One holiday for two weeks every year, just isn’t cutting it. You’ve been well and truly bitten by the travel bug and you need to go and explore the world for far longer than two very short weeks.
If you’re planning on taking some time out to go travelling, you need our useful guide to preparing your getaway at home and abroad before you leave. We’ve gathered the best advice from the leading experts to make sure you’ve ticked all the boxes and are free to go and roam the world for however long you choose to.
Rather than just quit your job, would your boss agree to you taking a sabbatical of unpaid leave, or keep your job open for your return? If you’ve been looking for an excuse to leave anyway then this won’t apply but having something concrete to return to can be a reassuring prospect, especially if money is starting to run low.
You’d be surprised how many companies would prefer to keep a job open rather than go through the process of recruiting and training someone new, particularly if you’ve been a solid performer all those years. Ask, you’ve got nothing to lose.
If you’re taking three to six months, or even longer to travel and you’re a homeowner then leaving your home empty and not making you any money is a wasted opportunity.
Ask around friends and family members to see if they have any interest in renting out your property or consider a more formal route. Depending on much risk you’re prepared to take, you might opt for advertising on Airbnb or similar and having a series of people rent out your space. You may need to have someone manage your cleaning and greeting of guests, but you’ll be able to charge a higher rate.
If you’re hoping for a steadier flow of money then consider using a letting agency that gives you a fixed monthly income, whether your property is empty or has a tenant. You will probably receive less than you would through a holiday let but you will always know how much you’re going to receive each month and be able to plan accordingly. You also have the added protection of someone managing your property and your tenants for you and arranging for items, like the boiler, to be fixed should there be a problem.
With work and your domestic arrangements settled, now is the time to get excited. Start planning your world odyssey and figuring out the three most important things: where you’re going to go, how you’re going to get there and where you’re going to stay. Everything else, including budget and sightseeing will follow afterwards.
There are going to be lots of options for you to consider but more often than not a mix of plane, train and bus is the smartest way to see as much of a country as possible, and sometimes the cheapest.
Every country will have its own train network online somewhere so if you’re planning on staying somewhere for a week or two, then do some research into railcards and figure out if a Europe-wide or country-specific card will save you some money and give you access to where you need to go.
If you are relying on trains, work out a logical route traversing neighbouring countries, rather than zig zagging across the map, it will save you time as well as money and allow you to squeeze more countries in to your itinerary.
When it comes to planes, you’ll be able to opt for a more expensive open-ended ticket or a fixed return, that might cramp your style a bit but offers you the guarantee of your passage home. Of course, you might just decide not to buy a ticket at all and see where you end up and how you feel in six months’ time.
Then it’s time to think about where you want to stay. For the best experience a good mix of places is perfect. Spend a few nights in a hostel and eat cheaply, lap up some luxury in a spa hotel or consider other half way options.
Just as you’ve rented your property out, it might be cheaper and more convenient to look into renting an apartment for a week or two, or longer, through a house rental portal. You might even find some like-minded friends on route to share with you and make the experience even more fun. There’s no harm at all in looking in advance to see if this would work out. Book in advance to guarantee you’ll find somewhere, particularly if you’re travelling during the busy tourist season.
It might sound less than exciting but do make sure you have adequate travel insurance that, most importantly, covers your medical bills around the world but will also replace any stolen credit cards, cameras or laptops. It’s worth spending a little more for the guarantee that you’ll have them sent to you within 24-hours where possible.
You might have factored in a working stint to top up your funds while traveling and this can be a great way of refreshing your funds and meeting new people. Some countries have their own foreigner working schemes from fruit picking to teaching English so do a little research ahead of time and see if there’s a way of putting your skills and resources to use somewhere else in the world, even for just a little while.
Check that you’ll have the right permits to work and if the employer needs to sort that out or if you do.
Finally, it’s time for the last few items on your list to get ticked off. Do you need visas to enter any of the countries you’re planning to visit? Check and get these before you travel, it’s far easier to do this from the comfort of your own home than on the road. Depending on what type of passport you have, you’ll need to double check where you can move freely and where you’ll need permission.
Then it’s time for the jabs. Various countries carry threats of disease, from yellow fever to malaria, so make a list of the countries you’re planning on visiting and make an appointment at your medical provider to get yourself fully protected. Give yourself time to get over the possible side effects before you leave as these can make you unwell.
Now you’re all set, you’re ready to go and you’re about to embark on the trip of a lifetime. This is no small moment in your life and something you’ll remember for many years to come. Getting as prepared as possible won’t take the fun out of the adventure, instead it will allow you the freedom to make spontaneous decisions without the worry of money or whether you have the adequate paperwork.
Get your working situation under control before you leave, it’s always advisable not to burn your bridges, and leave space to either return or at least leave on good terms. Spend time trawling the blogs of lifestyle and travel writers and get great travel tips and recommendations on where to go and what to see. Get your home making you an income and prepare to start the holiday of a lifetime.
Book all those tickets, see those sights, taste that food and have an adventure that will keep you going back to your photos again and again for many years to come.