The planning phase (January)….

Anyone who knows me will know that I am a compulsive planner. Schedules are my sustenance, lists are my life.

James, is an anti-planner. Spontaneity and a “she’ll be right” attitude are the cornerstones of his outlook on life.

On our last big overseas trip, I was armed with a clear file with every hour of every day of our 6 week holiday meticulously planned, maps of our hotels and train timetables printed and highlighted for each city. Perhaps due to the years of “polite discussion” about helping out in between then and now, or perhaps because he would like more than a half day of “free time” scheduled this time, James has stepped up to the plate and we are approaching the planning with a united front.

All intentions of winging it, seeing where the wind takes us, just being spontaneous, went out the window the minute we discovered www.airbnb.com. This website is amazing. You can find anything from a bed in the back shed to a luxury yacht to stay in, and we’ve enjoyed the challenge of finding the cheapest accommodation (that still meets our sanitation standards) in each city. Our entire month in the United States is now largely planned and booked, including transport and city itineraries.

I may or may not have already been looking at running routes in L.A. and NYC.

Even I see the ridiculousness of planning out our next 5 months in such detail just yet however, so it’s on to the things we can sort out at home.

Travel insurance – this one wasn’t too hard. There’s only one company (Southern Cross, big kudos guys) who will cover me in the unlikely (ahem) event I get a chest infection, so they got our money.

Residency permit – we’re off to Wellington next week to visit the German Embassy. We’ll have to take various pieces of documentation so that James can be fingerprinted and awarded a residence permit in his passport, affording him the same rights in Europe as me, a German citizen.

U.S. Visa – We’ll need to sign up and pay online for a visa waiver, before we leave for L.A.

Backpacks – James has his tramping pack, but try finding a pack big enough to carry my shoe collection, yet small enough for someone who still wears clothes from Pumpkin Patch. Luckily a very helpful man in the shop directed me to the only brand that makes packs for miniature adults.

Shoes – Running shoes. Hiking boots.  Walking sneakers. High heels. Jandals or sandals. Those cute flats I only bought last week.……… we have not yet come to an agreement on how many pairs of shoes we’ll need but my theory is that James only needs one, therefore will have plenty of space to carry some of mine.

Student Loan – I’ve informed the IRD that I’m skipping the country, and have requested a repayment holiday. Supposedly this is going to be fine, but I still anticipate being chased around Europe with a tax bill.

Budget – this is tied in with trip planning, but it’s still fun to play with the multi-tabbed and multi-formula spreadsheet to see just how far our savings will take us. And whether or not we can afford the Ford Mustang convertible in Arizona. Or the Jimmy Choos in New York. Ok, it’s not fun. James makes me do it.

A multitude of other small tasks are coming up, from paying that pesky library fine to visiting the dentist, from deciding what to pack to suspending health insurance payments and figuring out which credit card to take.

I am well aware that most of our 20-something compatriots just chuck some shorts in a bag, put their life savings in their wallets and get on a plane. They probably don’t set up a blog 4 months before they are due to leave either, so I guess we can safely assume I’m not your classic Kiwi-on-an-OE.

For us, the journey starts well before the plane takes off, and in this particular case the dream has been alive for years.

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