So you have decided to travel long term and now the process starts with figuring out what are the things to do before travelling for a year?
There are many things to do before you travel, whether it is long term or for a 2 week vacation most of these items are good things to have in place to help those who travel prepare your home life for being away travelling.
We have done many of these items for years, but when it came to planning our 1 year gap year to travel the world with our kids I didn’t know where to start and felt a bit overwhelmed. So hopefully by gathering this information and sharing it with you, this can help you pull together all the things to do before travelling abroad.
You might also find out some tips for travelling abroad first time!
Before you start anything my recommendation is you SET A DATE! It may seem self-explanatory, but this will help you create your Travel Preparation Checklist below and outline a plan.
You need to have your goal departure date set to work backwards from and this helps you keep the eye on the prize! So if you only have 3 months or 6 months before you go then you can condense the items and space them out. I used a spreadsheet to help track these items.
What You'll Find in This Post
- Travel Preparation Checklist
- 31 Things to do Before Travel
Travel Preparation Checklist
31 Things to do Before Travel
1 Year Before Travel (Or Now)
1. Develop a Travel itinerary (loose plan)
This is the fun part of planning but it will also help you with details that you will need to have a general idea about where you are going (visas, immunizations, etc).
Decide if there are main places you want to go to the world, a starting point, ending point, how long, type of travel and what you want to get out of the travel experience. You can see our loose 1 year travel itinerary plan here, this changed but it gave us a good start!
2. Create Online Accounts
Start creating online accounts for EVERYTHING you have and get them sent to email.
Cancel any paper bills as they come in the mail over the next year. Banking, utilities, revenue agency, retirement accounts, school details, healthcare, insurance, credit cards, etc. Regardless of how long you are going to be travelling this will help ongoing for having a mobile life and one of the best things to do before leaving for vacation!
Think about how you will access or get anything that you typically get now, but in another country. A major one is to figure out how you will fill out your income taxes abroad.
Set up any bills to be paid automatically for credit cards, bills, etc.
11 Months Before Travel
3. Decide on Your Home Details
Decide what you are going to do with your house/home/condo/apartment. Are you going to sell, rent it out, cancel your rental, find someone to live in the house? This decision will help create a plan for the things you need to do for your house before you travel.
4. Tell Close Family & Friends
This is easy and hard at the same time! Fun to tell them about all your travel plans, but depending on your family they may be unsure, scared or worried about you too!
Be ready for any kind of response and know in your heart that this is right for you (and your family). I know I was pleasantly surprised by all the support of our friends and family. Those people will shine through and give you the extra support that you need for this big decision. Also, it’s ok that you don’t have all the answers they may ask… you’ll figure it out!
5. Start Selling Stuff
Start selling stuff, reducing and getting rid of anything that is not needed anymore! This will help clear the clutter and can also help with the savings for your travel too. Here are some of the things we did to save money for our travels, which included selling A LOT of stuff we no longer needed. It all added up to almost $30,000!
It’s about choices and priorities!
10 Months Before Travel
6. Vaccinated & Immunization
One of the things to do before international travel is to check into your vaccine and immunizations. So based on your travel itinerary check with your doctor or travel clinic on which vaccines or immunizations you will need to travel there. Some immunizations need multiple doses and could take a few months to complete the cycle of vaccinations. Start this plan early and have them scheduled closer to your departure date (approx. 6 months prior to departure).
Some immunizations are recommended, while others may be mandatory for entry into the country. You can find out more about our travel immunization details here.
You can check out more details for health information for travellers to each country here, but ensure you have checked with your travel clinic as well since these get updated.
7. Banking & Credit Cards
Figure out the best online banking and global banking credit cards for your travels.
Look for Banking accounts and Credit Cards that don’t have Foreign Transaction Fees (or reduced fees since these will add up taking money out of ABM). This is a good post to help outline some of the credit card details.
Have more than one Credit Card and have different companies for each – Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are what we took; just in case one is not accepted, stolen or lost. We also ended up having 2 of our credit cards be discontinued so at the end of our trip only had 1 credit card left until we returned back to Canada.
Tell your banks where you will be travelling and when otherwise they may think your transactions are suspicious and freeze your cards.
8. Schooling Preparation
If you have kids, you will need to start preparing for their schooling and looking into options on what can be done. First, contact the school board that they are currently attending and notifying them of what your plans to travel for a year and find out what options might be available. Some school boards have options for distance learning, homeschooling, etc.
At this point start thinking about what your schooling plans will be for your children and start a loose plan of what needs to be in place for you to have your children out of “regular” school. You can find out more about our long term Worldschooling/Unschooling plan here.
My best advice after being very concerned about the schooling for my kids is really not to worry about it too much, things will work out and they will learn more than you expect on their travels!
