July 28th, 2000 (last day at our respective jobs)
Our last day of work is a crowning moment as segue from work life to RTW life. We will be spending the evening on the town with family and friends then start on a little local travel to the beach and then to Pittsburgh. These past few weeks have been full from our wedding to visiting family to trip planning consolidation.
We are pretty much ready to go. Looking back is very humbling. We have saved so diligently and lived like paupers for so long we almost feel bad spending money. The pre-RTW life has been spent cutting coupons, scouring the newspaper and internet for the best possible deals, turning down offers to go out Friday nights and eating unfathomable amounts of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Some of these things we would have done anyway but not to the extent we have in preparation for this endeavor.
Planning and saving for our RTW adventure has not been as daunting as one might think. We are both good savers and very organized people. As in life, there are plans and surprises. We have rolled with the flow pretty well. Thus far, there have only been three big surprises. The first big shocker was from the airlines. For a very long time we planned to buy a RTW pass from the Star Alliance (United Airlines and partners) until we found out that they charge for land miles. Essentially, when you are on the ground traveling from perhaps Singapore to Thailand they count that in their total mileage. We said bunk to that and went with Air Brokers and ended up coming out smelling like a rose.
The last two big surprises were in the last three weeks. About a month and half ago the Fijians decided to have themselves a little political coup. Civil unrest may be good for them but it put a damper on our plans. We called, Sharon, our ever-so-helpful Air Brokers representative and she hooked us up with a nice diversion from Fiji to Tonga. Once again, I think we came out smelling pretty. More thoughts on that point will follow in our web site.
The last stinker came from TIA travel insurance. All of a sudden they do not write policies on Americans. Fortunately for us, we never stopped at TIA when we found their policy. We also found the Atlas Series of travel insurance products. It is not as comprehensive as TIA but appears to be able to suit our purposes.
The last few days have been spent at the pharmacy filling prescriptions, at the bookstore finishing off planning Tonga and doing dry runs of packing our backpacks. Tracy figured out an interesting way of packing her bag. Instead of piling her rolled up clothes in her pack she stands them on end. It actually appears to make compressing the bag easier and yields more space.
We have places to go, people to see and money to spend sparingly. Our anticipation level could probably be read on a Richter scale. Two people, two backpacks, one year, one world, that is our motto. Reality is beginning to set in. We believe that our collective dreams and hopes for this trip are probably going to fall short of what reality will be. We dream of long bus rides in The Outback, tree houses in Turkey, ceiling fans in Thailand, new friends, beautiful waves, the awe inspiring power of nature and the mystery and history of the hike we met on in the Cinque Terre.