Holy Hell, What a Roller Coaster

We haven’t written in five bajillion years because we’ve been busy planning, calculating, listing, planning, calling, emailing, planning, planning, planning.

Wedding BellsOn 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.

Vaccines — USA vs UK edition

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!

Book Stack

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.

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11 responses to “Holy Hell, What a Roller Coaster

  1. Just an FYI, when I got my travel shots back in July, I was told by the clinic I went to that under the new health care law (i.e., Obamacare), insurance companies are required to cover many immunizations. I just had to get a Hep A booster, Hep B and Meningitis this time around, but it was all covered – as were my Malaria pills.

    As for global health insurance, I went with HTH Worldwide’s Global Citizen plan – it’s more expensive than some other plans, but it basically functions as US health insurance so you’re covered on the road, but also at home, whether it’s after your trip is over or if you (hopefully don’t) have to return to the States because you get sick or hurt. It also waives the deductible for certain preventative care services and there is no requirement that you be outside of the US for any amount of time each year. I liked this because I don’t know how long it will take me to find a job and group coverage again when I return and with this, I am set.

    Good luck with everything! I know how crazed I was just planning for my trip – I can’t imagine planning a wedding too!

    • That’s really interesting about the vaccinations. We’ll have to push our insurance companies a little harder for better info. You’d think that all vaccinations would be covered as preventative. Thanks for the tip on HTH too. Not looking forward to pouring through all the health insurance options out there.

  2. I guess I should be considered lucky that my insurance covers vaccines at 100%, including the dreaded Yellow Fever vaccine, which comes in at a whopping $150 (at least that’s what my clinic charged my insurance)…. i can’t wait to hear about your travels next year!!!!!

  3. Gosh. Kieu & I are going through the exact same thing. We leave in about 5 weeks!
    I’ve done a lot of research on travel insurance. Many recommend World Nomads, but we’ll probably go with Travel Guard because it’s a bit cheaper.

  4. I can’t say enough good things about Schwab so far! I switched to them over the summer for my trip, and they’re been excellent. I had to skype them recently when I was attempting to purchase a train ticket online, and they were more than accommodating.

    Warning about Cap One for credit, though: they make you call every few months to remind them that you’re traveling. Not a huge pain, but definitely something to consider.

  5. I LOVE the title of this post! My sentiments exactly. I really can’t believe you’re planning a wedding, too. You guys are superhuman!

    Looks like we’re moving along the same path in our planning process. We also recently discovered Schwab and I could not be more excited. We’ll need those savings to pay for the vaccinations we’re getting off the black market (j/k, but seriously, thanks, USA).

  6. I cannot imagine planning a wedding and a trip all at once. The wedding planning almost killed me (we paid for much of it ourselves as well) you are superwoman! Regarding the debit and credit cards, that’s the basic combination we use and you won’t be disappointed with Schwab. Having your fees reimbursed is such a huge perk! This article might give you a little more insight into managing money on the road, which is something we did a lot of research about before leaving and it has been smooth sailing for the last year in Asia. http://www.livingif.com/moohla-management/ Enjoy the planning (if that’s possible)

  7. You can get all of those shots for free from Uncle Sam all you gotta do is sign on the dotted line… Hahaha

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