Travel on Our Minds

It’s going to be a while before Brett and I travel again, at least another two years. We love being back on Kaua’i but our time on the road was magical and meaningful, truly a dream come true, and we weren’t ready for it to be over, especially not in such an abrupt way.

We can and will travel again, but we know it will be different in the future. Although we enjoyed being on the road full-time, we have decided that going forward we’d rather have a home base and then focus on making an annual trip to Japan (Tokyo) to spend time with our family there, probably for around a month; taking another longer six-week to two-month journey each year, either overseas or back on the mainland; and making a shorter visit every year to one of the other islands here.

The Covid-19 pandemic and YaYu’s upcoming college expenses are the big factors keeping us from traveling right now. However, rather than sitting around and feeling sorry for ourselves about not being able to go anywhere for a while, we’ve figured out there are lots of things we can do during this “downtime” to keep us focused on the future, motivated, and well-prepared once we’re ready to hit the road again.

Here are the things we’ve either already started or will be incorporating in the future:

  • Save for travel: One of the best things we did before we set off on our Big Adventure in 2018 was to have at least six months’ worth of travel paid for in advance. Things are different now in that we won’t be giving up our home and car in order to travel full time nor will we be selling our stuff, but as we did in the past, all extra income will be dedicated to travel savings so that our travel expenses can be met without racking up debt.
  • Set budgets: We want to take our first major trip in the fall of 2022, around six months after YaYu’s graduation. We want to make our first visit back to Japan in the spring of 2023. About a year out from those dates we will begin setting up the budgets for those trips based on our research of what we expect it will cost.
  • Create itineraries: We have already picked four places we’d like to go to once we can travel again: Ireland, New Zealand (north and south islands this time), Southwestern U.S. national parks, and West Coast national parks. All four would be driving trips. We haven’t prioritized any of them yet, but both Brett and I are currently getting started on what we’d like to see and do in each place, how long we want to stay, and so forth. He is looking into Ireland now; I am focusing on New Zealand, and after a while, we will swap and then combine our information and ideas and go from there. This part is going to take a while but it’s a lot of fun and we’re learning a lot.
  • Setting a foundation: This is the fun part for me, but we’re a ways off from this right now. This is where once an actual itinerary is set, I get to find lodging, compare rental car prices, search for airfares, and so forth so that everything fits within our budget. Airfares are going to be tricky this time around – they’re all over the place right now (if there are even flights available), and there’s no way to estimate where they’ll be when we’re ready to travel again. Frankly, I can’t even imagine getting on an airplane but it’s something we’re going to have to deal with eventually.
  • Edit our travel wardrobes: We are fortunate to have a dedicated and dehumidified closet in our apartment to store our travel clothes (cold-weather items we don’t need here). Both of us felt after getting everything hung up and put away that maybe we have too many things (me in particular), so that will be a task for us in the future, to go through what we have and downsize if necessary.
  • Edit our travel supplies: We took along so many things (for health care and otherwise) on our Big Adventure that we ended up not ever using, and we both said several times, “there has to be a better way to do this” while at the same time feeling afraid to get rid of anything in case we did need it. During the next two years, we’re going to work on making a list of what was important, what wasn’t, what we didn’t have that we could have used, what things we could have picked up along the way if necessary, and then come up with a better system for carrying that stuff along with us.
  • Make reservations: This will happen as we get closer to actually traveling, and will be coordinated with setting the foundation, but making reservations is always something to look forward to – it means we’re really going! Some reservations, like at the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo, need to be made a year in advance as rooms sell out quickly (we’ve already decided to stay there again versus renting our own apartment).
  • Stay in shape: It’s a constant effort but we’re determined to be in as good a shape in two years as we were when we set out in 2018.

There will be other things we can do along the way, but for now, our goal is to create a path to not only keep future travel on our minds but keep us moving toward them. Two years seems like a long time away but we know from experience it will pass more quickly than we imagine. In the meantime, we want and need to stay motivated so when the time arrives we’ll be truly ready to hit the road again.

22 thoughts on “Travel on Our Minds

  1. A bit part of the excitement of travel is the planning. Before you know it, those two years will be up and you may be surprised at how quickly the travel savings account grows. Is there any chance you could strategically apply for credit cards to allow you to accumulate points to at least enable flights to be more cost neutral? A friend in Hawaii has the British Airways visa and I have helped her redeem those miles for travel to Japan on numerous occasions.

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    1. I love planning travel. Right now though I’m just collecting a bunch of ideas, and we’re trying to form an idea of how much we could save before we go. But once it starts coming together (in a little over a year) then the good times start for me. Our first big decision will be whether Ireland or New Zealand will be first up.

      I save miles on Hawaiian airlines and Delta, but used all the Hawaiian miles I had left for free flights when we came here in January. I’m saving the miles on both card and can hopefully pay for at least one ticket for our next trip to Japan. I’m also saving the Swagbucks I’m earning now for Southwest gift cards – those will be used to get us back to YaYu’s graduation in two years! Our regular credit card is not attached to any airline – we get rewards points that I usually redeem for cash and put into savings. The card comes with fantastic travel benefits though (like free car rental insurance, and other travel insurance benefits) so we plan to stick with that one.

