Planning a trip can be overwhelming – especially a long-term one. Putting everything together before your departure can consume tons of time and energy and create unnecessary stress.
I know this because I’ve gone through it a million times for both myself and others that I’ve helped along the way. And, even though I really enjoy the process, it’s always helpful to have a list handy.
Here’s a useful list of tips that I’ve put together to take you through the most essential steps:
1. Get your passport ready. Keep in mind that a lot of countries require that your passport have at least 6 months of validity remaining – so plan in advance and renew your passport if necessary.
2. Research the countries that you’re planning to visit and get a visa if it’s required.
3. Make several copies of your important documents, such as your passport and visas, and put the copies in different bags. Another great option is to scan your documents and save them to cloud-based storage (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.), so that you have access to them from any device.
4.Find the best international flight deals. In my experience, you will find the best prices 2-4 months before your trip. Keep an eye on the prices and when you find a great deal, don't think about it twice. My favorite tool for this is Google Flights.
5. Consult your doctor about any possible vaccinations you may need for the particular region you’re visiting. (We will be describing the process of getting vaccinations while abroad in a future post. Stay tuned!)
6. Buy international travel insurance. Take care of yourself and your personal belongings with good travel insurance; unexpected events can cost you thousand of dollars. We’ve chosen World Nomads as our travel insurance based on research, specifically the “Explorer” coverage.
7. If you’re planning on driving at your destination, look into getting an International Driving Permit, as the countries you’re visiting may not accept your local driving permit. It’s inexpensive and easy to obtain.
8. Buy a couple of international plug adaptors. Research what outlets the country you’re visiting uses and purchase accordingly.
9. Choose the best bank to manage your money while abroad. For example, Charles Schwab offers a debit card that will refund all international ATM fees. Also, make sure to choose the best credit cards for traveling!
10. Bring a small guidebook: Lonely Planet has fabulous travel guides. You will find ideas of where to go, sleep, or eat, as well as particular details of your destination, like local schedules, currency, and climate.
11. Pack light. Carrying several heavy bags can literally be the most uncomfortable part of a trip. Choose versatile clothes and try best not to pack extra. To keep your luggage compact, use cube organizers to create more space.
If you’re traveling long-term, take a look at these too!
Get your annual checkup before leaving. All blood tests, dentist visits, specialists, etc.
Consider what you want to do with your house or apartment. If you’re renting, let your landlord know with enough time that you are leaving. If you own your house, you could: rent it, sell it, or leave a family member or friend in charge of it.
Redirect your mail to a P.O. Box or family member’s address. Also, try to “go paperless” with correspondence as often as possible to minimize what you’ll be receiving while away.
Cancel or change your mobile plan and opt for a local/regional SIM card instead. Another option is to change your current mobile plan to an international one (this may be more expensive!).
Terminate all services not in use while abroad: electricity, television and Internet, property/car insurance, etc.
Sell or donate everything you won’t be needing anymore: cars, clothes, furniture, electronics, and so forth.
Lastly – and most importantly – get together with your friends and family and celebrate your last days at home!