Time has come: your boss finally allowed you the long-awaited holiday, the school or semester holidays are on or you´re planning a longer timeout and want to go on a journey – maybe even a world trip?
Than you´ve come to the right place to prepare for your upcoming trip. And let me tell you happily at this point you get a big hip hip Hurray!
Congratulations, I’m sure you deserve the timeout!
Are you feeling the same excitement? Like just the thought of a new journey already fills you with such anticipation, that you wish you could start right away with the preparation of your trip. Start daydreaming and imagining how it will be, when you finally scuba dive for the first time, lie on the white sandy beach you always dreamed about or conquer the breathtaking volcanic route.
But preparing a trip properly doesn´t only consists booking the flight and packing your backpack. Many small tasks are often postponed until the last second and then they get forgotten. To make sure that won’t happen to you, I´ve created a preparation list for you guys:
1. Set vacation time
Depending on whether you are in a permanent position and need to apply for a holiday, or if you only need to stay on prescribed holiday periods such as the uni or school semester breaks, this point can be clarified sooner or later.
2. Apply for a visa
As a german I´m usually lucky and get a temporary visa for shorter holiday stays without much effort on must countries, but that doesn´t count for all. When it comes to a journey to exotic countries, it is worthwhile to check at an early stage, whether a visa must be requested separately. Pretty often you can apply for the visa online in advance. Depending on your own passport you´d better check the visa circumstances before you book your flight, to make sure, that you will definitely get one.
3. Book a flight
If you´re traveling on a low budget, you´d better plan your hole journey route in advance. That way you can save money by booking all the flights together. There are even pages, where you can book round the world tickets with a big discount.
4. International health insurance
An absolute must have and much cheaper than most think. The insurance companies depend on your own country, so you better check that out in an early stage as well.
You should inform yourself about diseases that you might get in your travel destination and discuss the necessity of vaccinations with your doctor. And don´t forget to pack some mosquito spray.
6. Apply for a credit card
If you do not have a credit card yet, I recommend you to apply for one in your home country. I have been against credit cards for a really long time and travelled for years without them, but when I stayed in australia for a longer while I regret quickly to not have one in the shortest amount of time – now it´s one of my best buddies. Even though you can get a credit card for free for one year (like australia when you´re doing a work & travel trip), but it´s so much easier to get it in your own country. Especially in the case one of your family members might want to send you some money, because with a credit card of a different country you would get charged for the transferring.
Some credit cards also have the advantage that you do not have to constantly exchange money in the local currency during a backpacking trip through several countries.
7. Organize your travel guide
Whether you borrow it from the library or buy it by yourself, a travel guide is never wrong. I personally like The Marco Polo Travel Guide for short trips very much and on longer journeys I mostly take a Lonely Planet. If you know how to read in german I can highly recommend you the „Gebrauchsanweisungen “ for a specific country, which are gorgeous books from different authors. They talk about their journey in a country, the history behind monuments or the culture and they give you insider tips for every trip.
8. Online research
Blogs, Instagram, pinterest and websites make it so easy these days to help prepare yourself for a trip. You only have to decide what you wanna search for and the web will help you in just a few seconds. For example when I was in portugal I looked for beautiful places in lisbon for a sunset and on TripAdvisor, I received a list of 10 gorgeous spots right away. One more beautiful than the other! For rome I was recommended a pizza backing course in an restaurant, which was the coolest thing ever and I also found a great guided tour for the vatikan.
9. Book accommodation
Wheather Airbnb, hotel or hostel – I recommend to always compare the online prices. I personally use Hostelworld the most. Based on the ratings you can always choose the right room and I have only had positive experiences so far. As a woman travelling alone, I usually choose a mixed quadruple room (cleaner than pure women’s room) and yet not as impersonal as a large multi-bed room. Not only does it save money, you also meet some new friends and can share tips with the other travelers.
10. Camping – yay or nay
Is case you think about going camping, you should think about the extra equipment you need to take. Pretty often tents and mattresses can be rented almost everywhere – but not many people know, that you can even rent the sleeping bags as well. There is no need to carry around too much stuff. For the more hygenic feeling I recommend you to take an inlay for the rented sleeping bag. They are super thin and take up just a little space in your own luggage, but will give you a clean and comfortable feeling.
