It’s a whirlwind…Living in a hotel for six weeks…What’s that like?…Shopping photos…

Our two new pieces of luggage in easy-to-spot colors. Tom chose purple while I chose this peachy color. Each bag is expandable and lightweight, with four double-wheel rollers.

This is the longest period we’ll have spent in a hotel since the onset of our travels, beginning on October 31, 2012.  Many have asked why we chose a hotel over staying in a vacation/holiday home while in Minnesota for six weeks. Wouldn’t that be more cost-effective and convenient?

Not necessarily. There are several reasons we chose to stay in a hotel during this extended period from May 26, 2017, to July 7, 2017, a total of 42 nights. One consideration was the cost. It’s expensive to rent a house in Minnesota, but that definitely wasn’t the single most important reason.

Now that we’re here, we realize what a good decision it was to be free of planning meals, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and doing dishes. Without the responsibility of these daily tasks, we’re free to spend time with family and friends at our leisure. We love the freedom.

With a $30 a day budget for dining out so far, we’re totally on track, even slightly under at $81.62 for the three nights we’ve dined in restaurants; Grizzly’s, Champs, and Chipotle. 

We save considerably on restaurant tabs by not consuming cocktails, other beverages, appetizers, and desserts.  Tom says he’s had enough alcohol over these past two 33-night cruises (plus an additional two nights spent in Vancouver) that he’s on a break from drinking anything at all with a possible few exceptions for special functions.

Since I’m only drinking water right now with an occasional cup of herbal tea and trying not to drink anything while eating to improve digestion, it’s easy for me to avoid ordering beverages. Neither of us orders any sodas or sweetened drinks.

Tom’s two new pairs of shoes; one pair Nike tennis shoes and a pair of Nike slides ideal for casual living in upcoming vacation homes.

Thus, it’s easy to dine out for our preferred budgetary expenditure without giving it a second thought, especially when neither of us has a desire to dine in expensive restaurants. 

Much to my delight, I’ve had no problem ordering meals befitting my way of eating. Last night’s Chipotle salad bowl was indeed a rare treat. I haven’t had Chipotle since we left Minnesota four years and seven months ago. 

By ordering only the beef, cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and guacamole, I was able to stay close to the limited number of carbs that I can consume daily. I practically moaned over the delicious concoction. On the other hand, Tom didn’t care for his beef burrito, claiming it had too much rice and not enough beef.

The day was great. Greg, Camille, and the three grandchildren came for breakfast at our hotel at 9:00 am, after which the kids swam in one of the hotel’s two swimming pools. It was fun to see them frolic and laugh, swimming and splashing in the pool, something we’ve missed for so long with all six of our grandchildren.

After they left, we visited Tom’s nephew Tim, and Tom’s sister Margie happened to be visiting Tim as well.  What a pleasant surprise! We have many more visits planned with Tom’s family members over the remaining days in Minnesota.

Afterward, we headed to TJ Maxx to see if we could find two new pieces of luggage. Our two large bags were literally falling apart. We exited the store a short time later, wheeling two colorful 30″ lightweight suitcases to the SUV for under $175. 

The regular retail prices for the two bags were four times the prices we actually paid. The odd colors resulted in several price reductions. We love odd colors on luggage. It makes them easier to spot when coming down the baggage carousel at airports and cruise terminals and less likely to be stolen. Most thieves prefer to swipe less noticeable black bags.

While at the mall, without any expectations, we wandered into a Famous Footwear store. We both desperately needed new shoes when a few of our individual five pairs were falling apart. 

Yesterday, daughter-in-law Camille let me try on her similarly styled shoes, and I was thrilled to find an equally comfortable style at Famous Footwear.

A short time later, we were back on the road, each with two new pairs of shoes. Tom purchased a pair of black Nike tennis shoes and black Nike slides, while I purchased black Clark sandals (my favorite brand) and a pair of casual waterproof shoes, as shown in the photo.

Our total bill for the four pairs was $219.36! What a deal! Nike tennis shoes were over $200 in Australia. Now, Tom can toss the $13 Adidas knockoffs he purchased in Hanoi last summer.  Surprisingly, they’ve served him well.

We’ll each toss two pairs of worn-out shoes which we’ll continue wearing until we fly to Nevada on July 7th, squeaking out every last drop of use. In doing so, we’ll each maintain a total of five pairs of shoes, exactly what fits into our bags.

Later in the day, Tammy and Vincent stopped at our hotel, dropping off two TV trays (there’s no dining table in our hotel room) and a cooler (we have a small refrigerator, but this works for picnics, etc.). It was delightful chatting with them and, we look forward to many more such occasions with all of our children and grandchildren.

