August 13, 2012

Unnecessary Crap and My Life Plan

There have been a zillion things we've been doing to prepare for this trip - boring things that don't deserve their own post. But I thought maybe you'd like to know a few of them anyway. Actually, that's probably not true. You probably don't want to know. But I need to tell you anyway. Some of this stuff is from the To Do List, and some of it's just extra crap that I thought up to make life more complicated.

Somewhere on the Web, I read that it's a good idea to make contact cards for the road. (Once again, the Internet introduces me to brilliance.) I am highly susceptible to influences regarding cuteness and unnecessary crap, so I ordered some, obviously. I have secretly wanted a reason to purchase Moo Cards for a few years now, and this was the perfect excuse.  I had also read that it's a good idea to put your pic on the cards instead of just your info because, after you give your info to some random person you meet on the road, they're going to forget who that email address belongs to. But, with our new snazzy cards, they'll say, "Oh right, this was that awesome American couple we met at the karaoke bar in Bangkok!" I even put the cards in these little self-laminating luggage tags on each of our bags.
Wanna see the cutesy, unnecessary addition to our packs?

Seriously cute and unnecessary, right?
Our apartment: We found a subletter! We have a great deal with our apartment right now and rents are going insane in San Francisco at the moment. With some encouragement from friends, we decided to sublet our apartment furnished (with the permission of our landlord) so that we would know we had a great deal when we come back. That worked out perfectly and a friend of a friend is moving into the apartment with his wife.

Moving: We're renting our apartment furnished, but we still need to store our personal belongings, and we decided to use those storage pod things. Door-to-Door was the best option for us (only $39/month!).  BUT - we also have to get a permit from the city ($125) and get temporary No Parking signs for the front of our apartment ($164) so that the storage pods can sit there for a few days. Arranging for the permits and parking signs has been a demonstration on how ridiculous the entire government system is. Seriously, they can't email forms? The blank forms aren't available online? They don't even HAVE an electronic form...they are just continuously making PHOTOCOPIES!!! What is this, Russia?!?! (Remind me to tell you about that time I made that joke at work and my boss did not see the humor in it.)

Insurance: Ugh...nightmare. Let's seriously hope there are no more glitches with "Obamacare"going through. Because we get the shaft as Americans. Do you know how crazy expensive it is to buy private insurance, even if you're healthy, young-ish people? It's absurd. Anyway - when we wrote this post, we were planning on purchasing private U.S.-based insurance, special travel insurance, and diver's insurance. We're still moving forward with the diver's insurance (already purchased) and the travel insurance (on the To Do List for this week), but we've decided to pull the plug on the U.S.-based insurance. It puts us at some risk, but paying an additional $300/person/month for insurance because there's a tiny chance we'll get injured or sick in a foreign country and that, even though we'll have insurance to treat us in that country, we wouldn't be able to get medical insurance in the States for ongoing treatment after that because it would be a pre-existing condition? Effing stupid. Insurance industry = sleaze balls.

Living Wills: We made living wills and designated a power of attorney at LegalZoom just to be safe. It was easy and relatively inexpensive. It was creepy to do -all those questions about when you want the plug to be pulled (never?)- and it seems unnecessary given the fact that my life plan is to become a vampire and live forever (and have perfect skin and shiny hair), but I suppose it's important since, for now, I am still a mere mortal being.

Choosing Shoes: What a pain in the arch! (ha! good shoe joke, huh?) Honestly, I don't have anything else to say about this, other than Tom and I both wanted sturdy shoes with good support that could hold our custom orthotic inserts (nerd alert), but that were also waterproof and could be worn through rivers and on rocky beaches. We each ordered 4 pair to try on before making our decisions. In truth, the only reason I included this bullet point is because I've been DYING to use the "pain in the arch" joke for months. I ended up choosing the Teva Churn Evo and Tom went with the Merrell WaterPro Manistee.

Banking: We want to have access to our money, but we don't want someone who steals our debit card to have access to ALL of our money, so our new personal banking system is a complicated web of routing numbers and recurring deposits. Typically, we have all of our checking accounts through Wells Fargo and all of our savings accounts with ING Direct. We like keeping our savings at a different bank because it's an "out of sight, out of mind" situation, and we like that it takes a few extra days for money to move from savings to checking because we really don't have much self control. BUT - Wells Fargo doesn't have great international policies and charges a boatload of fees for non-Wells ATMs abroad. Tons of research told us that Charles Schwab has the best rates for international access to your moolah. So, here's how it shakes down. We'll keep one Wells Fargo account that will have automatic payments to our student loans, storage fees and recurring charitable donations, as well as receiving our subletter's rent payments and paying our landlord our rent payments. This account will mostly take care of itself and we hope to not have to access it much while we're traveling. The rest of our cash will live in our ING savings account. That savings account is linked to a Charles Schwab checking account and we've set it up for monthly transfers from savings to checking. We'll probably withdraw cash from the Schwab account every week or so and live off that cash. This way, if our card gets lost or stolen, the most anyone can steal is a month's worth of cash. Obviously Schwab has great policies and would return our money to us in that instance, but we still just didn't want to deal with the issue of being suddenly broke in Burma (which is the working title for my futuristic memoir).

Striiv: While we're on the topic of unnecessary crap to lug around in Asia, let's talk about the  Striiv Smart Pedometer. This thing is like a regular pedometer except with a cool, color touchscreen interface, social network capabilities, and a charitable aspect. One of the people Tom works with suggested it and we, given our highly susceptibility to influences for purchasing unnecessary crap, checked it out and bought one. We think it will be cool because it will tell us how long we walked over the course of the entire trip, but it also donates money towards either polio vaccinations, providing clean water, or rainforest protection. For example, for every 60,000 steps, Striiv and GlobalGiving immunizes one child against Polio. So that's pretty cool. Right now, there's not a companion app for iOS or Android, nor is there a widget to add to the blog, but we're hoping someone will come up with it soon.

Tom's job: This is insane. Really. When we decided to take this trip, it meant that we would have to give up work and come back to SF without jobs. Super scary. We didn't like this reality, but we had come to terms with it because we really wanted to take this trip. Tom does medical device sales in the orthopedic industry and has been at the same company for the past 6 years. They don't give sabbaticals. Sales is a numbers game and, if he's not here meeting the quotas, they'll find someone who will. So you can imagine how shocked we were when Tom gave his (2.5 month) notice to his boss and his boss said that he wanted to reassign Tom's accounts while he was gone and that the job would be here waiting for him when we returned. HOLY MOLY! We were in shock. Honestly, we had never even discussed this possibility because, well...we didn't think it was a possibility. So it certainly changes the stress level of the trip, knowing that Tom will have a great job when he gets back. Lucky? Maybe a little. But I also am so proud that my husband is so amazing that his job would rather give him a year off than lose him. No funny jokes here. He's awesome-sauce.

My job: I don't have one, and I'm in a super transitional place right now. I'm 90% sure that I'm done with PR and 98% sure that I'm done with the technology industry. I'm 70% sure I want to do wedding/event design and styling when we get back, but I'm 100% terrified to start a new career. I'm hoping this trip gives me some distance from the real world and some time to think about what I really want in know, besides a rapidly shrinking waistline despite an unending supply of donuts.

No comments:

Post a Comment