Heading out of the country for a while?! Well, how freaking excited are you? A little nervous too but mostly excited – oh, we know the feeling. It’s easy to get carried away thinking about the many month trip ahead of you but there are important things to take care of at home before leaving for a long trip.
If you take care of these before you leave, it’ll spare you some headaches abroad. Meaning, your future shelf will thank you 🙂
Jump Ahead To:
1) Make Sure Your Passport Is Up-To-Date
Consider this your MOST important thing.
Ha, if your passport isn’t up to date, meaning not-expired, you our friend are not going anywhere.
Most countries require your passport be valid 6-months before entering the country and 6-months after leaving the country. Do yourself a favor, go check your passport…NOW.
2) Get Your Vaccinations
Say it with us, “Vac-cin-a-tions.” Mucho importante!
One of the first things we took care of before leaving on our 8-month journey through Southeast Asia and Nepal was we got vaccinated. The CDC was our reference for what shots we needed to get before we landed and began our epic backpacking journey.
Once you know the handful of vaccinations you need, make an appointment at your local health center to receive those vaccines. The last thing you want is to get so ill that you are on your deathbed battling typhoid. Why that may sound dramatic, horror stories happen and when traveling you should take the “better safe than sorry” approach.
TIP: Start this process on the sooner side as some vaccinations require two to three rounds of treatment.
3) Buy Travel Insurance
One of the single most important things we did for ourselves, as well as our family, was to buy travel insurance through World Nomads.
We cannot recommend their services enough. Whenever we got hurt and needed to go to a hospital in Asia (yes, there were more times than one), World Nomads saved the day. We were covered under their plan so we didn’t pay hundreds of dollars in medical fees.
Also, if the worst of the worst happens….say death or you have to be airlifted home (not to scare you, but things can happen). You don’t want your family to have to pay for that out of pocket. World Nomads covers all of it.
It’s really the smart way to travel and above all, protect yourself from harm so you can KEEP on traveling.
TIP: If you think you might stay longer than planned, go ahead and buy the extra month or two of travel insurance upfront. It’s cheaper to buy one long policy upfront than add onto it later.
4) Take A Look at Your Bills
If you are going to be traveling for a while, safe to say you don’t want to be paying for anything at home you won’t be using, right? Take a look at those monthly bills of yours and see what you can get rid of.
- Monthly Memberships:
- Think gym, food delivery services, etc. Cancel them so you don’t end up paying all those monthly fees for something you’re not using while you are traveling.
- Student Loans:
- Oh, those dreaded student loans. Honestly, there are two options you have 1) keep paying them and add those monthly payments into your monthly travel budget or 2) stop paying them and go into forbearance. If you stop paying your loans, the interest will continue to accumulate but you won’t have to worry about those monthly payments. Your options can be discussed in detail with your student loan provider. Our recommendation is to definitely know your options and figure out what works best for you before making a decision.
- Make sure you don’t leave home without turning off your utilities, cable or internet. Or, if someone is taking over your place while you’re away, make sure their name is on your bills. The last thing you want is to get an email or phone call saying you owe hundreds or even thousands of dollars in unpaid utility bills.
- Car Payments:
- Do you own a car? If yes, consider selling it. Ha, sounds dramatic, but that’s what we did. We sold our cars and paid off our remaining auto loans. Whatever was left after our auto loans were paid off, we stashed away a few thousand dollars of it and then with the remaining money, we bought ourselves a used car. This way, we had no monthly car payments and we had a car to come home to once we returned from a long-term trip.
TIP: Sell your car and don’t buy another one at all…travel longer!
4) Figure Out Your Phone Plan
Your beloved phone. Oh, your beloved phone. You have a few choices in terms of payments. You honestly need to figure out what is best for you…
- Buy an international plan and pay those monthly fees
- Don’t buy an international phone plan and only be able to use your phone when you’re connected to WiFi. Your monthly fee will be whatever you owe on your phone or a minimal monthly fee to keep your plan and phone number active.
- Don’t buy an international phone plan and just pay for SIM cards along the way.
