Updated: Feb 26, 2020
This is not the first time we have chucked it all in and left our family, friends, jobs/careers, pets and home to answer the call of the wild. Having back-packed through Europe as lone travellers in our 20s and 30s and again as a married couple in our 30s and 40s, we have split our time and spent as much of our adult lives in the UK as we have done our home country of Australia, and have moved back & forth between the two on several occasions. Now in our 40s and 50s we are about to embark on another massive adventure to the Americas. We plan to travel for at least 12 months and make the most of having no commitments, taking in all of South America, the U.S.A and Canada.
So what does it take to make this leap of faith you may ask? A shared vision, dream and a commitment to each other is where it all starts. But turning that dream into a reality is not always easy. The practicalities can be extremely overwhelming and for us it has certainly gotten more complicated as we've gotten older and acquired more assets, careers (not just jobs) and simply more of everything! The best advice we can give is to take it day by day and write a list of all the things you need to do. Then prioritise the list, divide and conquer!!
Here is an example of all the things you need to consider if you are planning to hit the road;
Decide where you want to go, how long for and how you will fund the trip first. What is your budget?
Set a date and book the flights! Now you are committed. For us, we usually take 3-6 months to plan our exit strategy and tie up all loose ends.
Check what visas you require and apply. Check your passport is valid for the duration of your trip +6 months.
Take out travel insurance, you never know when you might need it, particularly in certain destinations. We use www.comparethemarket.com or similar to find the best deals.
Visit your GP and find out if you need to get any vaccinations. Depending on your age and type of travel, you may want to get a health check before you go.
I would suggest booking your accommodation with booking.com or similar in advance. You usually have the flexibility to cancel or modify a booking if your plans change. But, you don't want to get caught short and end up sleeping in a bus depot, airport or on the beach! Many a time in our younger days we got caught out when we arrived in a place not aware there was a festival or something on and all the rooms were booked out!
Flights tend to get more expensive the closer you get to the time, so try to book all flights in advance
Take local buses and trains to save money
Stay in hostels. It's cheaper and a great way to meet like minded people with great travel tips. You can always get private rooms if you are beyond the dorm room.
Learn the local language, it is always appreciated, even if you can only manage the basics.
Keep an open mind and be flexible, usually the best experiences are the ones you didn't plan.
If you are moving abroad long term (or for good) you also need to consider the following;
If you own your own home, contact an agent to rent it out (take out landlords insurance) or possibly sell the property if you know you will not be returning.
Sell your car! It will only cost you money and depreciate in value while you are away. We learnt that one the hard way.
Hand in your notice at work, now things are getting real!
Start to purge your belongings. Storage is expensive and will eat into your travel fund. If possible, see if you can leave your essential belongings with friends or family if they have the space. Try to minimise excess stuff and sell on eBay, Shpock, gumtree etc to add to your travel fund. Donate what you can to family, friends and charities and only keep the essentials you know you can't replace. It is amazing how easy it is to acquire new stuff, you really don't need to hold onto the old stuff. We have used AngloPacific for all our shipping needs and never been disappointed in the service, they also do your tax return!
If you have a pet, find a petsitter or someone to foster or adopt. This can be the hardest part, especially when leaving your furry friend forever.
Make sure your taxes are up to date, you never know, you could receive an added bonus to the travel fund.
Cancel all your utility bills and direct debits (usually require 1 month notice), including taking your name off the election role. Start getting rid of subscriptions as soon as you can to help save money.
Consider opening an international bank account
GnTonefortheroad Travel Tip: When things get tough, just remember the vision you are working towards and keep moving forward. Stay positive, support one another and be kind and patient with one another as it can be a very stressful time. And as I always say; be prepared for the worst but always expect the best.