How to Prepare for Travel: The Ultimate Guide
How to Prepare for Travel: The Ultimate Guide

How to Prepare for Travel: The Ultimate Guide

Getting set for a trip requires a fair bit of organisation beforehand and you might be left asking questions about how to prepare for travel.

I want to help you put those questions to bed so that you can get on with your preparation and focus on the trip to come.

So, in this ultimate guide on how to prepare for travel, I’ll cover all of the important steps you need to take to make sure you start your adventure confident that you’ve put everything needed in place.

How to prepare for travel: keep your ‘why’ in mind

Your reasons for wanting to travel could be absolutely anything, and as personal or generic as you like. But more importantly, keep your reasons in mind throughout your preparation.

This is key, because having the reasons in mind will be essential for staying motivated to save money and also for planning your travels.

I have an entire guide on how to afford travel. Check that out to learn all the money saving and stretching tips I know that’ll help your travel funds last as long as possible.

How to prepare for travel: have a plan

Next up, put a plan for your travels together. Not everyone likes planning trips, especially long-term ones, but I recommend you have at least some idea of:

  • how long you’ll travel for
  • destinations you want to visit
  • activities you want to do

The reason why I recommend at least having an outline of a plan is because it’ll help you to understand how much money you’re going to need for your trip and how long you’re going to need to save that money.

I also think it’s important to factor into your plan the pre-travel essentials you need to organise before starting your trip. Things like travel vaccinations and visas can take weeks to sort out and can cost a lot, so it’s good to know when you’ll need to organise them by and how much of your travel funds will go on them.

And that leads me on nicely to my next tip on how to prepare for travel.

How to prepare for travel: save money

Along with having at least a small plan for your trip, saving money is probably the next most important tip on this list for how to prepare for travel. So how do you get your funds together?

I recommend starting with the following as they’re saving tips everyone can put into practice, and then using any other techniques that work for you. But first things first, start saving today!

  • Work out your current monthly costs and, at the start of every month, transfer the remainder of your pay to a savings account
  • Reduce your monthly costs as much as possible. Cut your number of paid subscriptions, reduce your alcohol consumption (alcohol is a massive cash burner), stop any impulse buying and keep eating out to a minimum
  • Find a way to make more money. Pick up extra shifts in work, get a second job, start a side-hustle or sell unwanted or unused possessions

I’ve gone into loads of detail on how you can save travel money and make it go further in my mega guide on how to afford travel. Check that out to learn how to get your funds together and make them last as long as possible once you’re on the road.

How to prepare for travel: get travel vaccinations

It’s a good idea to protect your body against potential diseases and travel vaccinations do just that. Also, some countries make it an entry requirement to be vaccinated against certain diseases if you’ve previously been in countries where the disease(s) is known to exist.

You’ll want to get your jabs at least a month before starting your trip to give your body time to develop immunity. Also, certificates for some vaccinations won’t be valid until a certain number of days have passed post injection.

Keep in mind that you may need multiple injections for a single vaccination, and there may be a few weeks between each injection, meaning you might need extra time for these.

FYI, travel vaccinations are expensive and will probably cost you at least a couple of hundred just for the essential ones. However, in my opinion getting vaccinated is a non-negotiable.

How to prepare for travel: get any required documents

Firstly, you’ll want to make sure that your passport is valid for at least the planned duration of your trip plus an extra six months after.

This is because some countries won’t let you in unless your passport is valid for at least six months. If your passport doesn’t cover you for this, then I recommend getting a new one before leaving home.

You’ll also need to have enough empty pages for border agents to stamp. So, even if your passport is valid, a lack of pages means you’re still going to have to spend the cash on a new one. Better to have a brand new, empty passport for when you start traveling than to run out of pages and have to go through the hassle of trying to get an emergency passport abroad.

A passport application can get delayed, so don’t sleep on this. Sort it ASAP.

If your plans mean you’ll need a visa, then also make sure to give yourself plenty of time to sort this too. Getting a visa is usually a multi-step process, sometimes including visits to an embassy. And, guess what? Visa applications can also get delayed.

How to prepare for travel: buy your equipment

There are a few essential bits of kit that you’ll need to get your hands on and for which I don’t recommend looking for the cheapest options. These are:

  • Your backpack: one that at least has good support, easy access, a waterproof cover and is big enough for your trip duration
  • Decent shoes: a supportive pair of shoes that’ll last a while being worn probably everyday
  • A lightweight waterproof jacket. Look for taped seams, and the higher the waterproof rating the better—I recommend a minimum rating of 10 k.
  • A small padlock to use for hostel lockers and your backpack
  • A travel money belt that can be worn invisibly under your top

You might think there are more items that should be on this list. But for me, these are the absolute essentials and it’s important that for each one you choose a reliable option that’s going to last long-term.

Cheaping out now only means having to buy again while you’re traveling. I made this mistake with my backpack in the early days of my travels and paid the price.

How to prepare for travel: learn how to pack a backpack

There is a bit of a science to packing backpacks and the recommended way means yours will be snug and supportive on your back. Rei has a thorough guide on backpack packing here, but in short, the most important thing is to have your heaviest items in the middle and closest to your back.

How to prepare for travel: get insurance

Getting travel insurance is a no brainer, but picking the right policy takes a little thought. You want to make sure that the policy you buy covers you adequately in all the countries you plan to visit and for all the activities you want to do.

Shop around for your cover as prices for the similar policies will differ between vendors.

I recommend companies like truetraveller, who offer long-term cover that can be extended as you’re traveling. I’ve used truetraveller before and so can vouch for them.

Safety Wing is also supposed to be good. I’ve never used them, but the company was founded by nomads for nomads, and lots of travel bloggers recommend them.

How to prepare for travel: set up accounts on travel platforms

If you’re thinking about signing up to sites like Workaway and Couchsurfing , then you could do this after you start your trip.

However, I recommend creating your profiles beforehand. This is because you can get stays lined up earlier on and save yourself more money in the long run.

How to prepare for travel: try and learn basic language skills

It’s always handy to know a few words of the local lingo, especially if you’re traveling in a region of the world where the same language is spoken throughout.

Basic things like asking for directions and being able to order food will go a long way. And the locals will respect it too.

Apps like Duolingo and language channels on YouTube can be good for the basics. And if you want to get used to the accent too, then there are plenty of online language conversation platforms where you can have informal lessons.

Cambly and Lingoda are two well-known and decent platforms, but there are loads more.

How to prepare for travel: say bye to friends and family

I highly recommend catching up with your close friends and family before you leave. Long-term travel can sometimes cause people to drift, so it’s good to let these people know you’re good mates and your time away won’t change that.

More travel advice on A World Over

That’s my ultimate guide on how to prepare for travel. Make sure to use it when getting ready for your trip so that you don’t forget any of the essentials.

And remember to check out my ultimate guide on how to afford travel, where I detail my best advice for saving for your trip and making that money last as long as possible.

And for some final inspiration, why not have a quick read of my article about the advantages and disadvantages of travel.

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