The Ultimate Checklist for Planning Long-Term Travel

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The prospect of travelling long-term can be both hugely exciting and completely overwhelming. If travelling for six months, a year or even longer is something you’ve always wanted to do but have had no idea where to even begin, look no further! This comprehensive checklist is all you need to plan and organise your adventure. From the moment you make the decision you want to travel long-term right up until you board your plane, this ultimate to-do list has got you covered.

The Ultimate Checklist for Planning Long-Term Travel

1 Year Before

> Decide why you are taking this trip

Asking yourself what the purpose of your trip is will help you to shape the experience. Do you want to volunteer abroad? Is travelling sustainably your top priority? Do you want to move to a single place, work and become an expat? Are you interested in a particular culture or region?

India_jama_masjid_delhi

Do your research

One of the most exciting stages of planning for long-term travel is researching the destinations you want to travel to. Read guidebooks, blogs and scour Instagram for inspiration. Whilst you don’t have to plan everything, you need to start forming a ‘must-do’ list.

Patagonia Chile

> Estimate the cost of your trip

Based on the length of your trip and the type of experience you want to have, it’s now time to estimate the total trip cost. Take into account flights, transport, accommodation, food, tours and sightseeing. Doing this early will help you to save for your trip.

> Create a budget

Based on the total estimated cost of your trip, create a monthly budget based on how much you need to save. Start to cut out unnecessary spending and keep track of all of your expenses.

> Brainstorm ways you can make some extra money

In the year leading up to your departure date, you want to save as much money as possible. Taking on an extra job is a great way to add to your travel fund. Read this post for some other great tips on saving for travel.

6 Months to 1 Year Before

> Decide on a departure date

It’s time to take stock and evaluate your savings. Are you ready to set a departure date? If you have been finding it difficult to stick to your budget, it might be a good idea to delay your departure. If you’re doing well, it’s time to set the date!

> Start the immunization process

Visit your doctor as early as possible to discuss your travel plans and seek advice as to which immunizations you need. It’s important to do this early as some shots are done in a series and you may need at least six months between them.

> Check your passport

If you don’t have a passport, it’s time to apply for one. If you already have one, now is a good time to ensure that there is enough validity on it to last the entirety of your trip and that you have enough room left for all those new stamps you’ll be collecting.

instagram 2

3 -6 Months Before

> Book your flights

Look at your itinerary and research all the different flight possibilities for your trip. If you’re flexible, you might be able to save quite a lot of money. Play around with the airports you’ll fly into and out of, your travel dates as well as the airline. Read this post for some more tips on booking flights.

airport_Changi

> Solidify your itinerary

Once you’ve booked your flights, it’s time to set a more specific itinerary built around the ‘must-do’ items on your travel list. Think about which experiences you’ll do first and which route you’ll take to get to the next ones.

Horseshoe bend

2 Months Before

> Get all your checkups

In the months leading up to your departure, book appointments with your dentist, optometrist, gynecologist any other health professional you need to see. Fill all of your prescriptions and obtain letters for any medication you’ll be taking with you.

> Apply for a visa if needed

Take the time to research whether any visas are required for any of the countries you’ll be travelling to. You want to avoid situations like this one!

> Inform your Real Estate Agent

If your flat is under lease, give as much notice to your Real Estate Agent about the date you intend to move out. If you break the lease, there may be some financial repercussions, but the earlier you make your intentions clear, the easier it will be.

> Begin to sell your stuff

Selling some of your unwanted belongings will not only help you save a little bit extra for your trip, but it also means you have less stuff to move or store! Win win.

> Set cancellation dates for your contracts

It’s time to start thinking about scheduling the cancellation of contracts such as your mobile phone or your gym membership. Remember that you always need to give a certain period of notice, so to minimise hefty cancellation costs, the more notice you give the better.

1 Month Before

> Re-direct your mail

If you’ve been living in your own apartment, you’ll need to re-direct your mail while you’re travelling. Giving your parents’ mail address is one of the best options. That way, they can open, scan and email you any important letters that arrive by post that you should know about while you’re away.

> Shop for appropriate gear to take with you

Depending on where you are travelling to and the kinds of activities you will be doing, it’s important to plan in advance to bring the necessary gear. Of course you will be able to buy a lot of items whilst on the road, but you should at least pack the basics. Go shopping and be on the lookout for sales.

Brooke in Finland

> Get a travel money card

It’s time to think about how you’ll be managing your finances overseas. One of the best options is a Travel Money Card which enables you to preload it with a foreign currency and connect it to your internet banking. Talk to your bank to discuss options.

> Purchase travel insurance

Travel insurance is one of the most important things to remember when planning any kind of travel. Things can and do go wrong and if you are not insured sufficiently, it could ruin your trip. If you’re going to be taking part in adventure activities, make sure that you specify this on your insurance policy.

