Whether you are venturing off on your first ever far-flung adventure or you are a seasoned pro heading off to sunnier climes, there is always a seemingly neverending list of things to as long as your arm before you can even consider contemplating your three, six or twelve months away from home. Putting the preparation in now and being as organised as possible before you set foot on the airplane will be worth the effort. Short term pain for lucrative long-term gains is the aim. Whereas you do hear urban myths of people just rocking up at the airport having decided the evening before that they’re leaving their lives behind without a second thought, these stories are few and far between and they’re rarely true. They are the stuff of Hollywood movies and daydreams.
Getting all of your stuff in order before you head off travelling will have a huge impact on the success of your trip. Imagine being in the centre of the Borneo jungle, only for your mum to call to remind you that your council tax is due. It’s an unnecessary stress and one that you could’ve easily taken care of before you hot-footed it abroad. Read on to find out how you can master the art of pre-travel organisation.
Although you may be travelling on a shoestring and backpacking your way around the most basic of hostels to save every penny, you can’t afford to be racking up debt at home while globe trotting. Ensure that your rent is all paid up, you’ve handed in your notice (if relevant), all of your taxes are paid and up to date and you’ve managed to clear the debt on your credit card. It’s pretty irresponsible to be sunning yourself in Koh Samui when your parents have to deal with bailiffs looking for you.
Getting all of your financial ducks lined up in a super neat row will ease the stress of monetary worries on your travels. Keeping things simple, and taking cash and a credit card for emergencies is usually the way to go. Ensure that you have a money belt that you can strap around your body under your clothes to avoid the dreaded pickpocket that targets the obvious touristy types.
Even if you aren’t one for clutter, the chances are that you have some items that you won’t be travelling with. This could be a whole host of furniture, a vast collection of sports memorabilia or boxes and boxes of CDs. You could, of course, ask your parents to keep it all in their attic for a little while, but you may not want to burden them with your stuff. Instead, consider heading down to somewhere like Safestore and enquire about hiring a storage unit for the length of time that you’ll be away. This way you’ll know that all of your precious items will be safe and secure under lock and key while you’re off galavanting and swimming with sharks and sampling the street food of Cape Town.
Depending on where you’re travelling to, you may need to sort out some paperwork and documentation before you leave your home country. Google is your best friend. Venture online and research every destination you’ll be visiting. Make a note of the visas you need to apply for and the length of time you need to sort out all the boring paperwork. Don’t leave it until the last minute. This is the single most important thing you need to get sorted before setting off on your adventure. Without the right visa, you could see yourself denied entry into the country you wish to visit and you could that you’re quickly on a return flight home.
Passport And Tickets
It goes without saying that your biometric passport needs to be up to date. You may require a minimum amount of validity remaining on your passport when you enter your destination. As a rule of thumb, it’s wise to ensure that your passport has at least six months left on it before you head off on your travels.
When searching for flights and accommodation, it pays to shop around. There is a whole host of comparison sites, each one declaring themselves cheaper and better than all the others with a confusing range of money back guarantees that rarely come to fruition. The best way to find the best price is to go direct. Head to the flight operator’s website or search for the hotel or hostel you want to stay at and email them or give them a call. The best prices can be found by going directly to the source and skipping the middleman.
The Exciting Part: Your Itinerary
Even if you are the most spontaneous person on the planet, it’s vital that you have some sort of skeleton itinerary to accompany you on your travels. For example, if you’re heading to Japan, you’ll need to sort your transport before arriving. A Japan Rail Pass can save you thousands of yen on bullet train fares, but you can only buy one outside of the land of the rising sun.
If you are planning on a long-term adventure, it’s wise to sort out all of your flights prior to leaving your home country. Head to charity shops and try to find the Lonely Planet-esque guidebooks for your chosen destinations. If they were published within the past three or four years, you could save yourself a small fortune and still be reading the most up to date and relevant information.
Every traveller needs a decent backpack. It pays not to scrimp on the quality of your rucksack as you’ll be taking it on numerous modes of transport, across potentially rugged terrain and it needs to be able to keep all of your items safe, secure and dry. If you can’t afford a top branded name, consider sourcing a good secondhand quality make. These can still be better than the lower quality budget buys.
Decide on the sort of accommodation you’ll be staying in. Some people enjoy slumming it with nothing more than a thirty-litre rucksack on their back and a couple of changes of clothes. Other travellers enjoy the finer things in life and will hot foot it as if money was no object staying in the finest five-star establishments. Honestly, the best way to travel is probably to find a mix of accommodation. Venturing to Iceland? Why not stay in an igloo for a night? Embarking on a trek across the Sahara? Stay with a local family and help tend to the camels for a couple of days. It is these unique experiences that you can arrange from the comfort of your own sofa before you set off that can ensure the trip of a lifetime.
Travelling and seeing the world is one of the most life-affirming experiences you can ever embark upon. You will have the opportunity to witness vistas that only a few other members of the human race have had chance to see. Whether you are a sightseer, a culture vulture or an adrenaline junkie, there is a journey or an activity that will cater for your needs. The most important thing is to be organised. The more pre-travel preparation you undertake, the more successful your jaunt across the globe will be.