Last night in Denver

And so after many years of planning and saving, the day of leaving is here. Tomorrow we board a flight for LA and then New Zealand. We’ve got a place to stay that first night, and then after that I don’t actually know exactly where we’ll be. I think that for many, this would be a situation of unease and fear, but I love it. I love the idea that I don’t actually know what next week will hold for me. For quite some time, the overall cadence of days and weeks has been relatively predictable. I know that I’ll be going to work, I know that the kids are going to school, and while the details may vary, the essential framework remains unchanged.  I will miss people, of course. Over the last few weeks it has been a period of many goodbyes and realizing that the little times you spend with friends – working a shift together, going out for lunch, having dinner-  makes up the fabric of your friendship and these little times will not be happening for the near future.

To change the subject, though, let’s talk packing.

What do you take on a long trip like this? I don’t know what YOU take, but here’s what we’re doing:

That picture above is the sum total of our bags. After I took this picture I realized some things were missing which I list below.  But since all of that will fit into the bags above, you get the idea. We hope to do the trip with only carry on luggage as much as possible.

Here’s the girl with her stuff: 4 bottoms, 4 shirts, 3 pairs of socks, 5 pairs of underwear, long sleeved shirt, rain jacket, swimwear, pajamas and of course, a sloth mask, a kindle with a sloth sticker, and a stuffed sloth. 3 pairs of shoes – chuck Taylor’s, flip flops, and keens.

The boys pack is pretty much the same, minus the sloths and plus a backgammon set.

I decided to use the packing cube system given that we’re using backpacks – seems like it’ll be easier to manage  that way. Here’s the girls stuff all put into the cubes. I initially bought a cheap set off eBay, but the zippers were of poor quality and I could tell that I’d eventually find them annoying and will likely break soon. I splurged on slightly more expensive (yet still pretty cheap) sets off amazon for the other two. Each one comes with 4 cubes of varying sizes and 2 laundry pouches.

As for me, not really all that different than the kids except that things are bigger so do take up more room. Since I don’t really want to have my underwear on public display (even if it is all the really boring sort) I’ve left it in the cubes here and have laid out the toiletries instead. Packed my shampoo, conditioner, some makeup, and sunscreen for my face. I also have a small first aid kit with some band aids  and polysporin in it.

Things not pictured: travel guitar, camera, iPad, my knitting, kids coloring books and pencils, and 2 small backpacks for putting stuff in for shorter trips and to have on the plane. I did get a collapsible water bottle as well, let’s see if that’s any use. Eric packed the meds we’re taking : pepto, cipro, azithromycin, and flagyl.

Not bad, though I do feel like it’s still too much! As for when we hit winter in Romania, we are having a few things shipped though I think we’ll be shopping at Romanian secondhand stores for clothes we can wear and then discard, contributing to the great circle of thrift store life.  I’m really hoping I get some super stylish 80s Eastern-bloc era duds to wear.

And off we go – next time I post will hopefully be from NZ (unless the flight to LA is particularly bad then I’ll. post here to complain.


Preparing for lift off

It’s time to start really thinking about the trip for next year.  I mean really, really thinking about it.

Which induces not only excitement and happiness and gratitude and amazement and also complete paralyzing anxiety and panic.  As wonderful as I know the trip will be, it also just feels SO BIG to think about. There’s all the big things to think about–what do we do with the house, the cars, school, safety, money, where we will go–and then when I’m done worrying about that I start to think about all the little things. Things such as what to pack and what we’re going to eat and will we have cell phones and is it okay for me to bring mascara on this trip? Or does that make me a bad traveler? Or just one who looks a bit better in pictures?

Some of the big things-we’d like to rent the house out, though haven’t entirely ruled out selling it, we’ll be selling one of the cars and probably having a friend keep the other. School is a bit trickier but with some combination of online math/science and using the trip itself for social studies, history and reading/writing I think it’ll be manageable.

 As far as where we’ll go, I’ve gotten a stack of books from the library to start researching the first leg of the trip, which will be Japan and Southeast Asia. I’m thinking to start in Japan, then fly down to Vietnam and explore the peninsula. I’m not sure about visiting China, but it all depends on how much time we have and how much anyone who’s been there convinces me we HAVE to go. The second leg depends on whether Eric gets the Fulbright Scholarship he’s applied for in Timisoara, Romania or not. If so we’ll be there from perhaps October through December, and likely do some exploring of Eastern Europe at that time. If not then we’ll likely do longer stops in East Asia. December/January ideally we’d spend 3-4 weeks in India, then in February we’d head to Ireland where Eric is teaching a Study Abroad program near Dublin. During or after that time we’ll travel in Western Europe. Nothing of course has been set in stone, and if there’s someplace that you tell me we MUST go to, we can change our trip.

Overall we’re planning a slow travel type of a trip, where we find a rental for 1-2 weeks in a place and then do day trips from there instead of moving every day. I’ve been reading some family travel blogs and this seems to be what works best especially when traveling with kids. It also gives us the ability to have a more relaxing down day in the week where we plan the week, do homework, etc.

I’d like to be better about documenting this trip, so my goal is to start writing on at least a weekly basis to get in the habit of doing so. It’s surprisingly easy to find time NOT to write, as those of you who write well know, and I hope that by making it a priority now it’s easier to continue when we’re on the road. 

So here we begin!