- Side note: If you do this, it’ll require someone to “unlock your phone.” Meaning, you won’t be able to use your phone again when you get home. When your phone becomes “unlocked” this allows you to use the country your in SIM card. You can buy SIM cards in whatever country you are visiting and always refill up on data when you are getting low.
- Another option is to migrate your phone number to google voice, which is free. This option is another great way to save your existing phone number without paying a monthly fee. You can also buy “a la carte minutes” through google voice to use your phone abroad.
TIP: If you want to go the “unlock your phone” route, our tip is to bring a second phone with you. Your second phone can be an old phone/one you don’t care about.
5) Talk To Your Debit & Credit Card Companies
A huuuuge pain in the butt is being in a foreign country at an ATM and having your card not work!
To avoid this, call your credit and debit card companies ahead of time and give them a heads up when you are leaving the country, where you are traveling to and when (if you know) you’ll be coming back home.
This gives them a heads up that it is in fact you in Thailand withdrawing money and not someone else trying to have a good time off your hard-earned cash.
6) Get Organized
One of the things we are so grateful for was that we took the time to get organized before we left home. A few simple things ahead of time can save you a load of headaches in the long run.
- Get a Shared Cloud Drive
- Google is amazing. If you have a Gmail account, you have Google Drive. We used Google Drive for everything. From uploading our trip photos to having copies of important documents. Basically, anything you can think of that would come in handy in the form of a digital copy, upload it to Google Drive. Google drive also allows you to make files available offline so you can access them without wifi or data in times of need.
- Make Copies Of…
- Leave some with family, place extras in your bag and then load them to Google Drive too. Oh and the copies you have with you, it wouldn’t hurt to have them laminated to avoid damage.
- Vaccination Card
- This is the card you’ll get from the health clinic after you received your vacations for the trip. Load this onto Google Drive & leave a copy with your family.
- Eyeglasses/Contact Prescriptions.
- How bad would it suck if you lost your contacts & glasses while aboard? Have a copy of your prescription on backup so you can go to a local shop and get new lenses.
- Save Addresses:
- Call us old school but who doesn’t love a good postcard or gift from friends? Lucky for you, you get to be that person that makes your friends and family smile! Save addresses in your phone so you can easily mails gifts or postcards home.
- So when you quit your job to travel, your work needs to send your tax paperwork somewhere, right? Have someone lined up at home, mom, dad or trusted friend, that can do your taxes for you while you’re gone. Have them setup to receive whatever documentation that is needed and give them the details they’ll need to complete your taxes for you. Believe us, you want that tax return! Hello mooooore travel money ☺
7) International Driver’s License
Something we really didn’t need in Southeast Asia, but wanted to include it in this list just in case you may need it.
If you plan on renting a car, having an international driver license isn’t a bad idea.
Any local AAA office in town can get you what you need. Head into the office, pay the $20 fee and boom, you have your international driver’s license.
8) Figure Out Your Mail
If you’re not living at your residence anymore, have your mail forwarded to a family members house.
If you are keeping your residence while traveling, talk with a family member about picking up your mail and sorting through it every now and again to make sure no important pieces of mail are being missed.
EX: While we were away, Lauren got summoned for Jury Duty. If her dad wouldn’t have been going through our mail, she could have been in a bit of pickle (like a warrant) with the state.
9) Get Extra Visa Pictures
If you are going to be traveling to multiple countries that require a visa, consider getting a handful of extra passport size pictures for that visa.
For visas, countries typically will require 2 passport sized pictures. Buying passport size pictures outright can be super expensive. Instead, we found a site, ePassport Photo, that allowed us to take photos from home and was waaaay cheaper than buying them from Walgreens.
Hopefully after reading this you have a pretty good checklist on things to take care of at home before leaving for a long trip. Even though this time may be chaotic and overwhelming, you’re about to embark on amazing adventure. Enjoy every single moment!
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For more travel tips, guides and awesome travel shots, be sure to poke around our site, follow us on Instagram @wanderingstus, Pinterest and on Facebook. Oh, and if you have any questions, let us know in the comment section. We’re happy to answer. Or, just leave us a positive note!
– Lauren & Jesse Stuart (The Stüs)