Final expenses for 82 days in the USA!…We’re off for India today!…

At lunch, that day, two years ago, one of the chefs on our Antarctica cruise, on Ponant Le’Boreal, was preparing a beef and vegetable stir-fry outdoors. We all partook of the delicious offering but decided to dine indoors. It was a little too cold to eat outside for our liking. For more photos, please click here.

Last night, we played our final round of buck euchre with Gene and Eugene. As always, it was pretty enjoyable. Tom and I speculated over how fun it would be to find players in our future travels.

However, that’s highly unlikely. That particular card game is popular in the Midwest and is seldom played in other parts of the world. When we return to the US in about two years, we’ll play cards again with his family.

Tom’s sisters and brothers-in-law only spend their winters in Apache Junction, Arizona, and Minnesota’s balance of the year. Most likely, next time we visit Minnesota, it won’t be during the cold winter months, and we’ll see his family and our kids and grandchildren in Minnesota, once again.

This morning, as I sit here preparing today’s post, I’m feeling at ease. Most of our packing is complete, and all I have left to do is restock my 28-day pill case and empty the food in the refrigerator. 

We’re bringing all the remaining non-perishables and perishables over to the sisters to see if they can use anything. If not, their friend Margie (another Margie) will bring everything to the local Food Shelf where she volunteers. 

We’ve weighed all of our bags except for the supplies bag, which is always questionable in meeting the weight restrictions, in this case, 50 pounds (23 kg) per bag.

Assuming we won’t have easy access to a pharmacy for toiletries, I’ve had to pack enough to last for three months; two months in India and 29-days on the following cruise from Mumbai to London. Once we arrive in the UK, and then Europe, we’ll easily find the products we use.

Last night’s six hours of sleep was filled with crazy dreams and frequent periods of wakefulness. Tom experienced the same. But this morning, upon awakening, I felt fine and ready to tackle the remaining tasks for the day.

Our new friend, Jodi, kindly volunteered to take us to the airport. This is so appreciated, especially since we must leave during rush hour at 5:30 pm. With the traffic, we should arrive by 6:15 pm with our first flight departing at 8:40 PM.

We’ll fly all night for 10 hours, and as mentioned, we’ll spend 8 of the daytime hours at busy Heathrow Airport. We’ll attempt to find a place to plug in our equipment and busy ourselves online.

Here are our combined final expenses for our 82 days in the USA, beginning on November 8, 2019 and ending today:

Final Expenses USA  US Dollar 
Vacation Home  AZ   $ 3,626.00
Gifts & Misc.   $    325.00
Airfare    $    872.00
Rental Car  $    996.78
Groceries  $ 4,100.32
Dining Out   $ 2,082.00
Supplies & Pharmacy   $ 1,674.05
Total Cost (82 days)   $13,675.83
Average Daily Cost (82 days)   $    166.78

We did not include the cost of new digital equipment and clothing, but we did have the cost of supplies we purchased for the next three months.

Also, we paid no rent while staying with friends Karen and Rich for three weeks in Minnesota, nor did we pay rent during the 11 nights we spent with son Richard in Nevada. Of course, we hosted several dinners out in sincere thanks for their hospitality.

Here in Arizona, we paid the rent as mentioned above from 12/09/2019 to 1/31/2020. The property manager gave us a discount to compensate for our early departure, today on January 29th.

Most likely, we’ll upload a post tomorrow during our 8-hour layover, providing we have access to wifi and a place to plug in our equipment. If not, sit tight. As soon as we get settled in the hotel in a few days, we’ll prepare a new post.

Thanks for all the warm wishes from many of our loyal readers/friends. We so appreciate your kindness and words of encouragement.

We’ll be back at you soon! Take care and be well!

Photos from one year ago today, January 29, 2019:

We could only guess why this particular lioness hadn’t been hunting and eating. For more photos, please click here.

Cruise final expenses including shopping at port and extras…Finalizing details…Favorite photos…

Mystery Island scene.

Rather than wait until we disembark the ship tomorrow, I decided to post the final expenses and favorite photos today. 

Tomorrow, when we disembark by 8:30 am with a 9:00 am shuttle pickup at the Port of Seattle, we’ll have time to post until after we arrive in Vancouver later in the day.

The sun was shining on the sea.

Once we’re settled in our hotel, we’ll prepare and upload a post with scenic photos of the three-plus-hour drive from Seattle to Vancouver, which we expect will be stunning. Neither of us has ever driven this route by car. It should be interesting.

