One of the coolest freedom’s gained as a location independent business owner is the ability to travel the world, and run your business at the same time. You’ve put in the work, and now you have an online business that’s generating some cash.
You’re making plans to get out there and explore the world, to break out of your comfort zone and experience a host of new things. We are so excited for you!
Taking the leap abroad can be daunting, so here we’ve compiled some of the most common questions and concerns folks have when preparing for a long term trip. If you’re still debating whether or not travel is for you, be sure to check out Location Independent Living and Working.
Before you jump on that plane, here are some things you should take care of…
This is important. Regardless of where you’re headed, you’ll probably need to get at least a few shots before you go. It’s important that you don’t wait too long, as some of them require that you get a battery of shots over a period of 1-6 months. If you wait till last minute, some of these can be accelerated to 21 days, but it’s better to do it early whenever possible.
The Center for Disease Control website recommends the following for most parts of the world…
It sounds like a lot, I know, but it’s no big deal and not very painful. Make sure you check the specific requirements for the places you’ll be visiting, as some will only require you to get some of the above, and some will require you to get others entirely. If you’ll be around animals a lot, or spending time in bat caves, consider dropping the hefty sum of $600 for a rabies shot. It’s a hefty price tag, but it sure beats ending up like Ol’ Yeller.
Malaria can also be a concern if you’re traveling to a region where it’s common (the Amazon), but you can pick up some Malaria medication en route if need be. It is know to have some fairly intense side effects, so be careful.
I recommend that you automate all of yours bills anyway, but if you haven’t done so, now is the time. Any remaining mail should be forward to a trusted person. I like to give said person permission to open any mail that looks urgent or important, that way they can alert me of any issues. These days it’s easy to have then shoot you a photocopy of anything that needs your direct attention. Make sure to load this person up with souvenirs upon your return, as a token of your thanks.
If you don’t have anyone you trust at home, you can also stop your mail at the post office directly. They’ll put it all in a big tub for you and you can pick it up when you get back. This is a bit trickier if you will be going away for an indefinite period of time.
Often times, all you have to do is call your bank, tell them where you’re going, and ask them to enable your debit card for international travel. I use credit cards almost exclusively, so I get cash back, but it’s also good to have access to an account via debit card for cash withdrawal.
If you go the debit card route, I suggest opening a new account and transferring a small amount of money in to it. I have one labeled “online/travel”. I use this as a security measure so that in case my card gets stolen, I’m only out a little bit instead of all my hard earned dough. Leave the majority of your money in a separate “safe” bank account, and don’t carry the debit card for that account with you. Transfer money as need between your accounts via the internet.
Check out Capital One and Schwab for awesome online banking service. Both offer debit cards with no ATM fees worldwide and have no low balance fees.
If you haven’t been in a while, you may want to go get a physical before you roll out, just to make sure there are no issues that need to be addressed prior to hopping on a plane.
If you haven’t been to the dentist in a while it’s a good ideas to go in for a cleaning as well. Also, make sure, if you wear contacts or glasses to pack plant of back-ups and your prescription, just in case.
Many people overlook this one, but it sure is nice to have if you need it. I suggest you have some kind of medical and evacuation insurance, at the very minimum. It’s not very expensive. Lonely Planet guide books recommend World Nomads, which offer simple and flexible plans.
On the topic of insurance, you may consider getting life insurance if you don’t already have it and have a family. Statistically, travel is no more dangerous than sitting on your couch eating Doritos (or safer depending on how many Doritos you’re eating), but you never know.
Ahh, the smart phone a.k.a. digital leash. It is simultaneously the lifeblood of our nomadship and the bane of our existence.
This one boils down to personal preference. If you know that you will HAVE to use your phone, you might wish to upgrade to an international plan, but there are much more cost-effective options out there.
Social media and email will do the same thing they do at home and let you share selfies of yourself riding a camel in your underwear and other important notes from the road.
Google Voice and Skype offer the ability to port your current number to their platform. If you get a cell phone in the country you are visiting, you can also have your GV or Skype number ported to that cell phone.
BUT, keep in mind that not upgrading to an international plan is a great excuse to not use your phone at all in your travels. This will save you money, but more importantly it will force you to spend more time living in the real world than updating your Twitter and texting your friends who are stuck in the office at home.
Most countries are easy to get in and out of. Many permit a three-month stay under their tourist visa, which is why I tend to move on after three months. In many countries, from my experience (as an American), all you have to do is show up at the border not looking like a criminal, and they’ll give you a tourist visa at the airport. In some countries you’ll have to pay a fee (usually ranging from $20-$200) and fill out paperwork beforehand.
Remember, some countries (like New Zealand), require you to show copies of your return tickets upon entering. I make it a point to always carry copies of return tickets (when I have them) everywhere I travel, just in case.
Always check the requirements beforehand.
Some people advocate that you just wing it and find out the rules when you get there, but I prefer to do a little research beforehand and avoid the possibility of being turned away or having to camp in a corner of the airport for a day or two. If you can’t find what you need online, or still have questions, call the embassy beforehand.
Visas can be a pain. Not only can you sometimes be stranded for days waiting for them (usually over weekends), but their costs can really add up in some parts of the world. Other times you’ll find Visas to be hassle free, not required, or just a simple free stamp at the border (Latin America). Regardless, you’ll be better off if you know what you need to do before you arrive.
The ease at which you’ll obtain a Visa all depends on where your headed, where you’re coming from, and the purpose of your visit. I suggest checking out Project Visa or CheapoAir’s tool, both of which provide comprehensive Visa and embassy information for all countries.
Don’t overstay your visa.
Not surprisingly, most places tend to frown on this. Granted, if you mess up you probably won’t face a firing squad, but you may have to pay a fee on your way out and not be allowed to return for a while. If you find a place you can’t bear to part with, don’t become a fugitive, simply find a lawyer on Internations and ask what it takes. Follow the rules! It’s not worth the stress and worry to try and beat the system, follow the visa laws and pay whatever fee’s are required.
Guidebooks can be great, but they can also really take away from the whole experience. If you’re heading out on a long, multi-nation trip, consider leaving your hefty (and expensive) guidebooks at home, unless they’re sitting on a kindle.
Avoid the temptation to plan out every waking moment of your day. If you are coming from a high stress environment, as many of us do, you may find yourself suddenly out of sorts when you wake up without an alarm clock and have nowhere in particular to go.
If you’re anything like me, it will be impossible for you to resist planning entirely, so here I’ll provide you with some of my favorite sites. Unlike guidebooks, the information you’ll find on there is more up to date, and a website doesn’t take up nearly as much room in your suitcase.
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel only read one page.”
Remember, this is a journey. There will no doubt be a transitional period in the beginning. You may even find yourself feeling a bit bummed out at first. This is normal. Travel opens the doors to new insights on the world and into ourselves. We get to glimpse a peace that is far too often drowned out by the constant buzzing of a smart phone, or the television on the train, or the never-ceasing tsunami of information that we’re all pounded with on a daily basis.
In your travels you will have the opportunity to take a step back from the noise. To learn how to be content with yourself, without the need for constant extraneous stimulation. Embrace the space that opens up, it is where you will find new inspiration and tap new springs of creativity.
Now, enough talk, let’s get out there and see the world!
How do you prepare for a long trip? Did we leave anything out?