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Great job Luca on presenting your “Let’s see what’s on the other side of the world” 🌎 presentation to other kids at school. He worked really hard on putting this together and rocked it speaking in front of the other kids. A great way to wrap up 3rd grade of worldschool. So proud of you ❤️ #schoolpresentation #storyteller . . . . #Passportkids #familytravel #kidstravel #ftb100 #tinytravels #familytrip #familytraveltribe #tbscommunity #havekidswilltravel #tmom #lpkids #travelwithkids #familymemories #kidswhotravel #worldschool
9 Months Before Travel
9. Check Expiry on Documents & Cards
Check all the documents that you take with you travelling and double check that none expire while you are away. Most countries won’t let you in if your passport expires within 6 months. (ie. passports, credit cards, bank cards, drivers licence, etc)
If you need new ones, start that process now!
10. Children’s Documentation
Ensure you have your children’s birth certificate. Some countries, like South Africa, require you to have the long version (showing both parent’s names) of the child’s birth certificate with you. If you don’t have the original copy you can get certified copies created from their birthplace to take with you on your travels.
If you are travelling without both parents, ensure you have a letter of consent from the parent who is not with you or a death certificate.
11. Plan for Storage & Stuff
If you are selling your home start working on your plan for where you will keep some of your stuff that you won’t be selling. Sort through what is the most cost-effective way for you to store it and look into when you need to book this by (some book months in advance). ie. storage container, storage lots, trailer, etc.
We ended up buying a utility trailer as we then used it when we drove and moved to another city after our return.
8 Months Before Travel
12. Set up Mobile Phones
You will need to ensure everything is set up for your mobile phones while you are travelling for an extended period of time.
Get all your cell phones unlocked so that you can put new data cards in from other countries. Some mobile providers have great plans for international travel, but the ones in Canada are not awesome. So we kept our SIM cards with us for emergencies if we needed to access data or make a phone call (would have been a very expensive emergency). You can also check to see if this works by testing it with a friend’s SIM card from another provider before you leave.
We purchased new SIM data cards in every country and used that for data when wifi wasn’t available. Note: When you do this your cell phone number will change. So hence why if anyone needs to get in contact with you then email is best.
13. Set up Video Conference
Our recommendation is to use Skype and Facetime for video conferencing while you are travelling. When you travel it is always nice to see those who you miss over video.
Facetime worked great for all our iPhone family and friends to see while we were away. If you already have an iPhone you most likely already have this setup, but do some testing with those contacts you haven’t Facetimed before.
Setup Skype as well for making easy phone calls! Set this up and you can call as usual without having to figure out the calling codes to get out of a country (painful sometimes). Purchase a Skype credit (which is very cheap and lasts a long time). We used Skype for calling our family who don’t have mobile phones, banks, government agencies, etc.
7 Months Before Travel
14. Get Travel Insurance
Getting Travel Insurance needs to be on your travelling abroad checklist! If you are working, you may have coverage for this travel while you are travelling. But, if you are taking a year off to travel the world you most likely won’t and will need to look into options.
In our case, we did so much research into travel insurance and can highly recommend World Nomads as a great choice for travel insurance. It was so easy to set up, simply add in the countries that you plan to go to and then get a quote for the cost. It is a cost you will have to factor into your budget and part of the cost of travelling, it was non-negotiable for us.
We also had to add in some countries along the way while travelling and that was really easy to do online. The interface was really easy, great customer service and speedy responses.
15. Start Booking Travel
If you know where your first stop is going to start looking into flights and accommodations. It honestly didn’t feel real or light a fire under us until we had this first flight booked. So do this early and the reality of it will kick in!
If you have any big items planned on your 1 year of travel you may want to consider booking these out further in advance to ensure you get what you are looking for. For example, we probably should have booked out our African Safari a little further out to save money and have more options.
If you have anything like a cruise, safari, unique festival, sporting or specific event get your tickets in advance and then plan your travels around your ability to acquire those tickets. We did this for our Vietnam Halong Bay cruise and our Sydney cruise.
For all other accommodation bookings, we planned them out 4-6 weeks in advance while on our travels. We used Booking and Airbnb for our accommodations for our world trip. We typically stayed in Airbnb’s if staying longer than 5 days in once place at a time.
6 Months Before Travel
16. Cancel Any Subscriptions
If you have a newspaper, magazines or products that are shipped to your home monthly then cancel this subscription services. We cancelled ours months before we left, but this can wait until closer to if you prefer. It’s also a good way to save money!
17. Home up for Sale Or Provide Rental Notice
If you are selling your home then check with your market for the best time or how long it takes to sell your home. We put our house up 6 months before we were scheduled to leave.
If you are subletting or giving notice to your rental check into the conditions and line up the timing.
If you are renting out your house, get anything fixed that needs repaired, set up maintenance house services such as cutting grass, shovelling snow, regular maintenance, etc.
5 Months Before Travel
18. Technology & Photos Backups
Capture photos of travelling is a big part of the journey. So be sure to have a plan on how you are going to back up these memories.
If you are travelling with a laptop look to back up your computer online to a service so that if your laptop is stolen or lost you can easily set up a new laptop.
