Everyone should grab the opportunity to travel when they get the chance. However, while most people can only see the world for a month or two between the university and the real world or after saving for months, others could enjoy long-term travel that makes them wonder if they’ll ever go home.
Long-term travel is an exciting and rewarding experience, but like anything else, you must be prepared before you get on that plane and jet off to your first destination. If you have a travel itch that you can’t seem to scratch sitting at home, here is the ultimate guide to preparing for long-term travel.
Benefits Of Long Term Travel
While a quick getaway gives you the chance to throw yourself into an adventure for a few days, long-term travel brings many benefits that you cannot miss out on if you get the chance.
You Can Experience Lots of Cultures
Long-term travel offers something that a quick trip across the border can’t. Since you can visit so many different countries, you can experience an array of cultures. Travelers can enjoy different cuisines and dive deep into customs they’d only get to read about otherwise. This benefit can expand your horizons and broaden your mind, giving you a more succinct appreciation for other people and helping you understand the world better.
You Can Learn More About Yourself
You can also learn more about yourself and what you want from life. Many people travel in between big moments in their lives. They don’t know what they want to do, so they explore the world to see what stands out to them. Long-term travel can maximize this opportunity as you could encounter people or activities you love and completely change your outlook. By the time you get home, you’ll know who you are.
You Can Meet New People
It’s always fun to meet new people while traveling, and long-term travel gives you plenty of opportunities to make friends, whether through hostels, walking tours, or group trips when you all band together to face your fears. These friends could become a valuable part of your experience and if you’re traveling alone, they might offer some companionship until you need to part ways.
You Could Find Unique Opportunities
Whether you prefer luxury adventures or love to rough it and see where life takes you, long-term travel might introduce you to unique opportunities. These opportunities could manifest through people you meet or experiences you have. You might even stumble across your future partner or find a career that you want to pursue rather than resigning yourself to going back to your office job when it’s all over.
You Can Enjoy A Permanent Summer
If you live somewhere with seasons and hate the cold long-term travel lets you enjoy a permanent summer. You can visit countries on the equator and spend your Decembers on the beach, or you can leapfrog around various continents and countries to enjoy some variety while still never needing to wrap up warm.
Preparing for Long Term Travel
Now that you know the benefits of long-term travel, it’s time to consider how to prepare for your trip. This isn’t as simple as throwing your clothes into a suitcase and running out the door. Since you’re going away for so long, you make sure you’re ready for everything that could happen while you’re away.
Set Up Your Budget
Travel isn’t cheap, and long-term travel is bound to cost you much more than you’d expect since, for the most part, you’re purchasing at least three meals a day rather than having the chance to make dishes at home.
You should outline your budget before you book your flight. It’s also worth looking at cheaper destinations that help your money go further. If possible, see if you can still earn some money by doing freelance jobs while you’re away, or ask your family to access your savings and send money online if your funds start running low.
Plan Your Destinations
It’s useful to know where you’re going or want to go during your travels, so plotting some destinations is a great way to ensure you don’t get too swept up in one place. After all, you didn’t travel just to stay in one city or on one beach. You want to see as much as possible.
However, don’t feel like your destinations need to be too strict. You can still enjoy some flexibility by purchasing refundable tickets if you realize you don’t want to go somewhere or you find a better way to travel. This flexibility is ideal for long-term travel because you never feel like you’re anchored to anywhere for too long.
Get Your Shots
Getting your shots gives you the best chance of seeing as many places as possible, so research which vaccines to get for destinations like Thailand or South America. These shots will mostly be the same, although there could be some countries that require more vaccinations depending on where you’re traveling. Not only will these vaccines protect you from diseases, but they will also make it easier to gain entry to some countries if immigration officers ask to see your medical card.
Research Visa Requirements
Depending on which passport you hold, you can enter most countries visa-free as long as you’re not staying for too long. However, if you don’t know how long you want to stay, you may need to apply for a visa before you arrive. Places like Vietnam require you to apply for entry permission and sponsorship so look for services that offer this. Other countries, like Thailand and Indonesia, offer visas upon entry.
Pack For All Seasons
Even if you’re chasing a permanent summer, you should still pack suitable clothes for all seasons. Warm clothes can help you stay comfortable if you end up somewhere you didn’t expect or if your destination is unseasonably chilly. Furthermore, if you’re doing any hikes or multi-day treks, you’ll need something to keep you warm overnight.
Despite this, you shouldn’t overpack, as you’ll feel silly lugging a huge backpack or suitcase around full of clothes you never used. Instead, opt for lightweight but protective clothing that doesn’t take up too much room.
Connect With Friends
Traveling can be lonely, especially if you go solo. If you have friends already out there, you can ease into your long-term travel experience by connecting with them. They may be staying at a hotel or hostel that they love, so they can tell you how to get there and help you settle in.
Even if they aren’t traveling, you can still speak to friends who have visited these countries before. They might be able to put you in touch with others or offer recommendations of where to stay and what to do so you don’t feel too overwhelmed by everything.
Create Copies Of Your Documents
Although you hope you can get through your trip without losing or damaging your passport, you never know what could happen. You might get caught in a sudden monsoon which soaks your luggage through. You might drop your wallet while rushing through the city to return to your hostel.
Copies of your documents can ease your stress and mean you don’t need to take your valuable items everywhere. You might encounter police in some countries who want to see if you’re there legally, so showing them a copy of your passport and entry stamp can satisfy them.
Get Travel Insurance
Similarly, you should get travel insurance to protect you if anything goes wrong. Although healthcare is relatively cheap while traveling compared to the U.S., it’s still money you may not want to lose because you got sick or injured.
Finding the best long-term travel insurance options can put your mind at ease, as many services can offer coverage for up to 18 months and include multiple destinations. You may be able to adjust your policy as you go, and you don’t need to be in your home country when you first apply.
Have An Emergency Plan
You may encounter an emergency while you’re traveling, whether because of extreme weather, illness, or even political strife. While you want to focus on the positives, you should also know what to do in an emergency. Discuss your options with your travel group and always tell your family where you’re going so they can keep tabs on you while you’re away and help you get home if needed.
Book Your Flight Home
You might never want to go home, but having a ticket back to your country can make your travel easier. Some immigration officers want to see that you have an exit ticket so you don’t overstay, and they will ask you to show this upon arrival. However, you don’t need to stick to this ticket. Purchase a cheap (and changeable) ticket before you leave so you have evidence and can change the flight dates if you need to.
Your long-term travel experience may not be far away.; these will help you feel more prepared for the adventure. Whether you’re looking for a classic budget backpacking experience where you hostel hops with the friends you make along the way or enjoy the luxury resorts you’ve always felt you deserve, you can make the most of your trip, and you might never want to come home.