At 11:30 am now with another time change occurring at noon, we decided to pack earlier than usual and get it all behind us. Tonight, the staff will collect all of our checked bags, leaving the newer duffel bag and computer backpack behind for us to keep in our possession during the disembarking process.

Mystery Island, Vanuatu beach.

Once we’re off the ship, we’ll find the remainder of our luggage in the cruise terminal and make our way to the pickup area, where an SUV driver will be waiting for us for the US $550 AU 744.95 drive over the US border into Canada.

We hedged at this high cost for transportation but after careful consideration decided this was the least stressful means of travel. We always keep in mind that keeping stress at a minimum has always been our goal and our motto.

A reminder of cannibalism in the South Pacific.

It always falls upon the fact that we can only control what “we know” in our world travels, not which “we don’t know,” which would include unforeseen circumstances over which we do not influence our diligent planning.

Sometimes, that includes paying a little more, planning ahead and leaving ourselves free and unencumbered to relish in our surroundings and experiences along the way.

Situated in the Diamond Club lounge for the last morning of this 24-night cruise, we can relax knowing everything is in place: we’re fully packed with clothing left out for tonight and tomorrow. 

King Neptune poolside celebration after crossing the Equator.

We’ve calculated our total expenses for the cruise, as shown below entering the figures into our main spreadsheet; we’ve reviewed our cruise bill for accuracy, handling any necessary adjustments; we’ve paid cash tips to our fabulous restaurant manager Belic who oversaw meticulous handling of my special meals and, over-the-top cabin steward Mira, the best we’ve ever experienced after 18 cruises.

Here are the final expenses for this 24-night cruise aboard Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas from Sydney to Seattle:

 Expense   US Dollar   Australian Dollar 
 Cruise Fare – 24 nights   $              5,955.26  $                    8,068.18
 Cabin credit   $                (280.00)  $                        379.28
 Airfare    $                                 $                                     
 Taxi    $                    50.20  $                          68.00
 Laundry aboard ship   $                    49.98  $                          67.70
 Ship Shop Purchases   $                    94.78  $                        124.38
 Tips not inc. in fare   $                   188.17  $                        254.87
 Lahaina Gap purchases   $                   106.00  $                        143.57
 Total   $              6,164.39  $                     8,349.44
 Average Daily Cost    $                  256.85  $                        347.89

We’re please with these totals. The daily calculations are slightly higher than our usual average daily costs. Using this cruise for transportation back to the US actually saved us money when the airfare alone would have been around US $2,000, AU 2,708.93.

During the 24-day period we would have been paying for a vacation home, groceries, transportation, etc. Adding the pure joy of spending this extended period of time with other passengers, it’s definitely money well spent.  Also, we avoided a horrendously long 14-hour flight from these distant locations.

We’ve made many new friends on this cruise and look forward to hearing from them in the future. Who knows?  Our paths may cross again sometime in the future.

Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii.

As we enter North America by early tomorrow morning, we’ll no longer include Australian money exchange rates for our expenses. All expenses during our time in North America will be posted in US dollars only. For our Australian readers, as you know for one US dollar, it is $1.35 for Australian dollar.

We won’t be posted a foreign exchange rate until August 1st when we enter Costa Rica as we continue on our world journey.

Thanks, dear readers, for your continued love and support during this lengthy cruise. We’ll continue to post daily during the Alaska cruise beginning in three days when we’ll be visiting many ports of call for a hopefully good signal which has been lacking during this cruise.

Goodbye, Australia, New Zealand, and islands in the South Pacific for the gifts you bestowed upon us in this exquisite and fascinating part of the world.  We’ll remain eternally grateful for the experiences.

Happy Mother’s Day to Moms all over the world! May your day be as unique as YOU!

Photo from one year ago today, May 14, 2016:

This dog walked up to our villa in Bali and wandered around the pool. We stayed seated and didn’t say a word. Soon, he wandered away. For more photos, please click here.

Final post from Sumbersari with Bali expenses…Soon, we’ll be on our way on the four or five hour harrowing drive…

We attended the buffalo races.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Balinese people certainly take advantage of using their heads to carry heavy or cumbersome loads.

After nearly four months of living in Sumbersari, Bali today, we’ve uploaded our final post for this location and also for “Sightings on the Beach.” Perhaps down the road in future posts we’ll be able to have a similar feature depicting special scenes we embrace each and every day.

