A holiday lasting months on end is a dream for many people, but careful planning is vital to making it a reality. From booking tickets and accommodation to tying up loose ends at home before you go; it seems like a lot of effort but it’s well worth it if you are to leave all your cares behind you and enjoy the trip of a lifetime.
Here are some of the things you’ll need to consider and get done before you jet off:
Count your pennies before and during your trip
One thing that stops most people from following their wanderlust is money. However you really don’t need to be rich to take a holiday; you just need to make it a priority and then establish a budget. Otherwise you’ll always find something else to spend the money on.
- Decide on the holiday you really want and make a list of all your expenses. You won’t be able to cut out some things, such as rent/mortgage, utilities and food. But what about that Starbuck’s latte you pick up on the way to work, or the Friday night takeaway? Based on the total estimated cost of your trip, it’s a good idea to create a monthly budget to see how much you can save.
- There are plenty of good value hotel deals about; in fact, sometimes living away from home for a couple of months can work out to be more economical than staying at home.
- Staying full-board, half- board or with breakfast only included will seriously affect your holiday costs, so if you’re keeping an eye on the budget, book carefully. If your hotel also offers great entertainment, you will be spending less money than if you go out. Another thing to think about is how near is your accommodation to the nearest town, beach, golf course or other amenities. Will you be spending extra cash on taxis, buses or hire car to and fro?
- Pre-paid cash cards are great ideas if you wish to avoid overspending on a budget. Simply load a certain amount of money to the card beforehand and you won’t be able to go over your budget.
- Although eating out is a treat, restaurant bills do mount up, especially if you are on a long holiday. One of the benefits of booking an apartment, villa or studio is that all you have cooking facilities. Research the local cuisine before you leave home and decide which dishes you’d like to try making yourself. You don’t have to go to a trattoria to have some authentic pasta when you’re in Italy. You can make it with fresh local ingredients.
- As a general rule of thumb, if a bar is full with locals eating and drinking, it’s probably one of the best around, even if it doesn’t look like anything special.
What’s your itinerary?
One of the most exciting parts of planning a long haul holiday is researching all the places you want to visit. Although you don’t have to plan everything to the last detail, you’ll still need to form a travel list of all things you don’t want to miss out on.
It’s usual to research your flights up to six months prior to departure. If you’re flexible on times and dates, you may well save significant sums of money. Check all airport, airline and connection possibilities in order to find the best possible itinerary to suit your travel needs.
Once you’ve got your flights booked, it’s time to set a more specific itinerary built around the things on your travel list and think about how you will make them happen. This will often require more bookings, such as train or boat reservations, and pre-booked tickets to iconic sights, festivals or performances.
It’s easy to overestimate the amount of luggage you will need to take with you. It’s tempting to take absolutely everything you may need if you’re travelling for many months, but there’s no need to cart that much around. To avoid paying massive luggage fees, take enough for about ten days and check what the washing facilities will be like at your destination. You could plan to buy location-specific clothes once you arrive – this saves you from carrying around bulky things you don’t need for months on end.
A capsule wardrobe, one where you pack basics that can be mixed and matched easily, can be ideal when you’re packing light.
Get started well in advance – no one likes the disorganisation and stress of packing last minute, just before leaving.
Check your travel documents
If you don’t have a valid passport, make sure you apply for one in good time. If you already have one, now is a good time to make sure it is valid to last your entire trip, and in quite a few cases several months beyond. You will also need to have enough room left in your passport for all those new visa stamps you may soon be collecting.
Some countries require you to apply for a visa beforehand so be sure to ask at the nearest consulate or embassy, bearing in mind all the countries you plan to visit.
Tie up the loose ends at home
- If you live in rented accommodation, you will need to give the required notice to your agent or landlord. The earlier you make your intentions clear, the easier everything will be. If you are still working, you will of course need to hand in your notice in good time, or make arrangements with your employers regarding your time away.
- Selling some of your unwanted belongings will not only earn you some extra funds for your trip, it will also mean you have fewer things to move or store.
- Contracts such as club memberships and utility services will need cancelling in good time. There is often a certain period of notice required, so to minimise any cancellation costs, the more notice you give the better.
- If you’ve been living away from family, you’ll need to re-direct your mail to a family or trusted friend’s address. That way, they can open, scan and email you anything important that may arrive by post.
- If your bank detects foreign transactions, they may well freeze your account as a security measure – a situation which is far from ideal when you need to access money overseas. You can avoid this hassle by informing them of your plans before you leave and they will authorise your foreign transactions.
- Scan your passport, visa, driver’s licence and any other important documents. Keep a copy at home with someone you trust and take a copy with you, stored separately from the original. A scanned copy can make life much easier if you need to sort out replacements while you’re away.
- While friends and family may be happy to store some of your things, larger items of furniture may well need to go to a storage facility.
- If you have a pet they will need loving care while you are away, so make arrangements in good time if necessary. Try to source the best possible solution to ensure your pets are not overly stressed by your absence.
Order your foreign currency
Whenever possible, it’s useful to have some local currency ready in your wallet or purse when you land at your destination. Exchanging money at the airport invariably gives you an inferior exchange rate so try to be organised and order a little foreign currency from your bank before you fly.
Think about your health
- Once you’ve decided where you’re going, make sure you visit your doctor to discuss your travel plans and get advice on any vaccinations you may need. It’s important to do this early as some are administered as a series of boosters and can take their time to protect you. Available either privately or from the NHS, vaccinations are very easy to arrange – simply make your appointment and let the doctor guide you with the rest.
- If you’re from the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you will need to apply for or renew your free EHIC which gives you free or reduced cost state healthcare in other EEA countries and Switzerland. Find out more about the EHIC and how to apply for it here
- If you have an on-going medical complaint, you will need to have all the medications you need when you’re far from home. Book appointments with your GP or other health professionals to get the prescriptions and a doctor’s letter which is often required when travelling with your medications
- Travel insurance is vital when planning any kind of travel. Things can sometimes go wrong and if you are not sufficiently insured, it could seriously affect your trip. And if you have a pre-existing medical condition or you plan to take part in any adventure activities, make sure that you specify them when taking out your insurance policy.
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