We haven’t written in five bajillion years because we’ve been busy planning, calculating, listing, planning, calling, emailing, planning, planning, planning.
On March 3, 2012, wedding bells will be ringing again, but this time for us. So not only have we been planning our RTW, but also a wedding. We’re keeping it small because we’re paying for it ourselves and would rather save up for this grand adventure we’re starting on ::drumroll please:: June 6, 2012. Which means we’re getting married on 3/3 and leaving to start our RTW in Iceland on 6/6. Funny how that worked out.
For our RTW, we looked up the visa situation for most of the countries we’re traveling to, as well as the vaccines we’ll need (did not include what the U.S. deems routine immunizations). Travel vaccines generally are not covered by insurance and therefore cost an arm and a leg to get in the States (not literally — I think they actually sell for more even on the black market). In fact, our friend in the UK called Nomad Travel & Outdoor to get a price list and see if they’d vaccinate us unkempt Americans. Check this: the lowest total cost we found for vaccines in the Washington, D.C., area is 220% higher than at Nomad Travel & Outdoor. TWO HUNDRED TWENTY FUCKING PERCENT! Yes, I said fucking. Because that’s fucking unbelievable. But not completely, I guess. Lucky for us, we planned to have Europe be our first stop. Though, for anyone looking to go to Asia first, I’ve read that Bangkok is cheap as all hell through the Red Cross. Thanks, USA.
The next noteworthy things we researched are the best credit cards and debit cards to use abroad. We decided on Capital One for credit and Charles Schwab for debit. Capital One’s Venture card has a 0% foreign transaction fee. We also accrue award points that we can use to purchase plane tickets. The most awesome thing I’ve discovered about possessing a Visa Signature card is that it offers a 24/7 concierge service. “What does that mean?” you ask. “Less legwork for you,” I say. Check out this article about one writer putting the service to the test. We challenged our personal assistant to find a local wedding officiant for less than $250 (they run around $500 in DC). Within three hours, Randy emailed us information about costs he found and included a link to the most inexpensive vendor’s website. He wished us a happy wedding and offered to help with any other research. What a valuable service!
And onto debit card info… At first, we were going to go with USAA (one must be affiliated with the U.S. military to join USAA — many thanks to Mike’s dad for his service!) because they refund up to $15 in ATM fees each month and do not charge a fee for the first 10 withdraws. But then they charge after those limits. That didn’t really bother us because we didn’t think we’d go over those limits, but then we noticed the 1% foreign transaction fee that’s tacked on to all withdraws. Boooo USAA!
Then we came across Charles Schwab’s amazing offer: “Unlimited ATM fee rebates apply to cash withdrawals using the Schwab Bank Visa Platinum check card wherever it is accepted.” Could it be true?! I called. Yes, it’s true. No limits, no restrictions and no foreign transaction fees. Hallelujah! Now we just have to open the free account and take advantage of this great service (though let it be noted that the “high yield” interest rate on this checking account isn’t all that high).
What else have we been up to? We’ve started listing our millions of books on Amazon, and have sold about five already. (Every little bit counts, right?) Our “donate to Goodwill” pile of clothing is expanding rapidly, taking over a good chunk of our small efficiency apartment.
Did I mention that it’s open enrollment season at work and that my company is discontinuing the HMO plan I have? That means even more research on the plans our companies are offering to see which we should choose and whether we should keep individual health insurance after we marry or transfer to an employee + spouse option in March. We also decided to enroll in a legal service offered through work so we could use them for our will and power of attorney fun that we have to set up for this trip, and for a pre-nup that says I, Tara, will get everything should Mike ever decide to travel solo.
Next up is checking into travel insurance and global health insurance. (All recommendations welcome!) And did I mention we’re also planning a wedding? I’m really looking forward to a break.