We are currently preparing for long-term family travel. We plan to begin our trip in 2020. Many people have been asking for a list of exactly what we’re working on right now. I want to say upfront that not all of these things would be necessary for every family and most of it could be done much faster. There are parts of this that we could (and very well still may) completely do on the fly. There are parts of our plan that require time to complete and that is why we are able to take our time with other things that could be done quicker. Having ample time to research and prepare has made this whole endeavor much less stressful. Now on to our checklist.
1.) Paying off Debt – We had a lot of debt when we decided that we wanted to go on this adventure. We didn’t want to have all of that debt and crazy amounts of payments hanging over us when we left. Also, we felt like saving for a trip and spending excessive amounts of money while traveling would be irresponsible knowing we had loads of debt. We made out our “Hit List” for the first debts that we would tackle. We started by paying off one credit card and loan at a time. After we paid off a few things, we made out our priority list that we are still working our way through. It was like we needed to pay off a couple of things and know we were serious before we were willing to make out that whole list. If you are interested in our priority list, you can find it here.
2.) Education – Education and homeschool research has been a huge focus for me right now. We have three daughters, all in different age groups. The main reason for our timeframe is that our oldest daughter, Ivy, will graduate from high school in 2020. Since she was in high school, we decided it was best for her to finish. She plans to take a gap year to go with us and to think about what she wants to do. If she wants to take any college classes while we are gone there are many online options.
Our middle daughter, Isabella, will be starting fifth grade when we leave. I’ve been reading everything I can about homeschooling. I looked into the laws. I’m researching curriculum, reading lists, online programs, historical places we could visit, and homeschool record keeping. There is so much available that it can be a little overwhelming. I just wanted to get a good overview so I didn’t feel completely unprepared when the time came. We are trying to decide between her staying in her school for the fourth grade or doing a year of homeschooling before we leave. Our youngest, Octavia, will be four when we leave. Our state doesn’t require children to be officially enrolled as a homeschooler until age six. We plan to begin preschool at home before we leave and continue on the road.
I have found out from my research that we are “relaxed, eclectic” homeschoolers. This seems fitting because we are pretty relaxed people. Our middle daughter is very independent and self-directed. Having the time to fully research this has been very helpful. It has given me the opportunity to think about what I want to cover and how best to cover it. I feel much more comfortable than I did when I first started looking into it.
3.) Medical/Dental – We had a few things that we wanted and needed to get taken care of before we leave. Our oldest had oral surgery to have her wisdom teeth taken out. She needs to do a set of x-rays and a check-up on her back before we leave. Our middle daughter has food allergies to seafood and shellfish. She was diagnosed when she was three. She had a reaction to shrimp but the others were found on a scratch test and with blood work. We were told that most young kids grow out of their allergies. She has an appointment soon to find out if and what allergies remain. I’m very hopeful that she has outgrown it for multiple reasons. It would make traveling much easier. I’m terrified that we will be somewhere that we don’t understand the language and accidentally feed her shrimp.
We have to visit a travel clinic closer to when we leave so we can receive any needed vaccinations and medications for our trip. We have been getting anything we can from our regular doctors that our insurance will cover. I work in healthcare so there are some extra things that I have been lucky enough to have covered by employee health services. We have found a travel clinic and looked into the process.
4.) Preparing our Kids – We are talking about traveling, reading books, and watching videos. They are working on needed skills like swimming and hiking. We have been introducing them to new foods. We know this is going to be a huge transition and we are doing everything we can to make it easier for them.
5.) Our Belongings – We have been slowly decluttering and using up our belongings. We have been narrowing down what is truly important to us. We plan to rent a small storage bin for the sentimental items and to store off-season things while traveling. We have decided to find a place near my mom so that she can check on things for us and put stuff in if we ship anything home. I will be scanning all of our photos and taking pictures of sentimental items just in case anything is ruined in the storage bin. I plan to put everything on a portable hard drive. We will store this and a small number of valuable keepsakes in a safe deposit box.
