Travel Planning: A Step By Step Guide
Can I assume that (like me) you are wanderlusting about when you can travel freely again?
Ever since early March 2020 when the Backpacking Husband and I landed back in the UK for a brief visit with family and friends after housesitting in France – all packed and ready to set off travelling around the world again (well, you know what happened then!) – we’ve been patiently waiting for the day to arrive when we can start travelling extensively again.
I’m being totally optimistic and I’m assuming that it won’t be too long before we will once again have the freedom to travel.
And so – with great excitement – we are planning a six-month-long trip for 2022!
If you could plan six months abroad – where would you go?
Our plan is to travel to The Caribbean and live a laid-back tropical island lifestyle for six months next year which is exactly what we’d had previously planned for ourselves in 2020! Click on the image banner below to find out more about our Secret Place In The Caribbean and read on to find my Travel Planning Step by Step Guide and Checklist!
I’M HERE TO HELP & INSPIRE YOU TO TRAVEL MORE!
My aim throughout this travel website and through my inspirational romantic adventure novels and through my social media and my travel podcasts is to ENCOURAGE and INSPIRE everyone to travel more, once it’s safe to do so, but especially those of you like the Backpacking Husband and I who are in our midlife and want to incorporate more travel into our lives and our future in what I believe to be the Golden Age of Travel!
And so, as you are here and reading this website, I thought that you might be interested in seeing how we go about planning for a longer slower travel experience. I thought it might be helpful to you to know exactly what is on the travel planning step-by-step checklist for an extended trip of 6 months or more.
I see it’s actually being reported in the news right now that many people – and especially those of us in our midlife – are looking at Travel in the New Future as some kind of pandemic payback. The media is even calling it ‘revenge travel’ because lockdown has brought about a mind-shift in many of us who are now worried about something else getting in the way of our long-held dreams and plans for travel and adventure in our midlife and in our retirement.
To be honest, I never needed a pandemic to make me feel urgently or longingly about travel.
Until the pandemic, the Backpacking Husband and I had been happily travelling the world for almost seven years and we didn’t ever want our nomadic life of freedom and travel adventure to stop – having sold our home, our business, our cars and all our material possessions – to facilitate travel in our lives and to travel all around the world.
But of course, you might not need to go to the same extremes – although we know many others who have done so – because you might just be looking to take several months taking that ‘once in a lifetime‘ trip to see the places you’ve always dreamed of seeing and to live the amazing experiences that you’ve had on your bucket list or travel wish list for what seems like forever.
Perhaps you’re in your 40s and the pandemic has made you think about working nomadically?
Or you’re in your 50s and 60s and you feel inspired to travel but you’re not quite ready to fully retire yet.
Maybe you’re thinking of taking a work sabbatical to learn something new or to volunteer on a project abroad that feels important to you?
Or are you like my husband who took early retirement or myself who, as a travel writer and author, can work anywhere in the world as long as I have occasional access to the internet?
Or, are you in your late 60s and 70s and feel you’ve reached a stage in life where you don’t want to keep your dreams of travel on hold any longer, because the sands of time are slipping through the hourglass. And you might be reasonably physically fit right now, but any sensible and realistic person knows that as we age, our continued physical fitness cannot be guaranteed.
DO YOU WANT TO TRAVEL MORE BUT FEEL OVERWHELMED OR LIKE SOMETHING IS HOLDING YOU BACK?
To get into a travel mindset you must face your fears and ask yourself what is holding you back?
Is it a real tangible fear or an imagined worry? Let’s look at how these might be overcome.
Do you think you’re too old to go travelling? National Geographic says: Life Begins at 50. “Empty-nesters are inspired by their children’s gap years. Young-at-heart empty nesters are increasingly looking to travel. What’s more, they’re heading further afield and for longer, preferring exotica and adventure over slippers and comfort zones.” And goes on to say. “A lot has changed within a generation, and the empty nesters don’t see why they should miss out on what didn’t exist when they were younger.”
Do you think you need to be in better shape? Try gentle yoga and brisk walks. I make sure I do enough steps every day to maintain a basic level of fitness and to keep my weight within healthy parameters. It helps to wear a ‘fitbit’.
