Missing package?…Future plans in the works…the South Pacific…

 

Check out the busy bee on this Bird of Paradise.

While still in Morocco, we ordered a number of items we needed, including a few clothing items for me, Crystal Light Iced Tea, a pair of shoes, and a number of miscellaneous items we needed.

After placing the shipping order through our mailing service to be sent to Gina’s home address in Funchal, Madeira fearing it would arrive before us, it has yet to arrive. It was sent on May 2, 2014, via international priority mail at a cost of US $150, EU $110.27. We have a tracking number.

It shows on the inquiry from our mailing service that it went through customs on:

Date &
Time
Status of
Item
Location
May 14, 2014 , 10:43 am Customs Clearance
PORTUGAL

Why we don’t have this yet baffles us. Goodness, we received a package in Kenya without issue.

These flowers are growing outside our front door.

Last week, we stumbled across a post office in Ribeira Brava asking their staff what’s to be expected for arrival from the US when mail is sent in this matter. They said two to three weeks should be plenty of time. 

She asked us, in good English, to bring the tracking number back to her and she’ll check online and give us an update. Today, we’re planning on walking out the door around 4:00 pm in order to get to the post office before it closes at 5:00.

Since we’ll already be out, we’ll stay in Ribeira Brave in order to have dinner again at Muralha. We’d hoped to try a new restaurant each time we go out but today, we’ll bring our laptops using their free WiFi while lounging by the sea to begin the research for vacation homes in Australia. 

More colorful flowers growing outside our door.

With only a year until we arrive in Sydney on June 11, we need to get on the ball, deciding the city in which we’ll live for the first 90 days.

Over the past several days, we’ve been researching visa requirements for Australia. They are clear and concise.  US citizens require a visa to enter the country and must leave on the 90th day or sooner. Visas may be applied for online and don’t require a paper copy. Once confirmed by email, the visa remains in their system. Nice.

The color blue is less common in nature than other colors.  These blue flowers are seen everywhere.

The difficult part is having to leave every 90 days when ideally with the massive size of Australia, we’d like to be able to stay longer while living in three of four cities over a period of a year. There is a possibility of a special “retiree” visa provided one buys a government-issued bond. We’d like to avoid that rigmarole.

After considerable discussion, we’ve concluded that the easiest and best solution will be to spend 89 days in our first chosen city (yet to be determined) and then leave Australia to visit another country in the South Pacific staying for 89 more days and then returning to a different city in Australia for another 89 days. 

 A pink house down the road from us. Most houses on the island are varying shades of pink, peach, white and beige. Most homes have orange tile roofs.

This plan enables us to visit some of the most desired hot spots south of the equator in the South Pacific.  Airfare between these locations appears to be reasonable. In addition, we’ll spend one of those time periods in New Zealand which has always been on our list of places to visit.

 Bora Bora is near to French Polynesia, a location we’ve dreamed of visiting, staying in those huts over the water. The trick will be to find one at an affordable price. 

In reviewing a map our options are many. For example, if we spend 30 to 89 days in Bora Bora, we’ll fly back to Australia to our next booked city, staying another 89 days, then fly to Vanuatu for a similar visit, then back to Australia and on and on. 

An attractive entrance to a nearby house.  We are located in a beautiful area.

Although this may sound confusing it’s no more confusing than a retiree living in the US, flying out for a vacation/holiday three or four times a year. For us, we won’t have the expense of paying for our “base station” while we visit the various other locations.

We’ll leave Australia when our vacation rental period ends, taking all that we own with us each time. This is not as big a deal as it used to be, as we continue to lighten our load. 

This a rooftop parking spot for a house that overlooks the valley and the sea, further up the steep hill from us.

Our only added expense is the cost of flights back and forth which appear to be rather reasonable, most of which fly out of Australia. In any case, we would have still had the added cost of flights flying within Australia between the various areas in which we’d like to live for the 89 days at a time. 

