Logistical Preparations and Resources
So far, we’ve defined why you want to travel and what you’re going to do with your stuff.
Now, let’s dive into the meat of preparing for long-term travel!
Designate an Official Representative
Choose a trusted friend or family member at home to be your “official representative” while you’re abroad. They’ll keep copies (and in some cases, originals) of your ID and important documents and can help you in a pinch while you’re abroad.
My official representative (hi, Mum!) even has Power of Attorney for me, so she can do banking and other tasks on my behalf.
Make Copies of Everything
Photocopy your passport, all IDs (such as your driver’s license, front and back), credit cards, insurance policies, etc. Leave copies of everything with your official representative, and keep copies for yourself and your traveling partner, if you have one.
I travel with all my official document copies in a plastic folder. I also keep a photocopy of my passport and travel insurance info in my wallet at all times. In addition, I have electronic copies of all this information, encrypted on a USB stick.
Eliminate Your Mail
In the months approaching your departure, eliminate all unnecessary mail. Switch over to electronic statements and notifications, and unsubscribe from unnecessary mailing lists.
Sort Out a Mailing Address
Ideally, your official representative can also act as your mailing address and alert you when you receive mail. If that’s not possible, set up a Virtual Mailing Service.
Get an International Driver’s License
If you want to rent or buy a car abroad, some countries won’t recognize your driver’s license. In these cases, you’ll need an international driver’s license/permit. It’s cheap and easy to get, but you need to do it before you go.
Get Travel Insurance
I’ve had to use travel insurance abroad a few times; don’t scrimp on this! Depending on where you’re from and how long you’re traveling, you can get away with travel insurance: cheap and cheerful. For this, I recommend World Nomads.
But if you’re traveling for years, you may not qualify for basic travel insurance. In this case, you’ll need International Medical Insurance (aka Expat Insurance).
Get an Unlocked Phone
You’ll lose your shirt on roaming fees if you travel with your home phone plan! With an unlocked phone, I can insert a local SIM card wherever I go, and I usually spend less than $10 a month for my phone and internet needs.
Make a Packing List
Now for the fun part! Standard packing rules dictate that you lay out everything you want to pack, then get rid of half, and then half again. The weight of your bag is equally proportionate to your level of misery on the road! I started off with way too much stuff (like everybody) and pared it down until eventually, I traveled the world full time with carry-on luggage only.
To give you a hint, I categorize everything as follows:
• Clothing: The more versatile, the better! I love clothing that can be worn multiple ways (but for the record, I despite convertible pants).
• Footwear: Walking/hiking shoes, sandals, and some throwaway flip-flops should do. Perhaps some lightweight ballet flats for women if you have room.
• Toiletries & Meds: These are rather personal. The basic set usually includes soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and medicines you take on permanent basis. I’m a huge fan of Lush and their solid toiletries (like shampoo). It’s natural, lasts forever, and is perfect for carry-on trips.
• Electronics: The less expensive equipment you need to keep track of, the better. If you’re not running an online business, I suggest a smartphone, tablet/e-reader, and camera (only if your smartphone won’t suffice).
• Extras: Deck of cards, sun hat, exercise bands, water bottle, headlamp, and other essentials round out the packing list.
We’ve covered off the basic logistics; tomorrow, we’ll delve into preparing your finances for long-term travel!
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