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Preparing to Travel To-Do List

Packing and selling stuff

Packing and Selling Stuff

Preparing to travel, regardless of travel style, can be a stressful task.  We weren’t able to sleep; awake until 3:00am thinking about all that remained to be done on our travel plan for our backpacking trip.

When you live in the United States, traveling to another country typically means you have a long trip overseas.  It means you have to research passport and visa requirements, book flights, and ensure things at home are taken care of.

Travel Plan

Don’t expect your travel plan to be perfect, it’s impossible for long term travel.  This is a journey that will be filled with the unknown; new cultures, language barriers and obscure villages.  For me, it is was about letting go of control.  “I am unable to prevent the inevitable stress we will experience.”  Being able to control yourself when in a situation that is out of your control is a skill you will attempt develop.

What is involved in preparing to backpack around the world?

That is the question we asked ourselves repeatedly, never really getting an answer.  The fear of not accomplishing everything before we departed kept us awake at night.  I would wake Aracely up and say, “I can’t sleep.  There is just so much trip planning left to do.  Look, our room appears as if we haven’t accomplished a thing.  All of our clothes are still in our closets and we haven’t sold any furniture yet.  We don’t even have plane tickets!”  It seems funny today, now that we have more experience planning for long term travel.

Backpacking Around the World To-Do List

  1. Sell Your Stuff on Ebay
  2. Create a Budget
  3. Purchase Backpacking Gear
  4. Purchase Camping / Hiking Gear if appropriate
  5. Purchase Camera Equipment
  6. Purchase iTouch
  7. Create a Skype Account
  8. Tell Your Families
  9. Notify Employers
  10. Check Passports
  11. Notify Landlord / Sell or Rent House
  12. Create a Twitter Account (cool travelers on there)
  13. Create a Facebook Account (global address book)
  14. Create a Couchsurfing Account
  15. Are Going to Play Fantasy Leagues on the Road?
  16. Create a Rough Itinerary
  17. Check Visa Requirements for Each Country
  18. Choose a Departure Date
  19. Get Required Immunizations
  20. Put Remaining Stuff in Storage (don’t store old photos in hot attic).
  21. Purchase Travelers Insurance
  22. Change Auto Insurance
  23. Open Travel Friendly Checking Account
  24. Open Travel Friendly Credit Card Account
  25. Change Address or Set Up Mail Storage
  26. Cancel Cell Phones or Consider Global Phone Plan
  27. Practice Packing
  28. Break in Boots or Shoes
  29. Set Up First Aid Kit
  30. Purchase Lonely Planet Guides (if needed)
Travel Plan

Solitude in the woods

This is why preparing for our around the world trip became overwhelming.  It is a big travel plan with a lot of tasks to complete, especially while you are still working your normal job and trying to visit with friends and family on the weekends.  Most of the tasks revolve around long term travel.  You will notice that when you plan for a short vacation, most of the research surrounds where you will be traveling to, lodging and sight seeing.  This list has very few of those items.  This is the challenging, uncontrollable part of the journey.  It is the unknown.  You don’t exactly know where you will be staying week to week.  You won’t know many of the places you will be traveling to yet.  Plane tickets will be purchased as needed.  You will need to trust in the kindness of foreign peoples.   All these unknowns are what make long term travel so exciting, and at the same time overwhelming.

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Rachel says:

I was just wondering about electronics? You mentioned the iTouch and an iPod but I am not sure I would get use out of those things. If you get a global plan would bringing your cell be good? Also, what about a laptop or a small notebook? Is charging these devices easy as you move around? I assume hostels will have outlets. Thanks for all the tips on here! What a great site. My boyfriend and I are planning to do some traveling when our lease is up. We want to sell all the stuff we somehow accumulated and store the memorable things at our parent’s house. We have a little over a year to get everything in order so I figure its never too soon to start planning. Being away from the dog and cat (our kids) will probably be the HARDEST part of traveling ;) Thanks again for the awesome site!

Dominique says:

Great list. I’m a few months away from leaving but feel like I’m running out of time with still so much to do! AHHHHH! Wish me luck. :)

Jason says:

That feeling will always be there. And you will forget to do some things. It’s almost inevitable. But, in the end you will have a great time!

Great check list! I’ll be passing it on :-)

Jason says:

Excellent, thanks for stopping by!

Charu says:

Thanks so much for this list—so very helpful. Will definitely revisit this site before I head off again.

Jason says:

Glad we could help Charu.

Massa says:

Hi! I just stumbled upon this today because of a twitter post by @travelogged. I left Florida on January 31, 2003 on a one year adventure and never returned! You mention changing car insurance. It’s important for Americans to realize that having a gap in your car insurance is viewed as a risk. It’s something I learned and always stayed as a driver on my family’s policy. That way, if I ever return to the US, I can get normal rates. Also, whenever I do go home to the US for a visit, I am able to confidently drive any car (including rentals) and I know I’m covered.

