Leaving to take a vacation for even just a week requires a certain amount of preparation; what about going away for months or a year? Before we left I made countless lists and felt overwhelmed by the amount of tasks that needed to be done. So I put together a comprehensive list of things to consider that I hope can serve as a resource for others.
- Storage. What are you going to do with all your stuff? After selling off as much as we could, we were able to store what was left in a family member’s basement(Big relief!). If you don’t have the option of storing at a friend’s or relative’s place then look into local storage companies.
- Insurance. We purchased travel insurance that also included emergency health coverage. This was a cost I was tempted to scrap, but it could be catastrophic if something were to happen on the trip and be responsible for massive hospital bills – better safe than sorry. The travel insurance also came in handy for us after one Australian flight where both bags were damaged and needed to be replaced.
- Visas and passport. Obtain all necessary visas ahead of time, unless it’s a country like Cambodia or Indonesia where you can get a visa on arrival. On top of getting a visa, most countries also require you to have at least 6 months left of valid travel on your passport. If in doubt, check the country embassy site or if you’re a U.S. Citizen you can check here: http://www.travel.state.gov/.
- Cancel or put any subscriptions/memberships on hold. Examples: Netflix, magazines, newspapers, Costco, Gym etc. It’s so easy to forget these!
- Cancel cell phone plan. It’s difficult to get out of the cancellation fee but you may be able to avoid it if you know of someone willing to take over the contract.
- Make all credit card statements paperless. Failure to do this can open you up to identity theft and going paperless also decreases your impact on the environment.
- Call credit card companies to let them know where you’ll be traveling to. Even though I called in advance I still had to call every few countries to update the alert on my accounts.
- Have mail forwarded to a relative or friend’s home or set up a P.O. Box. Set up takes a few weeks so make sure to do this in advance.
- Make sure your bank account won’t incur fees while you’re away. Is there a minimum balance or direct deposit needed in order to maintain a free checking account? If so, you may want to switch banks or move to a credit union.
- How will you access your money abroad? For this purpose we opened a joint Schwab Checking Account which allowed us to use any ATM worldwide and be reimbursed for fees. We also didn’t need to exchange money which was convenient.
- Foreign Transaction Fees. If you are planning to use credit cards, check that they don’t have a foreign transaction fee. It seems most cards are getting rid of this fee, Discover being the most recent.
- Get a clean bill of health. Leave time to schedule appointments with your physician(s) and dentist. Depending on where you’re traveling your doctor may recommend vaccines or a prescription to combat prevalent diseases in an area, ie: Malaria.
- Leave contact information. I left my parents information on where we were staying in each country so that in case of emergency we could be contacted or if heaven forbid something happened to us, someone knew where we were supposed to be.
- Purchase a local skype number. This is optional but because I had no active mobile through my travels, it was a consistent number I could provide to my loved ones and credit card companies to be able to call and leave voice messages if necessary.
Did I miss anything? Let me know below in the comments if there are other things you’d add to your list.