Cutting cords

In preparation for this trip, we’ve had to face how much time we spend focused on our screens: news, texting, email, spreadsheets, movies, e-commerce, travel booking, research, GPS-ing…….iPad WEB.jpeg

Shocking, really. And embarrassing.

We’re been in Cloud-assisted business for years — long before people called it that — for the simple reason that it was cheaper for our startup to adopt the technologies than act like a traditional business, with phone systems (we used Google Voice instead), a fax line (MyFax), and people driving to a central location (hosted QuickBooks company files, mobile banking, etc).

But by untethering from a fixed location, we’re changing our relationship with the Inter-world. No more Amazon Prime. Very little Netflix or Spotify (too data-intensive for our cell phone-based Internet access). No push-and-fetch in the background 27/7.

And frankly, it’s much harder than anticipated.

Stress builds as calls drop due to spotty cell service; business texts and e-mails get delayed. Small glitches become bigger problems than they need to be.

We thought we were ready, but we’re still a few steps removed from ‘going dark,’ as another business owner put it. We were chatting beside his family’s camper in a primitive campground, our kids playing together on the shore. They’d spent a year planning their 6-week disconnectivity and had an envious ease to show for it.

But, we learn as we go. Each business/family/trip is unique; no ideals for simpler living are universal. Here’s to pressing limits.

Cold (Snap!)


Possibly the most memorable thing about our departure isn’t the weather we’re leaving — predictably cold winter temps, here in the depths of Midwestern winter.

No, the detail we’ll remember is that we’re all sick with head colds and hoping not to develop anything worse — which makes it perhaps timely to spell out what we’re anticipating for medical care on this trip.

To begin, we read advisories for vaccinations and skimmed other travelers’ recommendations:

Eliza, who was born in 2008 extremely prematurely (1lb 13oz — more on that at was thrilled not to need any additional shots. Ryan, who traveled to Africa in college, didn’t need much either. I got a Hep A/B series to supplement my childhood vaccines, and we all took an oral typhoid series.

We have a beefy first aid kit that’s heavy on over-the-counter pain meds, digestive aids, ways to clean wounds (iodine, rubbing alcohol) and Band-Aids (have kids? you get me). We’re also fairly confident we can find urgent care if we need it — most of Central America has first-class private health care at prices that reflect the services you’re actually buying. (Friends in Panama tell us they go to different hospitals, insurance or no, depending on the services they need.)

Yes, we have coverage in the States, though with a shockingly high deductible. Example: Eliza broke her leg in January 2015, for which we paid out of pocket, and even with a baseline mammogram and every other routine maintenance we could think of, we didn’t meet deductible by year’s end.

In fact, having carried evacuation insurance for scuba diving in the past, I’m now convinced that covering the cost of transport back to the States might be offset by the cost of care once we got there.

In conclusion, we expect to buy care if we need it and are budgeting accordingly.