Do you fear flying? Perhaps it’s an issue of age since the fear of flying apparently often starts at 27 years old on average. You can find practical advice and more information on this common anxiety on anxities.com.
Are you afraid of travelling alone? A recent survey also revealed that most over 55’s want to travel as a couple or with a friend or to travel with a group but a solid 10% of them prefer to go it alone to complete their bucket list. And besides, solo travellers are rarely alone as they meet people but, if you are still not sure, have you looked into group tours for solo travellers? There’s lots of great advice and encouragement and tips on travelling solo on solotravelerworld.com.
Do you worry about not having enough money to travel? Look at your resources and research your costs then draw up a budget. I work out travel costs (airlines, busses, trains etc) and accommodation costs as my fixed expenses while travelling and these are the costs I put aside. But food and extras – well we have to eat wherever we are – and so I try to keep day to day living costs the same as at home. When I’ve had to keep accommodations costs down I’ve opted for housesitting and stayed somewhere for free in exchange for looking after someone’s home/pets while they’re away.
Are you scared of being hurt/sick/attacked/unsafe/in danger while travelling? It doesn’t help reading or watching the news these days as its only ever bad news and that, in my opinion, makes the danger seem somewhat disproportional. I believe the answer to travel fear is to be prepared. I recently wrote a post on dangerous travel situations and how to avoid them and I do highly recommend you read it or listen to it as a podcast (Episode 15) as I think you’ll find it reassuring!
I want to inspire and encourage you to be Bold Not Old and to grab a life of travel while you can!
Let’s plan an extended trip of six months of travel to far-flung places!
Travel Planning: A Step By Step Guide.
Planning for a six-month trip does take some planning because it’s not just about what you choose to take in your backpack or suitcase but rather how prepared you are to travel for an extended period of time. It’s going to be far easier to pre-empt problems before you leave than to have to deal with something that might spoil or suspend your travel enjoyment for the sake of a little foresight.
Please note that our planning list is likely to be far less comprehensive than yours simply because we don’t have a home or a property or a car or any costs associated with a home. This is because, as I mentioned above, we have previously sold everything we owned to travel the world and facilitate our travel adventures.
During the pandemic, we have been living in a furnished rented house in Scotland, but we have deliberately not bought anything we didn’t really need. We needed some warm clothes and shoes but these were mostly sourced as pre-loved items from charity shops or from eBay. We have also managed without owning a car during this time as, six months into the pandemic, we were eligible to apply for senior concessional bus passes. We sometimes also travel by train.
However, as a homeowner, you will need to automate your bills and re-direct your mail and decide what to do with your property and even perhaps your beloved pets while you are away travelling. You might choose to close up your home for those six months or ask a friend to live in or a neighbour to watch it for you. You could get house sitters in or you might rent it out to help with mortgage or utility payments or add to your travel budget. We once house-sat at a small farm in the South of France for six months while the owners were travelling. It was a great experience and fabulous fun!
If, like us, you currently live in a rented home then maybe you might see this as the flexibility to rent somewhere else?
MY STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE ON PLANNING FOR LONG TERM TRAVEL
THE SIX-MONTH PRE-TRAVEL CHECKLIST
- Decide on the country/countries you want to travel to and check their specific entry requirements.
- Decide on the dates you’d like to travel and make a travel itinerary.
- Find out how long you are legally allowed to stay in the country/countries on your itinerary.
- Check you have a valid passport. Check if you need to pre-apply for a travel visa?
- Find out what travel vaccines are recommended for travel to the countries in your itinerary.
- Acquire/apply for credit/debit/travel cards that allow you to access your cash abroad without excessive fees and charges as this will help you to save a considerable amount of your travel budget.
- Notify your bank of when you’ll be travelling (dates) and which countries you’ll be travelling to so they don’t suspect suspicious use and block your cards while you are away.
- Check the currency used in the country/countries you want to travel to and if you carry currency with you do make sure the notes are clean and undamaged and not in too high a denomination.
- Sign up for loyalty/reward membership with the airlines you are using/might use to collect points/air miles.
- Sign up for loyalty/reward membership with hotel groups you will/might stay with while you are travelling.
- Get online accounts with Booking.com and other accommodation websites like Airbnb to get deals and build your status (to get discounted deals) on these sites and to make it easy to book your accommodations while on the move.