With an exciting future ahead of us, we certainly have no doubt there will be many of those types of scenes. We look forward to seeking them out to share with our readers each day. On the upcoming 33-night cruise embarking a week from today, we’re discussing possible feature photos we’ll include comparable to “Sightings on the Beach in Bali,” of course, related to the cruise experience.

Workers in the rice fields.

I know, you may be thinking…”How in the world will they possibly hold our interest while they live on a ship for 33 days and nights?  Won’t it be more and more of the “same old, same old?”

This presents a unique challenge to us, one we’ll adopt with the utmost enthusiasm to ensure you’ll be intrigued to see what we’ve discovered each day. As we meet other passengers, we’ll ask for their assistance as well in spotting particularly interesting photo ops.

Nature at its finest on the edge of the infinity pool. We spent hours watching this praying mantis.

Today, as we’re uploading this final post for the villa in Sumbersari including the final expenses, we’re excited to continue to share the last of the favorite photos during this extended period on the west end of this island.  

It was highly unusual for us to return to Bali after a two month hiatus for the Mekong River cruise through Vietnam and Cambodia, a one week stay in Singapore and six weeks in Phuket, Thailand. In the future, we only have one country planned for a return visit in 16 months, South Africa as we mentioned in this earlier post.

A working well at a neighboring home.

Unfortunately, from June 1st on, I was suffering with the spinal injury resulting in a considerable portion of this period spent distracted by the discomfort and an amount of concern that it might never heal. 

Alas, here we are almost five months later and once again, I’m my “old” self, pain free and again delighted for the many plans on the horizon as well as reveling in the joys of the moment, reminded to always “Love the One You’re With!”

As you read this post, we’ll already be on the four or five hour harrowing drive from the villa to Denpasar to the hotel we’ve booked through the week, departing at 10 pm on Saturday night for the red eye flight to Sydney. 

“Rustic” residence on the beach.

It will be a relatively easy few days as we lounge by the pool, walk the neighborhood and if we feel like it, grab a taxi to check out the area. But, Tom’s aversion to traffic may prevent us from venturing out when the Kuta area is so congested it takes 30 minutes to get to the airport that’s only a kilometer from the hotel.

Kuta is not necessarily known as an area suitable for sightseeing of any major consequence. In a way, we don’t mind laying low in air conditioned comfort for a few days after six months of scorching heat and humidity, day after day. The only time we’ve been cool has been at night when we finally headed to bed to turn on the AC.  It may prove to be a welcomed relief.

Frangipani flowers blooming in the yard, aka Plumeria in Hawaii.

As for the expenses for Bali, we’ve decided to keep these last two months from September 2, 2016 to October 24, 2016 separate from the first two months we spent in Bali from April 30, 2016 to June 28, 2016.  

We’ve made the calculations based the 59-night stay, although we’re leaving a few days earlier since we’d already paid for 59 nights in full. (We’re not receiving any compensation for leaving earlier nor do we expect it.  It was entirely our decision).

We considered each of the two stays in Bali as individual stays when the expenses varied for the time we spent at the resort in Lovina. If you’d like to review our expenses from the earlier stay, please click here.

This appropriately muddy pig posed for our photo. 

Expenses for 59 nights:  US Dollar to IDR Indonesian Rupiah
Vacation Rent:   US $ 4,648.03  IDR   62,330,082.30
Transportation:  US       759.13  IDR    9,909,557.43
Visa Extension:  US         54.63  IDR       713,130.98
Tips/Laundry:    US       389.00  IDR     5,077,941.65
Clothing & Misc. US     1,144.88 IDR    14,945,074.12*

Groceries:         US       947.00  IDR    12,361,981.33
Hotel & Meals:   US       739.49  IDR      9,653,180.12**

Total:                              US $ 8,409.16   IDR 109,771,783.48
Average Monthly Cost:  US $  4,335.23   IDR   56,587,713.48 

Average Daily Cost:       US $    142.53    IDR     1,860,442.65

*The above total includes the pants we purchased at Lovina when long pants were required at the immigration office.
**The above total includes the entire bill for hotel ad meals for four nights in Lovina during the visa extension process.

Recent photo repeated, nonetheless a favorite with Tom dressed in traditional Balinese/Hindu attire.

Although our previous stay in Bali was less costly, the addition of the shipment we received with many supplies including Tom’s new phone, iced tea, clothing and shoes and, the hotel in Lovina, the average daily/monthly costs increased exponentially. Another traveler may spend comparable amounts shopping while on such an extended trip.

