The prospect of travelling long-term can be both hugely exciting and completely overwhelming. If travelling for six months, a year or even longer is something you’ve always wanted to do but have had no idea where to even begin, look no further! This comprehensive checklist is all you need to plan and organise your adventure. From the moment you make the decision you want to travel long-term right up until you board your plane, this ultimate to-do list has got you covered.
> Decide why you are taking this trip
Asking yourself what the purpose of your trip is will help you to shape the experience. Do you want to volunteer abroad? Is travelling sustainably your top priority? Do you want to move to a single place, work and become an expat? Are you interested in a particular culture or region?
One of the most exciting stages of planning for long-term travel is researching the destinations you want to travel to. Read guidebooks, blogs and scour Instagram for inspiration. Whilst you don’t have to plan everything, you need to start forming a ‘must-do’ list.
Based on the length of your trip and the type of experience you want to have, it’s now time to estimate the total trip cost. Take into account flights, transport, accommodation, food, tours and sightseeing. Doing this early will help you to save for your trip.
Based on the total estimated cost of your trip, create a monthly budget based on how much you need to save. Start to cut out unnecessary spending and keep track of all of your expenses.
In the year leading up to your departure date, you want to save as much money as possible. Taking on an extra job is a great way to add to your travel fund. Read this post for some other great tips on saving for travel.
It’s time to take stock and evaluate your savings. Are you ready to set a departure date? If you have been finding it difficult to stick to your budget, it might be a good idea to delay your departure. If you’re doing well, it’s time to set the date!
Visit your doctor as early as possible to discuss your travel plans and seek advice as to which immunizations you need. It’s important to do this early as some shots are done in a series and you may need at least six months between them.
If you don’t have a passport, it’s time to apply for one. If you already have one, now is a good time to ensure that there is enough validity on it to last the entirety of your trip and that you have enough room left for all those new stamps you’ll be collecting.
Look at your itinerary and research all the different flight possibilities for your trip. If you’re flexible, you might be able to save quite a lot of money. Play around with the airports you’ll fly into and out of, your travel dates as well as the airline. Read this post for some more tips on booking flights.
Once you’ve booked your flights, it’s time to set a more specific itinerary built around the ‘must-do’ items on your travel list. Think about which experiences you’ll do first and which route you’ll take to get to the next ones.
In the months leading up to your departure, book appointments with your dentist, optometrist, gynecologist any other health professional you need to see. Fill all of your prescriptions and obtain letters for any medication you’ll be taking with you.
Take the time to research whether any visas are required for any of the countries you’ll be travelling to. You want to avoid situations like this one!
If your flat is under lease, give as much notice to your Real Estate Agent about the date you intend to move out. If you break the lease, there may be some financial repercussions, but the earlier you make your intentions clear, the easier it will be.
Selling some of your unwanted belongings will not only help you save a little bit extra for your trip, but it also means you have less stuff to move or store! Win win.
It’s time to start thinking about scheduling the cancellation of contracts such as your mobile phone or your gym membership. Remember that you always need to give a certain period of notice, so to minimise hefty cancellation costs, the more notice you give the better.
If you’ve been living in your own apartment, you’ll need to re-direct your mail while you’re travelling. Giving your parents’ mail address is one of the best options. That way, they can open, scan and email you any important letters that arrive by post that you should know about while you’re away.
Depending on where you are travelling to and the kinds of activities you will be doing, it’s important to plan in advance to bring the necessary gear. Of course you will be able to buy a lot of items whilst on the road, but you should at least pack the basics. Go shopping and be on the lookout for sales.
It’s time to think about how you’ll be managing your finances overseas. One of the best options is a Travel Money Card which enables you to preload it with a foreign currency and connect it to your internet banking. Talk to your bank to discuss options.
Travel insurance is one of the most important things to remember when planning any kind of travel. Things can and do go wrong and if you are not insured sufficiently, it could ruin your trip. If you’re going to be taking part in adventure activities, make sure that you specify this on your insurance policy.
You need to make a decision about how you’re going to approach your employer about your travel plans. This can be tricky. If you want to keep your job, you might ask for an unpaid leave of absence. If you don’t want to keep your job, you’ll need to resign. Make sure you give the required number of weeks notice, be professional and don’t burn any bridges!
If your bank detects foreign transactions, they may freeze your account as a security measure. This is far from ideal when you need to access your money overseas! To avoid the hassle, inform them of your travel plans before you leave so that they won’t see your foreign transactions as unauthorised.
Scan your passport, visa, driver’s licence and any other important documents. Keep a copy at home with someone you trust and take a copy with you and store in a separate location to the original. If you happen to lose your original documents, the scanned copies will make your life a whole lot easier when trying to sort out replacements.
It’s time to get organised. If you are moving out of your flat, you need to arrange the storage of your belongings. While your parents might be happy to look after your clothes and other small items, your furniture will probably need to be stored in a storage facility.
Packing for long-term travel can be very overwhelming. Get everything out of your head and onto paper by creating a packing list. Carry it around with you wherever you go so that when you think of extra things you need, you can easily add it on the go.
Allocate one room as your ‘packing room’ and begin laying out everything you need to pack on the floor. Seeing it visually in front of you helps prompt you to remember any items that are missing. It also helps you decide whether or not you’re actually going to fit everything into your suitcase!
With only a week left until departure, it’s time to pack. Start early, remain organised and it won’t be stressful. Read up on some packing tips here.
It’s always a good idea to have some local currency already in your purse when you touch down. Exchanging money at the airport will always give you a terrible exchange rate. Be organised and order a small amount of foreign currency from your bank before you leave.
Throw a big farewell party to say your goodbyes to family and friends. Seeing lots of people at the same time means that the rest of your week will be freed up to concentrate on last-minute details.
You’re probably not going to have a home-cooked meal for a while, so use this last week to request all of your favourite, comforting meals that you’re going to miss when you’re gone.
By this stage you will be anxious enough already without the added stress of running late. Get yourself to the airport nice and early to avoid rushing through check-in, immigration and security. Enjoy a healthy, hydrating juice while you wait for your flight.
The moment has finally arrived! Board your plane and get set for your huge adventure!
Over to you: have you travelled long-term? What are your tips for getting organised before the big departure date?