6.) Packing/What are we taking – We have been researching suitcases/backpacks, suggested packing lists, reviews for various travel gear, and looking at the weather in areas that we want to go to. We have been looking at our current favorite items to see how best to accommodate our personal styles into our travel wardrobes. We will be spending part of our trip working and slow traveling in the United States. We will have a large vehicle during that time and be taking considerably more with us. We will have kitchen stuff and clothing for multiple seasons. We have been discussing how much stuff we will need to homeschool. We will have very little with us when we are flying. We plan to take a milk crate sized box with us for homeschooling items when we are in the US. We plan to allow one small bag for toys when flying and a bigger bag or box when driving.
7.) Blogging/Vlogging – I plan to continue blogging when we leave. I hope to inspire others to live their dreams, especially families. We are considering doing Vlogs on Youtube but we’re not sure if this is for us. We are going to make a few and see how it goes. We want to at least try filming and editing before we leave to see if it’s something that we would enjoy doing.
8.) Trip Planning/Travel Research – Where are we going? We don’t know exactly but we have been researching areas and getting together our bucket-lists. We looked at the best times of year to visit, must see places, and estimated daily budgets. This is really helping us to prioritize.
9.) Work – I plan to work as a travel nurse. I’m not sure if we will travel for a while before I do a travel nurse contract or if I will do a contract first to get a feel for it. I’ve been looking into different companies and talking to people who do this. My husband doesn’t know if he wants to continue with what he does now or if he’s going to try a new line of work. He has considered temporary work and online options too.
10.) Physical – We are working on being in good shape so that we don’t feel like we’re going to die when we leave. We still will not be used to walking all day, every day. I want to finish losing the weight I gained with Octavia. I am walking and hiking more with the kids so that they are better prepared for what’s coming. My husband, Michael, has a very sedentary job currently. He is working out and trying to eat better. He is considering taking a more active job again before we leave. Unfortunately, he is still smoking occasionally and really needs to quit. He has tried many times but he hasn’t had the willpower to make it stick.
11.) Spending Time with Family and Friends – We are spending as much time as possible with friends and family. Also, we are trying to help them understand why we are doing what we are doing, that we will miss them, and that we do plan to visit.
12.) Passports & Visas – We need to get all of our passports in order when we get closer to leaving. We have been looking into Visas and any rules that we need to know for visiting different countries.
13.) Banking and Credit Cards – We need to figure out which bank we want to use when we leave and which credit cards offer the best perks. We need to make sure that we are able to access our money regardless of where we are. We will likely have multiple different accounts including checking, savings, and credit cards.
14.) Insurance – We will need medical, travel, and car insurance.
15.) Cell Phone and Internet – We will want/need cell phones and internet access while on the road. These will both change based on where we are and where we plan to go.
16.) Post Office Box – We will likely set up a post office box before we leave so we know where our mail will go. I have been switching everything possible over to email.
17.) Kindle – We will need one of these for both homeschool and reading for enjoyment. Isabella (9) and I are avid readers. We both prefer paper books but we have to take weight and space into account. We have decided to purchase one Kindle to share and see if we need another later.
18.) Laptops, Chromebook, Tablet – We are trying to decide which options best fit our needs. We will be working a little online. I plan to continue with the blog. We will be homeschooling our youngest two girls. Our oldest does digital art. We will be taking our two current laptops (Ivy’s and mine) with us while we are in the United States. They are way too big to fly with so we may get a smaller laptop to take with us. Isabella has a fire tablet now that we’ll take because we already own it.
19.) Photography – I am continuing to improve my photography and videography skills. I am learning how to best use my cameras and equipment. I’m figuring out which items I will take with me and picking out the best tech/camera bag options for that equipment.
20.) Money/Budget – We are trying to decide on a daily budget and an app or way to track it. I’m a total nerd and enjoy doing this kind of stuff. It can make all the difference in keeping us on the road longer and allowing us to enjoy our trip without constantly worrying about money.
It’s quite a list! I’m very thankful that I have the time to do it all at my own pace and even more thankful that we will be able to take this trip. Do you have any suggestions about anything on this list? Did we miss anything that you think we need to consider? Please leave us a comment below.