Yay you’ve decided to take the plunge and do some long term travelling! But what next? Planning a long-term trip takes more than time than your average holiday. When planning our two-year working holiday to Canada I found each week that there was a new thing I’d forgotten to sort out. Everything from where my goldfish were going to live (thanks Matt’s parents!) to contacting the student loans company (boooo!) needed to be considered. In fact, by the time I’d finished all the boring paperwork and logistics I was well and truly ready for the adventure!
So, I thought I’d share a few tips to help the run up to your next holiday go smoothly. At this point you’ve chosen your destination/s, here’s what to do next:
Save, Save, Save
You will always need and will never have enough to do everything so save as much as you possibly can. You don’t want to be heading out in debt so tackle that first. Matt and I would put a certain amount into our savings on payday and would never touch it. There are many ways you can save before you go and whilst it may be difficult the rewards will be beyond worth it!
Check the validity of your passport
No one wants a last-minute dash to the passport office to get a new passport. It not only costs money but also wastes time you could be spending with friends and family. Some countries require your passport to run for a certain amount of time past the validity of your visa so check before you leave.
Get rid of stuff
I found that coming on a longer-term trip has taught me that we all have too much stuff. There are many things that are packed away in boxes back in the UK that I haven’t even thought about over the past 15 months. So, start getting rid of stuff you haven’t used, its pretty cathartic. My sister came around and raided my wardrobe and DVD collection and I have a feeling she’ll be keeping most of it. But after not even thinking about most of it, I think I’ll be ok with less things.
Donate or sell
Now this one ties in with getting rid of stuff and saving money. If you have things that are worth anything it might be worth selling them to put money in the savings pot. Matt sold some of his childhood collectables and whilst he didn’t make millions, he did get rid of some old plastic toys in exchange for something we actually needed. So, head over to ebay, schpock, or facebook buy and sell groups to make some extra pennies. Even better go to a car boot sale.
Secure your home
What to do with your existing home before the big trip is usually the hardest decision. Do you leave it empty and get a friend or relative to check in? Do you rent it out? Do you get house-sitters? Take the time to consider you options and figure out what is best for you. If you have pets a house-sitter is a great option as you can save on pet care. Don’t forget to give yourself plenty of time to complete this step.
Notify your bank
This is a must do and I cannot stress this enough. You do NOT want to be left with no cash supply. So take the time to pop into your local bank and mark your account with the countries you intend to visit. If you are visiting more than one country tell them this. Any unusual activity on your account can cause it to be frozen and calling home from a foreign country to sort it out can cost £££. It’s happened to me so it’s a mistake I won’t be making again!
Contact Student Loans Company
This one you only need to do if you’ve taken out a student loan and still have to pay it off. If you don’t drop them a line they charge your account a default amount, which can be much more than you would usually pay. To avoid this, you can nominate someone to be in charge of your account before you leave. Now unfortunately this does not mean that they pay, it just means that they can be your point of contact, so saves expensive phone calls. After being abroad for 3 months you must fill out an Overseas Assessment Form and return it to SLC.
This information was correct at my time of travelling I am by no means an expert on the subject so please seek the correct advice before leaving.
Cancel any memberships
If you are going somewhere with no internet connection you’re not going to need your Netflix account so, get rid of it. Same goes for the gym membership you never use! Give plenty of notice when cancelling things such as car and home insurance. By doing so all paperwork will be completed and returned to you before you leave. I know it can be boring but it is necessary.
Make time to say goodbye
When you’re leaving for a long time you’ll want to say goodbye to your nearest and dearest and this can take time. Ensure you make room for everyone and schedule your diary accordingly. It can get pretty busy and expensive so also make sure you budget for this too. This is a hard part of travelling, but if you don’t leave you can’t return. I found it particularly difficult to leave without saying ‘see you soon’ after every meeting!
Hopefully these pointers will help you prepare for your journey of a lifetime. What steps did you take before leaving? Or are you off on a new adventure soon?