This is sort of a catch-all section that I’m dumping everything I think is important but doesn’t necessarily deserve its own section. Things like…
Frequent Flier Miles (or is it Flyer?)
A trip like the one we’re taking can easily earn you lots and lots of frequent flier miles. The trick is figuring out which program will give you the most miles for your trip. There’s a whole art to this frequent flier thing, and Flyertalk is devoted to people who obsess over how to max out their miles, but we didn’t go quite that far. We just wanted to know which airline in the Oneworld Alliance would give us the most miles. So I made a spreadsheet. (No, she didn’t! Oh yes, yes I did.) The funky thing about different progams is that they don’t always give you the same number of miles depending on which airline you fly. For example: if you use Asia Miles (Cathay’s program), you only get 50% of the miles you fly on Qantas, but you get 100% of the miles you fly on LAN. I know, makes no sense to me either. So in the end, we figured out that Asia Miles will give us the most miles from our trip and plan on using those miles to get a one-way ticket back from London next summer.
What To Do About Your Obligations
If you have kids, you should probably take them with you unless they go to boarding school or you’re willing to pay a ton of money for therapy later on. Pets, you can probably leave with a good friend. A VERY good friend. For us, this part is easy, because we don’t own a house, and neither of us has a lot of stuff. We do each have one car, which we’re leaving in our respective parents’ garages. But this does bring up a good point for those of you with mortgages, pets, motorcycles, furniture, etc. You have to do something with it. Find someone to rent your place for a year, sell your house and put your belongings in storage, or just get rid of it all. This might pose a problem when you come back and want that DVD player back, but anyway, the point is, it’s something you do need to think about.
Things You Might Want to Cancel
Your cell phone plan. Your subscription to People Magazine. Your current health insurance. Your car insurance. Your Netflix subscription.
Register With the Embassies of the Countries You’re Visiting
This way, if something comes up (think a huge protest or a typhoon), they’ll email you about it.
Taking Your Important Documents With You
We’re using a nifty little (free!) program called ZumoDrive, which is a small cloud storage system. Basically, you can upload documents from your computer to an online storage system, and then if you have the app on your iPhone or iTouch, it will sync your iTouch and download everything you have on ZumoDrive onto your iPod. Things we have on there: copies of our passports, a copy of our health insurance policy, copies of our plane tickets, our safari vouchers, etc. If you don’t have an iPhone or iTouch, I would still recommend that you keep your important documents on some sort of online storage (even just e-mail them to yourself) and also have hard copies that are stored somewhere separate from your actual passport and important papers. Also, have your credit card and debit card customer service numbers stored somewhere safe in case you need to call and have your cards canceled.
International Student (or Youth) Cards
Since neither Kevin nor I is technically a student, we couldn’t get international student cards, but we COULD get international youth cards from the same people. A lot of the comments I read said that in order to really get your money’s worth from the card (they’re $25), you have to visit Britain, Egypt, or Machu Picchu. Luckily, we’re going to all three, so hopefully among them we can save ourselves at least $25.