So much to do … (T-2.5 weeks!!!)

Another week has gone by – can you believe it? Jason and I will be out of this apartment and on a plane in 19 days. I vacillate between feeling like I’m not doing enough and being too hard on myself every. single. day.

I’ve been through all of the apartment trying to get rid of everything we’re not keeping. I’ve given away tons, sold a few things, and kept probably too much, but I also rented a storage unit bigger than we had initially planned so it will all fit. All this planning and I still can’t pare it down as far as I want, but I really like the little Japanese cat tchotchke we were given for our wedding!

Everything on my list from the last post got accomplished in the past week, so I won’t bore you with an outline. It took an extra day, but it’s done.

A couple of big successes for the past few days – we were approved for our health insurance (insurances?) – both US and travel! They become effective February 1st. We’re just waiting for the cards now and when we get them, I’ll get to take both items off the to-do list!

Also, the health insurance provided by Jason’s employer (effective until January 31st) covered a very expensive anti-malaria pill that is rare to have covered and very expensive to pay for out of pocket, saving us at least a couple hundred dollars. We have one Japanese Encephalitis shot left on Wednesday (sadly they only cover a small portion of those) and then we’re done with vaccines!

Everything that has to be ordered online has been ordered and most of it has arrived. Everyone who needed to know about our trip has been told. All of the appointments that we needed to make have been scheduled. There is little (if anything) we still need to figure out – it’s just about following through now, filling the boxes literally and figuratively. Even just writing that out feels surreal.

As we look ahead to next week, it’s a lot of packing, a trip to the vet for Kitty & Boba, Kitty goes to stay with our friends, and on Friday we on a plane for a weekend in Las Vegas. I’m hoping that will keep me motivated to get as much done this week as I can.

Passports in hand – T-4 weeks!

Finally, we have the passports in hand (well, currently in our safe) – they have our Chinese and Russian visas in them and we don’t have to send them off again. It feels good – really really good. I like to tell myself that when I’m leaving for a trip, all you really need is your passport and a credit card; everything else you can buy or borrow 🙂

I’m starting to get really excited about Taiwan – I’m in a couple of groups about traveling and living in there and reading a lot of blogs about things to do, places to visit, and food to eat! There’s a couple of free tours Jason and I will do when we arrive to learn more about Taipei and Taiwan and hopefully get some suggestions on what to do on our own. I have a few day trips from Taipei planned, and we’ll probably stay in a couple other areas of the island as well. We also should be able to see the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival – if we go, I think we’ll get some great pictures to share on the blog.

We’ve made some solid progress this week, accomplishing 3 out of the 5 goals I set for myself in my last post, plus another 2 that I had planned for next week, and a few extra miscellaneous tasks as well –

1. I made major progress in cleaning out my clothes with help from my neighbor and close friend, Christina – thank you Christina!!! I have set aside what I’m keeping, threw out a lot of old stuff that is in no condition to be worn, and have two big boxes for friends to shop in next week! Whatever doesn’t get claimed will get donated to Goodwill.

I also sorted through a few other areas of the house so we don’t wind up packing stuff that should get donated, sold, or tossed. I am hoping to finish up with this next week so I can focus on packing as soon as possible.

2. Jason and I applied for our individual health insurance plan. We chose the least expensive plan that was ACA compliant and allowed us to keep our doctor. This was actually a huge nightmare of a process, so I’m really hoping we’ve over the hump and they cash our check and send us our cards next week.

3. We have also chosen our travel health plan. It’s pretty comprehensive and goes beyond standard travel insurance so I think we’ll be well taken care of if we get sick or injured while away. What it doesn’t cover is cancelled/delayed flights (not super worried about this since our timeline is completely flexible) or lost/stolen baggage (we’ll have separate policies for the expensive stuff.)

4. We gave our 30 days notice to our apartment complex that we will be moving out on February 3rd. If anyone wants to move in, let me know! If it gets rented before we leave, we don’t have to pay the penalty for breaking the lease.

