Preparing for Your Long-Term Travels
After yesterday’s teaser, are you inspired to hit the road? Great! But before you book that ticket, read today’s lesson.
Defining Your Trip
The beauty of long-term travel is that there are no rules. No budget, timeline, or route. It’s different for everybody.
Unfortunately, that alone stops some people before they start. The sheer variety of possibilities can inspire “choice paralysis,” making it easier to stick to status quo.
Here’s an exercise to help define the parameters of your travels. Nothing is written in stone, and what you don’t know, you’ll figure out. Just go with your gut and answer the following questions:
Question #1: Why do you want to travel?
• Are you in it for the adventure? For trekking, skydiving, and scuba diving?
• Are you a foodie? Does Vietnam street food, French cooking classes, ceviche in Peru, and sushi in Japan turn you on?
• Would you like to volunteer? You can give back to the world or simply earn your keep with volunteering.
• Are you a linguist? Perhaps you’ll do homestays around the world while learning new languages.
Even if you’re not sure where or how you’ll do any of this, it’s good to have an idea of why you want to travel the world. For me, the bottom line was cultural exploration; I wanted to break bread at dinner tables around the world.
Question #2: How long is your trip?
If your trip has an end date, great; it will help you determine what to do with your stuff (see below). If it’s open ended, also great. Keep reading.
Question #3: Where will you go?
Again, it’s okay if you don’t know, but if you’re drawn to a specific part of the world, this will help you set your budget and search for opportunities. Also, ask yourself if you’d prefer rural or urban settings; cities cost more but provide a wider range of activities than rural gigs, which nurture a different part of the soul.
Question #4: What accommodation are you looking for?
Are you young and single and game for hostel dorm rooms? Or are you a retiring couple wanting comfort and privacy? Or a family planning to travel by recreational vehicle?
What to Do with Your Stuff: The Big Picture
What you do with your stuff depends on whether you’re redesigning your life to travel on an open-ended itinerary or traveling for a limited time. Here’s some food for thought:
Do you own property?
You can sell it, rent it out, manage it on AirBnB, or use house-sitters and home exchangers (more on this in future lessons).
Are you attached to your hometown?
If you’ll eventually return to your hometown, you may want to keep some stuff rather than sell it all. If you set up shop again somewhere else in the country (or world), storing your stuff can be expensive and pointless.
What to Do with Your Stuff: Nitty-Gritty
Regardless of whether you’ll return home or not, you’ll want to divest yourself of some stuff. Separate everything into three piles:
Most of your stuff should go into this category, and despite how daunting selling everything may seem, trust me—it’s cathartic. Personally, the only things I didn’t sell were items I deemed priceless or irreplaceable.
Be choosy about what you store. I’ve talked to countless long-term travelers who have paid extortionately for storage spaces, only to return and get rid of it all anyway. You may love that couch, but ask yourself if it’s truly irreplaceable.
Maybe you have a friend or family member who can store some stuff for you. Great! But if you’re in Bangladesh when they decide to move, will they move it for you?
I reduced my life to eight boxes of stuff that I deemed “irreplaceable.” Years later, I returned to those boxes and tossed half of it.
3. Take with you
This is the smallest pile, and you’ll need even less stuff for travel than you think—believe me! But we’ll talk about packing lists later.
This has been a long lesson, with lots to consider. Tomorrow, we’ll delve into logistical preparations and resources to set you up for a life of long-term travel.
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