To make it a bit easier for anyone going on a long trip (3+ months) and wondering what they need to do before they go, I’ve created a list of a few things I like to do before I go travelling for an extended period of time…
(To read my article about what to bring in your carry-on for long flights, click here).
Go to the doctors. There’s a few good reasons you should see your doctor before you go away; you might need to get a few vaccinations depending on the country you plan to travel to, as well as updating any current medications or prescriptions, but also, it’s just a good idea to get a general check-up before crossing international borders. If you’re suspicious of a possible existing medical condition you haven’t yet seen a doctor for, this is the opportune time. You want to make sure you are in the best possible health you can be before an extended stay abroad. Even if you get travel insurance (which I strongly recommend), there’s still some conditions/illnesses that may not be covered and could end up costing you hundreds or even thousands of dollars if you get sick. Save yourself the trouble and get a check-up before you go. (Within the same vein as this, you should also go see your dentist).
Arrange for any bills/expenses to be automatically paid for while you’re away. Student loans? Credit cards? Rent? Car insurance? These expenses usually don’t disappear just because you leave the country. Make sure you factor these into your travel budget before you go, so you don’t run out of money while you’re away, but also so you never miss a payment that could end up charging you unnecessary interest or ruining your credit.
Book your transportation/accommodations for your first few nights abroad. Most people probably already do this anyway, but it never hurts to mention it again. Even if you’re the type of spontaneous traveller who likes to never make a plan, it’s still wise to have your first few days figured out. There’s nothing worse than getting off a long flight and suddenly having to figure out your accommodations when you’re exhausted, grumpy, jet-lagged and hungry.
Get your hair done. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m pretty picky about how my hair is cut and who does the cutting. Last year when I was living in Australia, I’d been away from home for eight months before I’d finally had enough of my split-ends and decided to get a cut. I did my research and asked for recommendations before deciding on a hairdresser, but I still ended up with a cut that did more harm than good. When going on extended trips for six months or longer, you’ll probably have to suck it up and get a cut somewhere foreign anyway, but for shorter trips this risk can definitely be avoided. Get your hair done before you go, not only so you look fresh and well put together while you’re away, but also so you avoid running the risk of winding up with a bad haircut.
Enrol in any schooling/apply for any jobs you want to start upon your return home. Some jobs have a window in which you need to apply for them months before their start date – same goes for school. If you want to travel from January-August but start school for the September semester, you’ll need to make sure you apply before you go away (or if you need to apply while you’re away, you have access to all the tools you’ll need to apply properly). The last thing you want is to go travelling for months only to return home to find out you missed your window of opportunity for your dream job.
Figure out your phone situation. Have you decided if you’re going to buy a new phone overseas and subscribe to a new plan? Or maybe you’ll unlock your current phone and just buy a new sim card abroad? What about taking your current phone with you and getting an international plan for the duration of your travel? All of these options have their own pros and cons and you should do your research before you go and figure out which option will be best for you while you’re away.
Create a travel budget. This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by how many people just guesstimate their future travel/living expenses. Do your research. You need to figure out several expenses before you go; accommodation, food, transportation/gas, flights, insurance, visas, phone/internet, utilities, as well as your every day spending expenses (like shopping/gifts, going to a movie, any tours or excursions you want to take, etc). Creating a realistic budget for your travelling not only gives you a good idea of how much money you’ll need to save up before you go, but it also reduces your chances of overspending while you’re there. (Click here to read my article about creating a travel budget).
Do your research into what you need to pack. This means researching where you’re going to be staying, what type of activities you’re going to be participating in, what the weather’s typically like in the country you’re travelling to, and what type of accommodations you can expect to have there. All of these things will help you determine what to bring with you and reduce your risk of packing things you will never wear/use. (I plan to write a more detailed post about packing for extended trips at a later date).
What types of things do you usually do before you leave for an extended trip?