If you are feeling the distinctive pull of wanderlust, it may be time for a long-term trip. Backpacking across Europe for months at a time or wandering around Asia experiencing the cuisine and culture are common options. Before you commit to a life across the border, there are some things to keep in mind. Preparing yourself now will ensure that you get the most out of your travels.
If you want to travel long-term you need to have a plan. You’ll need to know when you are leaving and have a general idea of when you will return. It is also good to come up with a list of places you want to visit while you’re abroad. Remember that it’s often cheaper to travel locally or to destinations that are close to your main hub point, so don’t rule out other “must see” places just because it might require a weekend.
You’ll need to consider both your home life and away life. Where will you stay while you are gone? Will you keep your home or apartment and have someone tend to it? If you choose to move out, what are you going to do with your things? What things will you need on your trip? Lots of thought and planning should go into long-term travel.
There are plenty of cool tools designed to help travelers figure out costs and create budgets. Talking with fellow travelers can also give you some great insight and tips on how to save a few dollars. Sometimes you can get an odd job teaching English or working in a shop to help save for your travels.
Making sure your passport is up-to-date is a given, but don’t forget that when it comes to long-term vacations, a passport may not be enough. Depending on where you travel, there may be different visa requirements. You will need to do your research to determine how long you are able to stay in a country with a traveler’s visa because it varies widely. For example, the Schengen visa allows travelers to stay for up to 90 days in a 180 day period in any Schengen Area country and you are free to move between those countries.
Vaccinations are another thing to keep in mind when traveling abroad. As a general rule, you want to make sure your hepatitis A, hepatitis B, meningitis, yellow fever, tetanus, typhoid/diphtheria, MMR, and polio vaccinations are up-to-date before traveling to another country. Also remember that certain areas have a higher risk for certain diseases, and often travelers must be immunized well before leaving. It’s easy to learn about your destination’s risks with a simple Google search. If you’re fearful of needles, I wouldn’t suggest visiting a third world country.
If you have any prescriptions that you take regularly it is important to speak to your doctor about the best way to travel with them. Sometimes you can get a supersized refill that will last you your whole excursion, and other times you may need to figure out a way to get the medication while at your destination. Also, have a backup plan in case you misplace your medication, it is stolen, or you decide to extend your stay. Backup plans are always a good idea.
Along with budgeting, you will need to make sure you have access to your savings while you are gone. Most large banks have options for travelers but you may run into issues with smaller community banks. Having a credit card can be helpful for both security and traveling purposes: a bonus is the potential to earn miles with an airline company to use for more traveling.
We all want to expect the best, but sometimes it’s good to prepare for the worst. Travel insurance can cover a variety of circumstances that otherwise could be costly or result in you losing the money you’ve paid out before your trip. Travel insurance can be a smart idea if you don’t want to be out the couple thousand dollars you spent on plane tickets in the event that you find yourself unable to travel.
Figure Out Your Home Station
If you plan to keep your home/apartment while you’re gone, make sure you make arrangements with someone you trust to drop into the place from time to time to make sure everything is okay. It can be expensive to maintain a mortgage or rent while traveling long-term, so you can also consider renting out your home to other travelers while you’re gone.
If you are planning on giving up your living space, you will probably need somewhere to store your things. You can sell large items and leave smaller things with your friends or family, or you can look into renting a storage unit. Moving is a hefty task in and of itself, especially when you’re also preparing for a trip. Make sure to stay timely and organized during the process.
Choosing the right luggage for your journey is actually a bigger deal than you would think. If you are going to be moving around a lot you need something that is easy to carry and is lightweight. If you will have a permanent living situation and won’t be moving around a lot, bringing several suitcases is a much more viable option. Remember that airlines charge overage rates if your bag is too heavy, so don’t over-do it. If you will have a main base but want to do small trips from there, a small backpack or large tote are a good idea so you can pack snacks and extra layers for the day.
As I mentioned above, determining what to bring with you is a major issue. A lot of this will be dependent on where you’re traveling and your living situation. Either way, packing light is a good idea. As much as we wish we could travel with our whole wardrobe, it’s just not realistic. Pick versatile pieces that can be layered, and try to stick with a few color themes that all coordinate well together. Also, make sure to consider the weather.
You want to leave enough room in your suitcase that you can bring back souvenirs and the other fun things you acquire on your travels. There are also a few things you always want to bring when traveling, no matter where you go: sunscreen, sunglasses, a small flashlight, and a mini sewing and first aid kit.
Once travel day comes, you’ll be more than ready to set off on your great adventure. If you have any long-term travel tips of your own, make sure to leave them in the comments!