Have you ever thought about going on an extended trip; quitting your job, selling your house, saying “hasta luego” to your friends and family for a while? While an exhilarating life decision, the planning for such an adventure can seem daunting or overwhelming. Hopefully after you read this article you will have the start of your plan for an extended trip.
Budgeting for an extended trip can be challenging but it should be one of the first discussions you have with yourself. Here are some helpful questions to ask during the planning process:
1. What type of experience do you want? Will it be adventure, backpacking, luxury, tour-guided?
2. How long are you planning to be gone? If it’s a lengthy trip you’ll need to build in a break here or there…maybe even a trip back to reality then back to the road.
3. What part(s) of the world are you visiting? Some areas of the world you can live like a queen or king for $25 a day, other parts you can’t even get a meal for that amount.
4. What type of accommodations do you desire? Dorm-style hostel…small hotels with shared/private bath…luxury/boutique hotels.
5. Are you planning to see EVERY site you can or will you be choosy in what you include on your agenda?
On average, I recommend a budget between $50-100 per day for your extended trip. If you are traveling alone it can cost almost the same as if you are traveling with someone. This budget calculator is a great resource to help you with your budget.
A few things to remember in your budget:
1. Country Visa fees (including departure and arrival taxes)
2. Internal country travel costs (buses, trains, cabs, etc)
3. Tours and activities
4. Souvenirs and gifts
5. Preparation items – vaccines, clothes, backpack, airplane ticket and travel insurance
Start your extended trip savings account TODAY. Add $100 a month to a money market or savings account just like you with your retirement savings. If you get a large sum of money (tax refund, inheritance, etc) put this directly into your travel account. Do you own a car? If you don’t, what would you spend on gas, parking, insurance, etc? Take that amount and put it into your travel account on a monthly basis. Before you know it you will be on your way!
Are you the type of person that will buy a one-way ticket to Bangkok and see where the wind takes you or do you love MSExcel and have every country in the world in it in order of where you want to go first? Planning where to go can be overwhelming. Here are a few questions to consider in you planning:
1. Will you be purchasing an Around-the-World ticket or using several airlines? Airtreks has a great website to get you started if you are using several airlines.
2. What type of guidebook do you want to use? Lonely Planet is great for Southeast Asia and Australia while Moon Travel Guides are great for Central/South America. Spend an afternoon in your local bookstore and determine what book best fits your style of travel.
It is helpful to have a plan for your arrival into each country. Where will you be staying? Girls Who Travel recommends you have a reservation for the first night (at least) and an understanding for transportation to your first night accommodation. (HINT: Never be afraid to ask your hostel for complimentary airport pickup OR for the best way to arrange to get to their establishment.) Arriving into a new country can be intimidating and having a place to stay and transportation will help ease your entry. What is the currency/conversion for the country? If you are coming into an airport, use the airport ATM to get your initial cash needed. If you are traveling overland, find an ATM right away when you arrive.
10 Survival Tips:
As you develop your plan for your extended trip, keep these things in mind:
1. Pack light – only what you can carry. I know this is easier said than done yet for a multitude of different reasons this is very important.
2. Purchase a money belt of some sort – it can be annoying, unfashionable and uncomfortable to wear as you travel through India’s 103-degree temps but it is worth it when you know your important documents (and CASH!) are being kept safe.
3. Get your loved ones on Skype or Google Hangouts (if they aren’t already). It is the best and cheapest method to keep in touch with family and friends. Wifi is pretty readily available now-a-days and if it’s not, internet cafés are generally EVERYWHERE in foreign countries.
4. Bring a sleep sheet – it is well worth the investment for some of those dodgy mattresses.
5. If traveling alone, stay at a place with a great common space to meet fellow travelers (if you want to meet others).
6. The word “cute” when used to describe a hotel usually means small and old. Remember, everyone has different tastes so make sure to check the hotel/hostel website for pics or reviews.
7. Determine your “Worth It” factor. The “Worth It” factor is used to prioritize the places and things you want to visit. Borrow ideas and get recommendations from other travelers. They are your best friends when prioritizing what to do and how to do it.
8. Ride buses (public or tour) across the city whenever you can – you see way more of the city that way.
9. Join a tour group – sometimes it is easier and more efficient to see the highlights of a destination rather than go at it on your own. After the tour you now have a chance to delve into all your favorites.
10. Resign yourself to the fact that you CAN’T see everything – if you adopt this philosophy early it will make your extended trip all the more enjoyable. Remember even Marco Polo didn’t get to see Africa.
Specifically for Women travelers:
1. Develop your sense of confidence and remember to trust your gut.
2. If traveling in culturally sensitive areas ask your guide or a trusted source when/if you need to abide by the local customs.
3. Read the “Women Traveling Alone” section of the guide book – it can provide great insight into a cities/countries attitude toward women.