Brooke Saward Cotsworld Outdoor

> Give notice to your employer

You need to make a decision about how you’re going to approach your employer about your travel plans. This can be tricky. If you want to keep your job, you might ask for an unpaid leave of absence. If you don’t want to keep your job, you’ll need to resign. Make sure you give the required number of weeks notice, be professional and don’t burn any bridges!

2 Weeks Before

> Notify your bank that you’re travelling

If your bank detects foreign transactions, they may freeze your account as a security measure. This is far from ideal when you need to access your money overseas! To avoid the hassle, inform them of your travel plans before you leave so that they won’t see your foreign transactions as unauthorised.

> Scan your important documents

Scan your passport, visa, driver’s licence and any other important documents. Keep a copy at home with someone you trust and take a copy with you and store in a separate location to the original. If you happen to lose your original documents, the scanned copies will make your life a whole lot easier when trying to sort out replacements.

> Store your belongings

It’s time to get organised. If you are moving out of your flat, you need to arrange the storage of your belongings. While your parents might be happy to look after your clothes and other small items, your furniture will probably need to be stored in a storage facility.

> Write a packing list

Packing for long-term travel can be very overwhelming. Get everything out of your head and onto paper by creating a packing list. Carry it around with you wherever you go so that when you think of extra things you need, you can easily add it on the go.

> Lay out what you’ll be taking

Allocate one room as your ‘packing room’ and begin laying out everything you need to pack on the floor. Seeing it visually in front of you helps prompt you to remember any items that are missing. It also helps you decide whether or not you’re actually going to fit everything into your suitcase!

1 Week Before

> Begin packing

With only a week left until departure, it’s time to pack. Start early, remain organised and it won’t be stressful. Read up on some packing tips here.

> Order some foreign currency

It’s always a good idea to have some local currency already in your purse when you touch down. Exchanging money at the airport will always give you a terrible exchange rate. Be organised and order a small amount of foreign currency from your bank before you leave.

Money saving tips

> Have a farewell party

Throw a big farewell party to say your goodbyes to family and friends. Seeing lots of people at the same time means that the rest of your week will be freed up to concentrate on last-minute details.

> Eat your favourite meals

You’re probably not going to have a home-cooked meal for a while, so use this last week to request all of your favourite, comforting meals that you’re going to miss when you’re gone.

On the day

> Get to the airport early

By this stage you will be anxious enough already without the added stress of running late. Get yourself to the airport nice and early to avoid rushing through check-in, immigration and security. Enjoy a healthy, hydrating juice while you wait for your flight.

Next stop Fijiiiiiiiii!

> Board your plane and go!

The moment has finally arrived! Board your plane and get set for your huge adventure!

plane

Over to you: have you travelled long-term? What are your tips for getting organised before the big departure date? 

WOW Contributor

Story by World of Wanderlust contributor Rachel.

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52 Comments

  1. hallebose@gmail.com'

    Rosa

    March 31, 2016

    Extra money earned will come in handy.

  2. scat.monika@gmail.com'

    monika

    December 8, 2015

    The ultimate checklist planning was approaching long term condition yes i agree to your point.

  3. scat.monika@gmail.com'

    monika

    November 21, 2015

    The Ultimate checklist planning among that long term Travel so for these sites much better than in your process

  4. Lisa@turninggreen.com.au'

    Lisa

    August 7, 2015

    Great article. One thing I would add is putting currency on the Qantas Cash Card. I’m using it this trip and it’s great at taking out the currency conversion worries. You can lock in everything online and use your card in multiple countries keeping track as you go, and transferring as you need to.

  5. jodi.swansey@gmail.com'

    Jodi

    July 1, 2015

    This post is so helpful. So many things I wouldn’t have even thought of you mentioned. A lot of work to do before traveling long term. I love all your pointers and advise.

  6. lexiew7@hotmail.com'

    Lexie

    June 30, 2015

    This is a perfect list for my big upcoming trip in September. The list definitely helped to ease my anxiety I am feeling. I always forget to scan my passport before I go and end up having to ask the hostel I stay at to do it for me haha 🙂

  7. dehizzy@yahoo.com'

    De'Jav

    June 23, 2015

    Great tips the one I found to be most important is preparing a budget. Traveling without a budget money seems to go faster and travel time will get cut short.

  8. alfredo196@alice.it'

    alfredo ciano

    June 23, 2015

    The Choice of the Destination for a Trip is a Difficult Choice but The Travel is an Extraordinary Experience…

  9. chris@flybreak.com'

    Chris

    June 23, 2015

    Rachel that is a great list. Bookmarked!