(BTW, we always plan to stay in a location for a maximum of 89 days in the event a flight is delayed or canceled to ensure we head out before our current visa expires).

All of this requires careful planning and timing which both of us are willing and excited to tackle. We look at it this way; we need a place to live. Where that will be is entirely up to our desires and budget. We do the work.  We get the desired results

The cozy bar, frequently populated opened day and night which is located at the top of the steep hill. My plan now that I’m feeling well is to walk this steep grade at least four times per week. It certainly gets the heart rate up meeting the aerobic criteria of my HIIT (high-intensity interval training) form of exercise. 

At this point, our enthusiasm is as fierce as it was in the beginning if not more. We now have experience, are less apprehensive and have pinned down the features and amenities most important to us:  an indoor living room, decent WiFi, a view of water (when possible), a relatively well equipped kitchen, working plumbing and electricity, AC in the bedroom in extremely hot climates and a property in reasonably good condition. 

We can handle bugs as long as we can buy repellent. We can handle daytime heat. We can live without a TV or a microwave. We can handle crowing roosters, cooing pigeons, baaing goats, church bells ringing outside our door, call to prayer six times per day, and an occasional snake at our feet as long as we don’t get bit. 

One of the four goats that live next door.

We’ve learned to wear the same clothes (clean, of course) over and over, never giving it a thought. We’ve learned to use bottled water for brushing our teeth and for all of our drinks and for washing vegetables. We’ve learned to communicate with gestures and hand signals and, also managed a few words in the local language.  

We’ve learned tolerance and acceptance of other cultures so far removed from our own. We’ve learned to be meticulous money managers with nary a moment of weakness in making an impulsive unnecessary purchase. 

We’d never seen vibrant red Gladiolus such as these while on a walk in our neighborhood.

We’ve learned to manage our health without the necessity of a single doctor appointment since December 2012. (Although we’d seek medical care if we felt it was necessary). 

We could go on and on as to what we’ve learned since we left the US on January 3, 2013. As we travel, we’ll learn more and more, embracing every adventure for what we can glean from it carrying it with us in our hearts and minds as we continue on…
_____________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, June 3, 2013:

Due to the fact that we were busy packing to leave for Italy, there was no post on this date one year ago today.  Soon, we’ll avoid mentioning that there are no posts for a particular date. At a certain point, we began posting every single day regardless of what we were doing or if we were on the move and, posting photos on every occasion.

 

Plans for the future revealed!…A new continent…From Hawaii May, 2015 to ????

Yesterday, we’d planned for dinner in Ribeira Brava, a 20-minute drive through tunnels and mountains. With my equilibrium still whacked from the recent illness, I had to back out of our dinner plans and head back home, to dine in.  However, we managed to make it to this beautiful garden in Campanario. 

In the past year, we’ve spent many hours looking at the world map trying to decide where we’d ideally like to travel after our last booking in Kauai, Hawaii ending on May 15, 2015. 

After tiring of long flights and thinking back to our original plans of cruising to destinations, first, we picked a country or continent we’d like to visit. Then, we began the search for possible cruises that could take us to our chosen continent/country, even if it meant a fight in between.

How handy that a Honey Bee stopped by.

We worked on this premise for a while as we contemplated our options. The problem needed to be revolved due to the fact that we had more than one possible preferred location. Over these past months we had three options:

Our choices included:
1. Alaska
2. South America
3. Australia/New Zealand

The beauty of the terraced hills and garden in Madeira. Astounding!

A huge factor in the location we’d ultimately choose is the cost of living including the rent for vacation homes.  As it turned out, as hard as we tried, we couldn’t make Alaska work in the summer and there was no way we’d consider Alaska during at any other time of the year.

For a decent house, condo, apartment, resort, or lodge, the lowest rent for a property we’d find suitable started at US $5000, EU $3668.91 a month. Let’s face it, living in a less expensive run down the basic cabin for months in Alaska was not our cup of tea. Plus, Internet accessibility is an issue in many areas of Alaska.

