Long-term traveling takes significantly more planning and preparation than short vacations or business trips. There is a lot more to think about than just what clothing and toiletries to pack, what the weather will be like at your destination, or what activities you will do during your stay. Whether you are traveling for pleasure, a long-term contract position or work project, to help an elderly or ailing family member move into a long-term facility, or some other reason, these five tips will help you minimize stress while preparing for your extended trip.
1. Purchase Travel Insurance
It is a good idea to buy travel insurance even for shorter trips, but it’s essential for long-term travel. In addition to covering travel-related incidents like lost baggage and flight cancellations, a long-term travel insurance policy can also cover any medical expenses incurred during your trip. You never know when you might get injured or become ill, and even though you probably don’t want to think about it, it’s better to be safe than sorry and prepare for the worst. Your regular medical insurance may not cover you while you’re away from home, especially if you are traveling internationally, and there’s nothing like a massive medical bill to ruin your trip.
2. Get Your Health in Order
Since you will be away from your regular healthcare providers during your extended trip, you should try get on a healthy diet and schedule routine checkups with your primary care doctor, dentist, and any other essential practitioner before you leave. Tell your doctor about your travel plans, as you may be required to receive certain vaccinations before your trip, depending on the destination. If you take any prescription medications, be sure to either pack the amount you will need for the entire duration of your trip, or have your doctor arrange to send your prescription to a pharmacy where you will be traveling. Don’t forget about other health items that you can’t buy at a pharmacy, like contact lenses, asthma inhalers, etc.
3. Prepare Your Documentation
Depending on where you’re traveling, you may need to apply for a visa or renew your passport. Many countries require that your passport is not only valid through the dates of your trip, but for six months after your trip as well. Passport renewals and visa applications can take several weeks or even months to process, so be sure to take care of these steps well in advance. You should also make copies of important documents like your driver’s license, passport, health insurance information, credit cards, and vaccination records to keep safe in case the original documents are lost or stolen.
4. Research Your Destination
While you’re bound to get used to your new home away from home relatively quickly during an extended trip, you should still conduct research on various aspects of your destination before you leave. If you are traveling to a foreign country (or multiple countries), set aside some time to learn about the local culture to avoid offending people and ensure a smooth transition with minimal culture shock. Purchase a language dictionary or phrase book and try to learn at least a few words or phrases of the local language before your trip. If possible, sign up for a language class you can attend during your extended stay.
In addition to researching the culture of your destination, you should also look into a few logistical concerns. Check a lead levels map of the area where you will be staying to see if their tap water is safe to drink. If not, be prepared to filter your water or drink bottled water instead. Find out if the area you’ll be staying in is easily navigable by walking or if you’ll need to take public transportation or book a long-term car rental. Make note of the proximity of your accommodations to grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals, and other important locations. Research the average cost of living in the area so you can budget appropriately and avoid being stunned by prices that are different from what you are used to.
5. Organize Your Living Arrangements at Home
Depending on your circumstances and how long you plan to be away, you may need to make arrangements regarding your current living situation before you leave. If you’re completely moving out of your home prior to traveling, you will most likely still need a place to store the belongings you won’t be bringing with you, whether that is at a friend’s house or in a storage unit. If you plan to return to your current home after your trip, you may need to either rent out your house (if you own) or sublet your apartment (if you rent) for the period you will be gone, unless you can afford to continue paying rent or mortgage payments during your trip. Making sure your living arrangements are in order before you leave means you can worry less while traveling, and focus on your trip instead.