Planning for a long trip (not a vacation) means a few things. By long, I don’t mean rushing through 9 countries in 3 months and declaring done. Instead, one must adopt the slow pace to the countries and move in, take up residence, travel in the new home. I’ve set a few places now in my itinerary and made a few decisions about how I manage things here. Gonna cover the decisions first and then the itinerary.
Decisions to be made or have been made
Finances. I believe that this a tough one. So many choices of how to do things. Do I get a prepaid travel card, credit card, use my existing Bank of America. I actually stopped in yesterday to talk with the BofA representative and while I agree with most of what he said, I believe a credit card is not necessary for someone like me that is completely opposed to their evil. Instead, I opened a Capital One 360 checking account all online and linked my BofA account to it. There are advantages to the Capital One account like transaction fees, online services that already have the banks linked to each other, a lot of good reviews by expats on the service, and finally not having all the “beans” in one bucket. I can decide how to move money around between accounts and use the Capital One account for daily things when I need a debit card. The real thing is cash I think and a way to carry cash securely. You have heard of money belts, secret compartments, fake wallets. I believe a simple $15 to $20 dollar neck wallet is the way to go here. It would be pretty hard to take something hanging around my neck. The real thing with finances though is to manage them when traveling. I have to practice a new way of thinking about money when I get there.
Phone Service. We know that most financial institutions want a phone number to text you at. There are choices here. I could buy a VOIP account and install the client on my iPad Pro. I could use Skype and buy a real number. I could just use Google Voice with what I have. The issue may be that it does not work in some places. That’s without a decent VPN solution. Once you factor in something like ExpressVPN, more choices and alternatives emerge. I can use a local number and get SMS messages, set calls to forward where I want, and make calls on Hangouts for a small cost. The best part of this is there is no new hardware to buy or phones to get for this.
Postal Services. This is a big one guys. What to do with my snail mail service? I cannot just leave it going to a place I am not at nor just buy something like a mailbox where I never know if I get something I need to act on or need emergency forwarding to a hotel in Thailand. Enter virtual mailbox services. For about $100 a year I can receive all mail there with a real address, get the mail imaged or destroyed, and never worry whether my daughter can act on a thing fast enough when she has her own things in her own life. So I will buy a virtual mail service and have all my mail forwarded to that address. With that real address I get flexibility and I get a year’s coverage. For the cost, this is a secure and flexible alternative to the usual issues.
IRS for fun and profit. I have not figured this out yet. But I have a year to deal with it after this next filing. There are solutions out there that expats use. I just need to lock in to one that works. Perhaps e-filing is an option.
I started studying destinations about 6 months ago when the plan started taking shape. I wanted to spend longer times in countries that are cheaper and shorter times in places that cost. Here’s the so-called itinerary for your consideration.
Japan. This is an expensive place but there is a part of me linked there somehow so I will spend two weeks traveling in Japan. I’ll get back to Tokyo for 5 days, get to HIroshima for 5 days, and then end in Osaka for 4 days. This will cost a bit but I only do 2 weeks there because of cost. Japan is also a gateway place for me to go on.
Vietnam. I will spend six months split between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city. I plan on seeing what each place has to offer and the surrounding areas like HaLong Bay and wherever else the spirit takes me. I already have a six month Visa for Vietnam.
Cambodia. I will spend three months in Phnom Penh and see ancient temples, archeological and historical wonders. After three months I will move elsewhere in Cambodia. Perhaps I spend a year there by extending my e-class visa a few times.
At this point I have the plans for lodging and travel made for the most part. There is a mystery in things still like the train service down to Ho Chi Minh City from Hanoi. The bus service from Ho Chi Minh city to Cambodia. All is fun though to me and the leisurely pace sticks with my goal to not rush through a set of countries on a whirlwind tour. I also think anyone on retirement can live in these places and I’ve added more to my list that will come. These include Thailand, Malaysia, and India for longer stays and Singapore for a shorter stay.
Someone at work asked when I would get back. There is no telling. I don’t want to come back here. This place is lost to me.
So, there you have it dear readers. A few basic things and an itinerary. There are things to get done before that I have saved off in Ulysses which now is my go to place to record and track things. Things need to get done at a pace of time but I have through January at work and then through February to take care of the edge cases of things.
On 1 March though I fly. First up Japan and I am so excited at the prospect of getting back and seeing Tokyo first.