We’ll post the upcoming hotel stay expenses when that period ends as well. With the low cost for the hotel room, the included breakfast, with dinner as the only add-on, most likely the total will be reasonable.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back as usual with more photos and updates. Thanks to all of our loyal readers for hanging in there with us during this relatively quiet time spent in Bali. We appreciate each and every one of YOU.

Be well!

Photo from one year ago today, October 24, 2015:

It was a cultural day in Fiji one year ago when we visited this modest village. This structure is used in ceremonial rites and kava drinking. For more details and photos, please click here.

When we arrived at the airport in Bangkok…Final cruise expenses at end of post…More cruise/tour photos…

Tom pointed out this jumble of power lines at an intersection in Saigon.

Yesterday morning, we left the hotel in Saigon at 6:45 for the 30 minute drive to the airport amid rush hour traffic. The previous evening we had our final meal together as a group at a local restaurant after which we hugged goodbye to the many new friends we’d made on the Viking Mekong River Cruise.

 Vietnam is a communist society resulting in the government owning all land regardless of its location. As a result, most structures are narrow such as this property.

Most of all, it was hard to say goodbye to Kong. He far exceeded any of our expectations as the finest tour manager we’ve worked with since beginning our travels so long ago. 

Based on our late departing flight out of Saigon after a mass of confusion at the overly busy and somewhat disorganized airport, it was unlikely we’d arrive in Phuket at a decent time to be up to be able to post. As a result, our last post was short.

Kong pointed out the number of motorbikes in the roundabout.  There are over 6 motorbikes in Saigon (Ho Cho Ming City) for a population of 10 million.

At the airport in Bangkok Tom found an ATM getting enough Thai Baht to last a week. For BHT 10,000, the exchange rate is US $286. We stopped at McDonald’s for a quick bite to eat figuring it could be late until we have a meal. I had a boring meat-free salad without dressing and Tom had a burger and fries.

Another view of the roundabout.  These photos were taken during a quiet time of the day compared to the busier rush hour.

On the way to the villa we made a stop at a market in the village. We were both exhausted from the prior poor night’s sleep and the long trip, making finding items on our list difficult if not impossible.  

Without a single English speaking person to be found in the market, we encountered a kindly young employee with a translation app on his phone with little success in the translation making sense to him.

One business after another in tight spaces.

As it turned out the largest market in the area has no beef for sale.  For protein, they carry fresh chicken, pork and fish sitting atop big chilled tables. We usually have beef a few times a week, so we’ll have to come up with another plan for those meals. Nor did we find any roasted chickens.

Many females wear masks and are fully covered. One would think this was to prevent illness when in act Vietnamese women vehemently avoid darkening skin from the sun. By their standards, the whiter the skin, the better, according to Kong.

We never had dinner last night. We were so tired, food was the last thing on our minds.  By 8:30 pm, we hunkered down in the air conditioned bedroom on the comfy bed determined to stay awake until 10:00 pm. 

Refreshed and renewed this morning, we unpacked what we’d use here as we became familiar with our new house in Rawai, Phuket, a cozy little town which appears to be a mix of the old and new. 

Temples are interspersed among more modern areas.

Soon, we’ll get out to see what’s around us. Unfortunately, I still need time to heal my injury being a little less active. With all the strenuous tours during the cruise, I never really had time to rest, which seems to be the most helpful at this point. 

Amid the historical buildings are skyscrapers such as this newer building.

Yesterday, after the busy travel day at the two airports with tons of walking I almost reached 10,000 steps on my Fitbit which was way too much. Today, will be a relaxing day other than preparing our first meal since April 14th. Tom literally waits on me, helping with everything I need.

The house? Its a lovely as we’d anticipated. Please free to check out the online listing by clicking here which has some excellent photos without the clutter of our stuff scattered around the house.

Many shops include products appealing to tourists. Many travel to Vietnam from all over the world to shop.

We’ve yet to take our first Phuket photo. With the tinted windows on the van on the drive from the airport to the villa, we had no opportunity to take photos. Nor did we feel up to walking right now.  In the near future we’ll get out to visit points of interest and to share many new photos with our readers.

At an intersection.

For now, as mentioned in a prior post, with hundreds of photos remaining from the cruise in Cambodia and Vietnam, we’ll continue to include photos we hope you’ll find interesting.

These huge clocks could appeal to tourist shoppers.

