I think it’s safe to say I’ve travelled a lot in the last year alone; I’ve made a living and a life from travel and I couldn’t imagine it any other way! I love to encourage people to take the leap and travel more, and I always have plenty of tips and tricks up my sleeve that I’ve learned from my own travels. But this year I succumbed to an unusually long travel term that resulted in multiple trips and being away from August to October. (Berlin-England-Vietnam-Cambodia-Thailand-Singapore)
So, here are my 10 tips that help you prepare for your first long-term travel.
Think about your budget
The last thing you want on a long-term travel is to have to cut it short because you ran out of money. The Secret Traveller blog by 1Cover suggests taking the amount of money you think you’ll need, and then doubling it. Things will be pretty tight in the run-up to your big trip – you can’t buy a lot of luxuries like those Brazil nuts you once indulged in or go out as much as you might like, but it will all be worth it! Budget carefully for your trip, so you have more than enough for everything you want to do, plus plenty for emergencies and extras.
Consider rules and regulations
This one is usually top of my list and plays a large role in how I group the places I want to visit. Visa costs and requirements can easily be found on Google for any place you’re visiting these days, but it’s also worthwhile using tools like Facebook recommendations to ask friends about li’l known facts. Several places have different rules depending on if you’re arriving by airplane or road. I recently found out while planning my trip through Southeast Asia that even road border checkpoints within the same country can differ in regulations.
I know this sounds corny, but what if I told you that some insurance payouts from delayed flights help pay for future travel? Invest in a good travel and medical insurance plan that covers emergency evacuations, adventure sports, short visits to your home country, and end-of-trip home coverage. If you have a serious pre-existing condition, research your options thoroughly. Some policies will cover an “unexpected occurrence” of these conditions. Consider a policy or additional insurance that also includes trip delays, lost luggage, and electronics. Be aware though, that most policies will not cover smartphones.
As much as you might like to, you cannot pack everything you own! You need to be a lot more strategic, as space is a premium and you will likely be carrying everything on your back. You need to consider things such as the climates you’ll be experiencing, whether you need any specialist equipment, or formal wear, how long you’ll be gone, etc. This will help you plan what you need and what can stay at home. Remember that you might want to pick things up on your travels, so don’t pack your bag to bursting point unless you’re willing to leave things behind.
Do your research
It sounds obvious, but you really do need to do your research. Not only will it get you excited, but it’s also useful to know as much as you can about a country before you end up there. Don’t just read the guidebooks, check out blogs too, as these are often more opinion-based and you may find some information that you would otherwise have missed. Read up on things such as the safest places to visit, any scams that are local to the area, and any unusual laws a place may have – it might not be as fun as local attractions but it’s useful to know. Did you know that chewing gum is banned in Singapore?
Get in shape
I’m not talking about achieving that bikini body, more about being healthy and fit for your itinerary. If your trip involves a few treks or bicycle rides as your only means of transport, make sure you’ve practiced to achieve those levels before you go. Make sure you go to the doctor for a full check-up before you head off, as you don’t want to discover some illness while you are away from home. Make sure you get any vaccinations that you need for your destination and discuss any current medication needs with your GP so you can make sure you are covered before you head off.
You may not have done any languages since high school French, but by learning at least a few basics you will be able to communicate a lot better with those you meet along the way, and it will help you feel more confident and comfortable on your travels. You don’t have to enroll in a class, but there are plenty of apps and online sites that can help you work on a new language in just 15-20 minutes a day. Sometimes a Bonjour and Gracias go a long way.
Consider your job
You don’t have to quit your job to travel the world. Sometime work takes you there, in my case it was Berlin and Singapore. I managed to club some holidays before and after work-weeks to truly explore the city and all its culture. If work doesn’t take you there, ask yourself if it’s something you can do remotely? There’s something beautiful about being accessible and replying to emails while you sit at a cafe by the beach. Consider a sabbatical or even a research area for your next trip. Work hard, work smart. Definitely recommend reading 4 hour work week to accomplish this!
Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally
Often forgotten but so vital. You’re bound to get sick of eating out everyday and you’ll find yourself craving home-cooked food and your own bed to lay in, but try to make the most of it. Give yourself a routine to stick to even when you’re on holiday and if the weather takes a turn for the worse, stay indoors and read a book, upload those pictures to tell friends and family about your trip or just spend the noon having conversations with your airbnb hosts, or even better cook them dinner. Make you trip feel like it’s filled with adventure, conversations and new experiences.
Tell the world
The moment you start to talk about your trip, it transforms from a daydream into reality. Once you’ve set the departure date and booked those tickets spread the news, it also boosts your courage levels. Plus it’s a great way to get your friends involved and make plans to meet up for a portion of your trip, or recommend something you definitely should do while you’re there.
The preparation for a long-term travel trip can be a lot of fun, and a little stressful too – after all, it’s a huge thing to plan. However, it is entirely worth all the planning, budgeting and spreadsheets and as soon as you are back home, you will be wanting to book your next trip!