1. How can you afford to do this?
Well my first answer to this is that we plan for our 9 months of travel to cost less than it does for us to live in Los Angeles for that same time period. We have rented out our house and guest house which (mostly) covers the mortgage and related expenses. We are saving all the money we normally spend on private school, sports, lessons and the LA lifestyle (eating out, trips to Costco etc). We even got rid of expenses like car insurance and registration. As for income, we are blessed to have some that comes in even if we are gone - Mark from past real estate deals and myself from a family business. Also our prospects for making anything additional should we stay home are not great. The real estate market is dead and the prospects for the coming year are not improved. We also borrowed from our 401ks.
As to expenses, our main flights cost just over $6000 per person. There were other up front expenses like insurance, gear and shots. Our daily budget is $250 per day, which must include lodging, food, entertainment and travel within major destinations (bus, trains etc). This is of course making me exceedingly nervous. It will certainly be a new experience for us to keep track of every penny. There are plenty of other families out there however currently doing it and getting by on less. I will have to get back to you about how it works out for us.
2. What are you taking with you?
Well that would be "not enough" according to Mark, and "way too much" according to me. We will each take a back pack that we can in theory carry. My pack and Peyton's weigh in at about 15 pounds loaded and will hopefully meet carry on requirements. Mark's and Wilder's are larger with wheels and will have to be checked. The guys also have detachable day packs which will serve as their carry-ons and carry all of our electronics. Each of us has 4 pairs of underwear and socks (yes Ted - JUST 4 PAIRS!). They are however fancy expensive "travel" underwear which are guaranteed to be easy dry and low stink :) We have 3 outfits each for hot weather and 2 for cold plus a bathing suit, a fleece and a rain coat. Peyton and I each have 1 casual black dress and a scarf/wrap. We also each will take a pair of hiking shoes and the requisite ugly pair of travel sandals.
As mentioned previously we have a ridiculous amount of prescription and OTC drugs - really this seems to me the biggest difference up front from traveling in my youth. We are prepared for headaches, diarrhea, sea sickness, problems sleeping and allergy and asthma attacks. This is in addition to the regular meds that are supposed to keep Mark and I from having a heart attack or stroke. Still on top of that is the large amount of doxycycline we must take to keep us from catching malaria. Everything is supposed to be in its original packaging which is terribly bulky.
But what takes up the vast majority of allotted space is actually technology and the cords and chargers that support it. We are addicted, well Mark and Wilder are anyway. Mostly I chalk this situation up to putting Mark, the techno junky, in charge of technology and security. One especially extraneous gadget is designed to chart our whereabouts via GPS every 10 minutes and email it to our parents. Mark wanted to "chip" the kids like they do pets, but apparently GPS isn't reliable enough yet to see through skin, so we will have to keep track of the kids the old fashioned way - by not letting them out of our sight.
We have less than 24 hours before we depart and are going to have to make some difficult decisions about what to leave out as everything currently does not fit!
Our next post will be from the road - first stop Ecuador!