Here are the expenses from the Viking Mekong cruise/tour:

Expense US Dollar Vietnamese Dong
Cruise fare  $          6,597.00  $  147,068,781.00
Airfare –Singapore to Hanoi  $              830.00  $    18,503,424.00
Hotel in Hanoi  $           2,029.70  $    45,248,674.00
Taxi   $                 98.00  $       2,184,742.00
Laundry  $               140.00  $       3,121,059.00
Wifi   $                      $                   
Groceries  $                      $                 –                        
Dining Out  $                12.00  $           267,519.00
Clothing  $                22.00  $           490,452.00
Tips  $              725.00  $      16,162,629.00
Total  $        10,453.70  $    233,047,280.00
Avg Daily Cost-17 days  $              614.88  $       13,708,664.00

Tomorrow, we continue with Part 2, Cu Chi Tunnel with many more fascinating and informative photos of this historical site. Now that we’re settled we’ll be posting consistently around the same time each day. 

Kong explained that locals have tougher stomachs to tolerate street food while tourists often become ill.

We’d like to thank all of our loyal worldwide readers for “hanging in there” with us during periods of no WiFi and during my continuing mention of my current condition. We appreciate each and every one of you, no matter where you may be.

Have a fabulous day!

Photo from one year ago today, July 23, 2015:

One year ago, in Cairns, Australia we had no trouble finding a shopping mall with only a few turns required off the main highway into town. For more details, please click here.

Off we go!…Final expenses for two months in West Bali in an exceptional property…Final favorite photos…

It was business as usual with Tom wearing a sarong as the required dress to enter the temple. He had a hard time managing the steps.  He just didn’t have the same experience as women who’ve worn long dresses, knowing when to hold up the hem for ease in walking.
Me, at the monkey temple wearing the required sarong.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

The flow of the river at low tide. 

This is our last post from the West Bali villa.  Soon driver Butu will arrive to drive us on the harrowing four hour trip back to Denpasar which is only 74.5 miles, 120 km, where we’ll spend tonight in a hotel prior, flying to Singapore tomorrow afternoon.

This is where we dined each night with views of the pool and the sea.

We’re excited for the upcoming two months in Southeast Asia, especially once we’ve completed the process of acquiring  the three necessary visas hanging over our heads while we’re in Singapore for a week. 

The entrance to the villa.  Water spouts from the trunks of these elephant statues.  There are Koi pools in front of each statue.

The packing went well especially since we’re able to leave the duffel bag behind in the storage room awaiting our return, saving us hauling an extra 25 pounds, 11 kg, of items we won’t need in the heat of Southeast Asia. 

These two chaise lounges provided us with shade for part of the day.  Later, we’d move to the shade of the cabana.

After completing the packing yesterday, we weighed our bags only required to pay US $19.39, IDR $260,000 for the excess online.  That was good news.

The villa from the beach side.

Yesterday, Gede stopped by to say goodbye. We presented him with a generous tip for all he’d done for us.  This morning we tipped the two Kataks and Ribud.  They were grateful, graciously acknowledging the tokens of our appreciation. Interacting with the four staff members six days a week had been delightful.

The infinity pool and Jacuzzi view from the second level.

Also, yesterday was  our last day poolside.  It rained in the morning with the sun not peeking out until around 11 am.  Once the sky cleared we couldn’t get outdoors quickly enough to sit in the comfy shaded chaise lounges on our last day at the villa.

By early afternoon, it rained again driving us back indoors while it rained into the evening and again this morning. Overall, we’ve had very few rainy days during these past two months.

Kingfisher sitting atop a palm frond.

As we prepared the final expenses, using all the data we’d previously entered on the spreadsheet we were astounded to see how affordable the two months in Bali proved to be. 

Four buffaloes passing on the beach.  Its amazing these young kids can handle these large animals which obviously know them and cooperate.

Once you peruse these numbers, you too may be surprised at the reasonable cost of living in this fabulous property with a full staff to attend to our needs.  We can’t thank the staff and owners enough for the finite attention to detail in this property and anticipate our return with happy hearts.

Dragon fruit, a popular local item. 

