Sabbatical prep in four lists: from Popup camping to Thailand

As with anything, preparation is key, and preparing for sabbatical is serious business. We will be on the road for much of the first six months, camping and/or visiting friends and family all around the country. And then we will leave the U.S. for six months to live in Thailand. Check out our itinerary as it stands now.

Every day I think of something else that we need to do to be ready for this year-long adventure.  I’ve never had so many lists in my life (and I am a connoisseur of lists)!  Below are the things that we are doing, seeing, buying, selling, fixing, packing, etc. to get ready for our year off–from the basic (buy a backpack) to the out-of-the-ordinary (buy a pop up camper).


We want to buy what we can now, things we KNOW we will need, while we have an income and it doesn’t feel so stressful to spend money. Although, we are really trying not to buy too much stuff since part of sabbatical is learning to live with less.  There are really only a few things that are essential to purchase to make sure we have what we need to make the most of sabbatical. But there are lot of things we need to DO to prepare.

Things to buy before sabbatical

  • Pop Up Camper, trailer hitch, and generator–by our math we will save money on our travels if we have a little camper to stay in rather than paying for hotels for weeks at a time.  It also makes it easier to bring our 60 and 75 lb pups along for the ride.  We found a camper on Craig’s list for about $3,500 and we should be able to sell it before we leave for Thailand, making most of that investment back. The generator will extend our power supply since not all of our camping stops will have hook ups.

Check out our itinerary and my post on our pop up camper, the Freedom Machine! Tip: we bought in low season and will sell in high season, thus maximizing profit.img_5229

  • Portable grill for camping and other camping supplies
  • Backpack–we are looking at less overnight backpacking and more day hiking, so I’m planning to buy a nice mid-sized pack
  • Hiking boots for lots of hiking
  • Sneakers for lots of walking and working out
  • Flip flops for lots of beach time
  • Clothes for a tropical climate (Thailand, here we come!)
  • Water bottles with water filters for both camping and Thailand
  • New tires and new brakes for the car (we anticipate putting a good 10-15K miles on the car in the first six months)

Things to buy IN BULK before sabbatical

  • Sunscreen–I understand it’s not that readily available everywhere we may be in Thailand, and we are two VERY fair-skinned people, so it’s a must
  • Beauty supplies (shampoo, lotions, razors, other essentials)
  • Bug repellant (Marathon brand has been recommended to me)
  • Vitamins (we’re old and bulk is so much cheaper)
  • Books–I plan to download a lot of free and cheap books to my Kindle in advance
  • Food staples that won’t go bad and will travel well as we travel the U.S. in our camper for the first six months before we leave for Thailand
  • Grapefruit seed extract (I understand it can be used to counteract water and foodborne illness)

Things to do before sabbatical

  • Create a detailed budget for Part I (U.S.) and Part II (Thailand)
  • Refill all prescriptions and get a 6-month supply for our time abroad
  • Get special medications for Thailand, including antibiotics (Typhoid, anyone?)
  • Enroll in a health insurance plan through Health Care Exchange or COBRA (to cover us while we travel in the U.S.)
  • Research and purchase health insurance for time abroad (probably international traveler’s insurance)
  • Take dogs for annual check ups (including teeth cleaning and blood work) and get medicines they will need for our travels (they’ll be coming with us for a lot of the travel around the U.S. and will be staying in Texas while we are in Thailand where they will need tick control for example)
  • Cancel any “extra” credit cards that we won’t be using for the year
  • Freeze our credit (great tip to protect your credit rating in case of fraud)
  • Pay taxes early so we get our refund ASAP!
  • Have a garage sale and put proceeds toward the sabbatical fund
  • Prep camper with camping supplies
  • Full service for our camper to make sure the wheels don’t fall off while we are speeding down the highway, for example
  • Research what to do and where to stay in Thailand
  • Make reservations for national parks because they fill up months in advance of summer
  • Full car detail
  • Figure out phone plan for our time abroad
  • Buy travel insurance
  • Buy membership for Good Sam, which gives all kinds of discounts for RV and camping folks (including roadside assistance; this is apparently a must have. Who knew?!)
  • Meet with people who have traveled in Southeast Asia for tips and connections
  • Cancel memberships and subscriptions
  • Alert bank and credit card companies of our travel plans
  • Prep the house for renting
    • Move personal items to storage
    • Clean out closets and de-clutter everywhere (see my 5-week Minimalism Challenge)
    • Thorough cleaning, including carpets
    • Prep the yard (weeding, pruning, general maintenance)
    • Organize and clean up garage
    • Pest control treatment
    • Fix ups
    • Replace air filters
    • Have air conditioners checked
    • List with property manager
    • Forward mail to a relative

 Appointments to have before sabbatical

  • Colorado Health Care Exchange to review options for health insurance (one month prior to end of current health insurance was recommended)
  • Primary Care doctor for an annual check up and blood work
  • Specialty doctors (dermatologist, eye doctor, mammogram, etc.)
  • Dentist
  • Full car check up
  • Coffees and lunches with friends and colleagues to set the stage for staying in touch

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