There have been bus update blogs, Instagram photos, and Facebook posts about the bus and the traveling we will do but there is so much more to get ready for a mobile life. We have not been posting about some of the less interesting yet super important things that we are doing behind the scenes. Since these are things that I am knee deep into right now I wanted to post about what I'm working on that is not bus related but essential to getting us on the road.
Passports. We are all getting our passports! It is no small feat to fill out applications and copy all the required documents for 2 adults and 3 kids to get passports. We are not sure when we are going to leave the country in our travels but we want to be ready. It is also great to have one more means of identification for all of us. We know we are going to visit Canada and Mexico but who know what the Universe has in store and we do have several friends in other countries. If the opportunity presents itself to go to France we want to be able to hop on that (I'm looking at you Bridge!) We are going to the passport office in a couple weeks to get our photos done and hand it all in. We have to go in person because it has been a long time since Nick and I have had valid passports and you always have to go in person for kids. Bonus! The passport office is right behind one of our favorite breweries so we will get a treat if we make it out of there alive.
Finding a mailbox service. Since we are selling our house we will still need somewhere to get our mail. We could totally use a friend or relative's address and have them send us our mail when we get to one of our destinations but we decided a mail service would be better and we wouldn't be bothering anyone with our mail. There is one a couple towns over so we will still have a New Jersey address and we will be in control of what they send, when, and where they send it. I have also been unsubscribing to anything I can and I signed up to stop all unsolicited mail and crap. It's really great there isn't as much junk coming to our house now and there won't be any forwarded to our mail service. We also have been consciously not signing up for any new junk or magazines. They are all a waste of paper anyway.
Researching health insurance options. This is one of the least fun and least done thing on the list. We currently have health insurance through Nick's work but will not when he is on the road. We have the kids covered but there are a lot of unknowns and research that still needs to be done. We will both be self-employed on the road so we are looking into self-employment plans, health co-ops and the ACA. If anyone has any help in this department I'll take it because it is important but something I am not super motivated to do.
Adjusting our cell phone plan to accommodate all our internet usage. In addition to having our phones we will also need to wirelessly get internet to the kids' tablets and our laptops. We currently have AT&T and would like to stay with them because they have pretty good coverage nationwide. We have also been with them since forever and never have had any issues and I am pretty loyal to companies who are good to me. I do not really want to use out phones as hotspots so we are looking into purchasing a mobile hotspot for the bus. In some locations there may be WiFi but we don't want to rely on that and since our work will be internet based we need something a little more reliable. I know this is not 100% reliable as there are some places in the country with crappy or no coverage but its the best idea we've got so far. Let me know if you have any other options.
Paying off all debt. This is my favorite! We don't have a lot of debt especially compared to the average American debt of $133,100 but we have some. Mainly my student loans, a car payment, and some medical bills and we have been chipping away at them. By the time we leave for our adventure we will have no debt. It is so important to us to be debt-free and to not get ourselves into a position where we have to borrow money again. We may have a mortgage again some day but we are trying really hard to not have ANY debt ever again. Most of my adult life was in debt and we even had to declare bankruptcy very early in our marriage because of a job loss that lead to over use credit cards. We have learned our lesson and are choosing to be debt-free. We have learned from our mistakes and learned tools to not get into that again. Dave Ramsey is a great resource for getting and staying out of debt. I can't wait to do my debt-free scream!
Buying a tow vehicle. We have two vehicles right now but will only need one when we are on the road. We are choosing to tow a vehicle behind our bus so that we can easily get to places the bus can't and so we don't have to move the bus every time we need groceries. We have been advised to get a vehicle with a manual transmission because if we have an automatic we would need an extra thingy called a transmission lube pump. I think this is necessary so you don't burn out your transmission. If you have a manual transmission you don't need that. These lube pumps are expensive and our current minivan is a little bigger than we would like to tow so we are getting a new (to us) car. Car shopping is one of the least fun things I can think of next to going to the dentist (sorry, Dr. Demmerly) but we know what we want and how much we can spend and hopefully since we are buying with cash it will be less painful. Stay tuned for pictures of me on the hood of my dream car.
Selling/donating all our stuff. We are parting with most of our stuff including our house. Some things we sell on Facebook yard-sale groups or marketplace but a lot of stuff gets donated to Goodwill. I have been minimizing for a few years now so we don't have a lot of extra stuff anymore. I got rid of all those "just in case" items and things that I might use if I ever cook a turkey dinner for 30 people a long time ago. We need to keep some stuff obviously and we want to stage our house well to sell it but all the other stuff must go. We really enjoy giving stuff to friends and people who are in need so if you need anything check with us first. We also have donated some stuff to other charities in our area and will donate our second vehicle too. This process is so easy for me because I love getting rid of stuff but I live with four other people and its not cool to get rid of other people's stuff before they are ready. It will all go eventually!
I am also researching and reading all about unschooling. There is a great book that came from a website called Sandra Dodd's Big Book of Unschooling that I have been reading and enjoying. We are connecting with people all over the country who live on the road and are learning about the logistics of doing so. There are a few websites and YouTube videos that are pretty good and offer good information. Technomadia is a good resources from a couple full-time RVers who have been at it for a while. The last thing I will mention is getting everyone to the doctor for a wellness visit, to the dentist for a teeth cleaning and to the optometrist for new or an extra pair of glasses. We will not be back these medical professionals so I will also get all of our records to take with us too.
This adventure is no small feat and I am definitely leaning on those who have done this before me and am drinking in their wisdom. I know that there will be a lot to do and learn before we leave and once we are on the road but I truly am enjoying every part of this journey.