Today, we’re staying put until we head to Eden Prairie, arriving at 4:00 pm for dinner at friends Chere and Gary’s home. Chere and I have stayed in very close touch all these years, occasionally through Skype and often daily via email. How fun it will be to begin seeing our many friends as well as our family members.

That’s it for today, friends. We’ll be back each day with more…

Photo from one year ago today, May 30, 2016:

The look on the buffalo’s mouth on the right inspired me to get a close-up of this buffalo’s teeth when we attended a buffalo race in Bali. For more details, please click here.

Update on temporary bed…

When we first arrived in Scottsdale Arizona 20 days ago, the temperature was in the 80’s.  We couldn’t turn on the air conditioning fast enough, sweating profusely as we unloaded our car of the eight orange Antler suitcases, flat screen TV (this won’t travel the world with us), and miscellaneous bags and boxes. 

In a matter of minutes the noisy air conditioning began to cool our condo as we eyeballed the inviting swimming pool outside our dining/living room floor length windows.  Ah, cool. Perhaps a swim was in order soon. 

Although winter hadn’t officially arrived in Minnesota when we left on Halloween, the chill was in the air, the leaves had turned to varying shades of rust and yellow, wearing a warm coat was in order and firing up the furnace for the season was a must.

In only a matter of days, we turned off the AC finding ourselves comfortable during the day in the 80 degree weather and more comfortable at night under two blankets while in the low 60’s.  How quickly we adapt.

Tom and I spent the last 10 years sleeping in a over-sized king Sleep Number bed divided into two sections, allowing for the mechanical raising and lowering of the head and foot by use of individual controls.  If one wanted to shake their legs, get in or out of bed during the night, toss and turn, the other wouldn’t feel any motion. 

The drawback of this particular bed was the difficulty of “cuddling” with the crack between the mattresses in the way.  As we planned our future travels, it was inevitable that we’d notice the type of bed in each property, most of which were standard double or queen beds without all the controls, the comfort, the special bedding and of course, the crack. 

We wondered if we’d have trouble sleeping together in a small bed.  As we’ve heard from time to time, some couples don’t sleep in the same bed, let alone the same bedroom.  With rampant sleep apnea, insomnia and snoring in the general population these days, it’s understandable that “special” sleeping arrangements must take precedence over night-after-night close quarters.

Recently, we’ve both sleep fairly well; Tom surprisingly finding that he’s catching up from years of poor sleep due to his work and me, falling into bed exhausted after an entire day of my little brain figuring out all this technology.   We don’t  snore nor do either of us suffer with sleep apnea.

The adjustment was purely comfort related.  Can we, after all these years, sleep in close quarters in a comparatively tiny bed?  Much to our amazement, we can.
Much to our amazement, we are both sleeping better than we have in years albeit with my wild nightly dreams of traveling.

I realize now, why I didn’t sleep well in the past, awakening first at midnight, later at 2:00 am and again at 4:00 am most nights, finally wide awake at 5:30 am, in time for Tom to get up for work.  I too, dragged myself out of bed, often tired but glad to be up, ending the battle to sleep.

Its different now.  For me, it wasn’t the body that couldn’t sleep.  It was the mind, never still, never willing to rest, often filled with useless drivel, meaningless to-do lists combined with worry over situations for which I had little or no control. 

I’ve always believed, right or wrong, that worry is only worthwhile if it motivates one to action that will ultimately solve the problem.  And yet, I worried, keeping me awake, night after night.

After the tumultuous end of life as we knew it in Minnesota, I made a conscious decision to let it all go.  Life is too short to waste a moment in a state of useless worry.  Nights are too long to spend tossing and turning, seeking the next morsel of concern to grab onto to further the fitful state of being.  Its over now. I’m free. Finally. I sleep.

Yes, I could worry about the wide array of scenarios that could go wrong as we travel the world for the next number of years, too many to list here. We all know what they are.  We’ve made every logical and sensible precaution possible. We continue to spend the bulk of each day in preparation.  This process will diminish soon, once we leave. 

The goal is clear.  We’ll have the planning under control when we leave the US on January 3, 2013, allowing us the freedom to live in the moment, observing and relishing in our surroundings, enjoying the people we meet, their culture and the sheer beauty and wonder of nature.

We’ll adapt to the weather, the time changes, the lack of air conditioning, the loss of our favorite TV shows, the poor Internet connection, the avoidance of ice in our drinks as necessary, the lack of availability of our favorite food, ingredients and beverages and, the not-so-comfy bed.

No matter where we may be or how primitive the environment, we’ll always be able to cuddle at night, hug during the day and sleep worry free at night… provided no wild animal is banging at the door.

Clothes, clothes and then more clothes…

Tom never wore this jacket. It’s the wrong size for any of our sons.  It will be sold at the sale.  Bye, bye jacket.

