10 Things You Must do Before Leaving For a World Travel Backpacking Trip
So you’ve done the research, made a list of all the places you want to see, saved up for your targeted cash base, bought all the travel gear and finally booked the flight to begin the backpacking adventure of a lifetime.
Now the hardest part of preparing for such a trip; the excrutiating wait until the moment you actually board the plane for your starting country. In that time, consider these 10 things for final preparations…
1) Preparation For Jet Lag and Arrival Accommodations
For backpacking types of travel, you will most likely start your destination in a far away country separated by several time zones. This means jet lag. Arriving to your very first foreign country confused and tired is hard but there are ways to make it easier. Try to book your flight to arrive at your destination about 2 hours before your normal bedtime (in the arriving country’s time). This is so that by the time you arrive at your hotel or hostel, it should make it easier for you to fall asleep, which is a good way to ease into the new time zone.
2) Cash at Hand For Immediate Use
Have some paper money (preferably $50 in USD or Euros) in your pocket for immediate use for things like food, transportation, water and other necessities. Don’t bother getting the foreign currency of your arriving country while still at home as you will end up paying hefty fees. Just go to an ATM once you arrive to your destination airport, there will also be fees, but its the most cost effective. If you have some change left from that $50, exchange it at the nearest currency exchange place, also at the airport.
3) Arrange Transportation to The Airport
If taking a taxi or getting a ride from a friend, arrange a pickup so you arrive at the airport no later than 2 and half hours before departure. If taking public transportation, figure out exactly how to get there if its your first time and take delays and getting lost into consideration. Missing your first flight to travel the world is not a good way to start the journey.
4) Call Banks / Financial Institutions For Your Accounts
This is a 5 minute call that will save you a lot of pain and even money while your overseas. For each debit and credit card you intend to take traveling, call each of their respective banks and let them know you will be abroad for an extended amount of time visiting several countries. Otherwise, your cards may be blocked by automatic security measures when your card is suddenly used in random countries.
5) Cancel Unnecessary Memberships – NetFlix, Gym
You won’t be needing most monthly memberships while your out of the country backpacking and add to the fact that it will needlessly and consistently reduce your finances. Also, services like NetFlix and Hulu doesn’t even work outside of the United States. It may seem like chump change, but it adds up and will slowly but surely suck money out of your accounts.
6) Choosing a Mobile Phone – To Roam or Not to Roam
If you decide to bring a smartphone like an iPhone or an Android, you have two ways to use them; to roam with your home cell service provider or get an unlocked device so you can buy SIM cards to use in any country. Regardless of which service provider you have, international roaming is extremely expensive whereas buying SIM cards for short term use abroad is usually cheaper than your standard service you use back at home. But if you feel you don’t need to use it or don’t want to buy a new unlocked phone, just use it when Wi-Fi is available.
7) Setup Money For The Return Flight / Emergency Funds
Set aside about $1,000 USD in a secret stash on your person or hidden in your backpack. This could be large denomination bills (to keep the stash small) or a debit card not connected to your bank. This won’t be part of your spending money but as an emergency or to pay for the final flight back home. So even if you deplete all your travel money or lose your primary financial cards, you have this last ditch emergency stash to fall back on.
8) Apply and Obtain Visas
Research the visa requirements for your first arriving country a few months in advance. If your lucky, the visa will be granted on arrival at the airport. But if not, make sure you have enough time to get the appropriate visa while your still home as each country has different application times. While the visa (if required) for your first country must be obtained before arriving, you don’t necessarily need to obtain visas for upcoming visas since there only usable for a certain amount of time and you never know if your plans will change.
9) Pay Off Some or All of Your Debt
If at all possible, pay off any debt you can – especially the monthly responsibilities like credit cards. A backpacker’s lifestyle is carefree and living off a tight budget and paying interest and bills every month while traveling the world can put a real damper on it. Also, try to minimize the use of credit cards to zero or absolute emergencies as that will just be more debt.
10) Pack Your Backpack
This is an obvious one but you should take it with as much consideration as the previous 9. Your backpack and gear will be the only possessions you will have for the year or so you will be traveling around the world, your lifeline. Luckily, obtaining all the travel gear and packing is actually quite fun and exciting, not like the others on the list that are more like choirs. Check out our world travel backpacking packing list for everything you need and don’t need for this journey.
I hope that this list helps you in preparing for your pre-trip backpacking world travel journey. It may only be 10 things to do but they are important but you should also consider your own to-do’s.