Get your photo storage and a backup plan created. We use a combination of external hard drives and online. The wifi can be challenging in some places and uploading to cloud services has proven to be challenging sometimes. You can find out more about my photos and camera for travelling fulltime here.
19. Mail Forwarded
There will always be a few things that slip through, so if you have the option to set up mail forwarding to a family member this can be set up. There are some countries where you can pay for a service that they open your mail and then email it to you, but this isn’t available in Canada. We set this up early and then future-dated it to 3 weeks before we left.
4 Months Before Travel
20. Packing Details
Start to think about packing details like what luggage you are going to take and how much stuff you will bring. Create a list of things you will need to bring and start planning out what you need to bring.
Think about keeping your packing light, multiple outfits matching, good quality products to last, good walking shoes, durable products, etc. Outline all the things to bring when travelling abroad and then pair it down to what would be minimal and what you could buy abroad instead of packing it.
We are working on outlining our packing travel list… so stay tuned here.
Here is some info about of medication packing list, we always carry our prescriptions with us on the flight.
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All packed up and ready to go! #familytravel #bagsarepacked #worldtrip #letsgo #familypacking ##passportkids #familytravel #kidstravel #ftb100 #tinytravels #familytrip #familytraveltribe #tbscommunity #havekidswilltravel #tmom #lpkids #travelwithkids #familymemories #kidswhotravel
3 Months Before Travel
21. Visas & Travel Advisories
Check to see if countries you plan on visiting require tourist visas and what their entry criteria are. In Canada, this travel advisory site will give you all the information and help you plan out the travel requirement for entry. You can also find out about things to know about a country before visiting too.
22. Finalize any Paperwork or Personal Business
Wrap up any loose ends you may have personally with accountant, lawyer, banks, realtors or anyone that you may have to sign anything in person with. Ensure you have a will and POA set up with a lawyer.
2 Months Before Travel
23. Medical Appointments
Book out dentist, doctor, optometrist and any other medical appointment for 6-8 weeks prior to your departure. This will give you enough time to get the latest checkup, cleaning and medications refill. It will also give you enough time if you have any follow up appointment required.
24. Scan Electronic Copies of Documents
Scan any documents you have and keep copies electronically somewhere that can be accessed anywhere. We used Dropbox to store all our documents so we could access from our phones, laptops or from a web browser if needed.
Some examples of what documents to take when travelling abroad:
- Birth certificates
- Medical prescriptions
- Eye prescriptions
- Travel insurance
- Credit and bank cards (front and back)
- Driver’s license
- Immunization records
1 Month Before Travel
The final month before will be extremely busy with last minute things that have to wait until closer to your departure date.
25. International Drivers License
Ensure your driver’s license is valid until your return and obtain an international driver’s license for the year. They are usually only valid for 1 year so if you plan on driving on any road trip its always a good idea to have these along.
26. Download Travel Apps
I’ve put together all our favourite travel apps here. Go through these and setup any in advance to help your travels run smoother!
27. Inform Government of Travel Plans
This one surprised many people that you can and should let your government know that you will be out of the country and in which country when. In Canada, you can access this site, Registration of Canadian Abroad, and update it with all your travel plans. They use this in case of emergency and need to know where Canadians are and advise them.
We actually got 2 emails while abroad with help if we needed it, first was when we were in Italy and there was an earthquake, and the other for when we were in Bali and there was the volcano erupting. They provided us with consulate details, emergency assistance and good information if we needed it.
28. Donate & Sell Items
If you have any items left that you couldn’t sell and don’t want to store, consider donating the items. We had a 1 week blow out of all our items at really cheap prices and then donated everything else.
29. Items into Storage & Insurance
Put any last-minute items into storage and get insurance on your belongings. If you have any valuables or important items that are not replaceable then ask a family member to store them. Like photos, tax paperwork, etc.
30. Finish up Work & School
If you are quitting your job, I would advise you to give much further notice to your employer (I gave 6 months to my employer) so they can best prepare for your departure as well. Give you notice, plan your exit and clean things up with work items including paperwork, closing off documents and lunch with co-workers.
I was scheduled to be off 2 weeks before we left but ended up working up until 5 days due to unforeseen circumstances… but try to give yourself time before you leave.
We coordinated our departure with the end of the school calendar year for the kids. They finished up 3 days before we left!
31. Last Minute Things
Last minute things to do before international travel:
- Hair appointments
- Put any valuables in safety deposit box like wedding rings, wills, insurance, etc.
- Visits with family and friends
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Can’t visit #Rome without a stop by the #coliseum #somuchhistory #familytravel #italy . . . . #Passportkids #familytravel #kidstravel #ftb100 #tinytravels #familytrip #familytraveltribe #tbscommunity #havekidswilltravel #tmom #lpkids #travelwithkids #familymemories #kidswhotravel
We hope you have found the above travelling internationally checklist useful to start outlining and planning your long term abroad travel.
There are so many things to do before travelling abroad, but when you leave for this adventure it will be all worth it.
Is there anything that we missed that we should add to this checklist? If so, please add a comment below so we can share it with everyone!