Here’s the numbers which are among the most reasonable we’ve seen in our 44 months of world travel:

Expenses for 59 nights:  US Dollar to IDR Indonesian Rupiah

Vacation Rent:   US $ 4,648.03  IDR $62,330,082.30
Airfare:             US      579.96   IDR     7,777,263.60
Taxi:                 US     403.00    IDR     5,404,230.00
Visa Extension:  US     122.57    IDR     1,643,663.70
Tips/Laundry:    US     435.22    IDR     5,836,300.20
Wifi (SIM card)  US       20.32    IDR        272,491.20
Groceries:         US     935.00    IDR    12,538,350.00
Restaurant:       US       60.00    IDR         804,600.00
Hotel:               US       61.00    IDR         818,010.00
Pharmacy:         US      28.00     IDR        375,480.00

Total:                             US $ 7,293.10  IDR $97,800,471.00
Average Monthly Cost:  US $ 3,759.80  IDR $50,418,918.00  

Average Daily Cost:       US $    123.61  IDR $16,576,279.17

Flower market in Lovina. 

The above referenced grocery total included the cost for all the items purchased by the cooks for our meals plus all items we purchased on our own.  The above mentioned restaurant amount is an estimate for tonight’s dinner in Denpasar.

Beach views.

We couldn’t be more pleased with this Bali experience in its depth and breadth of what we’ve learned about the Balinese way of life, the affordable cost of living, the luxury and ease of living in this beautiful villa and the wonderful people we’ve come to know and love. 

Beach views from second story at high tide.

We’ll be back tomorrow with comments after dinner in a restaurant and the night in the Hilton hotel in the capital city of Denpasar!


Photo from one year ago today, June 27, 2015:

One of many quaint outdoor/indoor restaurants along Williams Esplanade In Palm Cove beach in Australia.  Please click here for more details.

Tom corrected me over yesterday’s post…”We do gamble,” he says!…An element of our lives we seldom mention here…

A little hut in the neighborhood managed by a woman and her daughter where they sell SIM cards for data and phones and a few other products.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

This large rock formation has formed on the beach visible only at low tide. 

After Tom read yesterday’s post, he said, “You’re wrong, Sweetie. We do gamble, big time.”

I thought for a moment trying to jog my memory over the past many years when we were in a casino and played a few games.  I couldn’t recall a single occasion.

He laughed and said, “We gamble every day playing the stock market! Isn’t that gambling when all is said and done?”

“You’re absolutely right, Honey,” I replied nodding my head in agreement.

Sunset view and reflection in the infinity pool.
Once Tom retired and rolled over his 401K to an online brokerage company we could easily access in our travels, this type of “gambling” has served us well. Armed with a plethora of knowledge he’s gleaned from a few extraordinary experts, he’s become quite good at it.  (We’re not talking about that guy that screams on TV or on any other TV celebrity or supposed finance guru).
With my daily photo taking, posting, management of spreadsheets, financial records, banking, and accounting for our travels, overall I paid little attention to what he was doing other than to listen when he wanted to share interesting details.

I didn’t want to hear when it wasn’t going well so he stayed mum to keep me from worrying.  But, as his expertise and desires for diversity have grown and we’ve made our way to the plus side at the moment, my interest has peaked. Over this past year, I’ve taken a greater interest while Tom makes all the moves.

Some mornings humidity, fog, and smoke from local fires create a fuzzy scene on the beach.

Sure, with stocks, options, longs/shorts, and a wide array of other financial products, one is taking an enormous risk.  We see this each week when, for example, we go online after 9:30 pm (Indonesia time) five nights a week when the stock market opens in the US. 

Based on this huge time difference the US market closes at 4 am when we’re sleeping. But, it’s not entirely unusual for either of us to be awake during the night or very early in the morning unable to avoid firing up Tom’s laptop to see what’s going on. 

The ups and downs are not for the faint of heart. We’ve both had to learn to avoid letting the downs become upsetting. I suppose it is gambling, after all, except in a  much bigger way than putting a few dollars on a blackjack table, poker table, or in a slot machine. One may be “gambling” with their life savings.

Another larger shop in the neighborhood carrying many tourist-type needs, beverages, and snacks.

Also, we had no desire to turn this process over to a “financial advisor” paying fees and commissions while allowing someone else to make decisions on our behalf. For many, this is their only option when they have investible funds but little education, time, or interest in handling it on their own.

Over these past 44 months of world travel, Tom has had all of the time and interest necessary to further educate himself to a point of feeling confident in making important decisions. 

Flowers blooming from a small tree.

Tom’s favorite source of education has been with Bob Rinear on this website. Bob’s information and education have provided valuable information. Tom followed Bob’s website and free newsletter long before we retired. 

About one year before Tom retired in 2012, he paid for Bob’s annual yearly subscription, “The Insiders Club” which has ultimately served us well. Tom also participated in the comprehensive training course, again proving to be a valuable tool.  (In no manner are we involved in any revenue or proceeds from Bob’s website. We’re simply subscribers as are many others throughout the world).

