Adventure Planning: I’ve Made This Mistake Twice

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Adventure Planning: I’ve Made This Mistake Twice

You might have noticed that I’ve been MIA on this blog for a few weeks now… that’s starting to become a little common lately. I’ve wanted to focus on all sorts of different things, like learning to code in Kotlin for Android and just trying to be in the “now” a little more.

In the midst of things, we took a month-long trip back to Boquete, Panama from late June until late July. I tried to focus more on being present during that trip rather than writing every week – though I did create several videos for my new YouTube channel that you might want to check out.

Since returning, I simply haven’t had time for most of the fun I would rather give attention to these days. Life’s been way too busy for this early retiree!

Why would that be?

Quite simply, it’s because I forgot (again) that with a lot of adventure planning, you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs.

What’s the mistake when adventure planning?

We’ve done a few crazy things over the years and the reward has always been amazing. You get to see and experience things you might not have the opportunity in life to do otherwise…

Adventure Planning - Pipeline Trail - Los Naranjos, Panama
The Pipeline Trail – one of our favorite hikes near Boquete

The major problem with big life-changing adventure planning though is that it’s pretty easy to just slip on those rose-colored glasses and only focus on what things will be like during the actual adventure.

Sure, you know there will be some hurdles that you’ll need to overcome throughout, but for the most part, you’ve got a shot at experiencing something remarkable.

What you might miss is realizing the work that will need to be done beforehand to make it happen. Adventure planning tends to gloss over what’s really going to be involved in the prep work.

This is especially true with adventures that involve moving. There’s a certain art to coordinating the move and making all the pieces fit in place at the right time. It’s not easy and it’s also not something I’m claiming to have mastered either. That said, I think we’re becoming better at the process.

I’m a planner in life. Everything’s a checklist item in my life. I have a thought and if I decide to make it happen, it becomes something that will linger on my list until it finally does happen… and I don’t like having unchecked items on my list.

Sometimes that’s a blessing and sometimes it’s a curse but it is what it is. It’s great in that it helps me continually improve and become a better person in life and always move forward to bigger and better things. I’m sure the success we had on our path to financial independence and early retirement could be attributed a lot to that quality.

It can also be a curse though in that, well, everything’s a list item that needs to be done. My mind doesn’t stop and it’s really hard for me to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the moment. When I do, I generally struggle to not think about everything I need to be getting done to check off those items.

So you would think that when it comes to adventure planning, I’d have it down pat. And honestly, I think I nail almost everything that needs to be done from start to finish.

The problem though is that I don’t add enough thought into how long and how involved a task item will take. For example, ensuring you have your passports packed is an easy checklist item… moving your stuff into a storage unit is definitely not. On paper though (well, digitally for me!), I tend to just think of them as two tasks. I do realize that there are differences in magnitude in what it will take to get each done, but I don’t always take into consideration the full workload right away.

That’s been the issue in our adventure planning – underestimating what’s really involved in getting to the actual fun part (the adventure itself!).

Making the mistake the first time around…

I haven’t always sought the crazy (yet rewarding) experiences in life. But I think this happened around the time we realized that we could make financial independence a reality without the need to move to Panama to lower our cost of living.

Even though we didn’t need to move to Panama… why the heck not?! It would be an amazing experience for all of us and we could afford a better standard of living as a bonus.

So we let the adventure planning begin. How hard could it be? Sell our stuff and go, right?

Haha, yeah. If only it were that easy.

I even wrote a post titled exactly that: We Thought We Could Just Pack Up and Go…

Adventure Planning - Moving to Panama in 2019
At Austin airport getting ready to fly to (and move to!) Panama in 2019

As this planning endeavor started to get more involved, I stumbled across Trello, which might be the ultimate gift to anyone with that list mentality as I have. You create a “board” around a subject (like moving to Panama) and then you can create different lists and cards to help you plan everything out and create a workflow. You can even add attachments as needed and share the board with others.

