“I wish I could afford it,” is the first thing most people tell me when they learn of my plans to travel around the world for a year. Those who travel very frequently or live nomad lifestyles tend to either have a lot of money saved up, are able to work anywhere, or some combination of the two. Which brings me to the faux pas discussion of money.
I didn’t have the fortune of foresight. My unexpected impulse finally pushing me to make the plunge into my voyage meant I didn’t have the chance to save up much of anything. The great part is that I am mostly debt-free sans my recently purchased car and some small student loans. That which I did have saved up was mostly eaten by bills due to delayed unemployment payments from my last employer because of missed communications. Life happens and when it does we have to adjust.
My next plan of action was to cash out my 401k which I started eight months ago and the mutual fund that was set up for me about two years ago. I had enough in these two accounts combined to net a decent little chunk after the taxes that would be taken out and wouldn’t feel bad about the loss I would suffer from the disbursement since they were both relatively young accounts. Two months later, I finally got the correct forms, the correct sign offs, and have sent them to the correct people, a mere week before I’m trying to leave. We’ll come back to this timing.
Next on the agenda was to sell my excess possessions. We are all guilty of this to some extent or another. Born and raised in Atlanta, it’s been easy for me to continue to move the same boxes from apartment to apartment without opening them during such a short move. I chose to move into a studio apartment about a year and a half ago to force myself to purge. I figured if I had to trip over it regularly, it would give me enough of a reminder and an incentive to get rid of stuff. The problem was, I have been constantly out of town. The piles remained piles. Even when I did make good progress, there was more stuff left to move in.
Over the past month, I have finally made a noteworthy dent. Kendrick invited me to join a yard sale he hosted earlier this month which rid of me a collection of random junk. I dropped the unsold items off at Goodwill. I have slowly been selling my immense CD collection to friends and am hoping to continue to do so. (Let me know if you’re interested!) Through this blog, I sold my new iPad 2 and my old MacBook Pro. I am still attempting to sell my practically new souped up iMac. Clothes I no longer wear will be sold tomorrow and this weekend. I have also done a few contract projects and continue to do so. The checks have yet to arrive but like my investment cash-outs, are en route. Which leads me back to timing.
Who knew that liquidating your life, even when fully committed and actively working on it, would take more than two months before it’s all said and done? I didn’t. I was originally aiming to take the first segment of my SkyTeam Round The World pass to Barcelona on May 24. The pass requires a minimum of a seven day advance purchase. Today is May 19. That is obviously not going to happen. I shifted my target date to May 27 under the assumption I would have no issues getting my computers sold and at least one of my checks would arrive in the mail. This also has not happened, so again, I must readjust.
When traveling, the unexpected happens all the time. You find an alternate solution and you make it work because there really is no other constructive option. While I was hoping to purchase the SkyTeam Round The World Pass to provide a little comfort through structure and ease myself of worries of transportation expenses during the year by paying upfront, it’s not going to come together in time. I have a friend moving into my furnished apartment on June 1. I have friends in Barcelona I want to see who are only there for a limited time. I have a plane ticket already purchased for me to fly round-trip from Barcelona to New York on June 4 to speak on an Internet Week panel. An alternate solution is really my only other option at this point.
So I sat in traffic this afternoon after arriving back in Atlanta from a work trip, stressing, pondering, plotting, and trying to decide what the best solution would be. I have some SkyMiles. Not a ton. How far can those get me? How much would a one-way ticket cost on it’s own? It’s only a week out and fares jump significantly within fifteen days of a trip. Would people donate SkyMiles to me? Wait, that costs money. Crap. Brain pain. Tears. More brain pain. More tears. Get it together Tessa and ignore the stress. Research.
I can fly to Barcelona one-way for 60,000 miles if I do a crazy routing with a combined fifteen hours of layovers on June 1, arriving very early June 2. But I’m short on miles. My flights this week will give me another 1,250. Those will still put me just under 58,000 miles total in my account. If I had known about Delta’s Award Builder option sooner, that would have been perfect, but I missed that opportunity. (Though it actually looks like it costs the same as simply purchasing the miles?) Purchasing 2,000 miles will push me over the 60,000 mark I need to hit and costs $60. That with the $7.50 ticket fee would bring my one-way plane fare to Barcelona to $68 and my entire bank of SkyMiles.
As for the rest of the trip? The required time to get everything in order is buying me flexibility on the front end. I can still buy a Round The World plane fare, if I choose to, once my checks finally arrive in the mail. I could purchase SkyTeam’s Europe Pass for my time there then come back to the States before heading out for the long haul. There are infinite options. I will continue to do contract projects in the meantime and sell everything I can before I leave on June 1. And try to keep myself from having a panic attack. Big jumps are scary.