The To Do List

Somewhere during the doldrums of February, our trip went from being this thing that we are doing next year to this thing we are doing next season. We have entered into our last months here in New York for quite awhile. Let’s not confuse “quite awhile” with ever. The plan is to return to NYC. But as of right now, these are the last NYC daffodils that I’ll be seeing for quite awhile.

We have kept a running to do list in preparation for our departure. The list is kind of an organic thing with a life cycle of it’s own. For months it was growing. As we had conversations with each other, with our parents, traveling friends, and read up on travel blogs, we just kept adding items to the list to take care of later. In February, we started pruning away some of the easy stuff on the list, like renewing passports, getting work Visas, replacing outdoor gear and getting new cameras. The fun stuff was the first to address. Kind of like when I put “eat breakfast” on the daily to do list. Easy. Done. Next!

But as the weeks fly by, we are getting to a point where we have to address everything on the list. Even the stuff I was saving for later. Later is now. And as we delve deeper into some topics, new little to do buds have formed and our list has grown again.

The Easy Stuff:

Conversations with employers. As Zach mentioned before, we are both leaving our jobs. I spilled the beans in December and could barely contain my smile when I told my principal. Both of our employers have said that they would be happy to have us back when return. While this is no guarantee, and I’m not even sure that I want to go back to teaching in NYC Public Scools, it is comforting to know that we are leaving on good terms and with open doors.

Passports and visas. We got Working Holiday Visas for New Zealand. This allows us to work in New Zealand for up to one year. I applied on a Friday and was approved by the following Tuesday. And it didn’t cost me anything. Thank you friendly people in NZ!

Get a WWOOF handbook. This has listings of all of the organic farms on both the north and south islands. This will serve as one of our guide books while traveling through NZ.

New cameras. My point and shoot had a hard, fast life. It lived without a case in back pockets and purse bottoms and died while I was in Arizona earlier this year. I recently purchased a Cannon G12. It feels super durable, takes gorgeous pictures and video and has manual settings that will allow me to learn more about the photography, but without being as bulky as an SLR. Zach just purchased a Cannon Rebel, which he wrote about in a previous post.

Replace outdoor gear. Black pea coats and rain trench coats aren’t going to cut it. We’ve bargain shopped the internet inside and out for new shells and fleeces (Okay, Zach bargain shopped, I splurged on an orange Patagonia fleece.)

Finding a home for our cat, Harriet. She is staying with my sister’s friend, Allie, in Baltimore. Allie is a cat lady without a cat, to whom I am SO grateful. She will make a wonderful cat foster mom.

Mail for next year. Routed home. Thanks Mom & Dad. I’ve already started unsubscribing from J.Crew, Pottery Barn, and am attempting to thwart Syracuse’s fundraising mailings, though every time I contact them, they seem to know nothing of my previous attempts to get off their list. Interesting, ‘Cuse. Interesting.


What’s left on the list:

Repaint the bathroom.

Rent the apartment. 

Storage and moving. Turns out storage is super expensive, eh? The cheapest unit I have found is in Allentown, PA. Might have to schlep it.

Research and purchase travel health insurance. This is one of the most significant perk of going with one of those Volunteer Sending Organizations to do a structured trip to teach English or build houses, but that’s not what we are doing. We want to call the shots, be flexible, and travel for an extended period of time. As of right now we are looking at World Nomad Travel Insurance. While it wouldn’t cover us for annual doctor’s appointments, it would allow us to get medical attention if one of us falls off a cliff.  (Knock on wood.)

Cell phones. What to do about them? Keep them? New SIM cards? Get a cheap local one? Will probably turn to Backpacking Matt for this one.

Packing. This should be interesting. Life is going into a backpack. More to come as we do test runs.


While I wouldn’t say I am a natural at planning and logistics, taking care of them does give me some peace of mind. And having a partner in crime to divvy up the research and bounce ideas off of also helps to turn a To Do List into an ongoing brainstorming session, the latter being far more exciting.

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