HOW TO PREPARE FOR LONG TERM TRAVEL
December 16, 2019
How do you even prepare for long-term travel? Well, let me tell you that it’s not easy, as this kind of trip is different from a regular weekend excursion. There are so many factors to consider that it may seem daunting and intimidating – but fret not! It is manageable, especially if you have the discipline and will power. As I mentioned in my long term travel story, I started dreaming of making this once-in-a-lifetime trip after my Central Europe trip in 2016. It took me two years of researching, planning, dreaming, and mustering the courage to do it finally.
In this blog post, I will recount the things I did to prepare for this long-term trip. I also included my realizations that I thought of during and after the planning phase.
CHALLENGES I INITIALLY ENCOUNTERED
I encountered some roadblocks that nearly delayed this trip – I transferred to a different account at work after some problems with my former account. My mother almost lost her job in early 2018, and I used part of my savings to pay off something family-related. Thank God, and all these problems got resolved just in time, and I was able to proceed with what I initially planned.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR LONG-TERM TRAVEL: MY TIMELINE
2 YEARS BEFORE TRAVELING
- I STARTED RESEARCHING ABOUT LONG-TERM TRAVEL – I started researching immediately after returning to the Philippines from my Eurotrip last 2016. I started reading blogs of travelers, mostly Filipino travelers who did it before. From the information that I found, I also started putting down a possible itinerary. I know that I wanted to visit as many countries as possible, and if I could get a Schengen visa, I could see many European countries, so I included it in my initial plan. Aside from that, as a Spanish speaker, I always wanted to visit Latin America, so that was another continent I added to the list.
- I STARTED FORECASTING MY BUDGET – I also calculated my projected salary until the time I resigned. Thanks to my TL, who shared her excellent budget excel sheet, I forecasted the budget that I would have saved by the time I leave the Philippines.
- I STARTED LOOKING FOR EXTRA WORK – Lastly, I also conditioned my mind to save money and not spend on unnecessary stuff. I also looked for extra side hustles to have extra cash; My sister used to sell perfume, and I helped her sell it in our office, plus I also taught introductory Spanish to friends for a fee.
1 YEAR BEFORE TRAVELING
- I VISITED OTHER VISA COUNTRIES IN ASIA/OCEANIA – First of all, I checked countries that I can still squeeze in before leaving. It was essential so that I can still feel how it is to travel and keep the flame alive. So in my last year of work, I traveled to Myanmar, Australia, and Mainland China. I needed to travel to China and Australia because both countries are not visa-free, and it will be hard for me to get a visa once I resign from work.
- I CONTINUED SAVING AND SIDE-HUSTLING – There was only one thing in my mind at that time; to work hard and save harder. I received some extra cash after one sector of our account closed, and all of us received compensation; plus, after the revised tax system in the Philippines that started in early 2018, I was receiving at least 100$ more per cutoff. And lastly, I also stopped using my vacation leaves unnecessarily because I planned to convert them to cash when I resign from work.
- I INFORMED MY FAMILY OF MY TRAVEL PLAN – I only informed my parents about my trip once I was sure that I will proceed with my travel goals and had a significant amount of savings. They didn’t understand it at first, but they gradually accepted it in the end.
- I KEPT MYSELF TRAVEL INSPIRED – During this time, I read so many blogs and devoured so many travel articles to keep me inspired.
6 MONTHS BEFORE TRAVELING
- I APPLIED FOR A US VISA – This was a make-or-break deal because my Latin America plan depended on the approval of this visa (Filipinos can use a US visa to enter ALL CENTRAL AMERICAN COUNTRIES). In the end, they approved it, and I started finalizing my itinerary.
- I STARTED BUYING ESSENTIAL TRAVEL STUFF – I also started hunting for stuff that I needed for the trip – backpack, clothes, and gadgets. I bought it all slowly, almost always from sales and promos.
3 MONTHS BEFORE TRAVELING
- I INFORMED MY MANAGERS ABOUT MY RESIGNATION – I treated my officemates as my family, so I told them that I would be leaving. Besides, I also wanted to be professional and not compromise my accounts, so the earlier they know, the better to look for a replacement (it took them until the last week of my resignation before they found one, sadly).