We were unable to get a clear shot of the worn verbiage on this sign which we’d hoped to later translate.

With the size of Alaska, we’d have to move no less than three times to get a fair sampling of the huge state. With only three months of good weather, we’d feel rushed.

Through our travels, we’ve determined that our goal is to rent a house with a lake or an ocean view if possible.  Doing so in Alaska made it all the more unaffordable. 

Love these!

Based on our lengthy research these past few years, so far Alaska and Switzerland were the two locations in the world that we found to be the most expensive in which to live.

A month ago, we decided to let go of our hopes for Alaska at this time, which continues to have much appeal for us with its considerable wildlife. We’ve decided to save Alaska for the future when we hope to eventually tour the US and Canada.

It is surprising that cactus can grow in this cool climate that rarely tops 78F, 25C at the hottest point of summer in August and September.

Next, we went to work on South America, starting in Ecuador in order to visit the Galapagos Islands to see the wildlife, eventually settling in Ecuador for three months after discovering that many US ex-pats live in certain areas. 

We were able to find affordable housing in Ecuador on the ocean that fit our criteria. At one point, we’d also considered a trip to Machu Picchu in Peru but with the masses of tourists now traipsing through the lengthy trek, we lost interest.

Oh, that I wish I knew names of flowers to share here. Never the gardener, always the admirer, we’ve never learned the names of many flowers. To research each of these and to post them here, is not a task I care to undertake with “other fish to fry.”

After Ecuador, we’d move to another South American country, staying up to three months in each of several locations over perhaps a period of a year. Of course, a cruise on the Amazon River has definitely been on our list of desired future experiences. 

No matter how hard we’ve tried, we couldn’t get excited about South America at this time in our travels. At some point, we will. Also, we hope to return to Africa to visit Victoria Falls, go on another safari, see the gorillas in Rwanda and return to Marloth/Kruger Park, South Africa. (My heart sings as I write about returning to South Africa).

We do know this is a rose.  Wow!

In reality, we only have so much time. I’m 66 years old, Tom is 61. Will our health hold out? We can reasonably envision another 10 years of traveling Beyond that, who knows?

So folks, with much enthusiasm, we’ve decided on Australia and then later, off to New Zealand! Last night, we booked an 18-day cruise from Honolulu, Hawaii on May 24, 2015, heading to Sydney, Australia arriving on June 11, 2015, where we’ll stay for a few days (very pricey big city) and then move to the first of several homes we plan to rent on the continent. 

Could this be a poinsettia?

We’ll have an extra nine days “to kill” in Oahu, Hawaii, most likely in a hotel while we wait for the cruise to depart from Honolulu.

Now, we’re excited! Wildlife, the outback, the ocean, the friendly Aussies, and with many affordable houses by the sea in the smaller communities, we couldn’t be more thrilled.

Tom, overlooking the sea. Nice shot of him wearing the same shirt he often wears in an attempt to wear it out.  No such luck!

Checking out the weather, possible safaris, and vacation rentals, we’ll soon continue our search for where we’ll live, locking them up with deposits as we make our selections. 

We’ve already found several excellent options. However, this is a time-consuming process that will take months to accomplish. As we book each property, we’ll list them here with details and photos.

The warmth of the sun made it possible to take off my jacket as we perused the garden. I’ve been wearing my warmest long-sleeved BugAway shirts while feeling cold since we arrived.

Traveling the world is comparable to having a “job” requiring diligent research and planning. As anyone with a “job” we have free time to enjoy spending time where we are living at the moment. Mix it all together and we love all the parts; the research, the planning, and most of all, the living.

Having this decision resolved for the moment, we can sit back and “love the one we’re with,” the beautiful island of Madeira!

