Planning for this trip has been a bit more interesting than most. Our house and cats will be looked after by neighbors. In fact, our neighbors anticipate occupying the house while their house (across the street) is remodeled. To maximize everyone's comfort, we have boxed up and stored a great deal including our wardrobes, bathroom cabinets, and breakables so that our neighbors can bring in their own stuff. At times, it felt like we were packing to move.
Mo did almost all of the house prep. Good thing she's tough and strong.
I can explain my non-contribution. I had hernia surgery in November and needed almost all December to recover, so lifting and moving anything over 20 pounds was out. Then I was offered a complimentary Amtrak ticket by virtue of my volunteer gig at the local train station. I had to say yes, so right after The Nutcracker ended, I took off for California to visit my oldest brother. Finally, I had the bright idea of catching a horrible cold on the return leg of the train ride. I was coughing and wheezing so much the past couple of nights that I banished myself from the bedroom.
I have recovered from everything sufficiently to be able to help out for the final pack and cleaning.
Packing our bags is getting fairly straightforward after all these trips, though not without challenges. As part of our trip, we have scheduled two guided tours. The notes for both tours suggest bringing a sleeping bag. A sleeping bag takes up huge volume in any bag. We will need it. I reviewed pictures of my trip to Egypt one fine January, and many of us were bundled in coats, sweaters, hats, and the like. Athens will probably be as cold as the Pacific Northwest. Thailand could be warm during the day, but nights in the hills could be cooler. We expect Australia and Hawaii will both be warm for the most part.
Packing clothes to account for the variations is a challenge. Wearing more or less the same outfits for four months could be challenging, as well.
Meanwhile, the cats know something is up. They are watching us, sleeping on top of our travel packs, and talking more than usual. We asked if they wanted to go with us, but they so far have not communicated a preference.
Advance costs have included airfare and fees for two tours (Morocco and Thailand).
We arranged airfare through AirTreks (www.airtreks.com). The service gives 24/7 support while traveling and includes travel insurance. Critically, AirTreks also arranged our electronic travel authorization numbers for Australia -- readers may remember my major error of failing to do the same for our first around the world trip. Cost is about $2,900 each.
Our tours are both with Intrepid Travel. Morocco is roughly $1,300 each, Thailand $1,500 each with some extras thrown in -- I like to arrive at least a night early and have a transfer waiting for us. The early arrival helps with jet lag and orientation. The transfer helps avoid getting lost on public transportation and fighting with or otherwise getting taken advantage of by those slick taxi drivers one is warned against.
On-our-own costs will probably hover around $1,500 per week for the two of us.
Where does the money come from? Savings and priorities, based on a mortgage-free house, independent children, frugal lifestyles, and a desire to buy experience rather than stuff. As I have said many times, if you want to travel, never buy a boat. Unless you travel by boat.