Sorting out our lives before the big trip!
What to do with all our stuff…..?
Before we left for this amazing trip we rented a flat full to the brim with our belongings that had accumulated over the last 5 years!
We decided with the exception of some things to try and sell as much as possible. The best and only way to do this was through the genius of Leboncoin. For those in England it’s a website a little like Gumtree but much much bigger and more popular. We sold nearly all our furniture over a period of 3 months. Quickly at first, with the last few pieces difficult to budge. We managed it somehow but i think it was probably due to salesman of the century Jean-Maxime. During numerous furniture collections, particularly the first few, our flat acted like a showroom and a lot of people decided to buy even more things.
A couple came to buy a kitchen chair and ended up leaving with a letter rack, a tent, camping chairs, a lamp, a small table and our Vespa! Another came for our bed and mattress and left buying a fridge, sofa, lamp and coffee table. We even managed to sell our orchids and a completely smashed but working induction plaque.
Although at the very beginning we were a little sad to see things go, we eventually enjoyed decluttering our lives, sorting out all our junk and the thought of starting a fresh when we get back is rather exciting. We also now know the things we’ve wasted our money on previously and what not to buy again!!
The belongings we chose to keep, we moved across Europe! Each time I visited my parents in England during the months leading up to the trip I took the maximum number and weight of baggage and got all my clothes, shoes, sports equipment and other household objects back (10 suitcase loads in total!!!).
JM and I also moved more things to Paris via TGV and gave his parents an enormous car load when they came to visit in August.
We want to say a huge thank you to our parents for bombarding their homes with our things. To Elyane and Jean-Claude, Romain and Eva and Mr J Chamois for storing even more of our things. We didn’t realise how much stuff we had and you’ve made our lives a lot easier!!!!
Also big thanks to Leo for adopting Gonzales the fish from us!!
Sorting out the flat and our belongings was one of the easiest things! We spend 5 months preparing for the trip after our flights were booked and the last 2 months working non-stop organising our lives. We hardly even looked at where we were going and what we were going to do over the year. Yes it maybe a ‘holiday’ for a year but it’s a huge project. (which hasn’t been as enjoyable as most people would think organising!) It’s not exactly a holiday where you just pack a suitcase, turn off your electricity and water and ask family or friends to come round and water your plants whilst you are away! Below are only a few things we sorted out during the months leading up to our trip!
What to do with our car?
We originally thought about selling our car and put it on Leboncoin. Some interest was shown but the price not quite what we wanted for a car in good condition that we liked a lot. We decided in the end to try out TripnDrive.
Basically it’s car Airbnb but without the bed or breakfast!! We rent out our car through Tripndrive who take care of almost everything. When the car is unused they keep it in a 24hour surveillance secure parking in Nice, they clean it after every usage, their insurance covers the car in the event of an accident, theft or damage and they pay us 140 euros a month whether someone uses it or not plus 0.15 cents per km after 80km. We’ll therefore be earning a little money whilst away and then we’ll have our car (fingers crossed!) when we get back!
Staying in contact with the world.
Although JM and I were both on amazing tariffs with SOSH Orange. We chose to move to Free and pay a basic 2 euros a month each to save the pennies and keep our numbers so we stay accessible to everyone.
After reading 100s of blogs, surfing the internet, getting quotes from dozens of companies we chose to use Chapka Assurance, a French company specialising in 1 year, round the world travel insurance cover.
Everything was done online in a minute. The insurance cover included everything we wanted; natural disasters, theft, medical, cancellations, delays, kitesurfing, diving, all at a reasonable price with a slight discount for couples.
Applying for an international driving Permit
To make life easier when hiring a scooter or vehicle whilst travelling outside the EU we applied for international driving permits (in some countries it’s obligatory). In France you need to go to the local precture of your department, taking with you your driving license and passport photos. 2 minutes later (normally….) you are given a permit, free for three whole years!!!!
In England it’s a little more difficult and expensive. You can either do it by post with the AA or through the post office. It will cost you £4 for a search fee if you cannot produce your full driving license (paper and card) a minimum fee of £8.50 (statutory fee £5, plus £3 application process fee) and if you urgently need the permit it will cost another £4 on top. Potentially a cost of £16.50 for only a 1 year permit!!