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  2. Time moves quickly. I can see your new headings: Money saved/ Research books/ travel supplies and wardrobes/ other weekly things. You should consider a Pinterest page with attachments affiliations.
    Do you think you will hold on to your apartment there as long as possible, with it being closed up when you travel? So many things to think about!
    I still am planning current travel. Delta just sent me an email for my trip in August to Germany (IF Germany will let me in). No middle seats, highly sanitized plane, more space between rows, staggered loading (back to front), better ventilation system. Sounds like the “good old days” (as in 40 years ago) to me! My son’s in-laws are taking Alaskan from Seattle to DC to visit in August as well. They will be able to fill us in on those flights. Sounds like “getting there” may be as exciting as the first week!

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    1. It will be another year until we move to actual planning, and we first have to pick a destination. I’m already excited about New Zealand, and Brett feels the same about Ireland, so there will be a LOT of discussion, I’m sure.

      We really, really like this apartment – it’s perfect for the two of us, and it has such a wonderful yard (that we don’t have to maintain) and those sunsets! We are thinking about having friends stay here while we travel (we will pay the rent, of course) so there’s someone here for the duration. We’ll have to run that through with our landlord, of course, but it would be win-win for everyone.

      Wow – Delta is really going all out. That’s good news to me and we like to fly Delta for long distance hauls. We had a superb trip with them on our flight home from Japan. I’ve heard nightmares about flights on other airlines – planes with every seat filled, some passengers not wearing masks, etc. I’m already a bit worried about YaYu flying back to college in the fall (although we still don’t know yet if that will be happening).

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  3. Hope that you are able to enjoy your time in Hawaii during this interesting time. I hope that you keep posting your Sunday post. I look forward to reading about your week and what is happening with your family. Hang in there! We will all be able to travel in the future.

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    1. We are enjoying being here again, although I have to say the weather we’ve had makes me wonder at times whether we’re actually in Hawaii or someplace else. It’s been very windy most days, with storms at times. Usually by now the sun is shining every day and it’s starting to heat up.

      Thanks for your support for the Sunday post. It’s my anchor right now as I feel like I don’t have as much to write about as before. It will come back though.

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  4. When researching Ireland. Look into County Mayo. It is not touristy but a stunning area. Beleek Castle is a unique castle. I was hiking I the area last year. Amazing place.

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    1. Brett was just looking into County Mayo the day before yesterday! Lots of hikes there, which is something he wants to do in Ireland. We want to give ourselves enough time when we’re there to get a real feel for each place we stay, giving ourselves four to five nights in each area.

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  5. Great post! It is clear you have a focus going forward.

    Like you I have looked at my travel wardrobe anew each trip. The longest we have been away was 8 weeks. That was our last trip, and we experienced warm and much cooler weather sometimes in the same week. I actually used a very sturdy backpack that was made to withstand Edinburgh rain—not! It never rained that much or that hard and certainly not enough to use a “heavier weight“ sorta rubberized backpack.

    Recently since 2018, I have used a G4Free very lightweight backpack for domestic travel It’s great! The price is phenomenal—nope not affiliated with the product. I have moved from over packer to much less. (My DH was amazed! And so happy since he has to take up the slack if I am struggling with the weight of a bag.

    I make notes during and after the trip regarding what I did or did not use, plus how often it was used. Since mobility is important (think hopping on buses and trains) along with the weight of what is in my bag, my goal as a rule is never to check a bag. On the other hand everyone is different, I get that. We pretty much use Airbnb and always try to get one with washer and dryer. And I wear items that can wash in the sink and dry overnight if need be. We are normally not in a place more than 4-6 days so folks in the next destination will not know that I am wearing, yet again, the same outfit.

    So far we have not been to countries where fill in items or necessities could not be purchased if necessary. And yes, I restrict myself to very lightweight souvenirs, if I get any at all. It is so much fun to talk travel, but like so many it seems best for now to bloom where we are planted. That is, be here now, work on paring down stuff, our house, our yard, etc. At present it’s the yard and all the work required. I foresee a smaller house and yard in the not too distant future—next phase of life etc. I keep reminding myself it’s not fair to leave our “stuff” for our children to sift through. Lucky you as your experience of paring down to become nomads means you are far ahead and sitting on go.

    Certainly do enjoy all of your posts, especially about books. I have read 3 excellent books-finally-my mind has been settled enough to read! Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger, A Prayer for Owen Meany by Irving and Krueger’s This Tender Land. My book club introduced me to The Three Pines Mysteries with Inspector Gamache by Penny, which I recommend be read in order though they could stand alone—I found they do build one upon the other.

    Looking forward to your next post!