- I APPLIED FOR FRENCH SCHENGEN VISA, UK VISA, RUSSIAN VISA, AND EGYPT VISA. It was a big part of my preparation because my final itinerary depended on these visas’ approval, and I only had three months to do it. I started with the UK visa, which will always be six months of duration regardless, then the French Schengen visa, wherein the duration will depend on the itinerary indicated. After that, I applied for an Egyptian visa, which also has six months duration. Finally, I finished it with the Russian visa, which will have the exact dates you indicated in the application.
- I GOT VACCINATED – This needs to be done a few months before traveling because some vaccines cannot overlap. The vaccines I got were for Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A and B, Cholera, Typhoid Fever, and general flu shot.
- I BOUGHT THE TRAVEL TICKETS TO ASIA AND EUROPE – As much as I wanted to buy everything on promo, it sadly was not possible because I needed to wait for the visa approvals. But once I had them, I started buying the plane, bus, and train tickets for the routes I will take in Europe, Asia, and Africa. I bought my ticket to the US and Latin America when I was halfway on my trip.
1 MONTH BEFORE TRAVELING
- I TALKED TO MY BANK ABOUT MY LONG-TERM TRAVELS – I informed my bank (BPI) about my long-term travel plans. I replaced my old credit card, which would have expired in early 2019, with a new one. Aside from that, I also replaced my old Cirrus card with an EMV enabled Mastercard. With this, I can withdraw from any ATMs worldwide, as long as it has a Mastercard logo (I only encountered a problem in Bulgaria and Nicaragua with this card, but overall it was convenient).
- I APPLIED FOR AN INDIAN E-VISA – This was the most straightforward visa application I had, and they granted it in less than 24 hours.
- I HAD A GENERAL HEALTH CHECKUP – I did this while I still had my health card from my work. The tests were: X-ray test, blood test, internal organs check, an HIV test. Besides that, I made sure to get all the prescriptions from a doctor for all the antibiotics I will need. After the deadly traveler’s diarrhea, I got paranoid during my first trip to India, so I made sure that I had all the necessary medicines to combat it (It saved me when I contracted it in Mexico again).
1 WEEK BEFORE TRAVELING
- I DID SOME LAST MINUTE SHOPPING FOR TRAVEL ESSENTIALS – I made sure that everything on my checklist was in order. I preferred to buy stuff while still at home than when I am abroad, especially medicines.
- DESPEDIDA WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS – Since I planned to be away for a long time, I made sure to visit my closest friends and family and had bonding moments with them. It’s a good thing I did because my initial 8-month trip now turned into more than a year-long journey and may extend indefinitely.
MY LONG TERM TRAVEL PREPARATION ADVICE
MAKE SURE YOU ARE PREPARED MENTALLY
As I mentioned, long-term travel is way different from a short excursion. First of all, you will be away from your family and friends for an extended period. Not only that, most of the time, you will be alone, which sucks when you get sick or depressed as you have no one but yourself. You also need to be comfortable being uncomfortable. When you travel long-term, you will most likely stay in hostels, have no privacy, be tired most of the time, and feel stressed from constant planning and moving. Nevertheless, these are hurdles that are easy to overcome, and I assure you, the reward that you will get in the end is priceless.
SAVE MORE THAN WHAT YOU ANTICIPATED
Even if you think you have enough budget when you hit the road, I still urge you to save more money. It is never a bad idea to have extra dough – you never know what will happen! Besides, you will not want to return to your country of origin poor and destitute, please don’t do that to yourself!
GET A US VISA
It is essential for us citizens of 3rd world countries who need a visa to travel to many places. Some countries accept the US visa as a substitute for their visa, so you can broaden the places you can visit with this in your passport. I used my US visa to tour around Central America and Mexico visa-free. For a list of countries accepting the US visa, please refer to this link.
HAVE A GENERAL IDEA ON HOW TO PROLONG YOUR TRAVEL BUDGET
Whether you plan on working online, volunteering, or CouchSurfing on the road, you need to have an idea of how you can stretch your budget while on the road. I did all three – I now work as a Virtual Assistant and Ghost Writer, and I can perform my tasks anywhere as long as I can connect online. As for volunteering, I registered at workaway and volunteered as an English teacher in Huixcolotla, Mexico. Lastly, I couchsurfed twice – In Guatemala and Nicaragua, and both hosts became good friends afterward.
DO YOU ALSO HAVE A LONG-TERM TRAVEL DREAM? TELL ME ABOUT IT IN THE COMMENT SECTION BELOW!