We aren’t pack rats.  We don’t have clothes hanging in our closets with price tags still attached, with the exception of this Columbia jacket I purchased for Tom last Christmas. He liked this jacket, deciding to save it to wear it this upcoming winter in order to get one more year’s wear out of an older jacket. This upcoming winter we’ll be Belize.  He won’t be wearing it.

We’re not shopaholics.  As a good laundress, as mentioned in an earlier post, our clothing usually lasts for years.  A few times a year, I’d bargain shop for clothes for both of us, usually at the Outlet Mall, printing off their online coupons before shopping and using an additional coupon booklet for deeper discounts.

I’d usually come home with three or four bags of 40 or more items spending  an average of $5.00 to $7.00 per item. The remainder of our clothing shopping occurred online.  I’d usually purchased my jeans online at Gap or Old Navy, and occasionally purchase new and unused jeans on eBay

Wearing an odd size, a small with an extra long inseam of 35,” it’s been necessary for me to order jeans online at these two web sites that magically can accommodate my needs.  Knowing the fit of their jeans enables me to buy online, seldom requiring a return. 

Over the past 8 years, I have accumulated 12 pairs of jeans, most of which are in near perfect condition, none of which will travel the world with us.  In 2004, I lost 50 pounds.  My friends and family complained I was too thin (ah, love those words!)  

Over the years, I purposely gained back 8 pounds in an effort to stop their whining, now holding steady for the past 3 years.  Most of those jeans are a little tight, although I’ve continued to wear them.  They won’t go with us.  Tom and I both decided that not one uncomfortable item will go into our suitcases. Not one.  The 12 pairs of jeans are going into the “to be sold” pile.

Sunday morning, before the Vikings football game (way to go Vikings!), Tom and I tackled (no pun intended) his dresser drawers and walk-in closet.  Our goal was to complete the packing of his following:

  1. Clothes to wear on the four day road trip to Scottsdale
  2. Clothes to wear in Scottsdale, Arizona in November and part of December, during their cool but not cold season
  3. Clothes to wear for our eight day trip to Henderson, Nevada over Christmas for the very cool winter weather, as low as 35 degrees any morning.
  4. Clothes to be packed, all of which is already purchased for our first three years traveling the world.

It didn’t go quite as planned. Once we started emptying the drawers and going through his closet, for a few moments I felt a pang of being overwhelmed. Having gradually worked on my clothes over several months it was relatively stress free.  Tackling this job in one day was quite the task.  Stay calm, I reminded myself.  I stayed calm.  So did Tom.

We got in a groove, only interrupted by the football game, to have completed most of the above items.  By 4:30, we called it a day.  All we have left to do in regard to Tom’s clothing is to pack everything in the three large orange Antler suitcases, next weekend for sure.
Suffering with an old shoulder injury severely stressed recently from all this packing and lifting, I was relieved to be lazy, to spend the remainder of the evening with an ice pack on my shoulder.  In a few weeks, I’ll get my last Cortisone injection to begin the healing process having finished all of this packing for at least the next few months.

We flopped into our comfy chairs following a delightful dinner of grass fed jumbo meatballs, stuffed with buffalo mozzarella cheese, topped with homemade marinara sauce and Parmesan cheese, a side of fresh green beans and a Cobb salad, all of which was low carb, gluten free, grain free, starch free and sugar free.  
We’ll be done in 23 days when we move out of our home to stay with a friend until the 31st, Tom’s last day, the day we leave, the day we say goodbye and the day our new life begins.

Peace of mind…priceless!

Our business cards arrived a few days ago.

Now, when asked by an interested party to write down our blog address, we can simply pull out a card, avoiding the task of finding a pen, paper and writing out our of our lengthy web address in our illegible handwriting.

Please note the change in both of our email addresses as indicated on the card. We gladly share these with our readers.  Of course, we welcome email messages as well as comments on our blog. We will promptly respond to all comments and questions as soon as possible.

Over the past few days, we’ve made a few necessary, albeit boring, purchases. We bought two RFID blocking passport wallets at Identity Stronghold, one for each of us.  

The special metal guard implanted into the leather of the wallets reduces the risk of identity theft by scammers usually lurking in airports, hotels and malls preventing them from being able to scan our identity from our credit cards, driver’s licenses and passports while in our pockets or handbag!  They can illegally purchase a $100 scanning device to be “in business” leaving us in a potential disastrous situation.  

As we sucked the air from the Space Bags with the little vacuum (please see prior post from 9/3) placing three vacuum sealed bags into each of my three large suitcases on Sunday, I contemplated the wrinkles in my clothes. 

