all the vaccines, immunizations , booster shots, and anything else needed when you’re doing a bit of globe hopping. Ensuring we’re set for healthy travel has ended up being one of the more time-consuming but incredible necessary rigmaroles thus far.

We both have the same general physician: Dr. Jayson Park at Beth Israel Medical Center.  For years, Dr. Park has been attentive, helpful and just a quality Doctor to have in your corner. After a few comprehensive conversations and a thorough review of the countries and regions we’re visiting, Dr. Park was able to prescribe a small battery of shots and oral medications. While there were some risks in rural parts of Argentina and Croatia, it really is our planned visits to China and Vietnam that got us. If not for those two countries, it looks like we could have bypassed this hassle and cost altogether. As it is, below is what the doctor ordered:

  • Typhoid vaccine: Oral prescription for four days and good for  four years. Easy enough.
  • Adult Polio booster. Learned that shots when you’re a child are apparently not enough.
  • Hepatitis A vaccine series:  Two shot series.  One now and the second booster in six months.  First shot is to takes care of us now and gives us sweet, sweet immunity for travel.  Second shot is to get lifelong immunity.
  • Japanese encephalitis:  For the risk that we’ll have in Vietnam.
  • Ciprofloxacin. Unique, international food will likely sometimes give us a bit of traveler’s diarrhea. Symptoms include acute abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea and lots of Phil whining. Should help immensely and immediately.

Much to our chagrin, our insurance (and apparently most insurance plans) cover very little of this. Our costs may total $300 + a person. But the other option is, you know, running the outside risk of getting Typhoid. And that doesn’t sound like much fun at all. For those curious, we apparently don’t need a Malaria Prophylaxis, Rabies Shot or Yellow Fever vaccine at all. Hooray!

There is a lot to get excited for in planning this trip, but there are certainly some pain-in-the-ass-realities like this we’re working to tackle as well. Hoping they give us a delicious lollypop after our shots.

Categories: Health, Medical, Trip Prep | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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