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Pre-Departure Travel Checklist for Round-the-World Travelers | Don't Ever Look Back

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Round-the-World Pre-Departure Travel Checklist

Round-the-World Pre-Departure Travel Checklist

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

Reading a Lonely Planet Book

Travel guidebooks are a great way to research destinations you might want to visit.

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

Research what vaccinations you’ll need.

Vaccinations aren't fun but they're essential. Research which ones you'll need at least 6 months before you travel!

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:

Time until departure: 4 months

Check the expiration date on your passport.

Does your passport have at least 6 months validity from the date you leave? If not, renew it now!

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

Start researching and purchasing your gear.

It's time to start purchasing your travel gear!

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

Make copies of all your important documents.

We recommend making copies of all your important documents BEFORE you leave!

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

Practice packing!

Practice packing!

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.

Reconfirm flight.

Time until departure: 0


You're finally on the road! It's time to celebrate and enjoy!

Have a panic attack.

Take off!

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!

Flickr Photos: jaybergesen, Mickipedia, The Wide Wide World, midnightglory, Ikhlasul Amal, stevecoutts, SJ photography


  1. Posted February 28, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Great list. I know ‘have a panic attack’ is the last thing on the list, but that’s one thing I’m ahead of schedule on!

  2. Posted February 28, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    I like that you listed to make copies of important documents before you leave. Not a lot of people I know do that, but it saves so much hassle should something happen.
    Natalie recently posted..Is it Safe to Travel to Turkey in 2011

    • Posted March 2, 2011 at 3:12 am | Permalink

      I’ve had some horrible experience dealing with immigration paperwork. It has now become almost like an obsession making sure we have everything in original (thank you Schengen visa requirement!!) AND copies… in 2 separate places.
      jill recently posted..Leaving Our Jobs and Coming Out Party

  3. Posted February 28, 2011 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Awesome! I’ll keep referring back to this list as it gets nearer and nearer to my departure date! You mentioned some great things that I hadn’t even thought about before!!!
    Lauren recently posted..Will I ever stop changing my mind

  4. Posted March 1, 2011 at 3:28 am | Permalink

    Very good list. I’m glad to see we are right on schedule, just rounding the corner into the 4 month category.
    Mike Lenzen recently posted..Yukon River 2010 – Part 2

  5. Jamie
    Posted March 1, 2011 at 3:41 am | Permalink

    Ok, it is WAY more economical to travel without a guide, but what about budget tips for those virgin, prone to being lost travelers like me who have to book a tour?

  6. Posted March 1, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Wow, I am impressed with how organized and thoughtful you guys are with your planning! I think my RTW trip consisted of a month of visa applications for the countries I needed and then throwing some random things into my backpack a few days before my flight. Not recommended, but that’s just me. BUT calling your banks and credit card is a GREAT tip because when I first went on a long haul trip in 2005 to Europe, one of my credit cards wouldn’t authorize the use because I hadn’t notified them that I would be traveling. Now I’ve learned my lesson!
    Connie recently posted..Asia In Miniature

  7. Posted March 3, 2011 at 2:30 am | Permalink

    Great list! I might move up a few things, though:

    The earlier you can start selling things off, the better! I’ve been selling stuff off for over 6 months now and there a lot of items that have taken a long time to sell (or just aren’t selling).

    I would also start looking for homes for pets sooner – if by some horrible scenario, you can’t find friends or family willing to take them, giving them up to a shelter might be the last resort and many shelters have limits on how many new pets they will accept, resulting in a waiting list.

    Finally, it depends where you live, but here in Chicago, giving your landlord 30-60 days’ notice is more typical – and if you’re breaking your lease, you’ll be stuck paying the rent until the landlord can find a new tenant, so the earlier you give your notice, the better chance the landlord will find someone else for it before you go and you won’t be stuck with extra costs.
    Katie recently posted..Experimenting with Fear

    • Posted March 8, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      I think if you can do all of the things as soon as possible — that’s always ideal. Great point about the pets, Katie. We always encourage those who are thinking (however remotely) to go on a long term travel to consider fostering as opposed to having pets. But yeah, if you already have pets, try to secure a home for them as soon as possible.
      jill recently posted..Why Climbing Mt Whitney Is A Once in A Lifetime Experience literally

  8. Kathryn
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    I think starting to collect some airpoints via credit card sign up bonuses is a good thing to start doing as soon as possible (assuming you have good credit). There is always the odd flight where it’s much better value to use miles than cash.

  9. Posted January 13, 2014 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    Great list, thanks for sharing!

    I would also suggest:
    1) eat all the food in your fridge!
    2) stock up on medication you may need and get a certificate from your doctor to prove you need it – you don’t want to get held up at customs “smuggling drugs”
    3) make a list of addresses to send postcards to (call me old-fashioned… but there’s nothing like snail mail, printed with an exotic, foreign stamp, and sent from the other side of the world)

    There are a few more on my blog, too 🙂
    Avanti recently posted..42. Lost in Tuscany

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