The Ultimate Checklist for Planning to Travel Long-Term
So you’ve made the leap! You’ve decided to quit your everyday life and are planning to travel long-term. Exciting right? However, between deciding which exciting destinations you want to go to and thinking of everything you need to sort before your grand departure, you can end up feeling a little overwhelmed. So, to make life a little easier, here’s my ultimate checklist of things you need to do if you’re planning to travel long-term.
Table of Contents
1. Book your first flight
It’s best to book your initial flight as soon as you’ve decided where you’ll be jetting off to first. That way you are making your travel intentions to actual travel plans (no turning back now!) and you’ll also be able to lock down cheaper fares. I booked through STA travel who do a youth fare for 18 – 31 year olds at really competitive prices. With this fare, I paid half the price for my long haul flight from London to Bangkok than I would’ve done booking direct.
2. Get your travel insurance sorted
Once you’ve booked your flight the next important step you need to take when planning to travel long-term is to buy travel insurance! In my eyes doing any kind of travelling, never mind long-term, without insurance is just plain stupid. Even if your trip doesn’t start for a few months, by buying insurance straight away you’ll be covered for things like trip cancellation too. I decided to go with World Nomads. Although more expensive, they cover more activities than most and you can extend your policy and claim whilst travelling which were essential for me!
3. Book your accommodation for the first few nights
Depending on the type of traveller you are, you may want to leave it at this. But booking at least your first couple of nights’ accommodation will ensure your arrival is smooth and stress free. Plus it’s not uncommon for immigration officers to ask you where you are planning to stay, so it’s always best to have an address to hand. My favourite websites to book accommodation with are Booking.com, Hostelworld and Hostelbookers.
4. Check visa requirements in the countries you’re visiting
Of course, visa requirements vary depending on what passport you hold. So it’s best to check rules of entry on your own government’s travel advice website. In a lot of countries, particularly in South East Asia, most nationalities can get a tourist visa on arrival. However it’s still important to check beforehand so you know any costs involved, the length of time you can stay and any additional requirements needed like proof of an onward flight.
5. Quit your job
Well obviously I hear you say. But there are good and bad ways of quitting your job to travel long-term. Consider giving more notice than stated in your contract to make the transition easier, and no matter how you feel about your job, always end on good terms. As I still really enjoyed my job, I decided to do the former and the latter was a given anyway. I also got some freelance work out of it too which was a nice unexpected bonus.
6. Get your travel vaccinations
When planning to travel long-term, it’s essential to book an appointment at the doctors to discuss what vaccinations you might need for your trip. To be on the safe side, go at least 1 month before you leave, as some vaccinations have to be given over a 21 day period. Don’t forget to sort out other medicines you may need too, such as malaria tablets, as they might not be readily available when you’re travelling around.
7. Go to the dentist
The last thing you want is to let tooth pain ruin your time on the road. So make sure to go to the dentist for a check-up before you leave. Remember dental care may be inferior in the countries you’re visiting and you’ll be spending your travel funds on something you could have sorted before you left.
8. Set up your overseas spending
When you use your current bank card abroad, you’re probably hit with various foreign exchange and bank fees each time you spend. And whilst this might be okay for a short holiday, when you start to do this long term, those fees will start to add up significantly. That’s why it’s important to look into alternative ways to manage your money that are targeted specifically for travellers. There are plenty of credit cards and prepaid travel cards out there that don’t charge you (or charge you substantially less) for things like foreign transactions and cash withdrawals. Transferwise and Monzo (UK only) are both great options for travellers who want to spend less on fees and more on cocktails at the beach.
9. To keep or not to keep
It might seem like a mammoth task, but sorting out your personal belongings doesn’t need to be hard. Split your stuff into 3 simple groups: what to keep (and where you’re going to keep it), what to sell and what to get rid of. Just remember, you’re about to go off on an adventure with just a bag on your back, so this is a great opportunity to embrace the minimal lifestyle and let go of materialistic things. For items you don’t want to keep or sell, give them a second lease of life by donating to charity or recycling.
10. Buy your travel essentials
Not to be mistaken with everyday essentials. These are essentials that you don’t already need in your daily life but will do if you’re planning to travel long-term. Key items most travellers will need to consider are multiple plug adapters (Skyscanner has a great guide on this), portable chargers, a waterproof bag, headphone splitter (if you’re travelling as a couple) and a decent padlock for your bag. I also bought a mosquito net as I’ll be in high risk malaria zones for some of the time.
11. Cancel your direct debits
Those direct debits you have going out of your regular account each month? Sit down, review them all and cancel the ones you don’t need. Like that gym membership you never used perhaps? Also make sure there’s enough money left in your account to cover any direct debits you’re keeping so you don’t get charged for going unintentionally overdrawn.
12. Change your address
If you’re moving out of your flat or house, it’s important to change your address to that of a relative or friend to make sure no important letters go missing. With firms and companies like your bank and employer, change your address with them directly to be on the safe side. Then you can always set up a forwarding address to catch any other correspondence you may have forgotten about.
(FYI this wasn’t my address lol)
13. Tell your bank you’re going away
There’s nothing worse than trying to pay for something abroad and finding your bank has blocked your card due to supposed suspicious activity. I’ve had this happen to me before, and although the banks are just doing their jobs, it can be a stressful situation to be put in. To ensure a smooth trip, make sure to tell your bank when you’re leaving, how long you’ll be away and what countries you’re planning to visit.
14. Close down all household bill accounts
Whether its water, electric, gas, Wi-Fi or all four, when moving out of your home you’ll need to remember to settle any final household bills and close down each account. Ask companies for proof your account has been successfully closed on a certain date. That way there’s no chance you will be chased for any outstanding payments you were unaware of.
15. Get your phone unblocked
If you’re planning to travel long-term, you’ll need to consider how you’re going to keep connected whilst away. If you’re staying in each country for at least a few weeks the easiest and cheapest option is to buy a local phone sim with a data plan. This way you can call and message using WhatsApp, Facetime or Viber without needing to find a Wi-Fi connection. Make sure to get your phone is unblocked from its current network first though, or local sims won’t work with it.
16. Practice packing your bag
Let’s be honest. The first time you pack your bag, you are bound to pack: (a) too much and (b) forget at least one important thing. And it’s a bit late if you realise this once you’re on the other side of the world. That’s why it’s a good idea to do a few practice packs beforehand. You can slowly reduce what’s in it each time so you don’t end up taking more than you really need. Plus it will give you chance to remember anything you’ve forgotten.
So there you have it, your very own checklist to follow for when you’re planning to travel long-term. Tick off all of the above you’ll be well on your way to getting everything sorted for your trip. Have you travelled long-term before? If so is there anything I’ve missed off my list? Let me know in the comments.
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