This is a guest post by Jack and Jill from Jack and Jill Travel the World. Jack and Jill constantly amaze themselves by managing to survive from one misadventure to another. But their upcoming around the world trip (starting soon in Colombia, April 2011) might just be their biggest challenge yet.
Time until departure: 1 year or more
Initial research – Some of the questions you need to ask yourself: Are you planning to go back to the same location after your travel? Would you be selling your house? Would you take time off work or quit your job?
Create a budget – How much can you realistically save in a year? How much would you save for re-entry expense? How much would you need to save per month in order to reach your savings target?
Start paying off or reducing your debt – (always a good idea, anyway)
Reduce the number of commitments – Don’t get any contract that requires commitment (e.g. cell phone contracts) and don’t get into new debt.
Visit the local library and start researching places that interest you. Read travel journals, magazines, and books (can I recommend Bill Bryson?) and other blogs to inspire you.
Make (a very long) list of countries you want to visit. Do a brain dump and just start writing them down.
Take these steps to increase your savings:
- move to a smaller/cheaper apartment
- move to a place closer to where you work so you can ride more and drive less
- try to reduce or eliminate credit card usage as much as possible
Time until departure: 6 months – 1 year
Narrow down your itinerary list. Create a guideline or a set of criteria that you can use to help taking things off your itinerary. In our case, first world countries don’t make a cut. They’re expensive and they can be easily visited when we’re old. Your criteria will be different, figure out what they are. These are ours.
Create a mock itinerary. Fish out the list you originally created, start arranging them in a way that makes sense and chop off those that don’t fit within the guidelines. I said ‘mock’ because if you’re anything like us you probably do this step a dozen times and end up giving up the idea of having a set itinerary altogether.
Research what vaccinations you’ll need. Some vaccinations require multiple shots and need to be taken months ahead of your departure date.
Start connecting with other travelers. If you’re going to have a blog to document your trip, start now to iron out all the kinks and get over the learning curve.
Take an honest look at your budget. Have you been meeting your monthly savings goal? Here are some ideas on how to help you meet your budget goals:
- Stop buying any more stuff. It will make selling everything (assuming you’re selling everything) much harder.
- Start packing lunches to work.
- Avoid Starbucks and malls to avoid unnecessary spending.
- Play the ‘How Many Days in Thailand?’ game.
Time until departure: 4 months
Decide on whether you’ll get a round-the-world ticket or a point-to-point tickets.
Check the expiration date on your passport. Renew if necessary.
Take advantage of your work insurance. Get a physical exam, an eye exam, new contact lenses, new frames. anything that your insurance plan covers you will want to take advantage of.
Start researching travel insurance.
Sell stuff. We continually have stuff on sale on Ebay and Craigslist. It puts us in the right frame of mind and leave the cheaper/harder to sell stuff for the garage sales.
Time until departure: 2 months
Freshen up your Linked-in and resume if you’re planning to go back to work after your trip.
Research and open round-the-world friendly bank accounts. We wrote this post explaining why we chose to go with Schwabb and Capital One.
If you have pets, start begging relatives, friends, neighbors to take care of your pets.
Start researching and purchasing your gear, most importantly your backpack and your shoes. This will leave you time to test drive them.
Even more shopping! Create a packing list and decide which electronic gadgets and clothes you’re going to bring.
Research visa requirements for the first 2 countries in your itinerary. Most of the times it’s easier to apply for visas from your country of residence. Get the rests on the road.
Buy your ticket!
Time until departure: 2-4 weeks
Notify your landlord if you’re renting.
Give notice at your job.
Set up mail forwarding.
Cancel any subscriptions you have: internet, cable TV, telephone, gym membership, etc.
Email copies of your important documents (passport, visas, health records, driver’s license, bank account information, etc) to yourself or have them stored in the ‘cloud’ (e.g. Dropbox, etc).
Make copies of passport photos.
Get an international drivers’ license.
Have a garage sale.
Time until departure: 1 week
Call your banks and let them know that you’ll be traveling abroad.
Book the accommodation for your first couple of nights and figure out how to get there from your hotel.
Practice packing. This will be your last chance to get last-minute supplies and what not. This will also give you an opportunity to fine tune the list of items you’re carrying.
Have bad-ass good-bye party with friends and families.
Time until departure: 0
Have a panic attack.
Wow, that was a comprehensive list put together by Jack and Jill and will be very useful for all of us travelers heading around the world shortly! Is there anything else that should be added to this checklist? Let us know in the comments!