Before Travelling

Iceland landscape

Travelling around the world has become easier and easier and this is why the first advice of this website is to tell you “don’t plan too much and just go!”.

Here is a list of the few things you have to think about and do before going on the road.

What’s on this page?

Before Travelling Advice page content: 

 

Best Time For Travelling

Avoid The Touristy Season

You will understand quickly that tourists are a greater enemy than weather and when travelling long term, it quickly becomes essential to you to avoid them.

  • They are many (and more year after year)
  • They are on holidays, not travelling, it is different and it is sometimes hard to fit with them
  • They are excited and noisy (not all but well). Fair enough, it is the only time abroad this year for most of them so I understand them but…
  • They are big(ger) spender than you are, hard to follow them money wise
  • They make prices go up

 

Have a deeper look yourself but here is the main tourism seasonality around the world:

  • High season: June, July, August and around Christmas / New Year
  • Low season: January 10 until the end of March
  • Shoulder season: what’s left

 

Leaving and Coming Back Time

If you are from the northern hemisphere, my advice is to leave just when the weather start to get funny (late October / Beg November) and come back for late Spring / beginning Summer.

It worked brilliantly for me.

It sounds logical and at the end not a big deal but here are few reasons why:

  • 18 months ATW trip is a good minimum length to me so you can spend 2 winters in the sun
  • Come back for Christmas sounds good family wise but think about the post New Year Eve mood and weather. You don’t want that
  • Relatives and friends are more available and in a better mood in summer, you want to meet again happy ones !
  • It sounds a bit weird but you do deserve some holidays on your way back (many people to see, time to land from that big experience, etc.)

Read also about the importance of following the weather season when selecting your travel itinerary.

 

Make Money, Fund Your Trip

This is not a section to explain you how one can make money, obviously. This is just to advise you to make money now from your westernised country (if the case) because this is where you can make the best money.

There are very few countries I have travelled to where I could have made proper money. Australia/New Zealand are maybe the only ones except maybe teaching English for rich kids/people in big capital cities (which could work in many countries of the world).

 

Some travellers I met left home earlier thinking they would make the rest of the money they need on the way and kind of regretted it later. The only solution I’m aware of is working online for westernised companies giving you westernised hourly rates.

Some travellers just want to work somewhere to live for free. Fair enough, this will give you an awesome experience (read Volunteering for Accommodation) but it is different, you are not travelling anymore but more living abroad.

 

ATW Ticket?

This is a no go for me. I won’t spend too long going into details here, I think this is not for real long-term trip.

I can understand why some people choose that option (thinking they would have one less thing to think about, for countries requiring onward tickets, less stress, etc.) but I met many disappointed people that felt a bit trapped after taking it.

Here are few reasons not to buy this popular travel agency ticket:

  • Even if dates can be changed, you will plan your route before starting it and knowing where you really want to go (read Travel Without Plan).
  • They are expensive, more than taking 2 to 4 long distance flights and managing the rest with cheap transports.
  • It often limits you to 12 months or it costs you even more.
  • Don’t think that yes it costs a bit but then I’m good with transports. You will have to take some extra transports and local flights anyway.
  • Stories of having to come back to where you landed, forcing you to do loops.
  • Having to pass on countries that are just next door just because it doesn’t fit the ATW ticket plan.
  • Enough right? Listen, just don’t do it, I promise I won’t ask you anything in return to thank me for the advice.

 

Get your first long distance ticket, look and plan to buy the second one or return one at some point (like 6-8 months in advance) and deal with the rest on the spot, with cheap overland transports or the many cheap local budget airlines.

I know, you are already stressing about the often-required onward ticket, read Way Out / Onward Ticket Required for solutions.

Keep your freedom!

 

Buy Your Plane Ticket(s)

Now that you have decided on a broad itinerary, check your main long-distance tickets costs to know if it is doable and if it makes sense.

Then, buy your first one-way ticket, set a reminder to buy the second one at a good time while travelling and go celebrating!

Few tools:

Not for buying tickets straight away but good tools to get an idea of the best combos. Select a starting point, a first destination by plane, to the 2nd overland (click on the plane logo to change it to overland), to the 3rd by plane (changing continent), etc.

 

Otherwise, no need to introduce the following websites:

Read more about flight booking in the travel transport advice section.

 

Injections

Get some injections and everything written down on an International Certificate so you can show it when asked. Think also about writing down your blood type on the front page, you never know, it could be useful.

