It all begins and ends with money. Once you’ve set your mind to travelling for a year, or indefinitely, it’s high time to start saving up – unless, of course, you’ve already been doing that.
How much money do you need? That depends on the duration of your trip and what you want to do and see. It also depends on your preferred travelling style – is it backpacking, hitchhiking/using public transport and sleeping in hostels or do you feel more comfortable staying at boutique hotels and going on organised trips? The difference between the budgets of the above travelling styles can be quite significant. It also depends on whether you’re going to spend most of your trip in countries with a high economic standard (e.g. the USA, Australia, the Baltic states) where the prices are several times higher than the ones in Southeast Asia and some South American countries.
Once you’ve decided on which style of travelling you prefer and which countries/continent you’d like to visit, you can look up a lot of information online; it should be fairly obvious that one thousand euros per month should more than suffice for a low-budget backpacking in Southeast Asia.
Don’t forget to add the approximate price of the plane tickets, insurance, visas etc. to the amount of money you’ll be needing, though.
TIP: If you want to go really low-budget, there are many places around the world where you can volunteer (in exchange for food and accommodation), “look after” the house and pets, or find temporary work in the tourism or agricultural sector (hostels, cafés, fruit picking, helping out on an organic farm…). In such cases, you can set out with a minimum amount of money you’ve saved up, plus you’ll be having an unforgettable experience.
Travel documents and visas
The last thing you want to experience during your trip around the world is to find out somewhere in the middle of your journey that your passport has expired. Therefore, it’s necessary to check your passports expiry date before travelling – it should be valid at least six months after your approximate intended return.
If you intend to drive a car or a motorcycle abroad, you’ll also have to have or apply for a driving licence.
Some countries require travellers to obtain a visa to be allowed to enter the country, so check whether you have to obtain your visa at home, before travelling, or at one of the embassies, during your trip. But definitely try not to leave your visa at home, in your scanner, like we did.
It’s best if you make copies of your documents and keep them someplace safe.
Are you a student or have just finished studying? Then no problem there. However, if you already have job and want to go see the world for a year, then you’ll have to reach an agreement on how to proceed – applying for unpaid leave, putting the contract on hold or handing in resignation – these are just some of the most common options.
When you go on a trip for a whole year, it seems only logical to reduce the costs at home. If you live in a rented flat, you can simply move out, otherwise you should consider renting your flat or house for the time of your absence, or at least cut non-essential costs (e.g. TV and internet).
You can also cancel your mobile phone contract, since it’s more convenient to use foreign SIM cards abroad and you can still connect with your family and friends through Wi-Fi.
Paying when abroad
Generally, every country has its own currency and, with the exception of an “emergency stash” of a few hundred dollars, you shouldn’t take cash with you on your trip, but rather withdraw money at an ATM when necessary. It’s good to carry various credit and debit cards with you because it can happen that an ATM won’t accept all of them or an unpleasant incident may occur and you end up without one of your cards. And what if the impossible happens and you end up without all of your credit cards? Well, if you authorise your next of kin at home, they can access your bank account and transfer money to you through Western Union.
Before setting out on your trip around the world, schedule a general health check with your doctor and/or dentist (and of course your gynaecologist if you’re a woman). In case you’re taking medication regularly, your doctor will prescribe them in a larger quantity and, in order to avoid any possible trouble, they should also enclose a signed statement (that you’re supposed to be taking the medication).
Also check the vaccination requirements and/or whether you need to take antimalarials. Some vaccinations are compulsory (e.g. against yellow fever), others are recommended (e.g. against hepatitis A and B, and rabies). Take your vaccination record booklet with you on your trip, and if you figure out as you go that you’ve missed out on a vaccination you can visit a hospital abroad and get vaccinated later.
And don’t forget about your travel health insurance!
TIP: For long trips we recommend extended insurance that, along with health services, covers cancelled flights, lost luggage, stolen electronic equipment etc. – the longer you travel the bigger the chances something might go wrong. If you do sports, such as diving, hiking and mountain biking, don’t forget to add them to your insurance policy (for an extra fee, of course) because these aren’t included in the basic tourist insurance.