Sell your home, store all of your belongings, quit your job and say goodbye to your loved ones. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong.
In all honesty, prior to heading out on an epic adventure, you will be stressed out months beforehand and constantly wondering: Am I making the right decision? The answer: YES!
Preparing to travel around the world can seem nerve-wracking. However, once you are on the road, all of your stresses will be gone.
The people you will meet, the sights you will see, the variety of foods you will sample and the experiences you will have along the way are memories you will never forget. Take it from us, these life-changing moments are priceless.
Deciding to drop everything and travel around the world can seem like an impossible dream. But it’s not. We’ve put together this list of the steps you’ll need to take in order to make your dreams of travelling around the world a reality.
Table of Contents
Making the Decision
The first step is realizing (or admitting) that you want to get more out of your life.
Sitting in a cubicle from 9-5 and spending your hard-earned cash on material things is completely fine if you’ve found a career you love and appreciate that type of lifestyle.
For us, we need something different. That typical way of life just isn’t going to cut it.
Make Sure Your Passport is Current
Next up for preparing to travel around the world is making sure your passport is up to date. Before allowing you to enter their country, most governments will require you to have at least 6 months left on your passport before it expires.
If you are planning to travel around the world for a year or more, you will definitely need to make sure you have an ample amount of time left on your passport.
Your passport is everything when you are traveling. It’s your ticket in (and out) of countries…we’ve heard so many horror stories of people losing this important document, treat it like your lifeline!
You will also need to make sure you have enough blank pages left in your passport for visa stamps and stickers.
Check Your Finances
The next step is taking a look at your financial situation. Do you have enough money to travel around the world?
The budget you will need for a world trip will depend greatly on where you are going and what kind of travel style you will have.
If you’re a solo budget backpacker travelling to SE Asia, expect to live off of $1,000/month. If you’re travelling to Africa, expect that to be more likely between $1,500 – $2,000.
If you’re going to the Sub-Continent (India, Sri Lanka and Nepal) you can live off of $800 in a month. For the Middle East, expect your budget to be about $1,800/month. For 2 people travelling together, take those figures and add 50%.
If you are low on money, there are other ways to get around this money issue. The most obvious is to sell your assets (home, vehicles, furniture, cash in some stocks, etc.)
If you are desperate to leave the mundane behind and search for something new, you could also spend less money while on the road by couchsurfing, house-sitting, working in exchange for food and accomodation (WOOFING or Workaway) or working for a salary while travelling (picking fruit, bartending, teaching English, etc.)
Don’t let the low funds in your bank account deter you from living your dream, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
☞ SEE ALSO: How to Find Free Accommodation Around The World
Decide on an Itinerary
Once you’ve come to the conclusion that you are ready to travel around the world, you will need to figure out where you want to go and come up with some sort of rough itinerary. That’s the fun and easy part.
Do some research online, check out some forums, our favourite travel blogs and go to the local library or bookstore to read some guidebooks (Lonely Planet being our book of choice).
Ask yourself: What am I interested in? What would I like to experience?
Is it… Beaches? Parties? Ancient Sites? Ruins & Temples? Culture? The Great Outdoors? Wildlife? Figure that part out first.
If it’s beaches, relaxing in hammocks, jungles, living the slow paced life, or the occasional party, then you’ll probably be interested in somewhere tropical like SE Asia, the Caribbean or Central America.
If you’re more into seeing ancient sites, ruins, and temples, then maybe the Middle East, northern Africa, Europe, parts of South America and Asia are for you.
If you’re into culture, the outdoors, wildlife & some untouched beaches, then perhaps southern and eastern Africa should be on your travel list.
If you’re into physical outdoor activities and stunning natural scenery, then South Africa, North America (Canada and the USA), South America and parts of the Subcontinent (Nepal) are great options.
While planning our second big trip, we bought a map of the world and had it posted to our wall with sticky tags marking our possible destinations.
Should we go to the Middle East before Africa, or after? Should we revisit some of our favourite places in SE Asia? Do you want to up the budget a bit and do a safari?!
Planning where to go is very exciting. It became a little project for us and really gave us something to look forward to each night. Getting ready to travel should be a joyful time.