Since I’m way more frugal than he is, it’s best I continue to stay out of the day-to-day decisions, although he shares details of every transaction with me prior to making any changes. In the process, I too, am getting an education through my savvy partner.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

We won’t draw any money out from these funds until after Tom turns 70.5 years old (7 years) at which point US tax laws require annual minimum withdrawals be made along with the payment of required federal tax (and state taxes, if applicable). If we lost it all, we could still survive and continue to travel the world.

It’s only under these circumstances that we feel comfortable taking the risks. If one wouldn’t be able to cover living expenses if they lost it all in a stock market crash, which may be likely at some point, they shouldn’t be investing. (We’ve also decided it’s wise to secure some of one’s investments into less vulnerable assets).

The stress of potentially losing everything could be unbearable making the later years of one’s life, less than enjoyable. We’re not offering any investment advice here.  We’re explaining how we perceive “gambling” in our lives.

A modest well cared for Hindu home in the neighborhood.

The excitement of it all is certainly comparable to winning at a casino and the disappointment perhaps even more devastating than when losing at a poker table. 

With a tough hide, diligent attention to market fluctuations, world affairs and a degree of knowledge and expertise and, an enormous amount of interest and desire to make it work, its an exciting area of our lives we seldom, if ever, mention here.

No, we don’t sit around all day playing games on our phones. Even on those sunny outdoors-all-day days, the wheels are always in motion as we continually reach for safety, security, and peace of mind achievable in many ways in our lives of travel.

In Bali, it’s common to see trash fires burning along the road or in yards.

One more point, we use a VPN, a virtual private network, to further secure our access to financial websites (which are supposedly secure) but this added measure of security provides us with further peace of mind.

Without a doubt, life is a gamble in many ways for every one of us; our health, our well-being, our sense of security, our financial health, basically all aspects. The degree to which we proactively pursue enhancing each of these areas is entirely up to us.

May your day provide you with an opportunity for peace of mind.

Photo from one year ago today, June 20, 2015:

This is the noisy night bird, the bush stone-curlew (Burhinus grallarius) that kept us awake the first week in Trinity Beach, Australia after which we became used to it, sleeping through the noise. It’s a nocturnal, ground-dwelling bird that makes its home in Australia’s open forests, grasslands, mangroves, and salt marshes. (Not our photo). We never saw one during the day.  For more details please click here.

Details, details, details…Not as uncomplicated as one may think…

Ah, bull in the road. We stayed in the car while I took the photo through the windshield (referred to as a “windscreen” here in NZ).

Moving every few months has its challenges. If someone had asked me five years ago if we’d be willing to move every two or three months or more frequently, as will occur in a few months, I’d had said it was impossible.

Even now, after 42 months of experience, it could be an overwhelming task if we let the entire process flood our minds in one fell swoop. Instead, we take it in bite-sized pieces, collecting and sorting our stuff over a period of many days.

I handle all the small stuff and Tom handles the heavy stuff. Without ever discussing it or mapping a plan, we each gravitated toward the tasks well suited to our abilities and desires.

As a result, I handle the refrigerator, freezer, and food in the cabinets which in itself is a big job. We’ve been here for a full three months accumulating a number of ingredients, spices, and foods we’ve used in preparing meals.

Cows often stop grazing to check us out.  Are they happy to see us or annoyed?

Weeks before we leave, I assess all the remaining items. Together, we determine a menu based on what we have on hand in an attempt to “use up” the ingredients and what we’ll need to purchase to round out the meals.

For example, we had a partial bag of organic coconut flour, a jar of organic coconut oil, and an unopened can of unsweetened coconut milk, some of the ingredients used in making low-carb pancakes. Plus, there were several packages of streaky bacon left in the freezer.

With a trip to the Taranaki Farmer’s Market on Sunday, we purchased eggs we’d need to make for “breakfast for dinner,” one of our favorite occasional meals; coconut pancakes, scrambled eggs with onions and cheese, and a side of bacon.

Tonight, we’ll have this same meal for the second night, using the balance of the on-hand ingredients.  Tomorrow, we’ll head to town to purchase two organic, free-range pre-cooked chickens to which we’ll add a salad and green beans, more of which we still have on hand.

Green hills and the sea on a sunny day.

