Long Term Travel
Dreaming About Long Term Travel?
Quitting my job to take off on a year-long trip was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. But I’ve never regretted it for a second.
Jeremy and I spent a whole year traveling the world together as a couple …and lived to tell the tale (here’s the tale)! We’re even still happily married, I swear.
But … there are a FEW things that nobody told us about before we jetted off on our around-the-world trip. I’ve written an entire book that will guide you every step of the way, called How to Quit Your Job & Travel. On this page, you’ll find a few of my favorite resources and tips for long-term travel!
WISH YOU COULD QUIT YOUR JOB & TRAVEL?
Listen: it’s time to stop dreaming and start planning. My best-selling book, HOW TO QUIT YOUR JOB & TRAVEL is a practical, step-by-step guide to one of the most exciting, exhilarating, and terrifying things you’ll ever do.
You’ll learn how to tackle each of the challenges of long-term travel, from finances to fear to returning to reality – and all the nitty-gritty logistics along the way. Ready to get started?
Long Term Travel Tips
The best travel insurance for adventurous international travelers & backpackers from the US who take a few short trips a year.
The best travel insurance for backpackers, nomads, frequent & long-term travelers, and immigrants/ex-pats.
Let us help you avoid foreign transaction fees, save you some money and avoid the mishaps we encountered.
Long Term Traveling FAQ’s
What do I do with my stuff when I leave?
Before you even think about packing up all your stuff and finding somewhere to keep it until you get back, you need to get started on getting rid of as much of it as you can. Seriously: start NOW. The more stuff you have to store, the more expensive it will be, and the more stuff you’ll have to come home to!
We stored our stuff at my parents house, but first we had to ship it all the way across the country (a big expense). If you know someone with a spare room or garage space, ask them if you can store your stuff for a while.
Another option is to rent a storage unit. Most stuff will be fine in a basic storage unit; however, if you have a lot of climate-sensitive belongings, you may want to consider a climate-controlled storage unit.
Another great option is to use a service like Neighbor, which allows people to rent out their garage, driveway, shed, attic, spare bedroom, personal parking lot, or any other storage space they’ve got lying around unused. It’s usually cheaper than a storage unit, and you might even be able to find somewhere climate-controlled, too.
Regardless of what you choose: the less stuff you have, the less you’ll spend.
More tips in my #1 best-selling book, How to Quit Your Job & Travel.
What should I do with my cell phone?
If you don’t have an international-roaming-friendly phone plan (like T-Mobile), you won’t want to use the cell phone plan you’re using at home. You can save a lot of money on your phone plan by just switching your phone to airplane mode and using free WiFi that’s available pretty much everywhere.
When we wanted to have roaming data, we picked up a local SIM card – each country typically has a few different brands. They’re usually pretty cheap, and you can pay for a few weeks or a month of data at a time. Just make sure you unlock your phone before you leave!
You’ll also want to either downgrade your plan, cancel it entirely, or put it on hold. Putting your phone plan on hold will typically cost a small monthly fee, but you won’t lose access to your old phone number and you’ll be able to resume service easily once you return home. Call your service provider to ask for the specifics.
And don’t forget to let your loved ones know that your phone will be offline! We recommend downloading WhatsApp to stay in contact through text – but note that every time you swap out your SIM card, your phone number (and WhatsApp number) will change, too.
More tips in my #1 best-selling book, How to Quit Your Job & Travel.
What about insurance? Do I need travel or health insurance?
When it comes down to it, if you can afford to travel, you can’t afford NOT to buy travel insurance. Considering the fact that you probably may not be able to find a health insurance plan to cover you while you’re away, your travel insurance also may become your primary healthcare coverage.
That said, travel insurance isn’t designed to replace standard medical care, and it doesn’t cover preventative care. We visited all of our doctors at home before and after our year-long trip, and only used our insurance for emergencies while we were abroad.
For long-term travel, the annual travel insurance policy from SafetyWing is fantastic. It was designed specifically for digital nomads and long-term travelers, and you can pay a budget-friendly monthly fee on an ongoing basis for global coverage that lasts as long as you’re traveling.
World Nomads is one of the most popular travel insurance providers, and is designed for adventurous travelers. It’s a popular choice among backpackers specifically for its wide-ranging adventure travel coverage. We used World Nomads during our trip (because SafetyWing didn’t exist yet!) and filed several claims through them.
For more information, head to our in-depth travel insurance guide.
How can I save money to travel?
First things first: you’ll need to figure out how much you’re spending each month. You’ll need to know both your fixed costs and your variable costs. Fixed costs are specific amounts you have to pay, like rent, utilities, and bills. Variable costs cover everything else, from food (both groceries and dining out) to shopping and entertainment.
There’s a good chance that your estimates of your variable costs are completely inaccurate. Don’t take it personally — it’s a universal truth.
To get an accurate estimate of your variable costs, I recommend tracking your expenses. You don’t need to write down everything you spend (unless you pay for everything in cash): Mint.com is a fantastic free resource for tracking your spending, setting a budget, and helping you manage your finances.
Once you’ve accurately tracked your expenses for a few months, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you’re spending compared to what you’re earning, the difference of which is how much you’re able to save each month.
Take that savings amount and do some quick math: if you divide the amount of money you think you need for your long-term trip by the amount you’re able to save each month, how long will it take you to save up for your trip? (Divide by 12 to get your answer in years).
For more details on how we saved $30,000 to take our year-long trip, check out our blog post: how to save money for travel.
What costs can I expect when I’m traveling long-term?
Once you have at least a rough idea of where you’d like to go on your trip and the style of travel you’re comfortable with, it’s time to start calculating.
- On your spreadsheet, map out a very rough idea of your itinerary and route.
- For each destination, figure out the average daily cost of things like accommodation, meals and local transportation.
- Add in the cost of transportation between destinations.
- Add in any special activities that you’ll need to budget extra for.
- Add a little padding (an extra 10-20%)
Throw in a line item for your travel insurance and do a quick Google search to see whether you’ll need to pay for visa costs for your target destinations — those can add up.
Budget a few hundred extra for medication, vaccinations, and purchasing any gear that you’ll need to get sorted before your trip — including getting a passport if you don’t have one yet – and then throw an extra 10-20% in there, just to be safe and soothe my anxiety.
This is also a good time to add in a cushion for when you return. Set aside a certain amount as emergency money – you may well need it during your trip, but hopefully, you’ll be able to save it until you come home. If you don’t touch it at all, it can help build up your emergency fund and replenish your savings after you return from your trip.
To find out what we spent on our year-long travel, read this post.
What do I need to add to my to-do list before traveling long-term?
What travel essentials should I pack?
This is the most common question we get asked. Depending on the location, season and duration of your trip, things will tend to vary.
Start with the 43 travel essentials that we bring on every single trip. The list includes packing cubes, reusable water bottles and of course, a teeny tiny travel clothes line – one of the smallest and most useful things in our pack!
But every adventure is different, so you’ll need to factor in where you’re going and the weather at the time of year where you’ll be visiting. Head to our packing lists page for packing lists by destination, weather, and more.
Need some help planning your escape?
We’ve created a Long Term Travel Checklist with everything you need to plan your adventure.
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