Packing and Travel Tips

Have you ever wondered how we pack for six or more months overseas?  I  just returned from Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.  For this two week trip I packed the same size airline carry-on suitcase and same camera backpack as if my journey was for six months.

‘CLICK’ brand camera bag and carry-on suit case

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Final Prep, Cruise to Barcelona

Spain 2016 We are now in the final stages of preparation for our 2016 cruise to Barcelona, Spain.  We will explore Spain and Portugal for about 90 days then we will depart from Barcelona for a flight to possibly Romania or Bulgaria.  We will travel in a clockwise fashion from Barcelona around Spain and Portugal.  The curved line on the map is a flight and the straight lines are  trains and bold lines are planned car rentals. Continue reading

International Travel List – Things To Do

CHIP Technology

Preparing to travel out of the country for six months or more at a time takes a lot of preparation.  Everybody has different needs so this list is not one size fits all, rather this list applies to our needs and travel.  However, the list below includes some basics which would apply to all.
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Affordable Care Act – NOT!




What if, over a period of 4 years, the US Government raised fuel taxes causing gasoline  to increase from $3.50 to $12.32 a gallon and called this the Affordable Petroleum Act?  Percentage wise, this is exactly what has happened to my Affordable Care Act insurance premiums since I retired in 2011.
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3 Days of Action, Jam-packed into 7

Travel Daytrain-StationMany people upon learning of our travels imagine all of the many, many sites we will encounter.  They recall their last seven or ten-day vacation, where they were ‘on the go’ every day, to our six months in Europe.  As the title of this BLOG implies, there is a lot of down time.  Traveling for six months and staying at each rental a week, means 25 travel days!  These are days filled with some level of stress of trying to make a 10 minute train connection, negotiating a closed train ramp as we encountered in Rome, or boarding the wrong train car entirely and being told we need to move back several cars into economy class.  We also spend time planning the next leg of the journey, walking to the train station to buy the tickets, trying to learn what platform to go to, etc.  We have pictures drawn in a small notebook to bridge any possible communication problem we may encounter when trying to purchase the tickets.
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Home Free Travel, Things I Miss Most

Truck Packed up leaving Chicago

Truck Packed up leaving Chicago

Many, if not most, working people would likely jump at the chance to travel where and when they wanted, especially those now sitting in a cubicle with no view and a day of deadlines and meetings.  I did not always plan to travel in retirement, but that is our current plan.  I am no expert yet, as we have not yet started our first big solo trip to Europe and we have only been home free since September 2013.  However, there are certain inconveniences with a life on the road you may want to figure into your dreams or plans.
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Home Free and Happy

Acorn Woodpeckers

Acorn Woodpeckers

My Mom moved to Ruidoso, New Mexico in 1995.  She had 15 wonderful years here, enjoying the mountains, friends and working thousands of hours at the local Pink Lady Thrift Shop.  She was known for cleaning up old dolls of all shapes and sizes for resale in the second-hand store, making them available to little girls who may not have otherwise had a nice doll.  The local newspaper ran stories on more than one occasion about the Doll Lady of Ruidoso.  She passed away in September of 2010, and three years later my sister and I have finally sold the house.

Gayle and I are now where we have worked hard to be….. homeless, or home free and able to travel the world where we wish, when we wish.  We do not yet seem to really be into this mode of living.  All we have done is book a one-way cruise from Florida to Rome.  No return cruise and no places to stay during our five months in Europe.  We continue to pursue the re-positioning cruise listings……  Did you know you can cruise from Denmark to Singapore? Who knew?

So good-bye to many good memories, Christmases with my Mom, golfing at the Links, summer BBQ’s and my favorite home-made molasses crinkle cookies.  Our new adventure being homeless begins….

Mom's House

Mom’s House

The photo of the wood peckers was taken off the back balcony at my Mom’s house.

Repositioning Cruise, Florida to Rome

Celebrity Silhouette Ship

Celebrity Silhouette Ship


We took the first big step in our travel adventures by booking a cruise from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Rome.  This is a repositioning cruise.  In the winter a cruise from Florida to the Bahamas or Aruba is very popular, not so in the summer.  Therefore the boat is repositioned to a better location, in this case the Mediterranean Sea.  We will need to book another cruise back to the States in the fall, likely from London to Boston or New York.  An advantage of a cruise vs. flying is no jet lag, since the boat adjusts the time one hour every day.  Also, since we are homeless, or home free, we have no place to hurry back to, plus we get fine room and board for 15 nights.  There are also rules regarding how long you can be in the mainland of Europe, called the Schengen Agreement (90 days), so the additional time at sea is not taking away from our time in Europe.  We booked a room with a balcony and are hopeful it will be warm enough to use for more than tossing our cookies.


Booked room with Balcony

Booked room with Balcony

You can zoom out on the map to see the ports of call for this cruise.[codepeople-post-map]

The next task is to start booking places to stay in Europe through, which stands for Vacation Rentals by Owner.  One can type VRBO Rome in the Google search bar and find many places available for rent from the owner.  We are doing this since we plan on staying our maximum allowed 90 days in the countries of Italy, Spain, France and Portugal.  We then head to the UK and Ireland for 40 days, as they are not Schengen countries, eventually cruising back to Boston.

This is just a plan so far.  I remember our last cruise 15 years ago, we said never again.  Part of the deal was the rocking boat made one feel a bit queasy for two weeks straight, which is no way to spend a vacation.  We have high hopes of exercising every day and relaxing on the ship.  We will see.  No European accommodations are yet booked.


Here is the itinerary:

Celebrity – Celebrity Silhouette, departs 4/20/14, 15 nights

Day Date Port or Activity Arrive Depart
Sun Apr 20 Fort Lauderdale, FL 5:00pm
Mon Apr 21 At Sea
Tue Apr 22 At Sea
Wed Apr 23 At Sea
Thu Apr 24 At Sea
Fri Apr 25 At Sea
Sat Apr 26 At Sea
Sun Apr 27 At Sea
Mon Apr 28 Funchal, Madeira, Portugal 9:00am 6:00pm
Tue Apr 29 At Sea
Wed Apr 30 Gibraltar, UK Territory 7:00am 4:00pm
Thu May 1 At Sea
Fri May 2 Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy 7:00am 4:00pm
Sat May 3 Messina, Sicily, Italy 10:00am 8:00pm
Sun May 4 Naples / Capri (Sorrento), Italy 7:00am 6:30pm
Mon May 5 Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy 5:00am