If you’ve landed on this post, chances are you’ve got a big trip ahead of you. And by big, I mean BIG. Extended. Multi-month. I could not be more excited for you!
I had the luxury of quitting my boring tech job back in 2018 and traveling across Europe by myself, so I totally know what it feels like to be excited and jittery at the same time during the months/weeks before the trip!
But before you fully unplug and leave your existing world behind, let’s talk about the necessary things that you must consider before your trip.
I know, you’re excited to jet off and leave your current world behind you. With all that excitement flowing, it could be easy to forget the small logistical stuff.
Before taking off on that epic world adventure, let’s make sure you have everything in order so you can have the most worry-free, stress-free time of your life! Read on and make sure you’re all set with these tasks/items before your trip.
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10 Things You’ll Need To Prepare Before An Extended Trip
Table of Contents
CONSOLIDATE YOUR BILLS AND EXPENSES
The most cost-effective way to take a multi-month trip is by getting rid of all your rent altogether.
I know this isn’t as easy as it sounds, but if you can swing it, it will save you at least a few thousand dollars (especially if you live in a high-rent area like me—shout out to California and the ever-increasing high cost of living…).
But maybe you’re mid-lease, meaning you can’t just up and move all of your stuff out. Consider subletting your apartment or your room out for the duration of your trip.
Wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to NOT pay rent and instead, spend all that money on food, hotels, and experiences rather than paying for an empty apartment or room that you’re not even going to be staying in?
By bills, I’m referring to the car payment, phone bills, credit card bills, streaming subscriptions, gym memberships, etc. Two thoughts here for you.
Can you eliminate some of these expenses, either temporarily or permanently? Some subscription services or gym memberships will let you put your membership on hold.
Maybe you’ve evaluated these expenses and realized that you weren’t really using them enough to back into the cost. Even better! Cut ’em.
Sell your car, or rent it out. Get creative with it.
Can you automate these payments? If you can’t let these things go, make sure that you are aware of payment due dates so you don’t miss any payments while you’re out galavanting the world. You have better things to do than worry about bills when you’re traveling.
GET SOME TRAVEL INSURANCE
It is likely that your current health insurance won’t cover you while you’re traveling abroad. Depending on where you’re going, consider buying travel insurance that includes emergency medical insurance, trip interruption, and cancellation insurance.
Some travel credit cards cover this, but only portions of your trip where you’ve ‘purchased’ it with the card. For all other moments, travel insurance provided by a travel insurance company is ideal.
I didn’t personally get travel insurance for my 3 month Europe trip, but looking back on it now that I’m in my 30s — that probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do. Anything could happen at ANYTIME. I was playing way too risky back then!
You can weigh out your options and judge for yourself, but it’s always good to be safe than sorry.
Travel Insurance For International Trips
This is a no-brainer. When traveling internationally, be sure to get yourself some travel insurance.
I’ve heard of too many unfortunate experiences where friends and family have had baggage lost/stolen, hotels canceled, or have had unexpected medical emergencies while traveling where they’ve had to cut their trips short.
True story alert — in 2022, my partner even had his shoulder completely dislocated while surfing in Mexico, resulting in a $950 USD emergency room bill that we had to pay out of pocket for! Not fun… and most definitely not cheap.
Without travel insurance, you would have to pay out of pocket for these mishaps. This is why I get travel insurance for all my international trips now!
One of the best budget-friendly travel insurances for those traveling outside their home country is SafetyWing.
SafetyWing Insurance provides coverage for unexpected illness or injury, including eligible expenses for hospital, doctor or prescription drugs. This means that if you get ill or injured, THEY will cover the medical expenses.
In addition, it provides emergency travel-related benefits such as:
- emergency medical evacuation – very much needed if you like to go hiking or backpacking in the wild.
- travel delay
- lost checked luggage
- adventure sports coverage (add-on) – so you can rappel down waterfalls, cave dive, mountain bike, scuba dive, etc. with peace of mind.
- electronics theft (add-on) – get reimbursed if your laptop, phone, camera or other electronics get stolen.
SELL YOUR BELONGINGS
This one’s actually quite fun and satisfying! We really don’t realize how much junk we accumulate in life until we find a reason to evaluate our belongings.