If like me you want the easiest and cheapest option. I headed to a post office (only a select number across the UK) where the driving permit could be processed then and there. Unfortunately I still had to pay £5.50 the 1 year license but it was the cheapest and only option available.
Sophie’s got bad teeth = fact!
Our annual appointment coincided with 1 month before our trip so perfect timing and enough time for work to be done on our gnashers! (I needed 3 appointments like usual. Another nerve killed another filling done!! booo!)
JM the world traveller = Full passport.
Jean-Max being a world traveller already had a pretty full passport and was advised that because he didn’t have many free pages left, some countries may find it a problem especially towards the end of our trip. A new passport would have cost him approximately 80 euros. To get around this in France, if you change address you can apply for a new passport free of charge. Since JM’s passport was registered originally in Paris he was able to apply for a new passport with our address in Toulon. He was issued a new passport but the expiry date remained the same (2018). JM will have to renew his passport like normal and pay the 80 euros but not for a few years. His new passport is now ready for all the stamps from around the world!
Luck for me I am a freelancer so I can work when I can and when I want and therefore don’t need to hand in any notice just advise the companies I normally work for what my plans are. No work for a year!!!
Jean-Max however has a pretty ‘normal’ job and initially handed in his resignation just over 3 months before our trip.
After discussions about our plans with his boss, who suggested applying for a sabbatical (with his own backing and recommendation to the HR, – because obviously he’s amazing at his job and they don’t want to lose him!!! J J ) JM applied and was offered one 2 weeks later. Back to reality October 2016!! Boooooooooooooooooo
Au revoir Toulon Est! Leaving our flat.
Standard procedure, we wrote to our estate agency 3 months in advance advising them of our move and departure date on the 18th September 2015.
It was meant to be easy but the agency dealing with our flat decided otherwise!!
We had seen a documentary and heard from numerous people about stopping your last month’s rent because you wouldn’t receive your deposit back for almost 6 months, and in some cases a year after you leave the flat – even if you are due your full deposit amount! We decided to stop our last month’s rent and as a result, the ladies from the agency decided to put all there efforts into being as difficult as possible. Demanding to let workers in to measure up for a new bathroom to be built after we’ve left – 3 times! Texting two days before we were due to leave the flat to say they were coming round to do a precheck of the flat before the final day so that we could apparently hand over the keys as quickly as possible the day after (I’m guessing it’s because it was a Saturday!). During the flat inspection JM wasn’t even available to oversee what they were writing because he was at work. They said they’d come at 10:30am and then shocked me when they rocked up at 4pm without letting JM or I know. They didn’t have time apparently! They complained about everything even though all that was needed was a good clean which we were planning on doing… and considering we decorated the whole flat and the owner (who died 2 years ago) was ridiculously happy with it – It peed us off a little bit!!! All in all after a clean and some stress and some words from JM to the agencies we have been told we owe nothing! Unnecessary stress from awkward people!! That’s what we are escaping from!!!
Which banks are best?
To make life easier whilst travelling we made a big step in our relationship and opened a joint account!! Serious stuff! We chose the French online bank Monabanq where we can make 25 cash withdrawals and 50 payments abroad, free of charge with our debit cards.
JM also has a premier debit card with another online French bank, Boursorama which provides insurance cover for personal effects, some forms of travel insurance and insurance on anything purchased with the card.
I have also signed up to Norwich and Peterborough Building Society which allows us free card usage abroad with no added fees. Amazing!!
Foreign office knows where we are!
Although my dad would like a GPS tracking device to be attached to us so he knows where we are most of the time, the next best thing we could think of was contacting our foreign offices and registering our travel plans in case of any crisis/emergency/natural disaster etc. etc. (Don’t panic everything is going to be fine!!!) But since 2013 the UK foreign office has stopped this LOCATE service and advises that you now just sign up to travel advice alerts before and whilst you are travelling. We did however sign up to the French equivalent, Le ministere des Affaires étrangères, who will now have some idea where we will be the next year or so.