There are a lot of little things that need to be done in order to close up your life and take a trip around the world. Here is a short summary of the important things:
- Immunizations, 9 months prior to departure: once you know where you will be heading, visit a travel doctor. Don’t let them scare you with all their warnings about diseases in the world. You are still more likely to be harmed in a car accident than from some tropical disease. That said, get immunized and know that some immunizations will require multiple shots, months apart, therefore, start 6-9 months from departure.
- Photography Classes, 6-12 months prior to departure: if you want to have stellar photos, everyone can benefit from photo classes. Learn composition and the ins-and-outs of your camera through classes. This will be invaluable as you will be taking pictures in poor light and want them to turn out as these will be your memories.
- Buying Gear, 6-12 months prior to departure. Start this early, it will allow you to test what is most comfortable for you, but more importantly take advantage of sales. Once you know what you need, just wait for a sale. If you wait to shop until the last minute you will pay more. Buy opportunistically as you find deals on what you need. Time also allows you to try out your gear and return it if it doesn’t perform the way you anticipated (buying from REI is great for this).
- Physical Fitness, ASAP: traveling is physically demanding. You will need to be able to walk miles in heat, carry all your belongings through cities, and you will sometimes be sick. Get in shape, work on endurance and strength. LOCAVORista and I actually ran a marathon prior to leaving (LOCAVORista in 3:26 (Boston Qualifying), thinkCHUA 3:17 limping across the line).
- Valid Passport, 6 months prior to departure: must have many free pages and several years until it expires. Countries, especially poorer ones, are very particular about this and often need one to two pages for a visa. Additionally, you can’t use the very last page of the passport. thinkCHUA thought he could and ended up needing a new passport, 4 weeks into our trip, in Thailand.
- Banking, 6 months prior to departure: get a checking account that does not charge international ATM fees. This will save you enormous amounts of money over a year. Also seek out 2 credit cards that don’t charge international transaction fees. This will save you money and be insurance in case you need money fast. Have two because inevitably one will lock you out along the way until you call them to explain where you are. Having two means one should always be working. See my article on how to manage your money while traveling.
- Moving, 2-3 months prior to departure. Completely packing all your things and storing them is more difficult than just moving town. This will take longer than normal and if you have time it will also give you the opportunity to clean out your closets. As I note in Worldly Possessions, the less you keep, the easier it will be to pack and store.
- If you can move in with your parents or friends prior to departure, the sooner you do, the more you will accelerate your savings.
- Airline tickets, 1-2 months prior to departure. The best deals on airline tickets is 3-6 weeks from departure. Everyone always wants to buy early, but waiting can save you money. That said, keep checking fares and if something unbelievable comes up, buy it and don’t check prices again.
- Quit your job, 2 months prior to departure. Honestly, this is the first you should let any professional relations know your plan. If you do it sooner you lessen your job prospects and blogging about leaving/hating your job is a complete no-no. Your current employer will be a reference in the future, give them more than adequate notice (not two weeks), but don’t let the cat out of the bag too soon, because your plan could always change, or you could be offered great opportunities at work if they think you are staying.
- Quit working, 1 month prior to departure. Give yourself time from when you quit until when you leave. There is a lot of little things to do and having more time will allow you to leave relaxed and prepared.
The Living IF round-the-world travel Planning and Preparation section:
- Planning and Preparation Overview
- Saving Money: How we did it and how you can too!
- Worldly Possessions: What to sell and keep while you travel
- Cost and Budgeting: How much will do you need to save?
- Logistics: Health, insurance and the nitty gritty
- Packing Tips: What and why to pack it