Check the Visa Entry Requirements
After choosing an itinerary, make sure you check out the visa situation for the countries you want to travel to.
A visa is a stamp or sticker that you get when you cross a border into another country. Whether you are arriving by land or by air, you will need to show your passport and receive this entry stamp. You will also receive a stamp when you exit a country.
Many visa stamps and stickers are available on arrival at immigration, others need to be purchased in advance.
Most visas allow you to stay in the country for 30 days. Some allow for up to 6 months. Some visas are free, others aren’t.
The most expensive visa we’ve ever paid for was the one for Mozambique, $108/person (worth every penny!) Always check the visa situation of a country before going there.
You don’t want to find yourself at the airport excited for your next journey and then be denied boarding and sent back to your hotel.
Research Required Vaccinations
Next up is finding out which vaccinations you will need. This is easy. Head to your local travel clinic and discuss your overseas plans with the doctor there.
They will advise you on which shots are required for entry into certain countries and ones that are recommended for your health and safety.
Make sure to do this at least 2 months prior to travel as some of the shots will need to be spaced out over a certain period of time.
As an example, when we left Kenya and crossed the border into Tanzania, we were required to show proof of a Yellow Fever Vaccination, or we would have been denied entry. This shot is also required when travelling to South America and other parts of Africa.
Get Travel Insurance
This is the one thing that you should absolutely travel with. At just a dollar or so per day, having insurance gives you the peace of mind you need to enjoy adventures around the world.
We’ve used (or currently use) and recommend World Nomads, Safety Wing, and Allianz.
Can You Rent a Car?
If you plan on renting a vehicle during your travels, make sure to research whether or not you need an International Driver’s Licence. These are easy to obtain, but you need to get them in advance. Some countries require you to have one when renting a vehicle, some do not. We use and recommend IDL Services.
Prepare a Variety of Payment Methods
A common question that we get asked is: How do you pay for your trip while abroad?
We suggest using an ATM/debit card while travelling. This is the easiest and most practical way of taking out money. There are ATM machines all over the world.
Make sure your bank card is on the cirrus or plus network. Look into different banks and see what kind of withdrawal fees they will have for overseas transactions.
The local ATM will charge you, as will your bank at home. Depending on which debit card and credit card you have, fees can add up quickly.
We carry a credit card, debit card, local currency and some US dollars.
If a bank machine isn’t working, you’re out of local currency, and credit cards aren’t accepted, you can always exchange the US dollars for local cash.
It’s a good idea to have a few options available to you. You don’t want to be stranded without any money!
Book Your Flight
The biggest and most thrilling thing you will check off of your travel to-do list will be booking your flight around the world!
Check out Google Flights or Expedia for discounts. We have found some great deals using these search engines.
Make sure to source out a few different dates before finalizing the booking. If you leave on a weekend it usually costs more. If you travel during the holiday time in your destination, the prices of flights will have increased significantly.
Search around for a while before committing to a flight. Find out more about searching for cheap flights here.
Choose Your Luggage and Start Packing
You will need to choose a form of luggage to carry all of your gear. Depending on where you’re going, that may be a backpack, or a suitcase.
If you’ll be boat hopping, trekking, or visiting remote destinations without much infrastructure, you’ll probably want to opt for a backpack. We use and recommend Osprey.
Suitcases are a great option if you don’t want to carry something on your back, want everything to be more organized, and if you’ll be visiting more mainstream destinations (Europe, USA, etc.). Samsonite makes great suitcases.
Once you’ve chosen your luggage, it’s time to start packing. It may sound cliché, but the traveler’s motto is true: “lay out what you think you will need, then cut that in half”.
Again, what you bring depends on your trip and travel style. If you’re going on a long-term backpacking trip around the world, you’ll be a minimalist. If you’re going on a month away to Italy and Spain, you’ll probably want to bring some nicer outfits.
Regardless, always pack a first aid kit of some sort, and any medicines you need to take as they can be hard to find abroad. See our packing list for travel here.
Once you’ve completed all of the above, all that’s left to do is take off on your trip abroad. This is sure to be a life-changing experience, enjoy every minute of it!
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