Day 1 – Wow this post got long …

What a week it has been. I’m sitting here on the upper deck of a 747 flying to Taipei, but more on that later. First, let me tell you about what it’s like to give up your home and travel, at least my initial thoughts.

Since touching down in San Jose from our trip to Arizona, our calendars have been PACKED. Much of it was fun stuff – a lot of “last” meals with our friends and a bit of shopping for those few items we should have picked up earlier. Some of it was annoying, like how we hadn’t been as packed as we should have been for the movers or how we had to drive to San Francisco in rush hour traffic after 5 hours of moving to drop things off with my sister. But all of it was necessary to get to where we are now – and so worth it, at least so far.

So what happened to the stuff? I tried to sell, donate, and throw out as much as possible. Considering that we pretty much filled a 10×20 storage unit (although not stacked high,) we clearly kept too much. A couple of boxes went to my sister for safe keeping (nostalgic stuff I’d be heartbroken to lose if someone broke into the storage unit) and one box of “I might need this” went to our good friends. If you’re wondering what stuff I decided I might need mid-trip, it’s our masks and dive computers, an extra swimsuit, extra Lularoe leggings (this sounds crazy but if you know the brand, you understand,) long underwear that I love, a few pairs of shoes, and a book on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Our important documents went to the bank safe deposit box, along with a set of car keys. The other set of car keys and an extra key to the bank safe deposit box went to our friend with the emergency box. It’s a bit scary to think about, but we tried to set it up so that if somewhere along the trip we get robbed of absolutely everything, we aren’t totally screwed.

If I got to do it differently … one thing I would change is procrastinating less on the packing. The storage unit is way less organized than I had hoped and there is really no way we can reasonably go in there and get more than a couple things without unpacking a lot of it. Hopefully this won’t be a huge issue when we return but I’m certainly not going to worry about that now!

The other thing that maybe should have been figured out earlier is the logistics around our cars. I am not very mechanically inclined, so my planning really only included having to find a physical place to park them. It was literally yesterday – our last day in the US – when Jason brought up the fact that batteries will slowly drain to death and it’s not good for the tires to be sitting in one spot for months at a time. We briefly kicked around the idea of solar powered battery charger, but it would have been more work than we were ready to take on considering the timing and they reviews on them are pretty mixed. Just like the storage unit, I’m not looking forward to dealing with this when we return, but it sounds like a new battery for each car will be in order and maybe new tires depending on how long we keep the cars once we get back.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who gave a helping hand over these past few weeks. Much of this involved being flexible with us on scheduling for all kinds of stuff. We got to see almost everyone we wanted to see and for those that we couldn’t manage to connect with, know that I’ll probably be on Facebook just as much as always whenever we have internet. You really can’t escape me – just don’t use text if you’re trying to get in touch. The best ways are Whatsapp, fb messenger, and gchat/hangouts. All 3 also have voice and video if you are so inclined 😉

Now lets talk about right now – I might be sitting in the last 747 I’ll fly in ever! United is phasing them out of their fleet this year and we fly mostly United on the route where you’d find a 747. I’m also sitting upstairs for the first time ever, in business class (!) after booking it using miles. We’re almost an hour into the flight and so far we’ve been showered with 3 pillows and 2 blankets each, pajamas and slippers we get to keep, and a wine flight with warm nuts. I was a little hesitant to write about flying in business because I don’t want it to come off as bragging, but using airline miles strategically is a big part of this trip.

Jason and I have been saving United miles and Chase Ultimate Rewards points for years now so we have quite the cache. Many of them came from credit card bonuses, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve we got last year (100,000 bonus miles each) and the Chase Sapphire Preferred (50,000 bonus miles each.) These cards both have yearly fees, but if you travel, it’s worth it. The Reserve is our principal card currently and provides 3x points for travel and restaurants, plus a $300 travel credit every year and Premiere Pass airport lounge access. It also has no foreign transaction fee. We have both converted our Sapphire Preferred cards to Chase Freedom Unlimited so as to not pay two credit card annual fees and the Freedom Unlimited gives us 1.5x points on all charges so we use it for everything other than travel and restaurants. These cards have lots of other handy benefits for travelers, so send me a chat or email if you want to talk more about it. I could go on about finding and using the right credit card for a long time 😉

So that’s the earning strategy and here’s the spending strategy – you generally get the best value for miles used on long haul business class tickets. That’s how we wound up sitting in these great seats right now! Our plan is to try to pay cash for short flights and save our miles for the longer trips. We’ll be back in the US in November at the latest and it feels good to know we’ll be able to return in business class as well. Currently we are hoping to take the Trans-siberian Railway between Asia and Europe but I won’t say that flying Etihad business class with a long stop over in Dubai isn’t tempting.