If your country doesn’t give you these injections for free (and some could be expensive!), have a look to do some of them abroad when arriving in the first country you plan to visit, it is often way cheaper and still easy to get (except if required by the country before entering it, obviously). At least do some research and see.

 

Organise your injections a couple of months in advance as it could be heavy and you might not be able to do all shots in one day. Some also require several injections.

List of the must do injections:

  • Typhoid
  • Hepatitis A
  • Yellow fever
  • Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (often combine with one vaccine: Revaxis)
  • Meningitis (A+C)
  • Rabies Pre-Exposure (not mandatory but could give you extra days in case of exposure)
  • Japanese B Encephalitis (not required and expensive, up to you)

Check also the Health & Medical Travel Advice section for more healthy recommendations like the Malaria tablets.

 

Insurance

Yes, you might want to subscribe with a travel insurance before going wild around the world (your mum would probably not let you go without one anyway). Why?

  • It is likely that nothing major will happen to you (not more than in your routine life) but you don’t want to travel with this extra stress. You have already enough going on in your mind so take one and enjoy everything with this peace of mind.
  • You should be fine but the “if” can sometimes, in some countries, cost you a fortune. Treatment are not to a good standard in many countries and an emergency hospitalisation can quickly bring up a tragic bill. This will stop your current trip and might compromise any future one (bill to pay back).

 

Now, which insurance?

Here I will be different than 80% of the travel websites and won’t recommend World Nomads (maybe because I don’t get commission for recommending that insurance here 😉). It is a good insurance, but I created a quote to have a look and the money they ask you could give you an extra month on the road comparing to other insurances that cover you enough for the main things you need.

 

I don’t have the final answer to the question here and you will need to do your own research but here are the main stuff you should check when getting a quote from an insurance:

  • Does it cover personal stuff you might get stolen?
  • Probably the most common thing that can happen to a long-term traveller. Very important note on this: keep all your tickets and invoices of travel gears you bought!
  • Is there any excess you will have to pay, or do you get refunded for all the costs?
  • Is it primary or secondary coverage? Do you pay, and they refund you later or nothing to pay up front?
  • yes, that could change it all in case of that thousand dollars’ bill at the hospital)
  • Does it include Repatriation? Medical evacuation?
  • What about covering flight back in case of sudden death in your family?
  • Important if you have very old / ill members of your family. It happened to me and I was happy to be able to get back home to be there with mine for that.
  • Are you medically covered if you drive a vehicle (Car / motorbike rental)?
  • important if you go to Asia because you will / should rent a vehicle (motorbike) many times in many countries
  • Is it possible to cancel your insurance or possible to buy few months per few months?
  • in case you get homesick / broke and go back home prematurely
  • Does it include civil/public liability?
  • How to make claims? How easy / quick is it?
  • What’s not covered? Read and compare

 

Extreme activities cover or not?

Ok, this is a common question and a common point on which expensive insurances play a lot. I have done many extreme activities during my journey, but I didn’t take any option on that.

  • Come on, who needs an insurance for bungee jumping?
  • How often would you go glacier walking? Heli-skiing? What can happen while parachuting except dying from it?
  • How many times would you trek above 4500m? I did it twice but if you do, you already know you have the strength to do it (or the guides will take care of you and bring you down anyway). Etc…

I would be curious to know how often they spend money on covering these extreme activities. But they do make a lot of money offering a cover for it, that’s for sure. Some insurances have an extension option to cover you for a short period of time, that could be an option when you need it.

 

Well that’s it. So, to sum up, take an insurance but don’t spend a fortune for it because it is likely that nothing too bad will happen to you if you are careful enough!

Examples of recommended insurances:

NB about Insurance from Debit / Credit card: Your bank will tell you that your card already includes an insurance. True but only for a short period of time, from 3 to 6 months max most of the time so don’t count on this one for long trip.

  • Chapka: around 550€ for a 12 months trip (worldwide excluded USA & Canada) – Good value for money and one that works, these guys flew me back from Asia on time for a funeral and then back (to a different country too). They took care of everything.
  • True Traveler: around 360€ for a 12 months trip (worldwide excluded USA & Canada) – Doesn’t cover as much but might be enough for you and I read good reviews on this one, to be trusted apparently.
  • Avi: around 580€ for a 12 months trip (worldwide excluded USA & Canada) – Another trusted one

This list is definitely not exhaustive, and I found about the Chapka one (the one I used) because I am French, and they are well referenced in my country. I met many people on the way who had their local equivalents for similar costs or cheaper so check your local options.