Ducks in a row

Getting ready to switch from a “normal” life to a nomadic one required us to think differently about a number of things we had taken for granted, and to set new systems in place. Below is a summary of our starting point. Whether these plans work out will be fodder for a future post. All prices are CDN.

Phone

Hardware

Ken’s work Blackberry is gone now that he is retired. I had purchased an unlocked phone in January after smashing my previous one. We picked up a simple Acer unlocked smartphone for Ken.

Though we have zero interest in Pokemon Go (!), we did buy a small external USB charger in case we are using offline maps on our phones or tablets, or find other reasons to drain our batteries when we aren’t near an electrical/USB outlet.

Software/service

We set up accounts with two free VoIP apps:

  • TextNow – allows for free calls in the US and Canada, and free texts, using wifi or a data plan, optionally. We picked Vancouver phone numbers so our moms (or anyone else in Vancouver who doesn’t have Canada-wide calling) could call us without long-distance charges. We might want to set something up in each country for local calls, but this provides a way for friends and family to contact us by text, phone, and voice mail.
  • Fongo – free VoIP phone calls in Canada and free text in ($1.99/mo for unlimited text out, thus TextNow, which offers free text in both directions). I was able to port my regular cell phone number to Fongo (which TextNow did not) so any agencies and organizations we haven’t updated would still be able to reach us, if only to leave a voicemail. Since I ported my Calgary cell phone number, calls from there will not be long distance.My intention was to cancel my  cell service effective September 6, the first day we would be out of Canada. I arranged to port my phone number to Fongo on August 31, not realizing that porting automatically cancelled all service with my carrier. So I am “testing” wifi-only cell service for our last few days in Canada.

Mail

Two main methods of handling this:

  • Reduce, reduce, reduce – We already receive as much as possible electronically so our hard-copy mail isn’t voluminous. But we have managed to reduce further by making all of our investment accounts e-mail only.
  • Forward – When we move, we generally set up a Canada Post transfer for a year, and we did the same this time ($87.10). Unfortunately for our son, the mail is being forwarded to his house, but hopefully we can catch most of the items that slip through in the first few months and cancel delivery or switch them to e-mail.

Insurance

Emergency medical/travel

We have always had travel insurance through our employee benefits, so researching this topic was new for us. The company that was most recommended by other nomad bloggers is World Nomads, but alas one of us is too old for their coverage. 😦

We found our best deal through our executive membership at Costco (which we were planning to cancel, but won’t now), which gets us a relatively good price with Manulife. We also included their Bounce Back insurance, which allows us to interrupt our trip, fly home should there be a family emergency, and then return to continue our travels.

As Canadians, it seems that we can only get emergency medical travel insurance if we retain provincial medical insurance. Our current home province of Alberta allows us to travel for up to two years as long as Alberta Health Services is aware of any absence over 6 months, and we live in the province for a period equal to the time we are away before the next sojourn. Alberta does not charge monthly premiums, which makes keeping coverage a bargain. Since we don’t know how long we’ll be away, we informed Alberta Health that we would be away for about 9 months (we can update this if plans change) and we set up insurance with Manulife for 6 months (easier and can extend with a phone call) ($796 for Ken, $623.81 for me).

Camera equipment and electronic devices

Though World Nomads, being targeted at a younger demographic, provides adequate coverage for basic electronics, other packages that we looked at do not. I found a reasonably priced, simple-to-apply-for professional (or abject amateurs like us) photographer global travel insurance through Front Row Insurance, which also provides laptop coverage ($141/year covers our setup).

I have digital copies of receipts for all of our camera equipment, and a photograph of the whole kit. I also registered our photography equipment with Lenstag. For each body or lense, you upload an image of its serial number. Within a few weeks your photos are manually verified (one of mine was not verified because the number was too worn, but since I have copies of receipts, I’m not too concerned). Lenstag offers a good way to capture a complete record of our gear, and provides some theft protection through a stolen equipment database, including reporting on published images taken with your equipment (free).

Drivers’ licence

Though we don’t expect to drive very much, if at all, we decided to pick up international drivers’ licenses just in case ($50 + $13.98 for passport photos at Costco).

 

If you have suggestions for better solutions than we came up with, please leave us a comment. This is all new for us, and we are eager to learn from others.

PS: I know that they are actually goslings, and not ducklings, but they are so cute I couldn’t resist.

 

 

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