Preparing to Leave
|July 31, 2008||Posted by Rach under Planning|
You’ve planned your route, bought your ticket and you’re all set to go but even the most carefree souls will have some preparation work to do before they can hop on that plane. It’s best to write a checklist of things that need sorting out at least three months before departure – six months would be better if you’re particularly organised. This way you can make sure everything is sorted before you go and you won’t be rushing around panicking in the last few weeks. The list below isn’t definitive but it will give you a starting point for your own list, whatever your circumstances.
Photo by Swiv
- Passport and visas - make sure that your passport will be valid for at least six months by the end of your trip – many countries won’t let you enter if your passport is due to expire. Make a list of the countries you’re visiting and check their visa requirements. Remember there will be a fee for your visas and this should be accounted for in your trip budget. Visa application can be a lengthy process so don’t leave it until the last minute!
- Vaccinations and medical requirements – visit your doctor or local travel clinic for advice on vaccinations, anti-malarials and other medical considerations. The NHS fit for travel website (geared towards UK citizens but useful information for everyone) will give you an idea of what to expect in each country. If you’re in the UK, be aware that not all vaccinations will be available on the NHS and you could easily be looking at a few hundered pounds to get a full course. It’s best to arrange your vaccinations well in advance – some courses, eg. the Hepatitis B vaccine, take six months to complete. Visit your dentist for a checkup too.
- Insurance - take out a specialist round the world or backpackers insurance policy. Make sure you have enough cover for cameras, ipods and laptops. If you’re going to be doing any extreme sports (and this is more likely than you may think once you’re travelling!) make sure you’re covered for that too. There are various comparison sites that will help you to find the best policy to suit you.
- Leaving your home - if you own your home, decide if you’re going to sell it or rent it out while you’re away. If you rent, find out how much notice you need to give and put a reminder note in your calendar. If you’re sharing with housemates, give them plenty of time to find a replacement for when you leave. You’ll also have to make arrangements to either put your belongings into storage or sell or give away as much as you can before you go.
- Pets – ask around friends and family for anyone willing to take care of your pets while you’re away. Remember that looking after an animal while you’re away for a year is a big commitment and you may not have a lot of volunteers, so start looking early. If you’re stuck you could try advertising in local classifieds. Use your local animal shelter as a last resort – their main priority is stray and abandoned animals and being put in this environment is likely to stress your pet. Make sure your pet is healthy and up to date with vaccinations before you leave.
- Job - check your notice period and decide when to let your colleagues know you’re leaving. It will usually be appreciated if you give a longer notice period so that a replacement can be arranged before you leave, but don’t do this if your boss is likely to fire you on the spot! Try not to make everyone sick with your constant talk of travels (difficult I know!).
- Money - work out a rough daily budget for each country so you’ll know when you’re overspending and can cut back before it’s too late. Think about how you’re going to access your money while you’re away and maybe set up a new account or apply for a new credit card. Ideally you should be using a card that won’t charge you for spending abroad. Take two credit cards if you can – they’re useful for emergencies if nothing else and it’s always good to have a spare.
- Stock up – make a list of everything you’re taking with you (I’ll be writing a post on packing soon). Keep an eye out in outdoor and travel shops for items on sale. Buy things gradually over a few months and you won’t be rushed into buying expensive and unsuitable items at the last minute.
- Tieing up the loose ends - remember to pay all your final bills, cancel your phone contract, stop your direct debits, change addresses for bank accounts etc. to your parents or a friend’s address, make sure everyone knows you’re leaving and how to contact you.
- Have an amazing leaving party and enjoy your trip!