Many of our clothes are wrinkle free, not all. We love cotton for its natural fiber, cool absorbency and long wear, although the wrinkly look is not appealing to either of us. With a wide array of clothing, mostly casual, some dressy, and a few in the mid-range for travel days, we will have some wrinkle resistant items.

I like to iron, always have. I iron my everyday tee shirts, most of which are 95% cotton and with 5% spandex which adds to their durability, ability to retain shape and provide a comfortable feel. I iron Tom’s casual shirts for weekend wear, not his work shirts. I don’t iron sheets, jeans or underwear! OK? I’m not totally obsessive!

Upon reading, which items may be confiscated on cruises, irons fell into the same category as bottles of alcoholic beverages; not allowed. No alcoholic beverage aboard ship to allow the cruise lines to make money and, no irons to avoid a fire aboard ship. I appreciate the iron policy. The booze policy, not so much. End result, we needed to bring along a travel steamer (which is allowed).

Yes, I know, take a shower and hang the clothes in the steamy bathroom. Alas, wrinkles are gone. I have tried this dozens of times to no avail. The wrinkles may be gone in the main body of the item. but remain in the collar, sleeves and button tabs. Not good enough. We bought a steamer.

BTW, I researched eBay for these items. I hesitated on these items fearing they’d be “knock-offs” presenting a huge risk. As for the steamer, after reading dozens a reviews I noticed more complaints on eBay than on other sites, indicating the steamers may be “seconds,” “refurbished” or returns. It wasn’t worth the risk to save a few dollars.

The third purchase we made in the past few days, again, not that interesting, but necessary was compression stockings. Here again, this is an item I didn’t feel safe purchasing from eBay. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a serious consideration when sitting on an airplane for extended periods, can be a concern for travelers of any age. Our extensive research suggested wearing compression stockings to minimize this risk and, of course, getting up and walking around every hour.

Here’s our purchase from Discount Surgical Stockings the unisex version, two pairs khaki, one black, one white, all in size medium to fit both of us. Tom suggested we buy two pairs each in the event we leave a sock behind in a dryer. Great idea.

$11.95 As low as $10.95
  • Medium 15-20mm Hg Support
  • Closed Toe
  • Casual Sock
  • Extra Cushioning
  • Moisture Wicking
  • Black
  • White
  • Tan
  • Brown

All of these items may be instrumental in reducing the risks or, not. If nothing else, our minds are at ease regarding these concerns, allowing us to focus on any unknown risks that we’ll surely face in the future.

Now, on to a vigorous hour long walk with my neighbors, more packing in preparation for shipping a few boxes of memorabilia to son Richard in Henderson, NV who’s roomy alarm protected, air conditioned house and garage allows us additional peace of mind in safely storing valuables with no risk of water damage, humidity or tornadoes.

Ah, peace of mind…can’t get enough of it!

A vacuum travels the world!

Mini vacuum weighing 1.7 pounds, perfect for use to suck the air out of with the Space Bags

Yesterday was a productive day.

Tom decided to tackle his mountain of papers; in his closet, in the magazine rack next to his comfy chair in the kitchen and atop the bistro table in the family room.  

He began stockpiling papers many months ago while sifting through the hundreds of photos he eventually scanned from a box he borrowed from his older sister Patty, in order to upload them to his ever growing file in   

The box now back in Patty’s possession, but the piles of not-so-neatly stacked papers remained, creating havoc in our otherwise (formerly) tidy household. I have to get over being “tidy” in the next 59 days.  It’ll only get worse.

Yesterday, after some gentle prodding (I’m not a nag. He’s not lazy.), Tom decided to begin the process of clearing out the chaos.  Often working 12 hour days with two hours of driving time, five days a week, the weekends have always been a vital time for him to relax and recover while dutifully fixing things around the house and helping me with the heavy lifting.  No more relaxing, my darling.  Time is marching on.  

As he busily and cheerfully worked on his papers in the magazine rack, a big glass of iced tea at his side, the TV on to political rantings in the background, I decided to investigate the storage space under the cushions of the small banquet in the corner of the kitchen.  Digging through the vast array of items stuffed into the small space, I discovered a most useful item, a tiny handheld vacuum. Hum. Interesting.

Small banquet area in our kitchen 

My mind was taking off on its usual whirl of wild thoughts, I excitedly showed Tom the forgotten little Shark vacuum.  Grabbing his hand, I dragged him and the little vacuum to the pile of suitcases sitting on the daybed in the living room, where we had the six large Antler suitcases and the six boxes of Space Bags (each containing three large sized storage bags).  

My rational when buying the bags from, was to fill each suitcase with three of the bags and thus condense the packing. Knowing full well that I’d never be able to vacuum seal the bags since we’d hardly be able to bring a vacuum cleaner around the world, I figured we’d be able to “press” the air out of the bags as recommended in the instructions.