5. A few new items I bought for the trip went to the tailor for alterations Saturday – they’ll be ready on Thursday.

6. I set up our mail service, Traveling Mailbox. Tomorrow I’m going to mail a test envelope to make sure it gets scanned and uploaded correctly before we change our address with the post office.

Goals for next week –

1. I still need to go to the mall and Target for a few things. I’ve been putting this off because I hate the mall, but I’m going on Tuesday no matter what!

2. Also need to shop for new glasses – also planned for Tuesday, but could be pushed to Wednesday.

3. Continue sorting through our stuff – the kitchen is the next big project. (Why do I have 3 waffle irons?)

4. Arrange for movers, storage (unit & cars), and adjust car insurance.

5. Start the serious packing.

Thanks again for sticking with me and putting up with these lists. I promise things will get more exciting once we leave on February 4th! I’ll be back again next weekend with another update!

New Year, New Adventure (T-5 weeks)

Hello everyone! Since my last post, this blog has acquired about 65 followers on Facebook with another 12 subscribing for email updates, so really it’s the first you are reading in “real” time. Welcome and happy new year!

Currently I’m in New Jersey visiting my parents and brother for the last time before we leave. Jason and I made some good progress last week and have a serious list of things to do when I get back. I’ve been thinking about how often I should try to post before we go and think I’ve settled on 1-2 times per week depending on what’s going on. Once we leave, I promise you’ll at least start seeing pretty pictures – and I also want to do a big picture post on packing.

What happened last week?

1. Probably most significantly, Wednesday was my last day at work. I’m now (f)unemployed. A few people have asked me how this feels, but to be honest, it still feels like any other time off. I think it will feel more real in a week or so because usually when I have time off, I’m traveling. I haven’t taken time off to sit at home since… well, ever. This means I don’t have any excuses not to start working toward sorting through the house, starting to pack stuff, and selling and donating the rest. (Does anyone want 2 free bookcases? They are the cheap ones from Ikea, but good if you’d otherwise have stuff sitting around unorganized…)

2. Our passports are back from the Russian consulate! This is a HUGE relief! While I don’t expect the political situation to cause them to stop issuing visas, it could happen. The passports are still with the agent in San Francisco since I’m in New Jersey, but Jason is going to pick them up on Tuesday. We should have the 3 year, multiple entry visa, but I’m excited to see it and confirm. This means we are done with visas for now!

3. We have a confirmed place to store our cars. It costs more than I wanted to spend ($200/month total) but I feel good about this storage lot. I have one more call to make to a lot in San Leandro, so if they are significantly cheaper, we could go with them or try and see if the location in San Jose will match their price.

What will (hopefully) happen this week?

1. We need to make a decision about our US health insurance. Once we make a decision I’ll write a little bit more about it and how we got there. It’s frustrating to have to spend so much on something we probably won’t use, but skipping it is too big of a risk, even beyond the ACA penalty.

2. I want to apply for our travel medical insurance through GeoBlue. I need to read up a little more about the 2 plans we qualify for and make a decision. It’s expensive, but we think it’s worth it.

3. I’d like to shop for new glasses. I got my new prescription in sunglasses last summer but not regular glasses.

4. I have a few things to shop for at the mall and Target – I’ve been putting this off due to the holiday crowds, but it’s time.

5. Giving notice that we are breaking the lease. The last day we’ll have the apartment is February 3rd.

What will happen next week?

1. I bought some pants from LL Bean that will need to be hemmed – they are supposed to arrive on 1/9 so those will go to the seamstress once I try them and make sure I want to keep them. I also have a trekking shirt (light weight coverage for sun and mosquitos) that needs to be altered.

2. Need to hire movers for February 2nd.

3. Need to reserve a storage unit.

4. Need to adjust our car insurance to comprehensive only (theft/fire/ect) since they won’t be driven while we’re gone and cancel our renter’s policy since they won’t cover a storage unit.

5. Need to set up our mail service.

That’s pretty much all of the major items left on the to do list… I’m really hoping next week I’ve made some solid packing and organizing progress because that’s going to be the biggest project. Thanks for reading and I promise things will get more interesting once we leave in under 5 weeks!

