For some, being a tourist simply will not cut it. For true-blue travelers, traveling means more than just sticking to the guidebook. Instead, it is seeking profound experiences by mixing with the locals, savoring their food, and taking part in their everyday life.
For long-term travelers, this is especially true since they spend an indefinite time at one place, not knowing when or where their next destination is.
The Art of Long Term Travel
If long-term travel is your ideal adventure, you must first understand the realities involved. It might look like it’s all sunshine and roses with endless Instagrammable snapshots and fantastic posts. That could be true, as well, but there are some concerns that you first need to face before embarking on this long-standing journey.
Conquering the Challenges of Long-Term Travel
Here are a few of the most basic things that you should get a firm grip on when going on a long-term excursion:
Do Your Homework
This step will serve as a foundation for all your travel plans. Read up on the places you want to go. Get down to the more practical information like how to get around, local customs, rules, and regulations, and currency and exchange rates.
You can also try to learn the language or at least pick up some important words and phrases to help you get by in a new place.
Related: The Ultimate List of (all kinds of) Travel Hacks
Plan (But Not Too Much)
Going on a long-term journey requires some planning but not to the extent of jotting down every single activity in a spreadsheet. It’s good to be organized but having every second accounted for can take out the fun in your adventure.
Instead, plan the more major parts of the trip like long-haul flights or accommodations in places that are typically busy (especially if you’re sure that you’re going to that place).
You can usually get promo rates if you book ahead of time on airlines or get early-bird discounts in hotels. Leave some wiggle room for you so you can adjust your travel plans accordingly if in case you decide to stay longer in one place or need to skip one location for a more interesting one.
Related: The Ultimate Travel Resource (everything you’ll ever need)
Travelling can be taxing. All the walking and lugging your (usually heavy) backpack can take a toll on your health.
Before you leave, see your doctor and undergo a complete physical exam. Ask what shots you need to protect yourself as well. Also, check if the country (or countries) you’re going to require you to be immunized.
If you have any health conditions that require special medication, request for a prescription. Better yet, bring a considerable amount of your pills as pharmacies in their countries do not always honor local prescriptions.
Don’t forget to pay your dentist a visit as well.
Related: Most Common Travel FAQ
Visas, Passport & Other Documents
Double check your passport and visa expiration dates and other entry or exit rules and regulations when planning your travels.
It is best to check what travel documents are needed for each country that you plan to go to, too. Although filling out forms and collating all official travel documents can be tiresome, they are absolutely necessary.
Related: Apply Travel Visa
Read Next: List of countries Americans can visit without needing a travel visa
Ready Your Finances
Unless you have hordes of cash or parents who can bankroll your travel, you better be ready with financing your trip.
Some travelers work their backs off for some time to save money then go country-skipping while others prefer to work while on their trip (there are Couchsurfing, volunteering, or online job opportunities for travelers).
Whatever the case, you have to make sure that you are ready with your credit cards, debit cards, and cash.
Inform your bank that you plan to travel for an indefinite time so your cards won’t get frozen in case they suspect fraudulent overseas transactions.
While on your trip, try to stay on budget if the sky is not the limit. Even if you exchange services like manning the reception for free lodgings (yes, this is possible in some countries), you still need to pay for food, transportation, and other basic essentials.
Get Travel Insurance
It is a must to get yourself travel insurance. It is a reality that some unfortunate incidents can happen while you’re on your trip so it’s better to be on the safe side.
Lost luggage, health emergencies, and other untoward events sometimes occur and having yourself covered can minimize stress and cost.
Store Your Belongings
If you plan to be out of for quite some time, leaving personal belongings behind can be a cause for concern. It’s not much of a problem if you’re living with family as you can trust them to look after your stuff for you.
However, if you’re renting or sharing a flat, it would be wiser to simply store your belongings in a safe and secure warehouse facility.
Simply go through the motions of setting up an account and the corresponding payment terms, request a family or friend to check in on your things from time to time, and voila, you can leave with a much lighter heart.
Back Up Important Documents
You don’t need to be a pack rat and store every train ticket, museum pass, or leaflet as these may accumulate fast and add to your luggage weight. If you can’t part from these physical mementos, just take photos of them as souvenirs and just leave the actual documents behind.
Also, keep copies of important travel documents in your email or Google Drive so you can access them easily in case you need them.
It is also a good idea to print (and even laminate) copies of your passport and visas so you won’t have to take them out every time you have to which heightens the risk of you misplacing or dropping it.
Soak It Up & Enjoy
Finally, when you’re finally at your destination, open your mind and free your soul to get the most out of the experience. This doesn’t mean that you can throw your cares to the wind completely (although it is an option for some) but if you can still enjoy while retaining a semblance of order and safety.
Get to know the locals, try their food (or learn how to cook their dishes if you’re staying long), respect their customs and traditions, and experience how they live their lives on their side of the pond.
Mantoo, an Afghani traditional food
Walk, bike, take public transportation. Learn the language, make friends, and simply learn more.
Long-term journeys are not for everyone. It can be exhausting and things may not always happen as you’ve imagined.
If you have determined that your level of optimism to roam the world is commensurate with the understanding and accepting the realities of being away for so long, then, by all means, go where your heart leads you.
Chris Humphrey is the General Manager of Easytruck Moving & Storage. In 2013, the company combined their expertise in professional moving services & storage to create an entirely new approach to the business – and mobile storage was born! Easytruck now operates over 30,000sq ft of air-conditioned facilities in three convenient locations in Dubai and is the only Mobile Storage operator in the UAE.