Recently, as mentioned in this blog, I packed one suitcase, for the heck of it, to see how it would work squeezing out the air of three Space Bags. Slightly disappointed with my air pressing skills, I discovered it was a two person job, resigning to repack the bags with Tom’s help in the near future.  Alone, I was only able to reduce the size of the filled bags by about 20%.

Little vacuum in hand, Tom hauled the suitcase onto the bed and together we proceeded to use the vacuum to “suck” out the air via the special hole in the bag. Alas! Success! The size of the clothing filled bags was reduced by no less than 60%, leaving room in the suitcase for 12 pairs of shoes, underwear and 15 bottles of vitamins!  Wow!  

With three large Space Bags for each of six large suitcases, we will be able  to fit all of our belongings.  When we get to Scottsdale, two months before leaving the US and departing on our 15 day cruise to the Panama Canal, we decided we will have time to repack, designating two bags each as “cruise wear,” thus leaving the others unopened and hopefully tucked away.  

The suitcases stack quite well, taking up only 28″ X 19″ of floor space.  In booking the seven cruises so far, we’ve selected no less than balcony cabins and in some cases, suites, both of which provide additional floor space.  

Yes, we will be a little cramped, but with a balcony on which to lounge while overlooking the sea, we’ll be content.  With many activities on the cruises, I doubt we’ll spend much time in our cabin.

By the end of the day yesterday, all three of my large suitcases were packed using nine of the vacuum sealed Space Bags, Tom’s piles of papers were considerably smaller and dinner was on the table.  In the evening, after a lovely gluten free, low carb, grain free dinner, we relaxed in our usual comfy chairs in the family room for a delightful evening of idle chatter and vigorous channel surfing.  

The three bags on the right with wheels forward are my packed bags. Lots of stuff.

For the first time in months, I slept through the night, awakening at 5:30 am ready to tackle another day. Next weekend, we’ll pack Tom’s belongings in the same manner, he’ll finish up the papers and we’ll be one step closer to our worldwide adventure.

Hey, if I ever get bored, I can always vacuum!

Orange luggage & boots update…

You can tell by the little bulging muscle on the right side of my calf that I have tried to no avail, exercising my calves to build them up. If a scorpion or other such creature sees this gap in the boots, they may find it an appealing hiding place.This may warrant a visit to the shoe repair store.

Orange luggage, yes!  Fabulous!  Top quality!  Lightweight! The four giant boxes and two smaller boxes arrived on Friday afternoon.  How easily I lifted them into the house!  The Fed Ex guy even commented on the lightweight big boxes, curious as to the contents, amazed when I told him it was luggage.

Carefully, a little knife in hand, I slit the tape off the over sized boxes to easily pull out the orange bags.  Squealing like a kid, I couldn’t open them quickly enough, tossing one on the bed to unzip and inspect further.

The orange isn’t a Halloween pumpkin orange or the color of a naval orange.  It is subtle, definitely orange, comparable to the color of the mashed sweet potatoes, under the fluffy pillow of melted marshmallows to be devoured on Thanksgiving day. (We don’t eat that dish anymore…or even the sweet potatoes for that matter; too much sugar, too many carbs, too much starch.)

The bags are deep, well constructed, easy to zip.  Within minutes I loaded up one of the luggage carts with three of the 30″ Antler Bags, topped off with one of  the new orange carry on bags.  Yes, I knew they were empty. I wanted to see how well the four items would fit on the luggage cart.  Perfect!

Of course, when they are loaded to the brim with our “stuff” it will be different but…it will be manageable. I was thrilled.  Last night, I ordered two more of the 30″ orange bags after I sheepishly told Tom we’d each need three, not two of the bags.  

I’d expected him to flinch when he heard we’d need three 30″ bags.  He didn’t. He smiled at me, reminded of our somewhat preposterous situation, leaving everything behind, taking everything we need with us for the next three years, five years, ten years.  Who knows?  

We’ll manage. We’ll manage with a grin on our faces.  And when the bags feel really heavy, toppling off the cart, landing on a well-booted foot, we will smile, stop, help each other and keep moving on. This we know for sure.

And, my Clark lace up boots arrived on Thursday during the jewelry sale.  I didn’t open the box right away.  I had spent so much time looking online, that I wanted to prolong the anticipation a little longer, preferring to stay preoccupied with the sale.  

Returning home from taking down the hot pink “for sale” signs, I opened the box, feeling giddy over the great find, only to be sorely disappointed when I tried them on.  

The foot, a perfect fit, the calf, a fiasco!  I had measured my skinny calves before buying the boots, checking the detailed description of each possibility to ensure a good fit.  They called it “shaft circumference.”  The description stated a 14″ shaft circumference.  My calves measured 12.5″ leaving adequate room to tuck in pants to keep out 6″ scorpions.  They lied.