On Thursday, I’ll clean the refrigerator and freezer with a plan to leave it as clean as it was when we arrived.  We’ll leave behind only a few items; a can of salmon, a bag of unsweetened coconut, and a few spices.We have no room in our luggage to bring food with us, although we’d had done so in the past.

With the cost of baggage for upcoming flights, it makes no sense to pay to bring any type of food products.  Plus, both New Zealand and Australia have tight restrictions on bringing food into their countries.

Heading to Bali after the cruise we’ll board in four days, we’ll be living in a remote area for 59 days. We’re well aware we’ll have trouble finding many ingredients we use regularly, such as some of the above-mentioned coconut products. 

Every country has protein sources and vegetables. If necessary, if all we can eat is a grass-fed steak, free-range chicken, or wild-caught fish with a salad and vegetable, we’ll be fine. Also, we’ve yet to visit a country that doesn’t have free-range eggs and cheese. 

Cows, mountains, and sea at a distance.

Tom not only oversees the handling and weighing of the heavy bags, but carefully plans the packing, wrapping, and distribution of all of our power cords and power strips. Also, he’ll do the packing of our new wheeling computer backpack we purchased while here. We’re hoping to be able to eliminate a few carry-on items as we pack this time around.

Cruise lines don’t allow power strips in the cabins fearing too many items on one strip may present a fire hazard. Each time we board a cruise, our power strips are confiscated which we collect in “security” on disembarking day. Without these strips, we have a problem plugging in all of our equipment. 

In most cases, we’re able to get alternative smaller strips from our cabin steward which solves the issue.  There’s a shortage of outlets in the cabins although all ships on which we’ve sailed to date have US plug-ins. If we ever find that not to be the case, we can use the three converters/adapters we carry with us and use them in almost every country we visit.

Over the past few days, I tossed no less than 8 pounds, 3.6 kg, of “stuff” from our third bag. This bag has never been this light. At some point, we’ll replace our two clothing bags hoping to purchase even lighter weight bags as more and more styles become available. This may have to wait until we get to the US in 2017.

A cow escaped the paddock hanging out on the side of the road.

Today, I’ll neatly fold the shirts Tom wears to dinner on the cruises and a few shirts of mine, all of which have been hanging in the two closets. Most of our clothing is wrinkle-free, but we’ve yet to find any clothing that doesn’t wrinkle to some extent.

I’ve tried a number of methods to reduce wrinkles, but none seems to work or are too time-consuming and cumbersome to implement. Once we arrive at the cruise with our bags delivered to the cabin, we’ll immediately unpack and hang the necessary items, hoping the wrinkles will dissipate from the humidity in the cabin.

Also, today, I’ll restock our pill cases with my now only two prescriptions and a few vitamins and Tom’s few vitamins (he no longer takes any prescription meds). We both take probiotics daily. Long ago, we had to forgo packing vitamins and supplements when we just don’t have room in our luggage or access to restocking them in some countries.

In addition, we’re washing bath towels, bedding, and kitchen towels to leave everything in order when we depart. We’ll only have the sheets we slept on Thursday night and one bath towel each remaining unwashed when we leave on Friday morning.

Driving along a narrow road in farm country.

Yesterday, I completed the scanning of all of the tax-deductible receipts we accumulated while here in New Zealand. Our 2015 federal tax return, due on April 15th, was completed and submitted online by our Nevada accountant over a week ago. 

Later today, I’ll begin working on the final expenses (by category) for this three-month stay in New Plymouth which we’ll share in Friday’s post (Thursday to those on the other side of the International Dateline). Tomorrow, we’ll post our favorite New Zealand photos.

This morning, Tom gathered all the trash we’ve accumulated over the past few days as the packing began and drove it down to the recycle and trash bins at the far end of the road. We always attempt to leave no trash behind other than a few necessary items in the kitchen bins (tucked away in cabinets), never leaving any trash scattered about the house.

The ocean and a tiny island at dusk on a cloudy evening.

No doubt, we still have plenty to do. However, we’re on track, exactly where we need to be with three remaining days until we drive to Auckland for our flight to Sydney. 

As we peer out the windows on this rainy day, the alpacas continue to happily graze in the paddock. Although a little sad about leaving them, we feel complete and fulfilled by this memorable experience.

May your day bring you contentment and fulfillment!

Photo from one year ago today, April 12, 2015:

From the Princeville Botanical Garden one year ago today, we wrote: With many bees in this area, I chose not to move the green leaves for a better view of this exquisite bloom which was the size of a soccer ball. For more photos, please click here.