Remote Year Prep: How To Organize Your Life

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Remote Year Prep: Organize Your Life | Barbara Cameron | Food & Travel Photographer

Preparing to be a food and travel photographer on the road for a full year requires a lot of organization. The details to consider and take care of are endless and sometimes surprising. Here’s a journal and timeline I kept while going through the process!

Instead of trying to make your life perfect, give yourself the freedom to make it an adventure, and go ever upward.

Drew Houston

During the final days of preparation for Remote Year, I thought I’d publish a (condensed) journal of my timeline and progress as a way to document my journey and also help shed some light on the process for those who are interested! Here’s how it all unfolded:

April 6th, 2018

In early February I had made the decision to join Remote Year, with my daughter, and now the initial deposits were due to be paid. Gulp! This is it! This is a commitment now! And the exchange rate to US funds is not in my favour right now. I hope it moves in a better direction.

April 13th, 2018

Time to start minimizing our belongings! First batch of “stuff” was dropped off at the local second hand store. I felt exhilarated! Little steps forward to the big leap!

I also began arranging my car lease buy-back so I can save about $800/month during my pre-mote time! Fast forward: here’s a full blog post on how that went.

April 23rd, 2018

I began purging all my office/business paperwork. It was hard! I am old-school, so I have boxes and boxes of paper files and records. “What to keep and why?”, “what if I need this document?”, and so on… And learning how to do my daily business fully digitally without paper proved to be a surprisingly tough challenge.

A lot of loneliness and doubt consumed my mind today. After all, I was leaving behind all that I know, all of my comfort, all of my friends & family, all of my past accomplishments. Was I certain this was the right path?

April 24th, 2018

The next day I felt more clear-headed. I accepted confusion as part of the big leap into the unknown!

But…my sister reminded me that she celebrates her 60th birthday this year. Do I change my mind about my potential departure date? What about all the other special events that take place in a year?

May 8th, 2018

We picked our itinerary! Remote Year Curie, theme = tenacity and passion, departure date September 30th, 2018! Look at this itinerary!

Remote Year Prep: Organize Your Life | Barbara Cameron | Food & Travel Photographer

#RYCurie itinerary map, created by RY Curie Remote Alex Habiby

I woke up in the middle of the night with a huge sense of panic. A full-body feeling took over and I felt like I could explode. My mind was reeling with all the details. Only four months left to prepare!

May 26th, 2018

Making little memory movies in my mind so that when I’m lonely on Remote Year, I can conjure up a comforting memory…. Anyone else do this when you’re about to take off on a solo trip?

May 31st, 2018

The Remote Year onboarding team conducts a whole bunch of webinars while we are a pre-mote. I attended the webinar on how to pack… Pack a chef’s knife? Really?! Maybe so! And spices, ziplock bags, collapsible tupperware, etc. I began to realize how challenging it’s going to be staying in a potentially not-well-stocked kitchen every month!

Remote Year Prep: Organize Your Life | Barbara Cameron | Food & Travel Photographer

Just a few supplies I am packing to stock my kitchens while travelling with Remote Year Curie.

May 31st also marks the day I officially launched as a food & travel photographer! Got great traction and engagement already! This is really happening…

June 8th, 2018

Yesterday I packed up all of my photography studio gear because I sold it, and as I was putting things in boxes, I revisited the feelings of excitement and anticipation I had felt 7 years ago when I first unpacked those boxes, when I took a leap back then. I realized how far I’ve come, how much I’ve learned, and how this next leap is in perfect timing.

Also, travel clinic consultation took place today. GAACK!!! That’s a lot of shots, and a lot of money!

June 19th, 2018

My daughter, Zoe, chose a distance learning option from BCIT to give her a purpose to her days on Remote Year. The RESP forms were submitted today so cash will come soon!

Having bad dreams lately. Must be fearful?

June 20th, 2018

Today my mind was absolutely scattered. Woke up at 4:10 am and had no way of getting back to sleep. Instead did some cleaning and purging for hours. Felt great to take another load of “stuff” to the second hand store!

Vaccinations started today, it’s feeling all so official!

July 4th, 2018

Canadians don’t have as many options as our US-counterparts when it comes to financial services. Case in point: when travelling for a year it’s smart to get a credit card that offers no foreign transaction fees. Who wants to spend 2.5% more (on top of the exchange rate) on every purchase for a year! Not me! In the States there are several credit cards like that, but in Canada? Looks like only 1 or 2 options.

So I chose to apply for the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card. And you’d think I was asking for a million bucks!

Today I began applying for credit histories because the bank algorithms don’t like my entrepreneurial lifestyle. Super annoying and time consuming! But, it’s got to get done. I really need that credit card!

Sold my baby grand piano today, which was bittersweet. But it’s going to be used for special events in Surrey’s Central City Mall, especially Christmas concerts with kids. So my heart is happy.

Remote Year Prep: Organize Your Life | Barbara Cameron | Food & Travel Photographer

Expert piano movers make swift work of getting the digital baby grand down the steps

July 10th, 2018

This marks the day I began my “digital will”, ie: setting up all my important documents and passwords in a digital vault. Also spent some time setting up trusted contacts to give them access to online accounts.

Picked up my new MacBook Air laptop, set it up* and did some online shopping for some travel accessories, including a portable laptop stand so I don’t get a sore neck hunched over that little screen for a year. Oh, the life of a digital nomad!

*Those 3 words don’t go near enough to explain how many hours it took me to get all of my digital workflow transferred over to the new computer. We take for granted all the software, apps, and shortcuts we create over time to move through our days efficiently. And especially as a photographer, the security of those photos is paramount! Took me hours and hours and hours over many days to get everything set up the way I wanted it. 