  10. svenja-93@web.de'

    Svenja

    June 22, 2015

    This list is amazing! I’m actually only three weeks out from my next big trip, but this post still provided me with some advice for next weeks. Thank you for all your great posts, they really help me out a lot!

  11. press@frontier.ac.uk'

    frontierintothewild

    June 22, 2015

    Articles like this can really help our volunteers who are planning long trips abroad. So thank you for this great article!

  12. princess_sallyann@hotmail.com'

    Sally@Toddlers on Tour

    June 22, 2015

    Good list though I unofficially start my packing months in advance. I have box in the spare room and purchase items as come on special or I see them available. These could be things from toiletry things to special gadgets for travel. Have a list and tick them off as each one is added to the box.

  13. olg.rabo@gmail.com'

    Olga

    June 21, 2015

    That’s really instructive! And to make your list complete, here’s my recent blog post about the ultimate travel packing list! After such a thorough travel preparations as you described, forgetting to put something important in your suitcase would be just a shame!

  14. brooke@passportcouture.com'

    Brooke

    June 20, 2015

    Traveling internationally and for long-term can seem so overwhelming, but you’ve broken it down into some helpful steps to make everything easier to manage. I’ll definitely keep this blog marked so I can use it for some future adventures. Thanks for all the great tips!

  15. Brooke Saward

    June 20, 2015

    Thanks Will!! 🙂

  16. hi@nomadwilliam.com'

    Will Stephenson

    June 20, 2015

    Angie you must be pumped. I love the idea that everyone goes through the excitement that I felt before I left Australia on my 10 month trip.

    Gook luck Angie.

  17. hi@nomadwilliam.com'

    Will Stephenson

    June 20, 2015

    Reminds me of when I started planning for my trip.

    Those were the days. Sometimes I wish I could start all over again.

    Shared, wicked post!

  18. press@frontier.ac.uk'

    frontierintothewild

    June 19, 2015

    These are some great tips that our long term volunteers could really benefit from. Thanks for this!

  19. tallgirlbigworld@gmail.com'

    Claire @ TallGirlBigWorld

    June 19, 2015

    You definitely hit on some important points here. Hopefully I’ll be able to use this list in the future! 🙂
    -Claire, tallgirlbigworld.com

  20. haileyhennessy@gmail.com'

    Hailey

    June 19, 2015

    Great tips. It is nice to have a place to go to solidify the things you need to do before a trip! It is all too easy to get stressed out and let some of the said things slip. And this “slipping” is what makes for stressful situations later. Thanks!

  21. melaniesarmiento19@gmail.com'

    melanie

    June 19, 2015

    I love this checklist it has covered everything! it has me so excited for my own adventures, thanks for all the help, 2 weeks! xox
    Ig: @melsarmiento

  22. Thewanderingquinn@gmail.com'

    Ellie Quinn

    June 19, 2015

    I’ve been travelling on and off for 5 years now and taken trips from 1 month to 18 months and this post is fantastic, you have literally thought of everything!
    Also someone mentioned how you can’t pack for a whole year.. Firstly no you can’t and secondly even if you could I don’t thin you’d would want to! I think you need the same amount for a 2 month trip as for a 12 month trip and just keep washing! (plus you’ll buy new stuff along the way). In most countries it’s fairly cheap to do washing or take some powder and do it yourself! 🙂

  23. exploresmore@gmail.com'

    Julia

    June 19, 2015

    Having a farewell party before I moved from Los Angeles to Paris this year was seriously an amazing idea. It was one last big hoorah with all of my closest friends, and put a positive end on something that could have been quite sad. Also, I requested all of my favorite foods and ate at my favorite burger place 😀

    Julia

  24. misstravelfairy@gmail.com'

    Tereza

    June 19, 2015

    Great article! I have done exactly the same year ago and it was the best decision ever!

  25. WAshworth@TravelersAlly.com'

    whitney

    June 19, 2015

    Love this post! Now, where should I relocate…
    Just a tip… if you want to use the full cancellation benefit with trip insurance, you have to book within a few days (usually two weeks) of making your first payment of the trip (i.e. flight, hotel, etc.) If not, you will only receive a portion of your trip costs if you have to cancel. This does not apply to travel medical insurance.

  26. contact@alifepassport.com'

    A Life Passport

    June 18, 2015

    Thank you for this list! I’m moving to London in September so I’ll be definitely taking this on board

  27. contact@wanderingislander.com'

    Marilia: wanderingislander.com

    June 18, 2015

    hahah this is actually a very good list, I couldn’t add much myself except for a reminder to enjoy the planning process & to have fun! Travelling is truly exciting even if it involves immunisations and having to pack your life away!

  28. Liv.gokart@gmail.com'

    Liv

    June 18, 2015

    I have a question about packing.
    You cannot pack a back with clothes for a whole year. So how do you deal with that?
    Do you wash your clothes while travelling or how are you doing it?

