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24 Things to do Before Long-Term Travel

Updated: Oct 12, 2022

What to do before your long-term travel. New locations every day, drinks on the beach, meeting new friends, and seeing places you've always dreamt of have finally convinced you to pack your bag and travel long-term!

As exciting as planning all the places you're going to see when you're abroad, there are a few things you need to do first while you're at home. When I did my Round the World (RTW) trip 10 years ago, it was a bit of an eye-opener as well as a steep learning curve of all the things that go into long-term travel. But don't worry, I'll keep this very simple and basic with just the right amount of information.

Girl standing in the desert with a big rock hand behind
Mano del Desierto, Chile

I have had to pack my life up into a backpack a few times and the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

What to do Before Long-Term Travel

6 Months-1 Year

  • Create an itinerary. What I mean by this is to get a rough idea of the countries you want to travel to and how long you think you might stay there. Once you have a basic outline, see how much it cost per day to travel there. This will help when planning your budget.

  • Start saving. Long-term travel can be done on a budget but it is still going to cost you. I would highly suggest opening a high-interest savings account with another banking institution (an online one that is free) that you deposit your money into every month. You might ask why I would suggest opening up another savings account? Simply put, if the money is harder to access (there's no card attached to it) and you can't see it, you probably aren't going to spend it. TIP: To help you save, make this an expense like a bill you need to 'pay off' each month.

  • Vaccines. Not going to lie, this never even crossed my mind until I was google stuff and this popped up. Each country has different requirements for what vaccines/boosters you need and some are required before you enter. And depending on the vaccine, it may have multiple doses where you need to wait a few weeks to 6 months between each dose. To know which vaccines you need, visit a Travel Clinic in your area and the doctor will have a detailed map of everything that is needed. They will also want to know which areas you're visiting in a certain country because not all areas of that country may need that vaccine. TIP: some of these vaccines will be out-of-pocket expenses and they can add up.

  • Flights. If you know your starting date and location, book your flight. The earlier you book, the cheaper it may be.

  • Passport: Make sure it is not expired or apply for one if you don't have one. Also, make sure you have enough pages if you need to add visas. NOTE: Most countries require your passport to be valid for at least 6 months after you enter.

  • Gear. The earlier you start thinking of what gear you need, the more you can jump on sales/clearance items/second-hand items/Christmas/birthdays and get a lot of that stuff for a cheaper price. Most of my expensive gear (backpack, organizers, clothing) came from Christmas gifts.

  • Sabbatical. If you're going to take a sabbatical, discuss with your employee your options.

3-6 Months

  • Down-size. If you're renting or own a home, start thinking of what you're going to do with your stuff. If you're going to put it into storage, look at how much it will cost per month or see if you can keep it at a friend's/family's place. If you're going to sell it, start off with items you don't really need and work up to your bigger items. With Facebook Market Place and online sites, it has become a lot easier to sell your stuff quickly. TIP: if you're really in a pinch, haven't sold some big items, and need to move out ASAP, post your items for free and that should take care of them.

  • Housing. If you own a house, think of what you will do with it when you're gone. Will you sell it, rent it or just have somebody come over and check in on it.

  • Car. If you own one, again just like the house, what are you going to do with it? You can sell it, keep it or gift it (as outlined by your province).

  • Visas. Start looking at entry requirements for the countries. Some need visas before you arrive and depending on where you apply for them, it could take a few months to get.

  • Benefits: If you have benefits from work, use up whatever you can and get everything checked out before you leave especially if you need refills. Also, get prescriptions for your eyeglasses and any medicines you take.

1 Month

  • Renting. Let your landlord know you will be moving out.

  • Bills. Start to cancel all your bills (house, phone, car) and have them forwarded to a friend/family's address

  • Mail: Any mail you are getting at your current address, go in and change it to a friend's or family's address. If there's an email option, sign up for that.

  • Expiry dates. Check expiry dates of credit/debit cards and licenses. If they expire while you are gone, see if you can get new ones before you leave.

1 Week

  • Register. Register with the Government of Canada (or your government if they have the program) to let them know where you're going and for how long. This isn't set in stone so you can always change the location and dates as you go.

  • Photocopy. Photocopy important documents and give copies to your family/friends and also email a set to yourself. Print copies of your passport and keep them in different sections of your bag. I will carry a copy of this on me instead of my actual passport and if you ever lose it/or get stolen, it can make the process faster. These include:

    • passport

    • prescriptions (medicine/eyeglasses)

    • license

    • credit/debit cards (both sides)

    • travel insurance (if it's not emailed to you)

    • vaccine certificate

    • Others I photocopy but do not bring with me: SIN card, birth certificate

  • Travel folder. Create a travel folder and put everything you photocopied into it

  • International Drivers License. Get an international driver's license if you plan to drive. You may or may not need it but it's always good to have.

  • Currency. If you're traveling to a lot of countries, you don't need to get all the currency at once. You can have the bank order the currency of your first destination. I also like to get a 'common' currency out (USD or Euro) and keep some as an emergency fund in my wallet and parts of my bag. I get enough to last me 2 days (budget accommodation/food) if my wallet were to get stolen/lost because that is how long it might take your bank to wire you money or send you a replacement card.

  • Verification Methods. For security reasons, every time you log in from a new device or even a new location, most websites/apps will send a verification message to your phone. When you travel, your SMS may not work. It's a good idea to change the phone number to a friend or family that can send you the code. Have both parties download Whatsapp which only requires the internet to receive messages.

  • Download Apps. Always good to have Google Translate, Uber, Splitwise (if there are a few of you), Money Exchange, and Whatsapp.

I hope these tips help make planning your upcoming trip a bit easier and less stressful.

Girl at the Vietnamese border crossing
Crossing the border from China to Vietnam

Preparing for Long-Term Travel


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