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Travel Timeline

Deciding to pack up and travel across the world is a big decision. Once you get started, there’s a lot to do. Use this handy timeline to have everything ready on time.

Now

Virtually explore the world

Build a list of priorities – culture, affordability, food, internet speed, weather, history, etc. Then start shopping around. Nomadlist.com is a great resource for nomads and travelers. It scores the cities for nomads, but the many filtering options will help travelers find their favorite spot as well. This initial search is a lot of fun and doing it will keep you motivated to finish the rest of the preparation.

Build your productivity

If you hope to get some work done while traveling, then start building good habits now. Build your library of books and videos, workout, and spend some time each day doing the same style of work you expect to do on the road. The prep is ideal and it’ll give you better insight into what your day to day life would be like.

4 months out

Get your passport

If you don’t have a passport then it’s time to get one. As of writing, the U.S. application process takes approximately six weeks. You can book flights without one (though you’ll have to add your passport information later), but you’ll need your passport to apply for visas.

Sell

Whether you need some extra cash, you don’t want to leave anything behind, or you just want to lighten your cognitive load of stuff, it’s time to starting selling all that stuff. Bigger items will take longer to sell, so it’s good to get rid of that stuff first. Family or friends might have some extra room for any keepsakes you can’t take along or get rid of, but getting rid of as much as possible will give you money, give you less to worry about, and save your friends’ and family’s space.

Buy clothing and travel gear

This may seem a bit early, but it’s ideal to do this as early as possible to save on shipping and still give yourself time to do returns. If your clothes don’t fit or you decide you don’t need to bring a portable generator across Europe, you’ll be able to return them and still have time to get the correct fit or a back-up battery.

3 months out

Pick your destination(s)

It’s time to pick where you’re going to go. Morocco, Madagascar, Monaco, or Myanmar you should pick your destination spot now, so you can start making plans.

Buy ticket

Technically, you should have done this half a year ago. Cheap Air has an article suggest purchasing your ticket two to nine months ahead of time depending upon your region of travel. That said, the predictions on air fare prices change all the time and you’ll have a much better idea of what to expect in the couple months leading up to traveling than trying to predict what you’ll be doing in a year. Instead, save money by buying off hour, weekday, or off-season tickets.

Get your shots

Traveling to some countries require yellow fever or other shots. Some vaccinations, such as the Rabies vaccine, require a course of multiple shots over several weeks. Check if your provider has a travel clinic. If they do, they’ll provide you with information about suggested vaccines and medications for the countries you’re going to, and let you know what your insurance covers.

2 months out

Build out a rough itinerary

Even if you’re a fly by the seat of your pants traveler, you should have a rough itinerary. Know roughly which cities you’ll visit, which sites you’ll see there, and how long you’ll stay. Planning the trip right may mean the difference between throwing tomatoes in La Tomantina and walking through the muck of past revelry. Lock in your travel plans around these fixed-date events and build around them. They book-up quickly, so reserve tickets and accommodation as soon as possible.

Rough itineraries also help you find about activities that only occur on certain days of the week (such as a bus from Italy to Croatia that only ran two days a week) and other trade-offs you’ll discover traveling. You may fall in love with a city and decide to stay there a few more days, but that may mean skipping somewhere else that you may love more. No matter what, don’t get too attached to this rough itinerary. Any of a number of things can throw a wrench in your plans (such as train strikes in Belgium). Be adaptable and enjoy the situation. That train strike ended up being one of the best things that happened to me the entire trip.

Get visas

This is a fairly rough prediction. Some visas you can apply for online or purchase on arrival, but others require trekking to your nearest embassy or mailing in your passport. This can take some time and lock-up your passport for weeks. Getting it done early will save you extra stress in the last couple weeks before you leave.

Check your bank accounts

Arrange your bank account situation to minimize travel fees. This means finding no foreign transaction fee and no ATM fee debit cards if possible. I recommend having two debit cards and two credit cards, so you’ll always have a back-up. You’ll also want to set-up any business accounts if you plan to work while traveling in your home country before you leave.

Make any returns

Hopefully, your clothes and travel gear has all come in by now. Try it out and return anything you don’t love. Traveling well is all about traveling light, so each item you pack should be crucial.

1 month out

Book fixed-date accommodations

If you haven’t already, book accommodation for any days you’re guaranteed to be in a certain location. This would be events or for immediately before or after flights.

Prepare everyone else

That’s more or less it. You’re most of the way there. Just make sure whatever you’re leaving behind is well taken care of. Finalize any house or pet sitting arrangements and start saying your good byes. That part may be a bit rough, but you’ve got a lot to be excited about. You’ll meet many fantastic new people and be back before they know it.

You’ve got your travel plans, packed your gear, and you’re ready to go. It’s an exciting time! Enjoy your trip!

Is there something missing from this timeline? Do you plan a different way or like to wait until the last minute? Excited and want to share your travel plans? Let me know in the comments!

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