11. Plan your arrival
Organization fans can of course set up their complete itinerary in advance, spontaneous adventurers I´d recommend to look up at least the way from the airport to the first point of your stay (e.g. Hostel) and to look up or even book a transfer like a shuttle bus.
12. Buy or rent a backpack
For some trips it is smart to invest in an backpack, for example when you plan on going to southeast asia. My backpack become one of my most loving belongings and everytime I visit a new country, I haven´t been to before, I buy a flag an sew it on my backpack. It has such a personal style and you also get in contact with other travelers easily, as they liek to admire the different flags and ask questions about the countries.
13. Buy an adapter
For me an adapter is as important as always having a powerbank in my handbag, because nothing is more annoying, than being lost in a foreign country, with an empty cell phone battery.
14. Do a back-up
Before you go on an adventurous trip I always recommend, to do a back-up from your mobile phone data, camera or even your notebook in case you take it with on your journey. Losing your favorite pictures and memories is not something that you want to risk. So I also recommend to always do a back-up or choose a second safety place like a cloud.
15. Do a safety scan from your most important papers
Be prepared for an emergency: I advise travellers to always scan their most important documents and either send themselves by e-mail or put them in a Dropbox/cloud. In addition to the flight information you should scan your passport, vaccination card, if required your international driver’s license and also the invoice from your own mobile phone, camera or notebook – cause you don´t want to risk paying a tax fee when you return with them to your own country.
16. Inform yourself about the temperatures and customs
Sometimes you need to get some clothes before a trip. For example when you fly to an islamic country such as dubai, you´d better not pack your usual summer dress. It might show too many parts of your body and for an respectful visit of the country it would be good to observe some of the manners and customs. So in some places it´s recommended to protect your shoulders and knees and don´t show as much skin, as you might normally do.
On the other hand it´s always important to check the season and temperature you are flying to. Who flies to New Zealand in the late summer does maybe not expect that he might need a warm cap or even gloves on his hike. But let me tell you: there can be even snowfall, so better check in advance (never been so freezing cold before !).
So it´s always smart to inform yourself in advance about the customs, habits and even temperatures of the country you are planning to visit.
17. Organize emergency contacts
An important contact that is always helpful to have is the place of the embassy of your homeland in the country you visit. Just in case you might loose your passport or other important things. It´s also a good idea to put an emergency contact in your phone and wallet. So in case something happens to you, someone that is close to you will find out. The third step is mainly a tip for solo travelers. When you travel just by yourself or to a not so safe country I recommend, that you send someone your travel route and always update where exactly you are right now. This can be a friend at home or a parent, who you send the itinerary and who, in an emergency, knows where your last stay was and where to look for you in case you get lost or soemthing really bad happens to you. Better safe, than sorry.
18. Learn some simple words in the local language
A few easy-to-learn vocabulary will not only help you in an emergency, but also conjure up a smile on the faces of locals. Say hi on the streets or thank the waiter in a restaurant is always a nice gesture.
19. Apartment sublet
Depending on the duration of your trip you can sublet your own apartment. For shorter trips, it is advisable to use Airbnb. For longer trips you can let people rent your apartment for a few months.
20. Caring for pets & plants
Those who have pets or plants in need of care should also take care of this in advance.
21. Packing list & travel helpers
On my last trip I forgot not only my safety lock, but – stupid me – also a towel. So to make sure, that this will never happen again to me, I have created the ultimate packing list. Here you will find blogpost with the right packing list for all eventualities: in the summer, winter and a special backpacking edition.
22. Don´t forget serenity
And last but not least, with all the travel planning ahead, it is probably most important to not freak out and keep calm. Because no matter how well planned your trip might be, you can never arm yourself against all eventualities. Sometimes something goes wrong. The flight is postponed, the baggage arrives late or the weather is not as good as hoped. Anyone who takes the given leave and responds openly to the new circumstances, will still have an unforgettable journey. Because a good portion of serenity is probably the most important thing to take on your trip to enjoy your journey fully.