Are We Prepared For A Year Away?

It seems to have taken a long while, but we are now officially just three months from the start of our family gap-year.

I have not been great at sharing the last few months with you, mainly because I have spent most of every night scouring the internet for cheap flights and interesting accommodation.

While not at work or planning our trip, I have also been taking an unusually keen interest in the workings of world currency markets. Not that you’d probably want to hear, but ask me about the recent trading pattern of sterling versus any of the major world currencies and I could keep you enthralled for at least a few minutes.

Progress So Far

Despite my minor obsession with exchange rates and playing with flight options on skyscanner, we have made some tangible signs of progress towards taking a family gap-year:

  • Flights – we have opted for a series of one-way flights, rather than a RTW ticket, and have booked ahead just for the first few weeks to get us out to New Zealand. I may add more onward legs over the next few months, but we are keen to keep the trip as flexible as possible.
  • Places to stayAirbnb has proven to be a great help in finding places to stay for a family of four on a budget. We have booked accommodation for our first few weeks on the road so that we can settle into our nomadic lifestyle without having to immediately find a wi-fi connection to search for rooms.
  • Vaccinations – we have all been jabbed, which was a relatively painless experience, although Kiera did take slightly longer to be convinced of the need for needles than the rest of us.
  • Work #1 – Anja’s boss has known about our travel plans for some time. Some might say this is because Anja’s idea of a secret is to only tell two or three people at once. However, this appears to have worked out well on the basis that Anja has been lucky enough to get approval for a sabbatical.
  • Work #2 – I handed in my notice today. I don’t expect to get a sabbatical. I would be very happy at this point to return to my current job, but I’m also excited about the prospect of taking a year away and not knowing what I’ll be doing when I get back. Our mortgage company may be less excited about this prospect, but I’m hoping they don’t read my blog.

Plenty Still To Do

There is still enough to do to keep us occupied before departure day:

  • House – we have spoken to a letting agent about renting out our house while we’re away, but after Christmas we need to get permission from our mortgage company, get the house on the market and find a good tenant.
  • Storage – the likelihood is that we will need to rent out our house unfurnished, so we need to move out all of the things that we are leaving behind and find somewhere suitable for them to stay.
  • Pets – unfortunately we can’t put our pets into storage, but we are very fortunate to have the support of friends to look after our dog while we’re away, and we’ve even found a potential “volunteer” to be the proud new parent of the kids’ guinea pigs.
  • Packing – we have thought through the theory of packing for a year away…I suspect the reality is going to take a few dry runs, and possibly a few interesting conversations about how we all define what is “essential”.
  • Travel Paperwork – less exciting than researching itineraries, but at some point we need to apply for travel visas and get ourselves some travel insurance.
  • Personal Finances – there is probably more to do here than I’d like to think about at the moment, e.g. research best bank cards for withdrawing money overseas, let our regular bank know what we’re doing, sort landlord insurance cover, etc.

And, of course, I still want to do more research on our travel plans and read about the places we’ll be visiting.

All of a sudden three months doesn’t feel very long.

Are we prepared for a year away? Probably not, but I’m confident we’ll get there!

Author: Daniel Keating

I have just convinved my family to take a year away to travel the world...might have been a bit hasty with this one and currently somewhere between incredibly excited and massively afraid!

10 thoughts

  1. When booking rooms try the booking sites, but try emailing places directly after you’ve seen them on the sites. Sometimes they’re cheaper and sometimes not. Only once we’ve turned up on the day and booked somewhere. It didn’t work out well. Make sure you have spare credit cards. Halifax Clarity is a good one. Use ATMs but check the charges. Navmii sat nav is also my friend. I’d still be driving around Canada without it! Don’t take too much clothes. Cheap laundry available everywhere, or a sink. We’ve bought second hand as new clothes too on route. All the best.

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    1. Thank you – will definitely check out the Clarity card. Taking too many clothes is definitely a danger with three girls in the house, but we’ll do our best as I don’t fancy carrying spare shoes all year!

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  2. Time is ticking fast, but I think the preparations are going well, although I am sure it will be a last minute mad rush to get all your ducks in a row. Brian and I are off to Australia for 3 weeks in February. We are flying with Quantas and because of that we managed to get their “walkabout ” pass and so we are doing few domestic flights that turned out to be very cost effective . I am so excited for you and your family 😄

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    1. I’m sure you’re right – there will be a last minute panic, but doing our best to avoid it. 3 weeks in Oz sounds brilliant – we’re hoping to spend a few weeks there too – any tips would be great.

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  3. Your last 3 months are going to go by quickly as you get all the details sorted out. One thing that we liked doing (especially since we used to be such planners) was having a very loose framework as far as our direction and only planning 2-3 months out at a time. That way we could stay a bit longer in places we liked, slow down when we wanted or move quicker through other places. It also let us grab opportunities as they came up.
    Looks like your preparations are moving right along. This has to be such a fun time for you and your family and, when you look back on this “gap year” I’m betting that this will be one of the highlights of your time as a family. Enjoy the countdown! Anita

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  4. If you haven’t sorted it yet we would highly recommend LV travel insurance who we used for our 2016 gap year. The cost was reasonable and we also had to make a claim. They dealt with it quickly and simply by phone and the money was in my account within 3 days.

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  5. Looking forward to following your adventure with the family around the world. My partner and I quit our long term jobs and are now three weeks into our travels. The prep in the months prior to departure was all part of the adventure, from handing in our resignations to shopping for backpacks. All the very best and the next couple months will fly by!

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