4 Steps to Planning the Perfect Long-Term Trip
There are few things better in life than abandoning all you know and leaping into the unknown wonders of world travel, use these 4 Steps to Planning the Perfect Long-Term Trip to help get started! I know this because I did it. I quit my job to follow my wanderlust, and it was mind-blowing.
But as incredible as the actual traveling is, the planning can be puzzling at best and arduous at worst! So I’m going to give you four simple steps and guidance that will make your planning easier, and make your adventure run smoother.
1. Decisions, Decisions
The first thing to do is make some vital decisions that will shape your trip.
Do you want to go it alone or with a travel buddy?
Think how you spend your daily life—are you a lone wolf or a pack animal? If you’re the latter, traveling alone can be lonely. However, ensure you pick the right companion as choosing the wrong one can ruin friendships or relationships. The ideal travel partnership is people who love spending time together, work well as a team, complement each other’s skills, have similar interests, and are equally committed to the trip’s success. I can’t stress enough that having the right travel-mate can make or break your trip!
Where do you want to go?
You might have always dreamt of visiting the Congo, but do you know enough about it? Ensure you do thorough research before you commit and speak to people who’ve been there.
Are you confident and committed to taking risks and embracing change?
It sounds cheesy, yes! But don’t underestimate that long-term travel can be uncertain and risky. You may have to quit your job, so do you have a backup plan for when you return? Have you considered the realities of the trip? You may not know where you’re sleeping each night, or where your next shower is coming from, so talk to people who’ve experienced it first-hand.
The most important quality you need for long-term travel is confidence that you’ll make it out the other side of every adventure, that you can cope with any situation you encounter, and that you’ll embrace new cultures, experiences, and ways of living. If you can do this, the world truly is your oyster…
Unless you’re particularly wealthy, your 4 Steps to Planning the Perfect Long-Term Trip most likely involves a budget. It sounds complicated, but it doesn’t need to be.
- Check online for others who have done similar trips to yours to see their total budget. As an example, our 9-country, 1-year trip for two (hungry) people with a few luxury excursions was £35k all-in.
- Divide your total budget by the number of days on your trip to get an approximate daily budget, and keep a close eye on it throughout your journey to ensure you’re not over-spending.
- Top up your budget beforehand by selling things you don’t need.
- Enhance your budget on the road by working as a freelancer or apply for country-specific working visas.
- Consider couch surfing, house sitting, or WooFing to cut costs on accommodation.
Packing for a year-long (or longer) trip is like trying to build a 3D puzzle of the Taj Mahal—confusing, dull, and somehow still doesn’t look right by the end of it. Have no fear—the capsule wardrobe is here. No, not one of those boxes you buried in your garden in the 90s…a capsule wardrobe is 20-25 staple items that you can mix and match to create outfits and layer for warmth.
These 4 Steps to Planning the Perfect Long-Term Trip are based on the assumption that you already have a backpack, if you don’t have one then please read our list of 10 best backpacks here. Don’t attempt to take a suitcase—it’s cumbersome and slows you down. Choose a bag that’s comfortable for your height and body shape; most outdoor retailers will help you find the best for you. Also, get some waterproof inner bags as they help to separate the items in your rucksack and protect them.
Next, your packing depends on the temperature/cultural factors of the countries, so obviously check these out! Finally, keep in mind as you pack every item that a heavy bag is no fun to lug, and anything you take may get ruined.
You’ll want to aim for approximately:
- Five pairs of comfy trousers/jeans/leggings/shorts
- Ten vests/t-shirts/long-sleeved tops
- A few warmer layering items—merino wool base layers are a winner
- A thin, roll-up waterproof jacket
- A week’s worth of underwear (regular washing, please!)
- A dress/skirt if you wish
- Three pairs of shoes: comfy shoes/trainers, sandals, and boots (you can always tie them your rucksack)
- Warm weather: a sun hat, sunglasses, and swimwear
- Cold weather: a wooly hat, scarf, and gloves, thick socks
You’ll find a comprehensive list online of non-clothing items to pack.
Yawn yawn, I hear you. But no 4 Steps to Planning the Perfect Long-Term Trip would be complete without some mention and as everybody knows, safety first…
- Get cheap “backpacker” travel insurance with specialized providers, including cover for extreme sports if required—it’s about £100 and it’s worth it.
- Save your policies and documents on your phone, but also keep a written note of your insurance policy number and important contact numbers.
- Take a photo of the personal details page of your passport and send it to a loved one in case yours is lost or stolen.
- It’s a bleak thought, but when you’re heading off on excursions, particularly to remote or dangerous places, ensure someone knows where you’re going and when you’re likely to be back—and that they have your family’s contact details in case of any accidents.
- Carry a whistle, personal alarm, and protective items such as bear spray, mozzie spray, etc.
- Be sensible. It sounds obvious but… don’t leave your belongings lying around, keep expensive items safe (or preferably, don’t take them with you), and don’t walk around dangerous areas on your own.
- Check government websites for warnings, advice, and recommendations before traveling to any country.
A final word…
Long-term travel may well be the best thing you ever do, and while the planning phase is rarely the exciting part, it can be greatly improved if you always keep your end goal in sight—the exhilarating adventures you’ll soon be embarking on! Thanks for reading the 4 Steps to Planning the Perfect Long-Term Trip.