As I was in transition and moving from Los Angeles back to my parent’s house in the Bay Area, I had to take inventory of what I owned before I left for my multi-month trip.
I didn’t want to come back to the US to a ton of useless crap stuffed in a room, so I adopted a minimalist mindset and made it a mission to sell what I didn’t absolutely need. Not only did I feel more refreshed and less bogged down by the amount of stuff I owned, I made good money that I ultimately used to fund my travels!
Got a gaming console that you don’t use anymore? Sell it on eBay.
Got furniture that you no longer want? Sell it on Facebook Marketplace.
Got clothes that don’t fit or are out of rotation in your closet? Sell it on Poshmark or at a local buy/sell/trade shop.
Got a boatload of crap you don’t know how to sell or can’t be bothered to post individually? Hold a garage sale or rent a stall at your local swap meet or flea market and get rid of it.
You have tons of money-making options here!
GET A TRAVEL-FRIENDLY DEBIT CARD (AND CREDIT CARD)
We all know that travel credit cards are a must. But don’t forget to consider those pesky ATM fees you incur each time you pull out money from your checking account!
If you’re traveling for more than a few weeks, chances are you’ll be withdrawing local currencies out of ATMs more than a few times. Luckily, there’s a solution for these annoying fees.
Open up a new checking account and get a debit card that’s actually travel-friendly!
You’ve got some options for checking accounts and debit cards for international travel:
Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking® Account. With this account, Charles Schwab Bank doesn’t charge you to use an ATM, even ones in foreign countries. The bank refunds all ATM-operator fees at the end of each month.
This is the one I use and it’s such a relief to be able to go up to any ATM without worrying about an extra $5 charge here or there. If you do get charged a fee, Schwab will just reimburse you at the end of the month. Easy peasy. When signing up, you’ll have to open a brokerage account as well, but it just sits there and I just ignore it.
Capital One® 360 Checking® Account. While Capital One doesn’t charge an ATM fee if you use the 360 Checking MasterCard® Debit Card to withdraw money from an ATM, it won’t reimburse you if the ATM operator charges you a fee. However, you can avoid operator fees by withdrawing money from Capital One Bank–branded ATM or Allpoint ATMs within the U.S., Canada, U.K., Puerto Rico, Australia or Mexico.
For credit card purchases, make sure you have a card that doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee. Otherwise, you may pay an extra 3% or so for purchases in another currency. If you do use your credit card, make it a habit to check your online statement at least once a week while traveling to make sure there are no fraudulent charges.
GET YOUR HANDS ON A STUDENT ID CARD
A lot of museums and attractions offer discounted admission for students. Some of them apply to EU students only, others apply to students from all walks of life. I am no longer a student, but I like to save money when I can, so I still whip out my student ID card from time to time. Judge me if you want.
Unfortunately, my UC Berkeley ID card is long gone, but I did get one from one of my friends who had an extra, sweet! I can’t tell you enough how many times this has come in handy, saving a few bucks here and there. AND, you might even come across some larger savings!
For example, when I went to Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia, I was appalled to find out that an adult admission ticket was 250 kuna during the summer season, which was equivalent to almost $40 USD (what is this, an amusement park?!).
Luckily I was carrying around that student ID card, borrowed exclusively for these sorts of things, and instead, I paid 160 kunas which, at the time, was equivalent to ~$25 USD. That’s $15 that I was able to keep in my pocket to be spent on something else later on.
GET YOUR HEALTH IN ORDER
Before I said goodbye to North America for the summer, I made sure to see my primary treating physician, dentist, and eye doctor.
I let my medical doctor know that I was going to be out of the country for at least 3 months and was able to get my prescriptions filled for 4 months so that I didn’t run out at any point during my trip.
I had my teeth cleaned, obtained a new prescription for my eyeballs, and stocked up on contact lenses.
If you use medication, make sure you have enough to last throughout the duration of your trip. Carry a copy of your prescription for added security.
Don’t forget about travel vaccinations! Utilize the CDC website to keep up to date on the latest health issues around the world that may concern you specifically.