The shaft circumference measured 16.5″, leaving room for both of my hands to reach inside.  An entire scorpion family could reside in there.  No thank you. Now what?  Back to the computer, searching “skinny calf boots,  thin calf boots, narrow calf boots, skinny leg boots?  No!!!

Friday morning, before friends were arriving for breakfast I started calling local shoe repair store.  Yes, most likely, it can be done…the shaft can be made smaller, for a price, of course. 

“Bring them in for an estimate. It could be $70 or more,” says Bob of Bob’s Shoe Repair in Wayzata, Minnesota, where 30 years ago, maybe 40, I’d go to get shoes repaired.  Who repairs shoes these days?  Gosh, I sound old.

Monday morning, off to Wayzata I’ll go with the Clark boots.  Thus far, I’ve invested $149.98 plus shipping for a total of $161.98.  This could translate into a total investment of $250.  But, the end result may be a perfectly fitted, well constructed, long lasting, timelessly stylish, safe from scorpions, sure footed pair of comfortable boots, lasting for years,  that I will be wearing as we dash down the concourse to our gate.

Next to my sweetie, I’ll be wheeling one of our 250 pound capacity two wheeled carts, loaded up with three 30″ orange Antler bags, an orange Antler carry on bag, a laptop backpack, a handbag for me, a man purse for Tom (called a murse) heading to our next adventure. Homeless?  Yep!  Harried?  For sure! Happy?  Undoubtedly!


Deciding on what type of luggage we needed wasn’t easy.  It must be lightweight, durable, affordable and possessing good quality. As always, research has been an integral part of any of our decisions.  

Off and on over the past several months I read reviews and baggage restrictions for a multitude of airlines traveling to our required three flights:  Rome to Mombasa, Kenya; Mombasa, Kenya to Nelspruit, South Africa and Lisbon, Portugal to the island of Madiera, Portugal and back to Lisbon, a total of four flights.

To fly coach on some airlines, one checked bag, one carry on, one computer backpack with one hand bag per person is acceptable. (Tom, much to his dismay will now be carrying a “murse,”a man purse or what they also call a messenger bag). Other airlines allow two checked bags.  If one travels first class, most airlines will allow more bags, number unknown.

We are less than two months premature into booking our first flight to Mombasa, Kenya, which we’ll do as soon as possible.  After researching the cost of first class with some possible discounts, it may pay to bite the bullet and go first class or perhaps business class, depending on baggage restrictions and fares.

The flight from Rome to Kenya with a few layovers, is a minimum of 17 hours. There are a few better priced options for as many as 29 hours (yikes!). First class would provide food (hopefully pin-free) and comfortable seating, enabling one to sleep with more leg room to accommodate my 34″ inseam, much longer than Tom’s.

This morning, as I perused the overstuffed totes in our bedroom, filled to the brim with more “stuff” to pack, it appears we may each require three checked bags.  With our two 250 pound capacity luggage carts, we can do this!

Last night, we purchased four, 30″ Antler bags, a company in the UK known for manufacturing quality,  lightweight bags, along with two matching carry on bags from eBags at their eBay store.  

Orange Antler 30″ Expandable 4 Wheel Bag

After this morning, I faced the reality that we may as well purchase two more of the 30″ bags, once we’ve inspected them. Luckily, eBags provides free shipping both ways in the event one is dissatisfied.

Originally, we had planned to buy the Antler Zero 30″ bag, retailing for $540, priced at $249 on eBay.  The quality was slightly better than what which we purchased.   But, the thought of spending almost $1000 for four bags killed me, as opposed to the $444 we paid last night plus $79 for each of the two carry on bags.

We chose the Antler Toluca 30″ expandable four wheel upright bag for the following reasons, by order of importance:

  1. Quality brand
  2. Lightweight at 7.9 pounds each
  3. The color:  ORANGE  (easy to find amongst all the black bags at baggage claim).  Also, the color causes the bag to appear more of a “fashion” bag than an upscale expensive bag which may ultimately deter thieves.  We leave Minnesota on Halloween, orange, get it? Hahaha (Tom didn’t think that was funny).  
  4. Great price at $111 each plus free shipping
  5. Perfect size to comply with airline’s 63″ maximum dimensions
  6. Four wheels for stability, when they are off of the cart
  7. TSA locks, allowing us to lock the bags, but avoiding the TSA’s typical habit of cutting off non-regulation locks. This doesn’t provide a guarantee against theft, but it does reduce the risk. 
Let’s talk about the ORANGE. Why not, orange?  One would hesitate to do a bright color for fear of what others would think.  Right?  Is there any other reason? None that I can think of.  If you think of any, please post a comment here.
ORANGE BAGS? Yes, some passersby may look at our bags and say, “Ugly bags!”  We will laugh, hoping they aren’t referring to us and say to one another, “What thief is going to grab an orange bag from the carousel in baggage claim and run off, hoping to blend in with the crowd? 