Tomorrow, we’ll post the details of the cruise to Australia, the ports of call, the cost for our balcony cabin, and the details as to how and why we chose our cabin. With eight cruises under our belts since January 3, 2013, we now have three more cruises to anticipate over the next 12 months.  Stay tuned.
______________________________________________________

Photo from approximately one year ago today, May 28, 2013:

A side view of AIDer HQ, an office building in Dubai, UAE. This photo was posted on May 30, 2013, when we toured Dubai and Abu Dhabi the prior day. For the story for that day, please click here

 

 

How the budget working for us so far?..Revealing numbers to share…

Toward the end of every stop in our travels, we’ve worked on the budget recalculating several factors:

1. The funds required until the end of our established bookings thus far. We will continue on from May 14, 2015, the date when our set bookings at this point will end. But for the purpose of the budget, our calculations end on that date. Once we book beyond that day, we will extend our calculations accordingly. Based on these calculations, we have 646 days remaining.

2.  Readjust future expenses, according to realities we’ve continued to experience. For example, the cost of food, car rental, actual travel costs, etc.  Estimates were used until we actually “booked that flight” or “paid for that excursion.”

3.  Based on the above figures, I calculate a monthly and daily total incorporating those fixed expenses:  insurance for personal property, health insurance, MiFi rental, clothing replacement, personal effects, and a monthly/daily total without these fixed expenses to illustrate what the travel portion is actually costing.

When we began this process these estimates were based on an amount of money we were willing to shell out each month, the same amount we would have been willing to spend we had a nice condo in a warm climate along with the associated living expenses, leaving enough money out of our monthly income for savings, unexpected expenses, and emergencies. 

The goal was simple in our minds.  Only spend as much money per month/per year to avoid worrying about money, a goal most of us have all of our lives.  It’s ironic that for us, it took retiring to achieve that goal. 

After a lifetime of “stuff” we came to realize how easily we could live without car payments, house payments, property taxes, maintenance, boats, cable TV, outrageous insurance bills, and on and on. 

At this point, much to our delight, we are holding our own, maintaining the budget as we’d planned, preventing any surprises. Of course, we realize, we don’t “spend” much money beyond our living expenses, by our choice to avoid stress, a state of being on which we place a high premium.

Today, our intent is to share with you our average costs to date, from the day we left Minnesota on October 31, 2012, until our current bookings end on May 14, 2015.  As we book into the future beyond 2015, we will continue to share these expenses in US$, best represented by the following:

1.  Average daily expense:  $158.71
2.  Average monthly expense: $4827.43
3.  Average daily fixed expense: $19.60
4.  Average monthly fixed expense:  $596.17
5.  Our average total including fixed expenses, living and travel expenses: $5423.60

These numbers may be surprising to some and expected by others. Often, there is a perception that one must be “wealthy” to travel the world. No, not the case. But, one must be frugal, staying within a tight budget if they are not wealthy. Those that are outrageously wealthy must stay “home” to manage their assets, taking occasional vacations.  It is only the circumstances that we’ve engineered in our lives to be able to do this. For this, we are grateful.

Why share these numbers?  For us, if there is one person or one couple that may benefit by knowing these possibilities, that ultimately may inspire them to live their dream, whether its travel or not, then we’ll happily share. If that is YOU, feel free to email us privately or post comments with any questions you may have. 

We don’t have all of the answers but after over nine months of living on the road, we feel confident that we’re beginning to have a handle on it.

 

Our upcoming itinerary…The next 801 days is here…Scroll to end of post to see…

The beach in front of our villa this morning, cloudy, wavy, and cool in the ’70s.

Our itinerary is in a state of flux as we await the postings of upcoming cruises. Cruise lines post a portion of their cruises approximately 18 months in advance and others at 12 months.  We’ll see a cruise listed for 2013 or 2014, hoping it will recur again in 2015.  However, many do not repeat the following year.

Our more imminent concern is a cruise posting to get us out of South Africa around March 2014 to travel along the safer western coast of the continent.  If it is never posted we’ll fly from Nelspruit, South Africa back to Europe. 

