Travel 101: Getting Things Done

Stephen F. Dennstedt

A big part of returning to the USA is getting stuff done. As I mentioned in my last post I need to refresh my travel gear including my photography equipment. It’s going to cost a lot of money but over the last five years my finances have recovered sufficiently to handle the expenditure. It’s not so much what you make but what you save.

Between my Social Security benefit, my various retirement plans and photography/writing income I manage to save a substantial amount of money each month which goes into my savings-travel-emergency account. I manage to live (as a general rule) on 15% to 30% of my income which allows me to squirrel away 70% to 85% of my revenue each month.

I could not do this as a full-time resident in the United States. Only by travelling and living abroad can I enjoy this kind of economy of scale. I love the life of a full-time traveller so these other benefits are just icing on the cake. When I buy high quality travel clothing I can reasonably expect to get at least five or six years worth of wear out of them. I am not out to make a fashion statement, it’s all about functionality, durability and value.

I will be sharing the stuff I need to get done and the decision-making process I use. I think others might find the process interesting not that they need to adopt my process as their own. Finances are always a priority so that was one of the first things I needed to attend to. A few days ago I spent some time at my bank JPMorgan Chase—I finished up my thirty-year banking career with those folks and it didn’t end on a good note (I still have a lot of anger about that bank). However, it was convenient (at the time) to keep my accounts there so I didn’t cut off my nose to spite my face.

My ATM/Debit card is my passport to freedom. It’s virtually impossible to set up a banking relationship in every country I visit and it would serve no practical purpose. ATMs are the way to go as they can be found almost everywhere in the world. Yes there are fees to contend with but they just go part & parcel with the travelling experience; I view it simply as a cost of doing business. But I have found that redundancy is a must, you must have backup in this electronic world. The problem with my former employer (JPMorgan Chase) is that they’re not international.

So while I’m back in the States I will probably establish a secondary relationship with an international bank such as HSBC or Scotia. That will give me the flexibility of having two ATM/Debit cards and both banks can be found worldwide if I have a real problem. The other option is to use a Credit Card as backup insurance but I prefer using cash while travelling—I am now debt free and don’t want the temptation of incurring any further consumer debt. Having zero debt is a key element to maintaining a simple and cheap lifestyle: Live Simple, Live Cheap, Live Free.

Julbo Vermont Classic Glacier Sunglasses

Next week I will probably set an appointment with an optometrist here Murrieta to get an updated vision prescription. Then most likely I will order my frames and lenses (bifocals) online at Glasses USA. That seems to be the way it’s done these days—that way I can choose the exact frames and lenses I want. Everything is done online now. I’ve decided to make a fashion statement with my new classes, a pair of tortoise-shell frames and a backup pair with blue frames (maybe I will look like Elton John). Also I’m going to invest in a pair of Julbo Vermont Classic Glacier Sunglasses.

Casio ProTrek PRG 600Y

I have also decided on my new watch purchase to replace my Casio Pathfinder watch now over nine years old. The solar battery is finally fading and I lost the bezel ring in the Amazon. Casio makes some great watches at fair prices. I’ve decided on the Casio ProTrek PRG 600Y with its analog time face. The important features include: a solar-powered battery, compass, altimeter, barometer, temperature and international time. Read my post What Time Is It? for more information about the need for a good travel watch.

This information may not interest you but if you plan to travel internationally for long periods of time you might find these product recommendations and reviews helpful in selecting your own travel gear. Keep in mind these are my opinions only and I don’t purport to be an expert when selecting gear. Clothing and equipment choices are very subjective at best. I do not receive any remuneration whatsoever for these posts (I don’t get paid for them) so I have no particular allegiance to any brands. These are recommendations based on my personal travel experience.

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