  29. kerjan@backpackbabe.com'

    Backpack Babe

    June 18, 2015

    This is WONDERFUL! I’m prepping for my first round the world journey and this covers all the things I need to get done. Pretty sure I’ll be printing this out, thanks for the tips! xx

    *currently at 3 months stage* coming up!

  30. nweile91@gmail.com'

    WeiLe Ng

    June 18, 2015

    What a great checklist started from a year before the departure date. I had travel long term before and I realised I’ve missed out a lot of steps. Instead I did all of them in 2 months before due to the spontaneous decision on the long term travel. The thing that I missed and regret the most was the first that you mentioned. “Why am I taking this trip”, I know the reason but I overlook some other small reasons that would helped me more.

  31. littlebirdaroundtheworldblog@gmail.com'

    Angie

    June 18, 2015

    This is a great list! I’m in the 2 months until departure stage and it sure was a relief to see that I am on track. Thanks for sharing!

  32. dmol1961@gmail.com'

    Denis

    June 18, 2015

    It’s silly to book your flights and then not book your insurance for months later. Book them both at the same time or you could end up losing the cost of a non-refundable ticket if you get sick and can’t go. Cancellation cover starts when you purchase the policy, the rest starts on your allotted travel date.

  33. spc4travel@hotmail.com'

    Sharon

    June 18, 2015

    Have I left it too late? Need to sell house want t go end of the year

  34. spc4travel@hotmail.com'

    Sharon

    June 18, 2015

    Planning to go but fear I have messed up my timeline especially as I have a house to clear and sell. Want to go by end of the year

  35. Sarahjs02@gmail.com'

    Sarah

    June 18, 2015

    I am currently at the 1 year mark before I leave New Zealand on a one-way ticket around the word with no desire to return. Love this post!

  36. c.myerscough@gmail.com'

    Cherology

    June 18, 2015

    This makes me want to just chuck everything in a suitcase and see the world.

  37. Melanie.k.andersen@gmail.com'

    Melanie Zelnick

    June 18, 2015

    These are great tips! I remember going through all of this before I moved to Indonesia!!
    Melanie @ meandmr.com

  38. purusothaman.prasanthi@gmail.com'

    Prasanthi

    June 18, 2015

    I love lists and this one is informative and fun! This is making me excited for my 6 month trip starting in 3 weeks!

  39. charactersandcarryons@gmail.com'

    Joyce

    June 18, 2015

    What a great list! Thanks for sharing this comprehensive and helpful list. I especially like that part about the banks and doctor’s check ups.

  40. kim.purcell4@gmail.com'

    Kimberly Purcell

    June 18, 2015

    Thanks for the fantastic list – certainly a great tool as I start to plan my trip! Budgeting always seems to be the hardest for me 🙂

  41. laurenslittleblogs@gmail.com'

    Lauren

    June 18, 2015

    great tips!

  42. thewanderingblondeblog@gmail.com'

    Kelly

    June 17, 2015

    This is a REALLY good list! Super detailed and organized. Definitely a good tool to bookmark!!

  43. anissa.butlin@googlemail.com'

    Anissa

    June 17, 2015

    I’m leaving for Japan in two weeks and will be backpacking for 4 months, which for me is long term as I’ve never been away from home for such a long time! I am so excited!

  44. hummingbirdawayblog@gmail.com'

    Katie

    June 17, 2015

    So impressed by this list. Long-term travel is mostly what I do, but despite my best plans and intentions I always find myself scrambling to complete half of my to-do list at the end. It’s hard to break those working-well-under-pressure habits I cultivated during all my years in school! Definitely keeping this timeline in mind for my next big trip 🙂

  45. alixmahe@ymail.com'

    Alix | Bisous des Caribous

    June 17, 2015

    Such a great checklist! I’m bookmarking this in the hopes I can use it one day…

    Alix

  46. Tess.i.gardiner@gmail.com'

    Tess

    June 17, 2015

    *Bookmarked*
    Currently at the 1 year stage! Meeeeeep!

  47. celinelcy86@gmail.com'

    Celine

    June 17, 2015

    How I wish I can plan for a long-term travel soon. Reading your blog is so inspiring.
    Here’s my little story to share.

  48. xo_shelbs_ox@Hotmail.com'

    Shelby

    June 17, 2015

    Awesome post! My boyfriend and I are actually planning a 3 month trip to Europe in the new year so will definitely keep this post handy :]

  49. karmapoliice@gmail.com'

    Tessa / Bramble & Thorn

    June 17, 2015

    This post has made me super nostalgic for my year of travel in 2012! I’d love to do it again, and definitely agree with your points!

    Tessa

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