Preparing for a lengthy stint away from home? Whether you’re planning to road-trip around the USA for 6 months or backpack through Europe for a year, packing up your life to pursue long-term travel is definitely exciting. But it’s also pretty overwhelming. Kind of like a Beyoncé concert, except you’re going crazy waiting in airport lines instead of going Crazy in Love.

If you think booking flights is the only hoop to jump through, we need to burst your sweet, naïve bubble. #SorryNotSorry. From safeguarding your health to storing your belongings while abroad, there are heaps of things to check off before you depart your home country and enter the great unknown. Let’s unpack the 5 key prep steps. (Get it? Unpack? Yeah, you get it.)

1. Inform Your Service Providers

There are several institutions you will need to make contact with prior to embarking on your journey. For example, you will have to inform your bank of your travel plans and discuss options for managing your finances while you’re abroad.

A Travel Money Card can be a handy solution, as you simply preload it with a foreign currency and link it to your internet banking. Then again, many people prefer to rely on a debit card and regularly withdraw cash from ATMs. There are pros and cons for every payment option, so do some research to work out what will work best for you.

(Note: You will want some local cash on hand at all times. You think that hawker in downtown Kuala Lumpur will let you pay with plastic? No, he will not. And you will miss out on the most delicious noodles you’ve ever had.)

You will also want to:

  • Redirect your mail with the post office (maybe a friend or family member can collect your letters until you return)
  • Cancel your mobile phone plan (or alter it to suit your travels)
  • Advise the government of your travels (George Brandis just needs to know, okay?)
  • Cancel your gym membership (the world is your gym now, baby).

Some fees can apply depending on the amount of notice provided, so organise any contract cancellations well in advance.

Mountain

2. Visit Your Doctor

Make a trip to your doctor for a general checkup, and ensure you are up to date with all your vaccinations. Certain countries require specific immunisations for all visitors, so it’s important to see your doctor several months prior to your departure date to get all dosed up.

Confirm that any medication you require is allowed in the countries you are visiting, and get prescriptions for your medications filled before you leave. The shaman of a Nepalese village isn’t going to refill your script. But he might accuse you of being a witch and encourage the villagers to burn you alive. So yeah, stock up on enough of your medication to get you through your whole trip.

3. Back Up Important Documents

Leave photocopies of your passport, Visa, licence, birth certificate, travel itinerary including flight details, and other important documents with family or friends in case of emergency. If these items are lost or stolen while you’re abroad, it can be an inconvenient and stressful process trying to get them replaced. And strolling through the Louvre just isn’t the same when the Police Nationale are waiting outside to deport you.

4. Purchase Travel Insurance

No matter where in the world you’re visiting, travel insurance is a must. Opt for a policy that covers theft, loss, sickness and injury, especially if you are partaking in dangerous activities or winter sports. Choosing a policy that covers the cost of flights home in the case of an emergency will also provide peace of mind and save you from the pain of expensive last-minute airfares.

Trekking

5. Store Your Belongings

Whether you’re spending several months exploring foreign cities all over or hoping to plant temporary roots in a new land for a couple of years, you will need to find a home for your belongings during your absence. While you may be able to keep smaller items such as clothes with friends or family, you will need to organise storage for larger items such as furniture, whitegoods, and your full-size Zac Efron body pillow. (On second thought, you probably do have a friend who will be happy to hold on to that pillow for you.)

With clean, dry and secure self-storage units, we can keep your possessions safe while you work your way down your bucket list. Alternatively, maybe you’d prefer to have a garage sale or sell all your extra stuff online. More cash in your pocket means you can eat more delicious noodles, after all.