- Apply for a Global Entry Pass – which includes TSA approval – to avoid standing in long lines at airport immigration.
- Book your flights: Book online. I like to use Skyscanner and my recommendation is to always book directly with the airlines. Deals and discounts are often available for travel outside holiday times.
- Buy comprehensive travel insurance to cover you for your entire trip.
- If possible book your accommodations for while you are away. Do you want a hotel? A motel? A hostel? A homestay? Live Like A Local or live it up in an all-inclusive resort?
- What time are your flights? If they are early or late then maybe you need to book airport hotels?
- Make sure, if you have regular prescription medications, that you have enough for your trip.
A FEW EXTRA TRAVEL TIPS AND CONSIDERATIONS FOR PRE-TRAVEL:
- Decide/buy a suitcase or a backpack. I must admit I favour a wheeled backpack these days.
- Decide/buy your cabin luggage and make sure it is no larger than the smallest size airlines allow.
- I back up all my documents and contact information that I keep on my laptop computer and phone – copies of all my travel documents – and all my treasured family and travel photos onto a virtual storage cloud (I pay a small fee monthly for extra space) that I can access via the internet from anywhere in the world.
- I bought a smaller size and lighter laptop especially for travel and I signed up for a VPN to keep my data secure and I’m currently using Tunnel Bear (not an affilated link). Check out my travel shop where I add and list the essential travel items that I use myself.
- Check your mobile phone is unlocked and takes dual-sim so you can buy local phone/internet access.
- I travel with a few back up solar power rechargeable items such as a phone charger and a torch.
- Forget paperbacks and hardback books and take a Kindle e-reader loaded with ebooks to read. You might want to read all my bestselling romantic adventure novels while you travel or while relaxing at your destination. You’ll find all my books widely available worldwide in paperpack and as ebooks and from Amazon UK and Amazon Dotcom.
WHAT TO PACK IN YOUR SUITCASE OR BACKPACK.
- I recommend you travel light whenever possible. As a rule, only take enough clothes for one week – you can wash them – or you might buy more suitable/affordable clothes when you’re at your destination.
- Keep the things you value the most in your hand luggage rather than your checked luggage.
- Travel compression bags or packing cubes might help to keep your things tidy in your luggage.
- Travel with an easy-dry travel/beach towel to save weight and space in your luggage.
- A worldwide travel power adapter and a small first aid kit is essential kit.
- I always travel with one warm sweater and a warm shawl/pashmina in my cabin bag plus one change of clothing including underwear and a swimsuit/bikini – just in case of a luggage loss/ delay.
- I travel with very few toiletries because you can usually buy them at your destination (this is especially true with insect repellents) BUT I would never want to be without a tub of coconut oil.
PRE-PLAN YOUR SECURITY WHILE TRAVELLING:
- ALWAYS travel with travel insurance. Buying a travel insurance policy to cover you for any unforeseen medical expenses or financial losses while travelling is an essential part of the planning and preparation for any trip. Finding the best travel insurance policy when you are travel planning and over 50 years old can be difficult and confusing but travel insurance is something we can’t afford to travel without at any age.
- It’s handy to have your own small security safe with you if the accommodation doesn’t offer one.
- I wear a hidden ‘security belt’ or a ‘bra wallet‘ when I travel with secret hidden pockets to keep cards and cash secure.
- I also travel with TSA Approved luggage locks and a Pacsafe cable lock that I can use to secure my possessions if needed.
- If you intend to use hostels or homestays or if you travel solo then you might find travelling with extra personal small security items comforting and reassuring: like an Epictraveller door jam or personal alarm.
- Make sure family or loved ones at home know of your travel plans and itinerary. Stay in regular touch with friends and family while travelling (and show them your amazing travel photos!) via social media and messaging apps. It’s also a good idea to leave loved ones at home a copy of your passport and your travel insurance just in case they or you need to refer to them again.
Have a fantastic trip!
Did you find my travel planning checklist useful?
Where are you planning to travel?
What’s on your Bucket List?
Are you planning the Trip of a Lifetime?
Are you planning long slow travel?
Are you looking to incorporate more travel in your life and your future?
Let me know! I’d love to hear from you.
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