With our upcoming lightened luggage load on April 13th which we’ll handle when our ship docks in Miami for the day, we’re more comfortable with flying as necessary.  We’ll pay for the allowable two bags each as required, neither of which will be overweight. 

We’ll always prefer to travel by cruise provided the daily expense stays within our budget.  There are many cruises available that meet our needs to get from one location to another. Unfortunately, the cost is often prohibitive, at times upwards of $10,000 for 14 to 15 days!  That’s not for us!

With political unrest in many parts of the world, we remain in close contact with the US Department of State as to the safety of visiting any of the countries in our itinerary.  We’re not foolhardy. If there is an imminent danger, we’ll change our plans, regardless of the potential loss of any deposits paid.

Should this happen, we’ll rebook the time period for a location, we’ll enjoy as much and go on with the remainder of our plans.  We’d decided this strategy when we began our research.  Of course, we’ll post changes as soon as they occur.

As you can see our current bookings end on May 14, 2015.  This is NOT the end of our journey.  As we travel on we’ll continue our research, which we both find quite entertaining.  We’ll make decisions for traveling on, health providing.
In 801 days, we’ll have only experienced the “tip of the iceberg,” speaking of which…perhaps Antarctica is on the agenda.

So here it is folks, our next days with more to follow.  Items marked in turquoise are booked cruises.

Locations # Days Dates
Belize Rental 62 2/5/2013-4/9/2013
Cruise Belize
to Miami  
4 4/9/2013 – 4/13/2013
Cruise Miami
to Miami
7 4/13/2013-4/20/2013
Cruise Miami
to Barcelona 
11 4/20/2013 -5/1/2013
Cruise
Barcelona to Barcelona
4 5/1/2013 – 5/5/2013
Barcelona
Hotel 
1 5/5/2013 – 5/6/2013
Cruise
Barcelona to Dubai
15 5/6/2012 – 5/21/2013
Dubai Hotel   13 5/21/2013 – 6/3/2013
Flight Dubai to Barcelona 0 6/3/2013-6/3/2013
Hotel Barcelona 1 6/3/2013-6/4/2013
Cruise Barcelona to
Venice 
12 6/4/2013-6/16/2013
Venice to Tuscany – Train 0 6/16/2013
Tuscany Rental – 17th century
villa
76 6/16/2013 – 8/30/2013
Tuscany to Rome – Train 0 8/31/2013
Rome to Kenya – Flight 2 9/1/2013
Kenya Rental – Diani Beach
house
90 9/1/2013 -11/30/2013
Kenya to South Africa –
Flight
1 11/30/2013
South Africa Rental – Kruger
National Park – House
116 12/1/2013-3/26/2014
Kruger National Park to
Durban, South Africa – driver
0 3/26/2014
Cruise Durban
to Capetown – waiting to book
4 3/26/2014 – 3/30/2014
Cruise Cape
Town to Genoa Italy  – waiting to book
18 3/30/2014 – 4/17/2014
Drive Genoa,
Italy along French Riviera to Cannes
1 4/17/2014 – 4/18/2014
Cannes to
16th Century Stone House, Cajarc, France
30 4/18/2014 – 5/17/2014
Stone House
to Lisbon – Flight to Madeira
1 5/18/2014
Madeira, Portugal 76 5/18/2014-7/31/2014
Spain, London, France, Portugul (free time to explore) 66 7/31/2014-10/26/2014
Cruise
Barcelona to Miami 
14 10/26/2012-11/9/2013
Cruise Miami
to Miami  
7 11/9/2014 – 11/16/2014
Miami Hotel  1 11/16/2014 -11/17/2014
Cruise Miami
to Los Angeles – Will book 6/1/2013
13 11/17/2014 -11/30/2014
Hawaii Rental
– Big Island
46 11/30/2014 – 1/14/2015
Kauai Condo
Rental
120 1/15/2015-5/14/2015
Estimated
Days Remaining from 3/5/2013
801
5/14/2015 on…we’ll begin adding to the end as soon as bookings become  available