If you’re traveling to a country where disease is rampant, make an appointment with a travel nurse to discuss the necessary steps. Ideally, you’d want to get this done 6 weeks before you travel for maximum protection.
DOUBLE-CHECK YOUR PASSPORTS AND VISAS
Make sure your passport and visa are up to date.
When traveling to most countries, your passport must have at least six months of validity remaining after your planned return date. This is a common requirement for international travel and is meant to ensure that travelers have a valid passport throughout their trip.
For example, if you plan to travel to France for a month-long vacation and your return date is August 15th, your passport must be valid until at least February 15th of the following year (six months after your return date). If your passport expires before that date, you may be denied entry into France or any other country with a similar requirement.
Check if you need a visa for the countries you’ll be visiting and apply for them in advance if necessary. Get a visa if a country you’re visiting requires it.
SET UP INTERNATIONAL PHONE / INTERNET CONNECTIVITY
Make sure you have a phone plan that works in the countries you’ll be visiting, or consider getting a local SIM card.
T-Mobile is a mobile service provider that offers free international texting and internet to its customers — this is what I have. This can be very useful for travelers who want to stay connected while abroad without incurring high roaming charges.
However, the free international texting and internet may not be sufficient or fast enough for you, especially if you need faster internet speeds or want to make calls. In this case, getting a local SIM card or using a service like Airalo may be a better option.
A local SIM card (can be purchased at airports once you land) can provide faster internet speeds and calling options, as well as more affordable data plans. This is because local providers often offer better rates for data and calling within their own country. By getting a local SIM card, you can use your phone just like a local would, without incurring high roaming charges.
Airalo is a digital service that offers affordable international eSIMs for travelers. These eSIMs eliminate the need for physical SIM cards and provide affordable high-speed internet and calling options in many countries around the world.
They can be purchased and installed in advance of a trip and activated upon arrival in the destination country.
THINK THROUGH YOUR PACKING LIST
Make a packing list and pack ONLY what you need.
Overpacking is an all-too-common mistake made by many travelers, especially those who are new to traveling. It can be tempting to pack everything you think you might need, but this can result in carrying unnecessary weight around the world.
Not only can overpacking be physically tiring, but it can also be stressful and downright annoying when trying to navigate unfamiliar airports, train stations, and streets!
By packing only what you need, you’ll have more space and less weight to carry around, making your travels more comfortable and enjoyable. Leaving some space in your luggage can be useful for bringing back gifts and souvenirs for your family and friends back home.
To avoid overpacking, think through your packing list carefully. Make a list of essential items, such as clothing (capsule wardrobes are best), versatile and comfortable running / walking shoes, toiletries, and important documents, and stick to it.
Remember to also include any necessary medications and travel adapters in your packing list. You should pack these items in your carry-on luggage, in case your checked luggage gets lost or delayed!
To keep extra organized with your packing, opt for a really good set of packing cubes!
SET UP “ICE” CONTACTS IN YOUR PHONE
Having an “ICE” label in your phone on your emergency contacts is important when preparing for your trip because it can help emergency responders quickly identify who to contact in case of an emergency. “ICE” stands for “In Case of Emergency” and is a way to identify who your emergency contact is.
Here are some practical travel tips you’ll want to consider doing before your extended trip:
- Add an “ICE” label to your emergency contacts: Before you leave for your trip, add an “ICE” label in your phone to your emergency contacts. This will help emergency responders quickly identify who to contact in case of an emergency.
- Keep your emergency contacts up to date: Make sure your emergency contacts are up to date in your phone, and that they have all the necessary information there is to know, such as your travel itinerary and any medical conditions you have.
- Carry a copy of your emergency contacts with you: Carry a copy of your emergency contacts with you at all times (like in your wallet or taped in your passport), in case you need to provide this information to emergency responders. Make a list of emergency contacts, including your family, friends, and embassy, and carry it with you at all times.
Other obvious things…
- Search and download useful travel apps and offline maps beforehand.
- Share your travel plans with the people who care about you. Especially if you’re traveling alone!
- Keep extra copies of documents on hand
Got all of these things prepared? Then take a deep breath, rest easy, and go enjoy yourself. You deserve it.
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