A good travel experience starts at home. So, what should you do before going on a long trip? We’re glad you asked.
Planning for a long term trip overseas can be a protracted and daunting endeavor. We know, we’ve done it dozens of times, and to this day there are things we sometimes forget to do.
For first timers planning a long trip the logistics can get a bit overwhelming. There is so much to account for, and so much to remember to do before you leave that occasionally small, simple, yet common sense preparations and precautions go overlooked. We would like to simplify the process of preparing for a trip for you, and offer some advice based on our own experiences.
Below are ten things you should absolutely take into account before leaving home to explore the great big world, in no particular order.
Make sure to write up a check list and go through it everyday starting a couple of weeks before you leave to ensure everything gets done.
Happy planing and safe travels!
Table of Contents
Top Things to do When Preparing to Travel
Make Sure Your Passport is in Order
If you are leaving the country this one is SO obvious, but it’s also so easy to over look. Always, ALWAYS, make sure your passport has at least 6 months left on it before its expiration date. A large amount of countries, including every country in the European Union, will turn you away if your passport expires in under 3 months. Many Asian countries require a minimum of 6 months.
There is nothing worse than arriving at your destination only to be detained by a grumpy passport control officer who will be forced to unceremoniously ship you back home. Don’t let this happen to you!
Make a Copy of Your Passport and Credit Cards
It’s a good idea to have digital copies of your most important documents in case anything gets lost or stolen on the road. Scan or photograph your passport and credit cards and leave them with a trusted family member or friend. Upload them to cloud storage. Make sure to email yourself a copy as well.
Oh, and make a physical copy with a copy machine or something as well, and stash it somewhere in your luggage.
Think About Travel Insurance
Citizens of most Western European countries have zero reason to forgo travel insurance as they can buy it very cheaply. For Americans, travel insurance is more situational, as it can be costly. The longer you hit the road for the more chances your travel insurance will come in handy, so review your options/costs and purchase accordingly. If you need help deciding, take a look at our article on whether or not travel insurance is worth the cost here.
If you are planning on buying travel insurance we (and Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, National Geographic Adventures) highly recommend WorldNomads. They cover emergency overseas medical treatment, evacuation transportation, trip cancellation, and even lost or stolen items. You can get a travel insurance quote here (it takes less than a minute) and full details on what they cover.
So whether you want to travel to Tunisia or to Tennessee make sure you strongly consider at least basic travel insurance!
Get an ATM Withdrawal Fee Free Bank Account
When traveling long term you will find yourself using ATM machines often. Not only is it cheaper to access money from ATMs than it is to convert cash, but you also never want to have more than a few hundred dollars on your person at any given time.
Not many banks in the US offer to reimburse you for ATM fees abroad, but there are a few that do. TD Bank and Charles Schwab are among the two banks that offer such accounts. The savings add up, so look into it before leaving.
Secondary Bank Account
Fraud can happen anytime anywhere and you don’t want to be left without access to your funds. Trust us, we’ve met plenty of people on the road who were desperately reaching out to friends and family to wire them money because their bank canceled their cards due to fraud or other suspicious activity. You don’t want to be in this position.
Open a secondary account and stash some emergency funding there. Better safe than sorry. It’s also a good idea to stash a small amount of cash someplace clever for emergencies.
Set up a Pay Pal Account
Paypal is a great way to manage funds, transfer money in between accounts for free, and accept payments. Make sure to get your bank accounts and credit cards validated on PayPal before you leave as it can be a hassle to do so once on the road.
Inform Your Financial Institutions About Your Travel Plans
This step is often overlooked when people plan their vacations. But it can save you sooo much grief while you are traveling. Call your financial institutions to set up travel plans, and inform them of where you will be going. Doing so can help you avoid running into any “frozen account due to suspected fraud” surprises.
Make sure to do this for your bank accounts, credit cards, and for Paypal. Give them a call to notify them of the different countries you’ll be traveling to and your departure and return dates.
Get Vaccinated for Travel
If you’re going to a developing country this step is something you definitely need to look into.
Check out the CDC site to see which vaccines are recommended for the countries you are traveling to. Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Tetanus are pretty essential no matter where you go.
Yellow Fever is also pretty important if you are traveling to sub-Saharan Africa or tropical South America. Carry proof of yellow fever immunization with you as some countries require it for entry depending on where you are arriving from. You can literally be denied entry without the vaccination.
Most other vaccines are situational, so if you are unsure consult a doctor.
Set Up a Google/Skype Voice Number
Of course, you need to have functional Wi-fi to use Skype. This used to be an issue, back in the day. However, the widespread proliferation of wireless internet around the world in the last few years makes it pretty darn simple.
Put Together a Simple Medical Kit
This can be an invaluable tool when traveling, especially if you are heading to remote destinations.
A well-stocked medical kit includes gauze, antiseptic wipes, band-aides, triple antibiotic cream, moleskins for blisters, some ibuprofen, and anti-diarrhea pill for long bus trips when suffering from TD (travelers diarrhea). Having one can potentially save you a fair amount of grief, so we highly recommend one.
Start a Travel Blog
We’re kidding. Sort of. Travel blogs can be a fun little hobby used to share and illustrate your trip to friends and strangers alike. Or they can lead to a full-time business if you devote enough time, ingenuity, and dedication.
If blogging about travel is something you have an interest in, check out this guide to starting a travel blog.
What to pack for long term (or short term) travel is always a bit of a daunting task. Check out our packing list for some advice on what to bring (and what not to bring) on a long term backpacking adventure.
That’s our primer guide to the thing you should be doing before embarking upon long term travel. Feel free to email us if you have any questions or tips! Happy travels guys, and we’ll see you on the road!
Disclaimer – As you can see we included a few handy little affiliate links in this article. We receive a small commission for any sales made, without any additional cost to you, our dear reader.