Just a Pack | June 8th, 2019 | 7 Comments


Things to Do Before Leaving on Your First Long Trip

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!

Top Things to do When Preparing to Travel on Your First Long Trip

Make Sure Your Passport is in Order

things to do when planning a trip

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!

Check out this article for more information.

Make a Copy of Your Passport and Credit Cards

top things to do before traveling

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.

Things to Do Before You Travel – 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.

World-Nomads Travel Insurance

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 an travel insurance quote here (it takes less than a minute) and full details on what they cover.

So whether you you want to travel to Tunisia or to Tennessee make sure you  strongly consider at least basic travel insurance!

Get a ATM Withdrawal Fee Free Bank Account

banks without overseas atm fees

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 two banks that offer such accounts. The savings add up, so look into it before leaving.

Things to Do Before Your First Long Travel Trip – Secondary Bank Account

top things to do before traveling

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 cancelled 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 some place clever for emergencies.

Set up a Pay Pal Account

what to do before traveling

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

call your bank before traveling

Set up travel plans with your providers as to not run 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.

Things to Do Before Long Term Travel – Get Vaccinated for Travel

getting vaccinated for travel

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.

Most other vaccines are situational, so if you are unsure consult a doctor. 

Google Voice Number/Skype

google voice for travel

Google Voice is a great way to have voice-mail access if you are traveling abroad and don’t feel like paying for an international coverage plan. Skype lets you call home for about 3 cents a minute.

Of course you need to have functional Wifi to use Skype but with the widespread proliferation of wireless internet this is not much of an issue in most countries.

Put Together a Simple Medical Kit

first aid kit for travel

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, mole skins 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.

Things to Do Before Long Term Travel – Start a Travel Blog

how to 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 interest in, check out this guide to starting a travel blog.

Things to Do Before You Travel – Pack!

packing for longterm travel

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!

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7 thoughts on “Things to Do Before Leaving on a Long Trip – How to Travel 101

  1. These are great points guys! Sometimes we need to learn from our own mistakes, but it is worth to be logical and prepared. And I think it is not only about long term travel – bad things are happening so quickly when you are away that it does not really need to be long – during a week trip you can get robbed or lose your passport. And the medical advice – always have the simple stuff like pain killers at hand, no need to waste your time trying to find pharmacy in a foreigner country 🙂

    1. Monika – Great advice! Thank you for sharing. You’re right, always having a backup plan is key.
      Happy travels!

  2. What a great article! I love making lists of things I need to do before I leave home on a new adventure. Thanks for writing this up!

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