The Week Before Departure

What does it feel like a few days before leaving our lives behind and flying to the other side of the world?

We go to San Francisco in four days. We will spend some time in the Bay Area catching up with friends and getting a couple visas.

Then we will fly to our first international stop: the Philippines!

After that… we’re not sure.

Even as I write those sentences the meaning is not sinking in. We are literally getting on a plane in less than a week!

We’ve spent months preparing, planning, selling, buying, and strategizing. Now it comes down to just a few days before we are into it.

Here’s what’s going on.

We are trying to think of everything.

Clothes and bug nets on the line drying after permethrin treatment.
Clothes and bug nets on the line drying after permethrin treatment.

I know, we’re off in search of freedom and adventure. But with a chemist and engineer leading the charge it’s going to be an organized and structured brand of freedom, at least at the start.

Please forgive us, it’s our nature.

We have a to-do list. It’s a Google Doc that Kat and I share, with a list for each of us.

It includes stuff like “cancel car registration”, “book onward travel out of Philippines”, and “treat bug nets with permethrin” (permethrin is an insect repellent for fabrics recommended to us by our travel clinic doctor).

The list has been about a page long for several months, with items added and subtracted here and there.

The last few days it’s ballooned to two pages and shows no signs of shrinking again.

We’re both spending all day every day ticking things off the list, but at the same time we’re both spending all day every day thinking of new things to put on it!


Sunscreen and insect repellent
Do we seriously need this much sunscreen?

Kat’s had the task of sorting through the stuff we plan to bring (whole post on that topic is in the works). We have commandeered an empty bedroom to serve as packing central and it’s a bit overwhelming to walk into at the moment.

We honestly aren’t bringing that much stuff, especially when you consider we’re planning to travel indefinitely.

But we had envisioned an even lighter load than what we currently have laid out in front of us. In an effort to slim down we are confronting choice after choice of whether an item is “essential” or “nice to have.”


I’ve been trying to navigate through a variety of administrative and logistics tasks. Basically I spend a lot of time in front of the computer and on the phone…

  • Changing addresses.
  • Figuring out what visas we want to get ahead of time, and what’s needed to get them (yes, I’ve got a spreadsheet for that).
  • Setting up electronic billing and communications for all of our accounts.
  • Canceling services we won’t need.
  • Researching insurance coverages we already have and figuring out what we need to fill the gaps.
  • Letting credit card companies know we’ll be traveling.
  • Finding and scanning important documents so we’ll have access to them from the road.
  • Figuring out how we deal with old fashioned snail mail that might come for us while we are traveling.

Not so glamorous, but all needs to be done.

New Gear

For all of our efforts to purge stuff to get ready for this nomadic lifestyle, we’ve actually had a steady stream of boxes from Amazon showing up the last few weeks packed with new stuff.

We’re doing our best to keep it to a minimum but we’ve been acquiring a variety of travel gear that, at least now, seems indispensable.

Multi-color packing cubes
We’re pretty psyched about these packing cubes to keep out stuff organized.

Some stuff seems quite likely to see a lot of use, like the $6 all-in-one outlet adapter that supposedly fits every outlet on earth.

Others we have a suspicion we won’t use much, like our pair of insect nets that fold up into their own neat little pouches. But it seems irresponsible not to bring them when we know we will be traveling with kids in areas with Malaria and Dengue.

But wait, there’s more…

Luggage locks in various sizes and configurations.

A mini surge protector with integrated USB charging ports.

Kids games, workbooks, and activities.

A new backpack and some “packing cubes” that are a dream for us organizational types.

We’ll see how much of this stuff we end up actually using on a consistent basis. I’m pretty sure it will be less than we think, and we’ll just have to learn that lesson.

Or maybe we’ll wish we had decided to bring the “big” rolling bags after all.

We’re planning to bring just two “small” rolling suitcases (small enough to be carry-on bags if not for the gallon-plus of sunscreen and other liquids we think we need to bring). We’re also bringing a couple backpacks.

We’ll let you know how it all shakes out.

Almost There

So that’s a little insight into what it’s like as we make our final preparations to head out.

It’s exciting and certainly a little hectic. We’re trying our best not to freak out about what’s just around the corner.

Four days left!

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3 thoughts on “The Week Before Departure

  1. The information and advice at has been invaluable to me for packing. I led a travel study program in Italy for two months, with weather from snow in Milan to swimming off Sorrento, with only what would fit in a single carry on.


    1. That’s awesome Eli! Haven’t looked at much yet, will check it out – thanks for sharing. We are definitely big proponents of traveling as light as possible. Nice work.


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