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How To Start Planning Your Long Term Trip Around The World

Updated on April 4, 2021

Malaysian Sunset


Have you decided it's time for you to see the world? Are you planning an adult gap year? Wanting to take your family on a long term travel adventure? Is it time to quit your job, sell your stuff and take off!

If so, congratulations!

Many people dream about a trip like this but most never end up going. They find excuse after excuse to remind themselves of all the reasons they can't travel.

If you've really decided the time is right for you here's the best way to start planning your long term trip around the world.

Decide What Length Of Trip You Will Take

Are you going to travel for 3 months, 6 months, a year? Or have you decided that really long term travel is the way to go and you don't plan to come back permanently?

All of these choices need different planning to pull them off. Different levels of finances are required as well as the choices involved with all the stuff that you most likely own.

Singapore Skywalk


Sort Out Your Finances

Once you've chosen your trip length you'll need to work out how much money you think you'll need. You can check online blogs to get a feel of the travel costs in certain countries. Many bloggers summarize their costs for each country - make sure to check when they travelled so you know how current the information is. There are lots of cool websites availalbe that will document the cost per day for each country. These can give you a really detailed breakdown of the costs involved. It costs a lot more for a hotel room in Europe than it does for a hotel room in Cambodia. You need to be well-armed with this information before you can really decide on your travel budget. You can also purchase eBooks from Amazon that list the cheapest countries to visit and the ones where your dollar can stretch the furthest. I have a couple of these books and they have been truly valuable in making our travel decisions.

Now work out exactly how you're going to save the amount you've worked out that you need. If you have a really long planning period then you can spend time paying down debt and getting your finances ship-shape. Many people will need to earn extra money and here are some of the options available to you: Get a second job, sell your excess belongings, write articles or complete surveys online, start your own online business, work out how much holiday pay or long service pay you will receive when you leave your job, consider selling your home if you have one and save, save, save!

Make A Travel Budget

As part of sorting out your finances, you will need to make yourself a travel budget. This can be as detailed or as loose as you would like but you need to think about how much you are likely to spend. No-one wants a 12 month trip to end after 7 months because they couldn't manage their funds or didn't budget correctly.

Think about the things that are important to you. If you love food but don't really care about where you sleep you could allocate extra cash to your meals budget and spend the absolute least for accommodation by staying in dorm rooms at hostels.

If a good night's sleep is not negotiable and you really only pick at your food, you'll want to cough up for a hotel but might be happy to eat fruit and two-minute noodles!

There's no right way - there's only your way.

When creating your budget think about whether you want to divide everything up into categories or if you're happy to stick to a dollar amount each day. On our one year trip we had three categories - Food, Accommodation, Everything Else.

I have a friend who goes by the amount per day method. $100 per day is the budget and they just keep track whether they are over or under each day with a running tally. So, if they spend $110 the first day they are $10 over. If they spend $80 the second day, they are now $10 under. This makes it easy for them to keep track of their spending without having to note every single little bit down.

Whichever way you decide - it's really important to make a budget before you set off.

Make A List Of Things You Will Need

I love lists! And you just might too after you use them to keep track of everything you need to do for a long term travel adventure!

Start by listing the things you need to buy. For us the big one was backpacks and packing cubes. Almost everything else we needed was already in our home, taking up space!

After you've listed what you have to buy then list the things you have to do.

If you're off on a short trip this list won't be too scary. If you're off for 6 months or more you might find this list takes on a life of its own! Don't panic! Finish making your list before you have a heart attack over all the things that are on it!

If you're selling your stuff you should also make a list of everything you can think of that you are going to sell. This might be a list for a separate day to the first list! If you have a lot of stuff (I like to call it crap!) you'll need to spend some serious time listing it all. I used an excel spreadsheet as it was easy to add up all the amounts.

I spent 2 days making the list of things to sell and added to it as I came across more junk hiding in cupboards. Once you have the list - write the amounts you think you'll get for items as you sell them.

Be realistic - you're not going to get anywhere near what you paid for these things unless you have antiques or special items that increase in value. If you're unsure go to some garage sales one weekend and see how much people are getting for items similar to yours.

Don't panic after these visits! It will be a good reminder for you when you get home not to start buying stuff you don't need again!

Compare The Details Of Your Trip With Your Available Funds

Now that you have your finances sorted out and you know what travel budget you are looking at, it's time to compare the two.

How did it turn out? Will you easily save the amount of money you need before you leave for your big adventure? Are you slightly short? Or is there a huge divide between the two amounts?

If you're on track - congrats! You can concentrate on all the details needed to get you on that aeroplane!

If you're way off - don't panic! Just go back to look at the items you can sell. Do you have other things lying around that you could sell? Can you cull your daily living expenses some more?

  • Do you really need cable TV up until you leave - you're going to be so busy planning and selling you probably won't have time to watch it.
  • Do you need to keep your second car? Cutting down to one could save on insurance, petrol and registration. As well as putting money into your savings account once you sell it.
  • Can you cut your food bill. Eating out regularly can put a big dent in anyone's budget. Try eating at home most nights and taking your lunch to work. Do you get a fancy coffee everyday on your way to work? That $3-$5 could be put to better use in your savings account!
  • Can you downgrade your internet service, cancel your lawn mowing or cancel your home delivered ice-cream?

Think of all the places you can cull your expenses and add this money to your list of available cash.

Settle On Your Final Plans

Based on your budget and available funds, settle on your final travel plans.

How many countries will you visit? What wonders of the world will you see?

Just like when you planned budget, you'll need to decide whether you want to have a detailed travel plan or a loose idea of the places you will go. We chose to make a list of regions we would visit with an approximate time spent in each. We booked our initial flights and first week's accommodation in Malaysia and then we flew by the seat of our pants!

If you need more detailed plans then you need to set aside a heap more planning time to get your destinations all sorted out!

But that's the topic for a whole separate article!

© 2012 Tracey Pedersen


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