It’s a free service that’s really helpful but you can upgrade to a premium version if you want some of their extra features.

The free version was sufficient for my needs but holy @#$% – you should have seen how detailed and thorough this Trello board ended up. I had over 30 different lists with topics such as:

  • To do before the move
  • Packing lists
  • Places and sites that need our address changed
  • Healthcare
  • To do once in Panama
  • Shopping
  • Housing
  • Questions to ask other ex-pats

That’s just a few examples. Then within each list, there were generally a dozen tasks or sometimes quite a bit more. It was insane, but there truly were a ton of things that needed to be addressed to make this move successful.

There are a lot of little things that you might not think of right off the rip but need to be done. For example, stopping your cell phone service in the U.S. and establishing service abroad is one. It’s not anything crazy but it does need to be done and could be glossed over in your adventure planning if you’re not careful.

Then think about the time involved in each task. Yes, some might only take 10 minutes to do, but others might take weeks or months. How about selling a home? Think of the effort involved in doing that. Or selling so many of your things? Or even the actual move? These things can be mentally draining with how involved and time-consuming they can be.

Obviously, we got through it though. And the reward for this adventure planning was that we spent about 3 amazing years in Panama. It was well worth the time and effort but I would bet if we had envisioned all the details that would need to be done before we jumped into this, it never would have happened.

Life’s funny like that. So glad we went through this but that’s the last time I’ll ever be stupid enough not to realize what needs to be done for a big adventure… um, right?

Fool me once? Nope, we absolutely did it again!

Yeah, I’m an idiot.

When we decided to buy an RV travel trailer and slow travel for about 9 months starting in another month or so, I thought, “Yeah, cool – easy peasy. We let the lease lapse on our apartment, move most of our stuff into storage, buy an RV travel trailer, and then just let the fun begin.”

Yeah, right.

Adventure Planning - 2022 Jayco Jay Flight SLX 7 trailer
This is still the only decent pic I’ve taken of “Jake” until we get ‘er out for a test run.

Our adventure planning and our naivety forgot to include just how much work the prep would be. I already discussed in my reveal of these plans that we ended up also needing to buy a different towing vehicle. That alone was a lot more unanticipated time (and, of course, more money!).

Here’s some of what we’ve been working on recently:

  • We had to find a place to store the RV for now since we’re living in an apartment complex.
  • We had to find a storage unit for our stuff.
  • We’ve been working on packing and moving what we can for now to the storage unit slowly but surely before our big furniture move day.
  • That, of course, means that I had to reserve a U-Haul.
  • Shopping. The amount of stuff we wanted for our trip so we could do it the way we want is just stupid. Between solar, generators, a lithium battery, a composting toilet, and probably 75-100 other things. It’s so much time and effort to research and understand what’s important and what’s not and then find a good deal that it’s making my head spin. I’ll talk more about everything we got and why in a future post.
  • I’ve been making modifications to the RV:
    • Ripping out the toilet and installing a composting toilet and plumbing the urine diversion (more on that one in another post soon) has been a project out of my wheelhouse (but it’s almost done!).
    • Replacing the lead acid battery with a lithium battery… which now means replacing the converter that doesn’t support that
  • We’re working on getting my mother-in-law’s house ready for us to move into the basement for the next month or so before we leave.
  • We have to change our address to use my mother-in-law’s house until next summer.
  • I had to give notice to our apartment complex that we’ll be leaving.
  • We had to find, research, and make reservations at a couple of nearby RV parks for October for our test run so we can figure everything out and learn of any problems with the trailer.
  • Spending time researching – places to go, boondocking tips, and just learning everything we can.

This has all been just over the past few weeks and we’ve still got a lot of work ahead of us.

It appears our high-level adventure planning plan shouldn’t have been taken to heart as all that we’d need to do! 🙂

Just like our move to Panama, I know this will be another incredible experience and I’m glad we’re doing it. But boy, oh, boy, I can’t wait until we’re at the part where we’re actually onto the trip and past all this prep work!

