For most of us, jetting off on a long term trip isn’t as easy as packing a backpack and locking the front door on the way out. Here is a quick guide to preparing for long term travel, which will hopefully make life on the road and your return home a bit easier.
1. Commit yourself
Long term travel isn’t for everyone, and it can be easy to get spooked and want to back out of a trip. This is because travelling for a long time isn’t always easy. In fact, you are going to have quite a few crap days on the road. You will pine for some home comforts (for me, this is usually peanut butter and Milo). Everyone misses their family and friends. You will most likely get sick, become lost or get ripped off during your travels – perhaps more than once. But the bad days are always outweighed by the good, and it will be a life-changing experience that you will never forget. Make sure you are committed to a leave date, and don’t let anyone talk you out of it!
2. Start saving
Saving is probably the hardest part of deciding to travel. You will have to sacrifice a few luxuries – big nights on the town, eating out, concerts, new clothes and new gadgets. But how much you need to save depends on where you plan to travel and what you plan to do. It may not take as long to save for your trip as you might think.
We have chosen not to work during our travels, and we move around relatively quickly, so we have had to save more than others. If you are working, house-sitting or volunteering while travelling, or if you have your own tent and cooking gear, you will be able to travel on a much smaller budget.
But you should always have some extra money in the bank for emergencies, and to cover your expenses when you get home. That first pay cheque never comes as quickly as you think it will! Managing your travel budget so you can afford a few hiccups on the road and living expenses when you return home will seriously reduce your stress levels.
3. Talk to your employer & clients
If your heart is set on long term travel, give your employer as much notice as possible about your plans. Whether you are asking for a sabbatical or resigning, do not burn your bridges. Break the news to work colleagues and clients promptly once you have a confirmed departure date. You don’t want them feeling left out of the loop.
4. Set a departure date
The first step to any long term travel is to set a departure date and stick to it. We have found the easiest way to do this is to tell others about your plans (so they can hold you to account!) and book your flights. No chickening out at the last minute!
5. Start downsizing
We somehow acquired tonnes of useless crap when we were living in Melbourne, even though we were in a small apartment. The more stuff you have when you leave, the more you will have to pay to move it and store it. Start culling your stuff early. Websites like Gumtree or Craigslist are a godsend. Less is more!
6. Start pre-trip chores early
There is plenty of boring admin to do before you leave. Here are a few of the main items for your ‘to do’ list:
- buying flights
- buying travel insurance
- getting travel vaccinations
- setting up your travel bank accounts
- applying for visas
- arranging new passports (if necessary)
- cancelling utilities and subscriptions
- making pet sitting arrangements
- breaking your lease and finding new tenants
- buying travel gear
- packing up your belongings
- organising removalists and storage
- selling furniture and clothes
It feels like it will never end! Write a list and get started early.
7. Schedule ‘goodbye’ time
Once you finish work, put aside at least one week to spend time with family and friends before you leave. You will be surprised how quickly this week passes, and it’s a great chance to say ‘proper’ goodbyes. It also gives you a chance to do any last admin/prep before you leave.