July 13, 2018

Friday the 13th and I’ve secured a digital marketing contract! Now I will rest easy knowing I can pay for my adventure!

I’m so very grateful for manifesting the cash flow. Took the leap without really knowing how I would pay for it all. But thanks to my daily practice of “Thinking Into Results” facilitated by Angie Tumlinson, I just believed in it so strongly that I knew it would all work out. And it did!

July 20th, 2018

Old camera gear sold! (Which only translates to NEW camera gear!)

Aug 4th, 2018

Took down my two precious vision boards. Very emotional and bittersweet. Felt sad to dismantle them but excited to forge new paths.

Aug 13th, 2018

Back in February when I chose to join Remote Year, the biggest single decision to make was… “what to do with my house?” Sell? Rent? The real estate market was hot in February and it was tempting to sell so I could grab the money and run. But where would I go, in the short and long-term? After much thought, discussion* and hand-wringing, I decided to rent.

Today I signed a one-year lease for my townhome, and know that it will be here when we return in Sept 2019!

*Thanks to the friends who supported me through the hours of discussion. You know who you are! 🙂

Aug 14th-16th, 2018

Travelled to Calgary for a quick business trip and to say good-bye to my family and friends at a couple of parties and a luncheon. Wow, it’s hard to go through the emotions of the good-byes! It’s definitely bittersweet… feeling the excitement shared by everyone, yet knowing I won’t physically see these special people for well over a year.

Many people have told me I’m brave to do what I’m doing. As I write this, feeling overwhelmed and scared, I’m not so sure about that. But one person I saw while in Calgary was Mrs. Barbour. And if there is any truth to the bravery concept, I attribute a lot of that character-building to her.

You see, Mrs. Barbour was my brownie and guide leader. And she taught me and many other young impressionable girls how to do things like pitch a tent, hike, light a campfire beside the river and cook the food I made that morning, go winter camping and snowshoe with wild abandon, and so much more. Mrs. Barbour’s belief in my abilities, at age six, was so real that I developed the confidence early on to “just do it”. She’s in her 90s now, still living at home, and I am so very grateful to continue to be inspired by her.

Remote Year Prep: Organize Your Life | Barbara Cameron | Food & Travel Photographer

Mrs. Barbour, my brownie leader, who taught me to be brave at age 6 and who continues to inspire me today

Aug 19th, 2018

Focused on telephone planning today. Need to get this dialed in! (pun intended) My phone number is published online in so many places that I can’t suspend it. But we will get a new SIM card in every country which means a different phone number. What to do?

After much research and deliberation, I decided to keep my number and port it to Tossable Digits. I can forward phone calls to my monthly SIM number or to voicemail. Texting won’t work like it does at home, but I can use WhatsApp for texting. And Zoom or Skype for video calling. Fingers crossed it all works out!

Aug 29th, 2018

Finished all my vaccinations and finalized travel insurance for both Zoe and myself. Wow, now that was a ton of money! But all worth the peace of mind.

Sept 8th, 2018

Got rid of tons more “stuff”, thanks to all my friends who joined me for an open house! One person’s treasure…

Remote Year Prep: Organize Your Life | Barbara Cameron | Food & Travel Photographer

Just a small sample of “stuff” ready to giveaway at the open house

Remote Year Prep: Organize Your Life | Barbara Cameron | Food & Travel Photographer

Only 4 boxes of “stuff” left after the open house!

Sept 10th, 2018

Scotiabank finally approved my new credit card! What an amazingly frustrating process. It took all of four months, but it’s done! And there is a perk I didn’t know I got… airport lounge access everywhere! Now that is worth its weight in gold.

Also took final boxes of “stuff” to the second hand store today. House is completely clear! Felt great.

We didn’t get rid of everything, because I’m renting the house furnished and we definitely kept some things for safekeeping (thanks Shelley!). But the process of minimizing took way longer than expected and surprised me at the volume of stuff we had accumulated in only 8 years. The house almost echoes now. And I feel free!

Sept 11th, 2018

Two from weeks today we get on a plane headed for London, England! Although the official journey starts in Lisbon, Portugal on Sept 30th, we are spending four days in London prior so that we can acclimatize before we meet our Remote Year family.

Sept 21st, 2018

Feeling calm and centered today. Still woke up super-early, but it’s the final “action list” day and I’m bound and determined to check everything off! Ultimate goal is to shut down my home office… it’s where I’ve spent most of my creative time over the past 20 years!

I’m realizing that this leap is even bigger than I thought. And I know, like I know, like I know that it’s exactly what I’m supposed to do.

Looking forward to a full weekend of fun! Celebrating with my friends, and probably shedding a few bittersweet tears.

Let’s summarize…

House? Car? Computer? Computer accessories? Digital file backup? Photo gear? Luggage? Telephone? Finances? Digital will? Travel Insurance? House Rental Insurance? Vaccinations? International Drivers License? Mail redirection? Hydro & cable/internet accounts? Property tax? Friends & family? Plus many, many more details too numerous to list. It’s almost all done. When we get on that airplane on Sept 25th, I hope all the details leave my brain and allow me to just do it!

For those of you who have already done Remote Year or are also in preparation for it, how does your timeline look? I’d love to see how similar/different they are!


Any questions about preparing to be a digital nomad?

Drop me a message in the comments below!

Are you also preparing for Remote Year and feeling the stress?

Check out this blog: How I Used Hiking To Relieve The Stress


  1. Denise Decloux

    Love this Barb! Reminds me of my prep for my year in France….so much to do, so little time, so worth it. Looking forward to journeying with you!

    • Barbara Cameron

      Thanks Denise! Yes there is so much to do… and so worth it, even in the first week so far!


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