This is an excerpt from my ebook The Wanderlust Workbook: Planning, Plotting, and Financing. It lays out all the nitty gritty details of making long-term travel happen. For $15 (!) you get 12,000+ words, a 60-minute podcast, and 14 worksheets. Buy it here!
You know you want to take a big, epic, multiple month trip. But where do you even start with something like that? Somewhat ridiculously, I've sold my worldly belongings and set out to travel the world five (!) times. Here's a very basic break down of how you can do the same.
One year out
1. Start saving money
* Determine how much you're going to need for your trip
* How can you save that money? Where can you cut back?
2. Start thinking about where you want to go
* What places speak to you? Where do you have connections? Where can you travel cheaply?
3. Start bringing your A-game at work
4. Start talking about your trip
* Sharing your goals with people will help you maintain the enthusiasm and make you more likely to actually follow through
Six months out
1. Check in on your nest-egg
* How are you doing? Will you have enough saved by the time your departure date rolls around? If not, reign in your spending even more or get a second job
2. Let your friends and contacts know that you're thinking of visiting them
3. Start looking at ticket prices and booking agencies
4. Sketch out a rough guide of where you'd like to go and how long you'd like to be there
* Look into the weather/festivals/etc that will be happening while you're there, adjust plans as needed
5. If you don't want to travel alone, start looking for a travel partner or looking into different programs that you take part in while your in your host country
Four months out
1. Start looking into visas and immunizations
* How much will they cost? Which ones do you need? Where can you get them? Are they covered by your insurance? How long are they good for?
2. Stay in touch with the contacts and friends you'll be visiting.
3. Keep an eye on your nest-egg and adjust your spending as needed
4. Apply for any work or volunteer programs that you're interested in, in your destination countries
Three months out
1. Apply for a passport if you don't already have one.
* Double check that your current passport will be valid for at least six months after the entry into your final destination
2. Buy your luggage
* Buy packing cubes
3. Start looking for travel appropriate clothes - comfortable, somewhat conservative, easy to wash, hide stains well, layer-able
4. Book your ticket
5. Look into your credit card company's policies on international purchases
6. Think about what you actually want to do while you're at your destination. Try not to overschedule yourself
7. Start studying any applicable languages
Two months out
1. Start applying for visas (as long as they don't activate as soon as they're issued to you)
2. Start going through your things and weeding out items you don't need.
* Decide what you're going to sell and what you're going to store or loan to friends
* Decide how much you'll charge for the items you're going to sell. If it's a seasonal item or something you use very irregularly, sell it now.
*Talk to the people who will be storing or borrowing your items and establish each party's expectations
3. Put in notice on your apartment or start looking for subletters
4. Talk to your employer about your trip
A. Can you have a leave of absence? Can you do any contract work for them while you're abroad? How can you help make this transition easy for them?
5. Set your reoccurring bills to auto deduct from your bank account
6. Make suitable arrangements if you're going to be gone during tax season
7. Apply for a Paypal debit card (can be used in any ATM that accepts Mastercard, gives you 1% on all purchases, charges 1% on international ATM withdrawls, withdraws directly from your Paypal account)
8. Check out applicable guidebooks from your local library, purchase one guide (for each country) that you really like
One month out
1. Start selling off things that you don't use on a daily basis.
* Start putting things into storage that you don't use on a daily basis
2. Get your immunizations and prescriptions for all applicable travel medications
* Make copies of all immunization records and prescriptions to take with you
* Assemble your travel medicine kit
3. Assemble your travel wardrobe
A. Pack up your luggage and walk around the block with it four times. Repack as needed.
4. Check in with the friends that you'll be visiting. Is there anything from your home country that they'd like you bring?
5. Check in with the people you will be loaning things to. Is everything still on?
6. Contact your bank and credit card companies and tell them you'll be traveling
7. Make copies of all pertinent financial information and give it to someone trustworthy
8. Let all of your professional contacts know that you'll be traveling for the next while but you look forward to catching up with them when you return
9. Check into the exchange rate
10. Book the accommodation for your first night at your first destination
*Can they pick you up at the airport? If not, look into how much a taxi should cost from the airport to your hostel. Are the unofficial taxis safe?
11. Look into any ground transportation that you'll be using while you travel.
*How much can you expect to pay for the train between Mumbai and Bangalore? How often does it run? Are there sleeper cars?
12. Get extra copies of passport photos to take with you for any documents you need to get at border crossings
Two weeks out
1. Sell all applicable belongings
2. Store all applicable belongings
3. Arrange to have mail forwarded to family or trust worthy friend
4. Be finished with your job. You'll want to spend this time tying up loose ends and saying goodbye to people
5. Give family members a copy of your itinerary as well as all applicable phone numbers and addresses
6. Load up your phone with pictures of friends and family to look at when you're feeling homesick
One week out
1. Get the phone numbers and addresses of anyone you'll be visiting, make sure they have your flight information
2. Confirm your accommodation reservation
3. Decide what you're going to put in your carry-on. Make sure all liquids are three ounces or smaller and are in a clear, plastic bag.
4. Cancel any applicable services - internet, cable, cell phone, etc.
5. Cancel your car insurance if your car will be in storage while you're gone
6. Confirm with any programs that you're taking part in that they know when and where to expect you
7. Spend some time studying a map of your first destination city, so you'll be at least vaguely familiar with the layout and the major landmarks
8. Get a travel-friendly haircut that will still look good when it's dirty and unstyled
Have you ever traveled long-term? Share you tips in the comments!
photo by super boh, for sale here