Fitting clothes into suitcases…

Tom’s clothing, hoping it will all fit into one bag

Yes, I suppose I’m bent on fitting every possible item, clothing and otherwise, into two suitcases and one carry-on each.  The prospect of being unable to replace our clothing, toiletries and electronics online for at least three years, without paying exorbitant shipping fees, intimidates me.
Our budget for these three an more years of traveling is forefront in my mind. These two major concerns have been a frequent topic in our lives and this blog:

  1. Excess airline baggage fees, upwards of $800 per bag per person, for our two to three upcoming flights in and out of Africa
  2. Hauling extra heavy baggage to and from rental cars to rental houses, taxis to cruise ships and taxis to airports
Yesterday, to allay some of my fears (Tom doesn’t seem worried at all) I neatly stacked the bulk of our clothing (more to purchase) to actually see how much would fit into one of each of our suitcases, subsequently weighing each bag.
Tom’s clothing fit into one bag!

Not surprisingly, my clothes didn’t fit into the one bag. (We’ll get back to that in a minute).  My fear was never wrapped around Tom’s clothes fitting into one bag.  Not for a moment!

His second bag will include two dress shirts, one sport coat, one lightweight jacket, three ties, six pairs socks, twelve pair underwear, six pairs shoes, toiletries, four swimsuits, tee-shirts and two belts. This can be done.  His carry-on will include electronics, emergency clothes, prescriptions (in the event of lost luggage) and snacks.  His empty suitcase weighs 13.4 pounds, filled it weighed 47.8 pounds, which is over the weight limit on some airlines.
My clothing, hoping it will all fit into one bag.

Now, for my situation.  I can leave behind my frequently used kitchen gadgets, my antique dishes, my favorite winter clothes and jackets, the bulk of my “real” and costume jewelry, my varied selection of handbags and my fluffy slippers and robes.  

But, I won’t leave behind the essence of the persona that connotes who I am as a woman, including daily use of various cosmetics (three year’s supply), and matching outfits that must endure repeated washings.  

The matching tanks, the layering camis, the tops, the bottoms, the dresses, short or long; shoes, including sandals, workout shoes, the “cute” pink Crocs, comfy Minnetonka Moccasins, spiky high heels; cool pjs; the costume jewelry and all the items that assist a girl in feeling “put together” will accompany us around the world in heavy, bulky suitcases. 
As a result of my “girly” mentality, the piles of clothes didn’t fit into my huge suitcase. In our bedroom, there currently is a large plastic tote half filled with the overflow.  I have yet to add the following:  two dressy dresses for formal nights aboard ship, more shoes, more underwear, two sets of workout clothes, one lightweight jacket, more shoes, more shoes and more shoes. 

As for my carry-on bag, it will include cosmetics, prescriptions, overflow electronics from Tom’s carry-on and of course, emergency clothing.

My empty suitcase weighs 15.2 pounds. Loaded up it weighs 48.7 pounds.  By adding the dreaded second bags, our checked baggage totals will be approximately 100 pounds each, way over the limit of any airline. (Cruise ships don’t weigh the bags).  

Yesterday, Tom and I discussed this situation at length.  He finally put my mind at ease with this simple statement, lovingly expressed, “No worry, Sweetie.  As the time gets closer, we will either prepay for the additional baggage online when we book our reservations or, if that doesn’t work well, we’ll talk to the airlines and figure it out.”  

“In the worst case, we’ll bite the bullet, pay to have the extra bags shipped or get a storage facility in Rome for the 8 months while we’ll be living in Africa, just taking our BugsAway clothes and the basics.” 
Thanks Honey, for helping me let go of this worry in order to go back to packing up our lives, figuring out how we’ll receive our prescriptions, arranging our international phone and Internet service, purchasing and setting up two new laptops and an external hard drive, downloading no less than 100 movies, scanning another 500 photos,  buying our emergency travel insurance, getting duplicate copies of our passports, getting residency and driver’s licenses in another state, completing our vaccinations and medical appointments, going through every cupboard, closet, drawer and file cabinet in our entire house (26 years later), acquiring a new mailing address, buying a new camera (and learning how to use it!) and on and on and on.
We’ll get excited when the above tasks are completed.

Fine tuning the itinerary, continued…

When I finished the post on Friday, Tom and I discussed our options for the ten-day gap in Belize (two on the front end, eight on the back end). We decided to contact the owner of the little beach house in Placencia asking her if we can extend our stay from 2/1/2013 to 3/31/2013, changing to 1/29/2013-4/8/2013.

