Jackets..too hot…too cool?

Our mission to find the appropriate jackets for our adventure is yet another challenge.  Here in Minnesota, a heavy winter coat is appropriate from November to May.

Tired of wearing coats all winter, I have preferred to bundle up with sweaters the remainder of the year, currently not owning any lightweight jackets suitable for travel.  Tom, on the other hand, has a few older lightweight jackets and, although still in reasonable condition are not ideal for our upcoming long term travel.

Buying clothing while still here in Minnesota has been a vital aspect of our preparations for our three plus years on the road.  Minnesota has no tax on clothing and shoes, saving us as much as 8%.  Also, buying online with deep discounts and/or free shipping has also saved us a bundle.

A perfect example of these savings came as a result of my getting “points” from the company Earndit, only yesterday when I redeemed 1000 points I accrued from wearing the BodyMedia exercise armband for the past 18 months, now to be replaced by my new “wear on body” exercise device, FitBit which also accumulates Earndit points.

Both of these devices have kept track of my activity levels, steps, calories, burned, and quality of sleep.  (I discussed this device in a prior post).  Recently, I replaced the BodyMedia with the FitBit with the goal of eliminating the $6.95 monthly membership fee required by BodyMedia.

Sure, I spent $75 on eBay to buy the FitBit but, in less than 11 months, it will pay for itself.  Also, I must admit that convenience played a role in this decision. The BodyMedia is worn on the upper arm often eliciting annoying inquiries as to its purpose. FitBit is worn inside one’s clothing attached to undergarments, making it entirely invisible.

Yesterday, while we were sitting in our comfy chairs, taking a short respite from the heat outside, I redeemed 1000 of my 2500 points at Earndit for a $100 gift card to RailRiders to be redeemed with a $175 or more purchase.

I purchased the Men’s Insect Shield Pants for $98 and the Women’s Insect Shield Pants for $89 for a total of $187 plus $7.95 shipping for a grand total of  $194.95.  Using the $100 coupon, I paid $94.95 for an average price per pair of $47.48.

Women’s Insect Shield PantsPrice: $89.00

Men’s Insect Shield Pants, Price: $98.00  
Thrilled that my daily exercise monitors afforded us each an additional pair of pants, I am now ready to commence my search for jackets now we otherwise  have enough clothing for the upcoming eight months in Africa. 

Since we plan to bring only one jacket each they must serve us well throughout the world. The requirements for jackets include:

    • Lightweight, comfortable
    • Attractive
    • Waterproof
    • Lots of pockets
    • Hood
    • Removable sleeves, if possible
Sound easy.  However, I’ve spent no less than four hours researching online to find only one manufacturer, Scottevest that may fit the bill, except for this fact: the lightweight jackets are not so attractive. Tom wants a jacket that has a safari look and I agree. We love all the pockets in their jackets but, the look, not so much.  

Most would say, “who cares about looks when function is the key?”  If one is going to be wearing the same clothes, day after day, month after month, year after year, it’s not a bad idea to like it!  (Not too dissimilar from our “liking” one another).

Fine tuning the itinerary…

There are some gaps in our itinerary. It’s unavoidable. We’ve tried to book our vacation rentals as tightly as possible around our cruises. Many owners have a preconceived notion that booking their properties from Saturdays to Sundays or from the 1st or the 15th of any given month, results in a more desirable scenario for the next renter. 

With our far-reaching bookings, some of which are all the way into May 2015, we have found the owners feel more secure in sticking to these notions to ensure what they see as more desirable availability in the future.  We understand. 

By negotiating amazing rental prices we have been able to maintain a $1667 a month average, with many of the homes in the $1100-$1200 month range, to the one month high of $4651 in Hawaii for our family gathering at Christmas 2014.  (Although this Hawaii rental sounds outrageously high, it actually breaks down to a mere $155 a night, a bargain rate for Hawaii during the high season. Most often, a basic single king room with an ocean view will start at $225 a night)!

However, this entire adventure would be impossible for us if we were staying in hotels at $155 a night and eating all of our meals in restaurants as most of us have done when taking one or two-week vacations.  

Thus, with our overall nightly rate average of $54.82 for the rental homes, we aren’t complaining when we see a gap of a few nights.  We will either stay in a mid-range hotel or,  ask the owner of the vacation rental to accommodate the additional nights at a prorated amount if the house is available. These additional potential hotel costs have already been factored into the above monthly rental rates.

Originally, we had promised ourselves to keep the monthly rental average to no higher than $1500.  However, adding the higher one month in Hawaii plus the five additional following months in Kauai at $2000 per month, our numbers were thrown off for 2014.  

When we depart on October 31, 2012, we’ll begin to breakdown these numbers, year by year, as they actually accrue rather than by our current estimated “running total” for the entire period.  For now, this has aided us in keeping a lid on the costs.

We have created multiple spreadsheets for all of these estimated costs which will be changing constantly knowing full well at this point, other than the fixed rental amounts, the numbers are estimated.  

We will continue along this path in the next post this upcoming Sunday. We have an eleven-day gap in Belize, three when we arrive by a cruise in Belize City on 1/29/2013 (our rental begins 2/1/2013) and eight when our rental ends on 3/31/2013 when the cruise ship comes back to Belize taking us back to Miami. We need a plan for these dates at both ends.  

Our options:
1. As mentioned above, we can ask the owner to extend the rental, if it is available on these dates prorating the rent.  This plan is the most cost-effective.

2.  Find a reasonably priced hotel in Belize City near the port and check out the local attractions while there.  Unfortunately, Belize City doesn’t sound like a safe and desirable place to vacation for three days.  

3.  Travel to another area, such as Ambergris Caye (highly desirable, very expensive) to incur additional transportation costs, pricey hotel rates, and the necessity of dining out for each meal.  

Do we choose “easy” or “adventuresome?”  Or, is living out of a suitcase for 949 days so far, not having a permanent home, being away from our family, friends, doctor and dentist “adventuresome” enough for two 60-somethings like ourselves used to “sitting in our comfy chairs, watching endless TV, rarely dining out” and amazingly enjoying it all?

Any suggestions?