bout Chandler and Bates
How they became homeless and what they did
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We are a husband and wife team in the last years of certain good health with neither children nor surviving parents who decided to take time out of the mainstream to quench our thirst for travel. Gerry (Chandler) is an expert in software development methodologies (see itech-consultants.com). Jan (Bates) is a technical writer and translator specializing in software and telecoms (see textique.com).
We wander the world with our laptops visiting those corners that we haven't yet experienced and sometimes revisiting those we know and love well. We started travelling in June 1999 and are still going, approaching our tenth anniversary.
To make the travel as worry-free as possible we sold our home and as much of its contents as we could bear to part with and put the rest in storage. We use a relative's home as our mailing address but other than that we are footloose and fancy free. We have no mortgage to pay nor utility bills. And we don't have to worry about whether the tenants are trashing our home.
We mitigate the stress of permanent travel in various ways. When visa restrictions allow, we try to find apartments to rent instead of hotel rooms. So far we have found and stayed in apartments in Paris, Beijing, Hong Kong, Jerusalem, New York, Washington DC, Berlin, Moscow, Athens, Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney. On top of that we have often made ourselves "at home" by staying in the same hotel for two weeks at a time.
We break up long stretches of day-after-day sight-seeing with stays in places chosen for comfort rather than interest. Swimming pools are high on our list of desirable features, but cable TV is up there too, and real luxury is represented by an internet connection to the web. When we stared it was great to be able to get a dial-up connection. Now we generally have broadband connections.
We insist on private bath and hot running water and have rarely had to do without them. We like a room with two beds so that we can each have a bit of private space. More important is a quiet location with good window coverings. At our age it's hard to get used to different sleeping environments and a quiet, dark room is a big help. We can't forget about laundry "until we get home". We are home, always, everywhere.
We have to work hard at getting a balanced diet. We eat at least one meal a day in a restaurant and sometimes two or even three if in a hotel. But when we can we buy fruit, fresh milk, and cereal for breakfast and maybe make a small salad or sandwich in the evening. That means we need to carry around at least a minimal set of cutlery and a set of camping dishes. One of our luxuries, when we can find it, is a vacuum-packed box of wine. There's nothing nicer after a travel day, once we are unpacked in our new "home", to have a small glass of wine to help us relax from the day's frustrations.
We take time out whenever we can to visit friends and family along the way mostly so that we can get a taste or two of home cooking. And some days we just take time out from being tourists. We sit around at "home", do the laundry, write email, read a book -- it's at such times that this website gets updated. In fact, in spite of the exotic locales we visit, many of our days are mundane. We get tired and cranky just like we did in the "real" world and yes, sometimes we get sick, although fortunately nothing so far more serious than a cold or an upset tummy.
You can't compare our lifestyle to your typical two-week vacation. We are on a fairly strict budget and so never stay in four or five star hotels or resorts. That doesn't mean that we aren't comfortable.
We manage our finances with varying levels of frustration via the phone and the internet and the use of automated transactions. We make automatic monthly payments to each of our credit cards so that we don't get surprised by exorbitant finance charges. But getting a new credit card when one expires has proved to be somewhat difficult. It is very easy to get a new short-term replacement card, but convincing people to send a permanent replacement to places other than the address of record takes some patience and persistence.
Perhaps the most difficult problem has been health insurance. It is not difficult to find worldwide health insurance, but for us it has been difficult keeping premium payments up to date even with automatic credit card charges. Credit card companies are always changing their procedures against fraud and charges from non-US merchants are often blocked if they exceed a certain threshold — our insurance company is based in Britain. We used to pay our insurance quarterly via an automatic charge to our credit card. But one day the premium increased beyond the "magic" threshold and in spite of the fact that the charge had appeared four times a year for about three years, the credit card company refused the charge. We didn't find out until a month later and it took another month to get a relative to send a check to remedy the situation. We talked to the credit card company but could not get them to except this particular charge from this particular company from their threshold rule.
Ultimately, we persuaded the insurance company (also not without difficulty) to let us pay on a monthly basis. Thankfully since then the monthly premium has stayed below the threshold. Thankfully we are in close touch with family and friends by email and they are unfailingly helpful in sorting out such glitches.
Another problem is keeping up with periodic preventive health exams. The annual pap smears, mammograms, prostate exams, and so forth still seem important to us. We use visits to familiar places when we can to get a quick check-up, or look for hospitals like those in Thailand that cater to a foreign clientele.
Ours is not the lifestyle for everyone. But for us, knowing the limitations that age will bring, we are storing up this vast wealth of sights, smells, sounds, and feelings so that we will have them to look back on with pleasure in that wheelchair or bed knowing that we didn't waste our "young years". We invite you to join us on our travels via this website.