2023 – A Return to an Itinerant Travel Lifestyle

It’s been a few years since Joy and I have been non-stop travelers. The Covid-19 pandemic, a foreclosure/restoration/2nd sale of our yurt property, and a few health challenges have generally (but not entirely) kept us off the road since 2020.

Fortunately, travel adventures are just around the corner! In mid-December we’ll be packing up the car, our bikes, and the dog and setting off on a continuous set of travels that won’t see us return home until November of 2023. (That’s eleven months for those of you who are calendar-challenged.)

We don’t have all eleven months’ of travel details planned yet. In fact, we’ve got a few “…and then we’ll probably spend a few weeks somewhere in this region of the world” slots in our overall plan. Almost no one else we know can stand this kind of “we’ll figure it out as it happens” kind of travel, let alone the length and complexity of our adventures. We know we’re unusual and we’re owning it!

Our current high-level plan looks like this:

  • Mid-Dec: Leave home, spend a few days in the Bay Area then meander through the Southwest
  • Late-Dec: Christmas in Texas with Joy’s mom, sister and nephews
  • Early January: spend 10 days in Merida, Mexico with Tony’s brother Fernando and his wife, Tori.
  • Mid-January: visit Cuba for 8 days
  • Early February: attend the Tucson Gem & Mineral show with Bay Area friends
  • Mid-February: possible driving trip so Tony can pick up his last 3 states (Alabama, Mississippi, & South Carolina)
  • Mid-March: fly to Europe with our bikes after saying goodbye to the 15-year-old dog who will be staying in Texas with Joy’s sister
  • Mid-March -> May: cycle from western France, up the Loire, across Switzerland, and down the Danube to Vienna, then on to Prague, Frankfurt, and finally, Amsterdam where Joy will be teaching a Business Intelligence class.
  • At this point, for visa purposes, we need to stay out of the Schengen Area (roughly synonymous with the EU) until the autumn
  • Early and late June: probably hiking and touring in the Balkans
  • mid-June: jump down to Kenya for a safari trip with a different set of Bay Area friends
  • Mid-July: quick visit to Greece for nephew’s wedding
  • July-August: probably hiking and touring in the UK (England, Wales, maybe Scotland)
  • September: sailing in Greece and afterwards, probably cycling in Turkey
  • October: maybe cycling in Italy & Croatia or beer tasting in Belgium and Germany
  • Late-October: Joy teaches somewhere in Scandinavia
  • November: head home (we think)

All-in-all, we may visit as many as 9 US states, definitely 4 continents, and 12-18 countries.

All throughout this complicated itinerary we’ll be heading back to Texas frequently to visit with Joy’s mom, who will celebrate her 95th birthday in June. Go, Fran!

For those of you who have been following our travels over the years, you may have noticed that our March-May European cycling route is similar to the route we had planned in 2020 until Covid waylaid our plans. There are two big changes, though. First, we’re not bringing Brighton back to Europe with us. He would be a month shy of 15, and that seems like too much to ask of a dog. Because one of us won’t have to pull a dog trailer (20 lbs), the dog (35 lbs), and his food/gear (20 lbs), while the other person carries all the other stuff (clothes, cycling gear & tools, and food) we’ve decided to “un-electrify” our bikes and return them to the configuration they were in when we cycled across the US. (This is also driven by the airline restrictions against flying with large lithium batteries.)

How do we plan for a trip like this?

Our planning is a combination for very detailed to-dos across several categories of spreadsheets and a whole bunch of, “We just have to get to point X by date Y and we’ll figure out each day as it comes.” One of the good things about all this up-front detailed planning is that we realized that although our passports don’t expire for more than 18 months, we needed to rush-renew them so that they’d have more than 6 months of life on them in November of 2023. (I don’t know why, but many countries won’t let you enter if your passport will expire within 6 months of entry.)

A small section of our “to dos”

We began serious planning several months ago, nailing down some key commitments (like the safari). Starting in August, planning really ratcheted up, and our purchasing behavior changed. We stopped buying food staples like peanut butter, large bags of anything, and even wine. We’ve been working on emptying the kitchen and garage freezers, pantry, and wine cabinet. Here’s an early-November photo of what was left in the freezer.

Freezer down to the last few meals…

How do we pack for this?

Packing for this kind of multi-leg adventure is challenging.

We need to bring cold weather clothes for the first part of the trip; tropics-appropriate clothes for Mexico, Cuba, and Kenya; cold/warm hiking/trekking clothes & gear for the UK and Balkans; cold/warm/hot cycling clothes and gear; respectable walking-around-Europe clothing; and business attire for Joy’s classes. We also need to pack all of Brighton’s stuff (his beds, bowls, leashes, sweaters & coats, meds, etc.) And, of course, a complicated set of electronics gear, both our laptops, and two Digital SLR cameras, each with two lenses. (One is a new camera/lens set we’ll take on Safari, and maybe Mexico. We’ll gift our older DSLR and lenses to Centro A+ Espacios Adolescentes, a Cuban cultural institution that “aims to achieve a greater social and participatory inclusion of adolescents and to support the development of their potential, with a focus on rights, gender and equity.”)

Packing is complicated enough that we have a LONG packing list broken out by category of travel and category of stuff (electronics, cycling stuff, dog stuff, etc.). Because Texas will be our base of operations over the year, we’ll swap out clothing/gear for each set of adventures. No laptops, camera and lenses, or other heavy stuff on the cycling legs, for example. The few days before we head off, we’ll be doing some test packing to make sure everything fits in the SUV, let alone the bike panniers.

But what about our house & mail?

Our initial plan was to lock up the house and hope that when we returned in eleven months that everything was still okay. As luck would have it, Ashland friends are in need of a house for about 8 months. They’d recently sold their Ashland house and while waiting for their new house to be built their plan was to live in a hotel room (with their dog) for the duration. In case you didn’t catch that, we’re talkings two people, one big dog, and one hotel room for eight months!) When we suggested that they’d likely find our house more comfortable, they agreed. So, we have house sitters for most of the time we’ll be gone.

Mail turns out to be easy. We don’t get much real mail, but on rare occasions we do get important things. We are leveraging a service which acts as a virtual mailbox. We’ve officially changed our address to a hosted address in Portland. They email us scans of each non-junk mail correspondence. We tell them whether we want them to trash a piece, open it and scan the materials inside, or physically forward it on to us.

Following along on our adventures

We’re revving up this blog again and we’ll post regularly so you can keep track of us and know that we’re still alive. We hope 2023 brings you your own exciting adventures!


7 thoughts on “2023 – A Return to an Itinerant Travel Lifestyle

  1. What a great trip! I’m so happy you’re heading out on the road again, there will be more vicarious adventures for the rest of us. Have a wonderful time!

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  2. How wonderful to hear your plans to travel again! I’m so happy we’ll get to follow you along on your journey. I truly admire your sense of adventure

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  3. So happy for you all! I tell your retirement traveling adventures to so many of how very cool it is that you pack up and go! Best wishes. Your friend from the Black Sheep Inn in Ecuador!

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  4. Hi Tony & Joy, That sounds wonderful – except for the biking part. LOL. Now sailing would be different – or at least boating up and down the rivers. Hope you have a great time on your new adventures…. I am jealous. ?? Glynn ________________________________

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