And that, my friends, should help explain what I’ve been up to lately.

Adventure planning is just half the battle – the hard part is putting the plan in motion! The funny thing is that once we get done with this trip next summer, we’re going to have to do something similar again to reverse the process. We don’t know exactly where we’ll be living, but the plan is to sell the Jayco RV trailer and the Ford Expedition along with most of the RV “toys” that we’ve been buying. Then we’ll need to move into a place and move everything out of storage.

Ugh, I don’t even want to think about that! I guess that’s the penalty for living out some extraordinary dreams!

To read about our whole RV adventure, here are the related posts from start to finish…

Plan well, take action, and live your best life!

Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

You know you wanna share this!!

8 thoughts on “Adventure Planning: I’ve Made This Mistake Twice”

  1. Thanks for the update Jim. I’ve faced similar struggles and your idea of using Trello was cool. One observation that I’ve picked up is that you can get some of your “to-do” list done while on your adventure, especially RV travel. Intentional “admin days” at the RV park, flexibility on where to stay, space for tools & technology, etc. Best of luck. I can’t wait to hear about your travels.

    1. I’m with you on doing a lot of stuff while settled out someplace on the road. However, I wanted to do the composting toilet right off the rip mainly for one simple reason… our toilet and black tank have never been used. By doing this first, everything’s clean – taking out the old toilet, the base, the bathroom itself, and the black tank. This made it a little nice to work with and it keeps it from any #2’s ever tainting the tanks. 🙂

      I supposed changing out the battery and the converter could have waited but switching to lithium is what will allow us to boondock a little longer to begin with.

      I’m toast though and will be figuring everything else out on the road! 🙂

  2. Wow Jim – solar, lithium, generators and a composting toilet that’s pretty ambitious! Hopefully that allows you to do some serious boondocking and save money. Bought a travel trailer in May and pulled it from Ohio to Nevada visiting some national parks along the way without any of the mods you guys are doing. RV sites were between $20 and $110 a night depending on locale and available hookups. Mostly around $40-60 a night. Of course gas was $100+ a day when pulling trailer. Ouch! Great adventure though and hope you guys really enjoy it. Would enjoy seeing your cost breakdown and boondocking savings.

    1. It does sound like a lot of stuff but, you’re right – I’m hoping this will save some $$$ over our trip. Plus we’ll be able to boondock for longer period of time. I will say that I’ve been able to score some major deals on a lot of the stuff we got. I’m tracking our costs so I’ll try to put something good together once we wrap up.

      Wow, that’s not too bad on the RV park prices – I’ve been hearing that prices were a lot higher so nice job on finding those! Yeah, gas is the killer, right? I’m sure it was worth it though – that sounds like a great trip!!

  3. Jim, this post is really relatable and im glad im not the only one who feels this way. We have been traveling south america bouncing from country to country every 60-90 days. The sheer amount of planning for each move is exhausting a lot of the times. The honeymoon phase ends pretty quick but then there are moments of joy that seem to make all the planning worth it. We just recently visited Fantisalandia park in Santiago Chile and the girls had a blast, the first time they ran to something skipping in joy. My wife and I glanced at each other didnt say word but later both of shared that we were thinking the same thing, “this is why we put in all the work” hahhahaha. Enjoy the continued adventure. Next year we plan on working remotely in the US, hoping our paths cross and we have the opportunity to meet your family

  4. That’s a lot of work! I barely keep up with my todo list already. I don’t think I’m ready for a big adventure like this. That’s one thing Mrs. RB40 has right. She wants to have an HQ where we can come back to. Just go travel and leave everything else at home. Her dad has a nice property in CA. Maybe we can convert the horse barn into a tiny home. That way we can travel without having to worry so much.

    1. Mrs. RB40 is onto something for sure! It’s a pain in the butt moving everything. For us, we probably couldn’t afford to continue paying rent at one place and then doing these adventures as well. She’s got it right though – that would be cool to have a home base like that and then travel at your leisure!

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