When we originally discussed this with her, she suggested we’d most likely want to explore the country for those ten-days to see the many tourist areas.  If this were a typical vacation for us, most likely we would have been attracted to this prospect.  

After all, sitting outside the little beach house in beach chairs, overlooking the sea, will get boring after two months. Ha! Are you kidding me? We will happily want an additional ten days!

Those suitcases!  Our nemesis!  Yes, they will inhibit us from freely moving from location to location on a whim. We accept this reality.  We are not the adventuresome twenty-year-olds who bravely travel the world with a single backpack they haul, hunched over, with no reservations, no cruises, no fear, and a willingness to sleep in a tiny tent in a bug-infested jungle. Yeah for them!  Not us!

We’ll stay in air-conditioned comfort (most of the time), take $5 a day malaria pills (so we don’t have side effects), wear Exofficio Bugs Away Clothing, drink purified water, watch movies and TV online at our leisure and keep an otherwise very tight budget to make such these seeming luxuries possible.  

We patiently await hearing back from the owner of the cute little beach house in Belize, hoping to spend the additional ten days at the rental. If she is unable to accommodate these dates, we will have no alternative than to find hotels on either end.  We will write back about the outcome.

We have another itinerary change.  Yesterday we added Cruise #7 with Joaquin at  On 4/9/2013, this cruise, previously booked that picks us on and brings us back to Miami.

7 nights departing April 6, 2013 on
Carnival’s Carnival Liberty
Brochure Inside $1,669
Our Inside $429
You Save 74%
Brochure Oceanview $1,969
Our Oceanview $539
You Save 73%
Brochure Balcony $2,194
Our Balcony $719
You Save 67%
Brochure Suite $2,669
Our Suite $1,039
You Save 61%
The prices shown are US dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. They include port charges but do not include airfare or (where applicable) airport or government taxes or fees.
Sat Apr 6 Miami, FL 4:00pm
Sun Apr 7 At Sea
Mon Apr 8 Cozumel, Mexico 7:00 am 5:00 pm
Tue Apr 9 Belize City, Belize 8:00 am 5:00 pm
Wed Apr 10 Roatan, Honduras 7:00 am 3:00 pm
Thu Apr 11 Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands 10:00 am 6:00 pm
Fri Apr 12 At Sea
Sat Apr 13 Miami, FL 8:00 am


Now listen to this crazy plan!  As you can see, we will arrive in Miami on 4/13/2013 at 8 am with a seven day lag in Miami, awaiting our cruise to Barcelona on 4/20/2013. During this lag we can stay in a mid range hotel, rent a car and dine in restaurants for all meals for an estimated cost of $2800 or pester friends, living in Miami to stay with them.  

We are the worst house guests in the world when by feeling overly grateful to stay with friends that we tend to go overboard cooking, cleaning, shopping, buying wine, and gifts. The cost in time, money, and effort becomes greater than a relaxing time in a hotel. Dear friends, please forgive us for this peculiarity!  
Thus, we have decided to stay on the above ship, the Carnival Liberty,  in the same Balcony Cabin, on the same day and continue on its seven-day cruise to the Caribbean which leaves at 4 PM, not only enjoying another cruise but as you can see from the Balcony Cabin price, save ourselves about $1200.
7 nights departing April 13, 2013, on
Carnival’s Carnival Liberty
Brochure Inside $1,669
Our Inside $479
You Save 71%
Brochure Oceanview $1,969
Our Oceanview $599
You Save 70%
Brochure Balcony $2,194
Our Balcony $814
You Save 63%
Brochure Suite $2,669
Our Suite $1,139
You Save 57%
The prices shown are US dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. They include port charges but do not include airfare or (where applicable) airport or government taxes or fees.
Sat Apr 13 Miami, FL 4:00 pm
Sun Apr 14 Half Moon Cay, Bahamas 9:00a m 5:00 pm
Mon Apr 15 At Sea
Tue Apr 16 St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands 9:00 am 6:00 pm
Wed Apr 17 San Juan, Puerto Rico 7:00a m 3:30 pm
Thu Apr 18 Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos Islands 11:00am 5:30 pm
Fri Apr 19 At Sea
Sat Apr 20 Miami, FL 8:00 am

This cruise arrives at the Port of Miami at 8 am on 4/20/2013.  Our next cruise, the Norwegian Epic, departs on the same exact day, at the same exact Port of Miami at exactly 5:00 pm.  In time, as more information is posted, we will know how far we will have to maneuver those dreaded bags to get over to the pier where the Norwegian Epic is docked, to begin our eleven-night journey across the sea to Barcelona Spain.  

In total this leg of our journey is 22 days at sea. Who’s complaining?