As of January 24th, neither of us is employed! While this may seem troublesome to the average person, this has been our plan since the middle of last year when we decided to make a big transition into what we are calling a Gap Year.
We’ll be utilizing our accumulated savings on the journey to Financial Independence to fully fund a year (or so) of not working before we refocus on reaching our investment goals (probably involving more work). During this year off, we plan to road trip all over the US and possibly take an international trip somewhere along the way!
While our big trip inches closer, we still have some things to wrap up in Seattle before we hit the road. Luckily, these should be a little easier with the extra ~40 hours per week.
Completed Pre-Trip To-Dos
While I just now wrapped up full time work, we’ve been plenty busy in the past couple months preparing for this year long road trip.
- Simplify Our Financial Picture
- We closed out all of our extra bank accounts that we don’t use on a regular basis (previously opened for signup bonuses). This should limit any financial hoops we have to jump through on the road and gets more of our cash into a single place that we can access easily (instead of sitting there in unused accounts to avoid fees).
- Outfit the Mazda for an Epic Road Trip
- Plenty of time in the coming year will be spent inside our hatchback, so we made sure it’s in tip-top shape before we start. All of the scheduled maintenance is up to date and we even outfitted the car with some roof storage for extra space. We think the added room (particularly for our camping supplies) will be worth the MPG trade off.
- Figure Out Our Mail Situation
- Getting mail while on the road is an interesting problem, but luckily a variety of services exist to solve it (possibly thanks to full-time RVers). After comparing a few different options, we ended up going with Traveling Mailbox. For $200/year, they will receive and scan all of our mail for us so we can view it online, plus they can forward anything we need to any address we desire (for a small fee). Setting it up was very easy, but changing our address for dozens of accounts took some effort.
- Liquidating/Storing Our Stuff
- Most of the stuff in our townhouse has been slowly disappearing as Becky has been killing it with sales (mostly using Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp). The plan was to sell all of our furniture and there are only a few big items remaining that will hopefully be sold in the next week. Everything smaller has been (or will be) given to friends and/or donated, except for the few items we decided to keep. The keepers mostly consist of sentimental items like scrapbooks and souvenirs, but also contain our video game and board game “collections”. We recently opened up a small local storage unit that will house these items until our eventual return.
Items to Wrap Up
Despite our best efforts, we still have a few items outstanding as we get into the final week of being in Seattle. Hopefully these will finalize before we hit the road, but we should be able to make it work regardless.
- The healthcare from my employer won’t disappear until the end of the month, plus I’ll have a period of time where I can elect Cobra in the event something happens. I previously explored all of our various healthcare options and it looks like we’ll end up going with a subsidized Bronze plan for the year ($0 premiums). Given we’ll be out of state for the entirety of the trip, it will only end up working for emergency situations anyway, so the extra premium cost with a Silver plan didn’t seem to be worth it. We also plan to pick up a Telemedicine plan ($149/year) that will cover us for most non-emergency situations anywhere with an internet connection.
- Renting Out Our Townhouse
- We’ve owned our place for the past several years (well, the bank mostly owns it for now) and decided to rent it our during our trip instead of sell it. We hired a property manager who has been marketing it, but apparently the middle of winter isn’t a great time to get tenants (plus many other similar properties are also on the market right now). Hopefully a tenant is found soon, but we do have the cash to cover the mortgage if it takes a bit longer. Worst case is probably waiting until late Spring when the Seattle housing market gets seasonally crazy and prices go bonkers (if the last few years are any indication).
Other than those two fairly significant items, we’re pretty much ready to start the trip!
The First Couple Weeks
As we get closer to starting the road trip, I’ve started to look a little bit closer to our lodging plan, specifically how we can optimize our travel hacking knowledge to reduce hotel costs for the year. Aside from the all-inclusive trip to Cabo the we planned with family before this Gap Year plan can into existence, the first major stop will be San Francisco to drop of our dog with his loving aunt.
So far, we’ve mapped out a 4-5 day adventure through Portland and the California Redwood forests before spending some time down in San Francisco with Becky’s sister.
It will be interesting to see what kind of cadence we fall into with booking locations/hotels ahead of time. It’s certainly nice to have a plan for the next couple weeks locked in (and somewhat necessary with a dog due to restrictions), but it also limits us if we want to stick around a place longer. I’m sure we’ll find a sweet spot once we get in a rhythm traveling around full time.
It’s hard to believe this Gap Year is actually beginning, but we’re extremely excited (and maybe a little nervous) to give it a shot!