Sunday, January 14, 2007

#99 What to do?

We’re often asked about the logistics of being away from home for our 4-month Semester At Sea. How’d you pay the bills? What about your mail? What about your e-mail? First, here's a list of things we didn’t need to do:
  • We have no children, no pets, and no plants that need attention in our absence. 
  • We have no exterior maintenance issues since our townhome association takes care of all that. 
  • We have our passports. 
  • Our bills are all automatically deducted. 

And now, here’s our month-by-month to-do list after the Semester at Sea offer came through on May 25, 2006 to prepare for embarking on August 23, 2006.
  • Apply for a leave of absence. 
  • Decide what Kelly’s shipboard responsibilities might be. 

  • Seek advice from those who have gone before. 
  • Apply for travel visas. 
  • Make travel plans from Indy to San Diego and from Fort Lauderdale to Indy - planning to circle the globe without leaving the surface of the earth. 
  • Find property management company to handle rental properties. 
  • Decide what to do with our townhome: rent or leave it empty. 

  • Build a trip website that we can update throughout voyage.
  • Investigate forwarding any cell phone messages to e-mail since we would have internet service but no cell phone service on the ship. (We found that retrieves voice messages and delivers them directly to your e-mail inbox - for free!) 
  • Prepare laptop, buy voltage converter, plug adapters, and external hard drive for backups. 
  • Upload contacts to online address book. 

  • Arrange finances – enough liquidity for 4 months of travel. 
  • Plan for any bills not automatically handled, such as fall property tax payment. 
  • Apply for a backup credit card and notify credit card companies of international travel. 
  • Obtain $50 foreign currency for each country we’ll visit.

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  • Arrange health insurance and traveler’s health insurance. 
  • Get physical exams and protect ourselves with immunizations against hepatitis, tetanus, typhoid, polio, and malaria. 
  • Buy prescription medicine in advance. 
  • Stock up on seasick medication, bug repellant. 

  • Build mail slot so that mail can collect at home rather than at post office. 
  • Ask friends to check on townhome and mail. 
  • Obtain absentee ballots for fall elections. 
  • Cancel cable, internet service, and newspaper subscriptions. 
  • Step down as townhome board president. 
  • Research ports of call, sign up for Semester at Sea field programs, and research library addresses in each port. 
  • Buy Indiana gifts for shipboard community and for local hosts. 
  • Practice pack. 
  • Attend all bon voyage parties! 

It’s overwhelming when I look back on it now, but we were committed to do something totally life-changing – totally for ourselves. And doing all the preparation this time will make it just that much easier when we decide we want to do it all over again!

Yours in preparing for the next opportunity,

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