Trip Planning - still at home
Jul 24, 2007
Nick writing...So how did we arrange an entire year off, anyway?
Some of you may be puzzled as to how we managed to arrange an entire year off, without taking a major financial hit, or without robbing a number of convenience stores. Luckily, the Federal Government has a program (available to all employees, so PubServ People, start planning!) called Self-Funded Leave. It's like a sabbatical.
Essentially, three years ago we started working for 66% of our salary. The other 34% went into a trust fund, administered by Desjardins Financial (and for those of you who are not public servants, and have not felt first-hand the sting of delayed cheques, this is a good thing). So we will have a full year's pay available to us for the duration of our leave - sent to us in quarterly installments, which will avoid the problem of me blowing all of our savings in one night of drunken high-stakes dominoes in the back-alleys of Thailand.
And when we get back, we have jobs (not specifically our jobs, but jobs) waiting for us.
Hurray for the Public Service!
For those of you who may be interested, here's a link to the Self-Funded Leave program.
Self-Funded Leave Program at the Treasury Board
Stuff we are bringing
Since we are only taking two carry-on bags (Kyla's is a 32L Osprey Aura, mine is a 45L Asolo Wayfarer with a 15L zip-off day pack), we have to keep it light. Really light. I've limited Kyla to only 1 hairdryer, and I'm going to bring the travel iron and the travel waffle maker.
But in case you are interested, here's a general sense of what we are actually bringing. And what's interesting is that the things you bring for 13 months or 3 weeks wind up being about the same - we'll just wind up doing a bit more washing.
Kyla was in her element this past year planning out her wardrobe. The results? A pair of Chaco sandals, Keen light hikers and $1 flip flops, 2 pairs of pants, 2 dresses, a rain jacket (that really looks like it could be a winter shell), a light freece, 2 long sleeve shirts, 2 shorts sleeve shirts, 2 t-shirt... everything is perfectly colour coordinated. Oh - and a Lululemon set of shorts and top double up as PJs and zen gear.
One pair of light trail shoes (Vasques), one pair of leather sandals (Chacos), flip-flops, two pairs of pants (Prana makes awesome travel pants. If you are Prana, feel free to recompense me any way you see fit.), two t-shirts, short sleeve shirt, long sleeve button up shirt, micro-fleece pullover, four pairs of socks, four pairs of underwear (If I can give a shout out to UnderArmour clothes here - never have I felt a nicer pair of underwear in my life. Ever.).
and thats about it in the way of clothing (aside from minor stuff like a baseball hat, etc.). I'll try and get some photos of the full assembly of stuff, so you can get an idea of how much stuff we're actually bringing (hint: it's not very much).
If you are really interested in the rest of the stuff, perhaps I will continue it in the next entry ... or, if my attention wanders, I won't, and will focus instead on:
Taking photos on the road
One of the things that people ask (and that I puzzled over and struggled with for months) is how we are going to take, and store, photos on the road. What we are going to do is bring 6 or 7 2GB memory cards, that take about 1000 photos each from our digital camera (a Canon Powershot SD600 Digital ELPH). Once they are full, I'll put them aside, and possibly send them home, after hoping an internet café can burn a CD with the photos. In addition, I've purchased a 20GB hard drive photo storage device, where you simply plug the memory cards in and hit backu-up. This way, we'll have a couple of places where the photos reside, in case of failure or loss. The 20GB storage device is the size of a pack of playing cards, and pretty robust, so hopefully this will take care of any photo concerns.
And if not, we'll be in Japan in December, and I'm sure can get a 10 MB camera implanted behind our eyeballs, and a 100GB hard drive the size of a postage stamp inserted somewhere in our brain stem. At least, I get the impression that they're that far ahead of the technology that we see...
The historian in me is truly at home when immersed in lots and lots of reading. I joked at times that preparing for the trip may have been just as enjoyable as the trip itself. There were many trips to the local library to sign out our usual travel guides (the Rough Guide and Lonely Planet). We also read a considerable number of travel stories - although very few described year long trips as extensive as ours. We borrowed a number of travel videos (thank goodness we had held on to our VCR) - very much enjoying the Pilot guides, as well as the ones hosted by one of the characters off of the Monty Pythons (sorry Nick, I know I am a disappointment as a wife for not knowing his name!) Oh, and we were able to download a considerable number of video guides off of the internet. And speaking of the internet... I would have to mention the Lonely Planet and Bootsnall websites and discussion forums for great, up-to-date, info.
So what is a Kyla without some sort of a table or chart? You got it - there are tables and charts. I pulled together country profiles on each nation so that once we hit the ground running we will have all of the essential info on one page (visa requirements, currency exchange, internal tranportation considerations, suggested hostels, tips and warnings - such as don't even think about taking a taxi in Bucharest as you will likely be charged 5 times the price, the ideal hammams in Istanbul etc).
The best travel memories are those times when you have had an opportunity to share a meal or stay in the home of someone from the region you are visiting. With this in mind, I discovered a wonderful cultural exchange program called Servas - hosts welcome you into their homes for a 2-night period and introduce you to their daily lives. Nick and I are very eager to stay with hosts in Turkey, Romania, Czech, and Hungary, and hope to arrange stays for Thailand, India and France.