Welcome Readers!

Hello there!

If you’re reading this post, you’ve found your way to A Drifting Compass, which I’ve decided officially launches Monday. So if it’s not Monday 12/26 yet, I cannot be held accountable for anything that doesn’t work 😉

Very few people have found the blog on their own, and I know who most of them are. I haven’t shared it publicly because Jason hasn’t given notice at his job yet, but he will TOMORROW -that’s Friday, 12/23 – and finally we can all talk about exactly what we’re about to do on February 4th with everyone out in the open. If you can’t tell, it has been a really. long. wait!

But anyway, welcome to the blog that will (hopefully) follow us across the world. I’m hoping to include lots of info on the places we go and the logistics behind doing a trip like this. We are quitting our jobs, selling/donating/tossing much our stuff, putting the rest in storage, and traveling continuously for what we expect to be around 6 months. Of course, it could be shorter or longer, depending on how much we are enjoying ourselves and how much money we’re spending.

If any links aren’t working, please let me know! Most recently I’ve gotten the subscription feature working, so if you enter your email address in the box to the left (upper left if this isn’t the most recent post) you should get emailed with updates.

I’ve also been able to set up the posts to push to facebook, so if you’d rather them appear in your feed, you can “like” the blog’s facebook page – – If you want to make sure you never miss a post, you can also select “in your newsfeed, see first” in the “follow” menu on the facebook page. If you have questions about this, let me know.

I’m hoping to have more time to give the blog some personality once I’m done working next week, so please consider the current look as beta for now. I like the layout, but need a better banner, so more to come on that.

Anyway, welcome! Please forgive any typos and don’t be afraid to comment or contact me directly with suggestions. As much as this blog serves as a journal for where we go and what we do, I want it be just as enjoyable for readers to follow us along. I promise more pictures once we step off!

Cheers <3

P.S. If you’re wondering what we’re focused on right now, we’re waiting for the Russian Consulate to return our passports with our visas and have scheduled our last travel vaccination on 1/18. I’m also waiting on a suitcase to ship (it’s backordered) so I can make a final decision on the single piece of luggage I’ll be bringing with me – I’ve narrowed it down to two!

Where are we going?

This is probably the question I get asked most often, maybe after “You’re doing what?!” and “Why?!” so it’s really the first question of substance. I wish I had a great answer, but it’s that I don’t know.

In the past 3-6 months, Jason and I have put together something of an outline. It’s a list of countries we want to see in a reasonable order, but subject (and likely) to change:

Taiwan – China – South Korea – Japan – Mongolia – Russia – Eastern/Central Europe

Really the only question is how much time we’ll spend in each country and if we’ll need to fill some time elsewhere so it’s warm enough by the time we start heading north.

Enter Thailand. Is Thailand an ultimate bucket list destination for me? No, not really. But is it full with cool stuff I’d love to see? Hells yeah. It’s also warm and doesn’t require a visa, so it’s a great stand-by time filler (if waiting for weather warmer) or tropical “vacation from the vacation” if needed. I’ve been hearing great things about Chiang Mai and have also wanted to scuba dive in southeast Asia – can you say whale sharks?!

So for now, the answer to “where” are you going continues to be be “well, we don’t really know.” I think we’ll only know 1-2 cities ahead of wherever we are at given moment, unless we are meeting people with committed travel plans. A close friend is celebrating her birthday in Hawaii in November, so we’re planning to be there for sure 😎

Chinese Visas Acquired 😎

Drove up to Newark last Thursday and picked up our passports with the Chinese visas at the Kung Fu School – 10 years, multiple entry without any issues 🙂

Saturday we dropped them off again with our agent for the Russian visas. We are using an agent that does multiple countries, so Jason asked her which country is the most difficult to deal with. Her answer? Russia 😭

So now we wait – the official date they are expected to be returned to us is January 16th, but the agent said she’d try to have it back by New Years because the Russian Consulate is closed the entire first week of January.