How to prepare for long term travel
Preparing for long term travel isn’t easy! What should you bring and where will you go? Which travel insurance is the best and do you have to get vaccinated? Those are just a few of all the questions that could be spinning around in your head before you set off but, don’t worry – you’re not the only one wondering how to prepare for long term travel!
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It’s more than a year since I left my home in Sweden, and I’m not planning on returning anytime soon. Being a full-time backpacker is an incredible experience! When I look back on it, I’m pretty happy with the preparations and choices I made before my trip. Here are my best tips on how to prepare for long term travel:
Quit your job
If you have a job (or, like me, jobs) but are planning on travelling long term, it’s most likely time to quit! I know, it can be hard. Usually, I gave my managers a heads up months before I planned on leaving so they had plenty of time to replace me. I remember hating to quit my jobs. Not necessarily because I was going to miss it, but because I felt like I let my employers down! That’s why I always wanted to be upfront as soon as I knew I was about to leave to make sure I made everything as smooth as possible for them.
What about your home?
If you’re renting a room or apartment, the same applies here – you need to tell your landlord that you’re going to leave. Or, if you have a house or a condo, you might want to look for someone to rent it while you’re away?
How to prepare for long term travel – the essentials: Visa, vaccines, passport and credit cards
Before you start booking your tickets, you need to figure out where you want to start your trip! You might need a visa to enter the country. You should also check if you have to get vaccinated before going there. Of course, you also need a valid passport and it can be wise to have a credit card that doesn’t charge any fees when you use it abroad. Consider bringing two different cards, in case you have any trouble with one of them.
Another very important thing to figure out before you go is travel insurance. If you’re going to travel for a long time, or maybe even for an undefined length of time, you’ll want to go with a company that allows you to extend your insurance while you’re still travelling. There are a lot of travel insurance companies out there, but Fredrik and I chose True Traveller for just that reason – you can extend your insurance. You can also buy insurance even if you’ve already left your home and are out travelling. We’ve extended our travel insurance once and will probably do it again when it expires. You can get a quote on True Traveller’s website and also read more about the different types of insurances they offer and what they cover. However, True Traveller might not be for everybody – they seem to only be available for EU and UK residents.
True Traveller is the only travel insurance company I’ve ever used, but I also know people who are using World Nomads. You might want to check them out as well our check out a completely different travel insurance company to see if they fit you better.
Planning on travelling long term without any set date on when you’ll be back? Then you might want to throw a going-away party or have a gathering with friends and/or family before you leave. We had dinner with our families and said goodbye to our closest friends the week before we left – without knowing when we’d get to see them again!
Having a VPN, a virtual private network, has been essential for me while travelling. It’s very valuable for several reasons. Firstly, it’s great if you’re staying in a hostel or similar where you’re sharing a network with many people – with a VPN, you can choose your own server. But, it’s also great if you want to see a movie or tv-show from your home country (or any other country). Chances are, that you can’t see material from your own country abroad. With a VPN, though, you can! I’m using NordVPN, which has been great – I’m so happy I’ve been able to follow all of my favourite tv-shows from back home!
Budget and back-up plan
I know it might be a bit boring, and although things almost always have a miraculous way of working themselves out, it’s really smart to have a budget in mind or at least a plan B. What is your plan, are you going to work abroad? How long can you wait before you need to start looking for a job? Regardless, it’s always smart to have some money set aside. It’s wise to have enough for a return ticket back home – if something happens or if you just decide that you’ve had enough of travelling for this time.
Workaway – save money while having unique experiences
If you don’t like having to worry about money, this might be for you! Doing a workaway pretty much means volunteering. Usually, it’s in exchange for accommodation and food. I’ve used this site a lot during my year abroad, and also back home in Europe. It has really helped me saving money and being able to travel for this long!
Packing list – where are you going?
By now you might now where you’ll be starting, which is great! Depending on where you are going in the world, you might have summer, winter, fall or even rain season. It can be hard knowing what clothes you should pack, especially if you’re going to several different countries where the weather changes a lot.
My trip started in Canada where we had -40 degrees Celcius in January. I’m soon going to Death Valley where there will be +40 degrees Celcius. How do you pack for that? I decided to bring layers, and it really helped a lot in Canada. I also ended up sending my winter jacket home with my parents when they came to visit us. My general rule is to not bring too much – you can always buy clothes later if you don’t think you’re warm enough!
Finally, make sure you know the best sites for booking accommodation – don’t get ripped off! I mostly use Booking.com or Airbnb, which seems to be the cheapest or the ones with the best value for me. However, occasionally I’ve also checked out Hotels.com, Agoda.com, Expedia.com and Hostelworld.com. If you’re thinking about staying for a longer period of time in one place, you might have some luck looking at local sites and rent something long term.
I hope this will help you to prepare for long term travel. Have a great time, it’s an amazing thing to do – I’m so glad I left Sweden with my backpack to explore the world. There’s so much to see!
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