Last week, I had coffee with my friend, Kim. She and her family are planning to take a year off to sail soon (go, Kim!), and I talked her ear off about how to prepare. Kim madly scribbled down notes as I rattled off websites, resources and advice about the logistics of leaving. After 30 minutes of so, I caught myself marveling at the sheer amount of stuff we’ve checked off lists in the last six months.
Remember that Little Red Bible? It’s a serious masterpiece now. We have pages full of cross-referenced lists, organized by month and category.
Then there’s all the sticky notes and half-crossed out to-do lists littering our offices and house. I’ve even started emailing myself reminders, since I think of details when the Little Red Bible is not close at hand.
Since we decided not to buy our own sailboat (yet), I’m surprised by all these details. I mean, how hard can it really be to fill up a backpack and go play on the ocean for a year or two?
Kinda complicated, it turns out. Sailing away takes some serious organization. I’m proud of how organized we’ve been, and how much we’ve taught ourselves about sailing, traveling and life-maintenance in preparation to head off.
Now we want to share our lessons in preparation here, in case you’re planning your own adventure (and we encourage you to do so!). This is the start of a little mini-series on how to cast off your bowlines and head into the sunset.
What You Should Leave Behind (and hopefully not worry about):
- Taxes. Do ’em before you go.
- Jury duty and voting. Tell the county elections office and courts that you’re leaving the country for a spell. They can forward ballots if you know where you’ll be (we sure don’t!).
- Your address. Set up a forwarding address for U.S. mail and change all relevant billing/contact information.
- Typical health insurance. Buy international travel insurance, including emergency flight evacuations — it’s actually cheaper than U.S. plans.
- “Will and Testament.” Write one, get it notarized and file it with your county.
- A home safe or bank safe deposit box filled with copies of passport, birth certificate, marriage license, house/car titles, bank account info, and wills. Give copies or safe access to a trusted friend or family member, too.
- Your house and car(s). Lease it, sell it, and get it in tip-top shape to avoid disasters while you’re a world away (stay tuned for a future post on how to do this).
- Financial complications. Cancel all but one credit card, and open a new checking account and credit card that don’t charge fees out the wazoo (like Schwab or Capitol One).
- 99% of your clothes: only bring what fits in a 2-cubic-foot sack. Yup: that’s all you get.
- Furniture, gear, dishes, books, odds and ends. Give ’em to Goodwill, sell on Craigslist, Amazon or eBay, or have a white elephant party.
- Subscriptions. No more newspapers and magazines, unless they get e-delivered to your Kindle or tablet.
- Storage area. If you can’t get rid of everything, build a storage space (we put up a wall with a locking door to use half of our garage as storage) or rent one.
- Pets. So sad they can’t come with us on our adventures! Luckily, our doggie Abe already has 2 sets of parents and gets to stay and chase turkeys and deer in Montana. Our chickens found an excellent retirement home, too. We’ll miss them all.
Next up in the Travel Prep Mini-Series: What to Bring With You. Give us a shout with questions — we’d love to help you get out and explore! (And, if you want detailed logistics info and a good laugh, we’ll lend you our Little Red Bible.)