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    1. Until we set out on our Big Adventure, we were carry-on people only, and I cannot begin to describe how big the knot in my stomach was at every destination until those big suitcases came off the luggage belt. They were also awkward at times, but we needed them, and they became old friends. We think in the future though we’ll go back to carry-on if at all possible, or try to travel with just one big suitcase between the two of us.

      We started out our journey with backpacks, and Brett carried one until the end, but we both ended up with rolling carryon bags by the time we were in Japan earlier this year. They were just easier to deal with, and carried more. My backpack is currently stuffed with clothes we didn’t take along when we set out at the end of last summer, and it will probably go to one of the girls. Brett loves his though.

      I know exactly what you mean about having your mind settled enough to read. I had over two months where I could not read more than a page before giving up – I had absolutely no ability to concentrate. I am going to look up those two books by William Krueger – I’ve heard of him, but haven’t read him yet. Is he the one whose settings is the Midwest/Great Plains? Will also check out The Three Pines Mysteries!

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  6. It just seems like yesterday that you were planning to leave Hawaii ( and dealing with that dreadful landlord) went to Argentina, and Uruguay, then hopped over to France. Has it really been two years since that time? Wow.

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    1. It was two years ago this coming August we left Hawaii, although it seems like it was much longer, I guess because we did so much.

      Hopefully these next two years will pass quickly and bring as many memories as the past two!

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    1. When I read about Ireland, I get really excited about Ireland and that’s where I want to go first. It’s the same for New Zealand though. Eventually Brett and I will combine our information and have to make a choice about where to go based on costs, etc. It’s not going to be an easy decision though.

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  7. A friend flew from Seattle to Minneapolis last weekend and said her outbound flight was virtually empty. On the return flight, all middle seats were empty (I’m guessing it was Delta), everyone wore masks, and people were respectful of one another’s space. This gives me hope for the future, although it might just be quiet right now because so few people are willing to fly.

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    1. This is good news, and gives me hope as well. I have seen pictures of flights where passengers are just as packed in as they were in the past, and every seat full, and that scares me but it’s good to know others are taking a different route. The downside to that, however, is that those tickets on less full planes are going to be more expensive. How much so remains to be seen.

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  8. Love the planning of trips. Just looked up why the New Sanno was so popular – ah ha! Not for me, then! I like your plans to make regular returns to Japan. The calling of grandkids! I must get around to writing about my trip earlier this year.

    I think travel between NZ and Australia might open earlier. There’s talk that regular travel to other places may not happen until 2022 or 2023. If NZ and Australia keep the two weeks mandatory isolation for visitors, we may not have much competition from overseas visitors. May be the time for us to go to NZ – without all the Americans and Europeans!!! I’ve never been to the South Island.

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    1. The New Sanno is a wonderful place to stay, and so affordable – it’s one of our best benefits. We visited quite a bit back when we were stationed there – they used to have the most wonderful speciality shops, but those went away to put in the pool and gym. The neighborhood it’s in is a great one too – lots of good restaurants, shops, and transportation in and out is easy too. We decided it makes more sense for us to stay there going forward, even if we have to purchase a few more meals rather than cook our own.

      We just did the North Island last year – 10 days – and saw and did a lot, but also missed a lot as well, so our next trip will be a combination of both islands. There are a few flights still operating from the U.S., and Honolulu is a great place to set out from – just a 9-hour non-stop flight to Auckland, same as going to Japan. I think this would be a great year for you to go. As you say, there will be little to no competition from visitors other than your own country.

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      1. Great benefit for ex-military!

        I’ve been to the North Island twice. Did different road trips. Such a beautiful place. I am a bit nervous about driving around the South Island – the roads are even windier. I would have thought it was less than 9 hours – still that’s better than flying to Europe!

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      2. We say now that the best decision we ever made was for Brett to stay in the navy until retirement. The benefits have made an incredible difference in both our day-to-day life and the experiences we’ve been able to have.

        I was just looking again last night at driving on the south island. We would do a few days in each spot in order to rest and get ready for the drives in between. The roads are indeed windier, but are in good condition which makes all the difference. I’m not sure anything can top the winding road we drove down on our way into Wellington – that was scary as we were trapped in between a couple of big trucks!

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      3. I planned distances and drive times on our first trip as if I was driving in Australia. Took much longer in NZ. Windy, narrow roads and lower speeds. No overtaking lanes. But then it was nothing compared to driving in France through the villages on narrow, narrow roads – as that was on the wrong side of the road!

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      4. We only drove in Normandy when we were in France, and all I can say is “thank God for GPS!” The one time we went out without it we were lost in less than 10 minutes on those narrow winding roads through the countryside. New Zealand was better, but exhausting – a four-hour drive about did us in there, never mind the seven hour drive we had getting back up to Auckland from Palmerston – loads of traffic, to the point that we moved into and through Auckland at a dead crawl. We had planned to get out and explore the city, but instead went no further than where we could walk our little neighborhood because we were so tired.

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