Anyway … back to right now. We land in Taipei at about 6:30 pm Sunday (since we cross the international date line) and will take a bus and metro to our Airbnb apartment. Even though we like to fly business, we tend to take a lot of public transit when we’re in cities. Jason is a bit of a transit nerd and I find it kind of fun. I think you’ll learn we like the local experience while we travel. Taipei has a clean and efficient metro call the MRT, which I’m sure I’ll write more about later. It’s actually about to connect directly to the airport next month, but for now we’ll have to take a bus.

I’ll plan to write more about Taipei in a few days. I’m particularly interested to see how hard it will be to get around in a country that speaks less English than anywhere we’ve been. I’ve also noticed that I’ve gotten more offers to host and/or meet up via Couchsurfing from Taiwanese users than I ever have before. This is super exciting as I love meeting locals and other travelers. I can’t wait to get my hair washed (I’ve read this is a big thing in Taiwan,) go to the hot spring, eat at night markets, and see this amazing country with a super interesting history. I cannot believe this trip came together – it felt like such a long shot when we first started talking about it.

The best part of a trip like this is there is absolutely no rush to try to see and do it all. I’m looking forward to a couple of relaxed days to start the trip after a crazy week preparing to leave. I also want to do a big packing post where I share with you guys what I brought with me so I can compare what I’ve kept after a few months. My carry-on bag is bulging at the seams where as Jason’s has room to spare so it will be interesting to see who had the better strategy.

Thanks again for reading and I’m glad I had a few pictures to share with you for this post. More to come for sure and they only get better from here!

Not much left to do now … (T-10 days!!!)

When I say there is not much left to do, that’s not completely true. The sheer number of items to accomplish has diminished significantly, but we are still not as packed as we should be. We also have a list of places all over the bay area we need to drive to next week to drop things off.

Both of the pets went to their temporary homes this past week. Thank you Faraz, Priya, Mary, and Pete for taking care of our furballs while we’re away.

Jason and I are currently in Tucson getting Boba settled and will be home on Sunday. We’ll then have 3 days to pack up the house before the movers arrive Thursday morning. Ugh, I am so dreading the packing & moving – at least I got a bigger storage unit so I no longer worry about it all fitting.

The one significant change we made this week is that we are no longer staying in a hostel in Taiwan. I booked a loft studio on Airbnb for slightly more than our private room in the hostel. Honestly, I know I’m going to want to kick back and relax in Thailand after all of the stress of preparing for the trip and moving everything into storage, so I think it’s the right call. Having a kitchen to make breakfast in and our own couch to lay around on in our PJs will be much appreciated.

But back to what’s going on at home… everything posted on Craigslist has sold or was given away. We only have our two office chairs left that if not claimed, will be given to Goodwill. We also may have two bookshelves to give away, depending on if the person I think wanted them still does 🙂

I wanted to do a huge packing post where I talk about what I’m bringing and how I’m packing, but I think I’m going to do that from Taiwan. With all the stuff we have to do when we get back home, I just don’t know if I’ll be blogging again before we leave. Maybe Friday once we are moved out of the apartment? Or maybe Saturday while sitting in the airport? Although at that point, I’m sure all I’d be able to say is OMG WE ARE LEAVING.

Everything that I’ve had to buy online has arrived (except for one thing that tracking says arrived in SF today) and really the only shopping we still need to do is at CVS for some over the counter drugs we want to bring with us and a few items from REI.

Right now I’m trying to relax and not worry about the packing since I can’t do anything about it from Arizona. I’m also reading a ton of packing posts from travel blogs to make sure I’m really not forgetting anything.

Thanks again for reading and I promise there will be pretty pictures soon! 10 days!!!

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!