In November 2020 we started the practical preparations for our trip. It concerned insurance, pension, cancellation of contracts, selling or giving away things, finding a tenant and of course, booking the airline tickets.
Starting with tickets – we actually wanted to take the Trans-Siberian Railway from Berlin via Moscow, through Russia and via China with Singapore as the final destination. From Southeast Asia, it is a relatively short flight to Australia. Due to the pandemic, we could forget about it. Travelling by train takes more time and this kind of journey is also more expensive than a regular airline ticket. But instead, you get the time that can be used to relax and experience the actual from a-to-b differently. Something else is that we wanted to reduce our CO2 footprint, which we apparently did not manage this time. There are plenty of online tips on how to do so but doing it is a different story. However, I have had the CO2 emissions of our 15,000 km journey, which means more than 9 tons of C02 for two people…, compensated via atmosfair gGmbH. This is an independent German non-profit organization that, among other things, offers compensation for greenhouse gas emissions. More on this later.
All in all, we thought we would do well (and usually you do) to fly to Sydney, the capital of the state of New South Wales. It is the most populous region in Australia and Oceania. We know the city and some of its ‘Sydneysiders’ (resident of Sydney) and from here, after the mandatory hotel quarantine, we could start our journey.
In January, however, the media reported, that Australia’s six states regularly closed their own borders to keep the virus out. Given the developments, we had no idea how long New South Wales would close its own. To avoid feeling ‘trapped’, in an area of 800,000 km2 (more than twice the size of Germany), we thought to change the tickets to Perth in Western Australia. This was indeed possible for an exorbitant price, due to the limited places (COVID-19 situation), so we continued with plan A.
With two months to go before departure, we had plenty of time for administrative matters and other less exciting activities. We passed all current affairs, such as contracts, insurance, taxes, memberships, stuff from the basement and mortgage through our hands. Even our will. As a lawyer, my wife is naturally risk-averse. After all, anything can happen on a visit to the Outback.
In order to give our tax affairs more structure, in case we are difficult to reach for months and want to avoid reminders in the letterbox, we had planned a Zoom call with the new tax advisor. The call went without any loss of sound or noise, and the lady seemed friendly and professional to us. We received answers to questions about the rental of the apartment, the organization of our tax returns, etc., since we would no longer live in Germany.