My other advice is to put a limit on how long you can stomach your things in Public Storage. I never did this and I only cleared out my unit one month ago! I only had ‘stuff’ in there – not even furniture. Whenever I do the math on how much I spent over the years, I get queasy. When I left, I would have sworn that I’d never be in a situation where I was still paying on a storage unit all those years later. I wish I had set a limit on how much I was willing to pay in Public Storage fees. Great blog – thanks for the insights today. Cheers!

Abbie says:

This is a great list! I’ll be sure to pass it on :)

Thank you for this list! I am helping a friend pack for her backpacking experience and I will be sure to get this over to her ASAP. Thank you again for your help!

Aracely says:

So glad we can help Melissa. Best of luck to your friend!

Laurence says:

I think as travelling becomes more of a lifestyle and less of a thing you do between other things, the dauntingness of it all lessens. You will find yourself wondering how it was you thought you needed 73 pairs of underpants and all those t-shirts, and compressing your life down to a tiny amount. It’s amazing how paltry airline allowances can cause you to substantially rethink your travelling needs, not to mention the fact you usually have to lug this stuff all over the place! I’ve been on the road for around fourteen months now, and am down to about twenty kilos, which includes a drum I thought may come in handy. My advice would be to start off taking everything you think you will need, and then not being afraid to give stuff away when you realise you actually don’t need it. And don’t take stuff you would desperately miss if it gets lost/stolen/covered in strange goo.

Aracely says:

Laurence, great advice. I completely agree with your comment. We definitely brought stuff we didn’t need and we ended up either sending it home or giving it away. When we came home to a bunch of stuff I got annoyed as to how much crap we had. I will try to travel will less on our next trip for sure!

Claire says:

Trusting in the kindness of foreign peoples is key. It can and it will happen. Most people are happy to have you in their country, and some will take you under their wing and help in a time of need. Trusting can be the hard part though-if a situation doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t!

Phil says:

Nice comprehensive list. It looks daunting, but if you take a day or two you can knock most of them out. Procrastinating is where I get into trouble…

Jason says:

You and me both, Phil.

Anthony says:

Great informative list

Darek says:

very nice blog !!

J. P. Cabit says:

Oh my! Looks like a lot to be done. It sounds exciting as well as nerve-wracking…this is one of those things I would love to do, or at least love to think about doing once in my lifetime. It looks like you’re coming to the end of your one-year vacation. Do you have plans on continuing, or are you going to go home?

-J. P. Cabit
Editor-In-Chief, Fedwick Agency

Jason says:

Ahh! You said it! “Vacation.” We like to think long-term travel isn’t a vacation, but rather a lifestyle. We are living on the road, cooking in kitchens, trying to find free or cheap places to stay and sometimes looking for work or volunteer opportunities.

Our year long journey has come to an end and we are back in NJ. We are going to continue to travel and remain digital nomads. A term that is used to describe someone who can work from anywhere, as long as they are connected. This is basically what we did the past year to maintain our blog. Only now, we need to do it to maintain an income. A bit more pressure.

Stop thinking, get out there and do it! I know, it’s always more complicating than that, but a little support helps.

Tempo dulu says:

there is very little you REALLY need. backpackers generally take far too much. All you really need: a few clothes, swiss penknife, basic toiletries and an IPOD.

Jason says:

It all depends on the individual. I say, “pack what you want.” There are no rules as to how much or how little you should bring.

kevin says:

this is a savage list i will be coming back and forth to this before i leave.

Jason says:

Excellent! Glad we could help Kevin.

That list looks SO familiar! We are about 3 weeks away from our year long adventure – although we are making some domestic stops first (Atlanta to Seattle and Alaska) but will be on our way to Tokyo the first week of September!

We just actually applied for a Capital One Travel Rewards Credit Card – no international 3% conversion fee, and am setting up an HSBC ATM account which also lets you take out money with no transaction fees with their premier account all over SE Asia and a lot of other countries.

We would love to keep in touch, maybe meet up and definitely exchange tips as we plan our RTW travels!

SammyK says:

“Being able to control yourself when in a situation that is out of your control is a skill I hope to learn.”

Man I can’t tell you how I’ve learn that on my trip so far. And in a way that is so deep for me and applies to so many facets of my life. I’m really excited for you guys.

Guatemala is your first destination? Guatemala has a very special place in my heart. I hope you guys fall in love with the people there as much as I have.

Jason says:

Well, you will be visiting us somewhere along the way I am sure.

I know you will get it all done. It’s all the stress, that keeps you going, Jay.
It’s going to be the greatest experience of your lives, and Mommy is jealous!!

Jason says:

Hey at least you are giggling about it. Stay positive!

corina says:

well. if it makes you feel any better, you have a few things ticked off your list that we haven’t done yet and we leave in 2 weeks. gah! like plan a budget. haahhhaha…wonder how long i’ll be giggling about that.

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