Travelling the world is an incredible experience.
From experiencing new destinations, you’ll meet new people along the way, and go on some epic adventures.
If you’re planning on travelling the world for a year – lucky you!
While you might be ready to jump right into your adventure, there are a few things you’d need to prepare before embarking on this lengthy trip.
Feeling a bit overwhelmed and not sure where to begin?
Not to worry! To get you started, we’ve curated a list below to prepare you for the ultimate gap year travel experience.
It’s easy to forget about applying for a visa while travelling.
To ensure that doesn’t happen, it’s important to get your visas lined up prior to the trip.
Your travel may require a visa depending on where you’re travelling to and how long you plan on staying.
For some passports, countries have agreements for travellers to enter and leave the country without a visa.
To find out if you need a visa, you can check the embassy of the destination your heading to, or even the consulate website.
Some resources online can also provide incredibly helpful visa information.
2. Valid Passport
While it might seem like a no-brainer that you need to have your passport while you travel, you’ll be surprised at how many individuals forget to bring them to the airport.
It does however, take more than just a passport to get you to your destination.
You’ll need to make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months.
Why? Some countries such as Indonesia and Thailand have this as a requirement.
The last thing you’d want is to be stranded at the airport because of passport issues.
Plan this in advance as renewing a passport can sometimes take up to eight weeks.
If you need to expedite renewal of your passport, you can contact the passport office for more information.
You’d most likely just need to pay an additional charge to get it expedited.
3. Cash & Credit Cards
Make sure that you have some cash with you when you’re on the road.
While most destinations around the world accept credit cards, it’s always handy to have some cash with you.
Some local stores and taxis may also only accept cash, and you wouldn’t want to have to head to an ATM and incur additional fees.
For credit cards, it’s best to have a travel credit card on hand.
Some cards help minimise those pesky foreign transaction fees.
While some also offer rewards and points along the way – the perfect win-win situation.
Once you’ve earned enough points, you can cash them in towards hotel stays, airline tickets and even car rentals to lower your travel expenses.
Creditcards.com might be a good starting point for research, but most countries will have their own local banks that have travel card offers.
4. Save Money
Before you embark on your year-long trip, you want to make sure that you have enough money saved in the bank.
Besides booking flights and getting your travel visas in order, you also need to save up for hotels, food, transportation, and other travel essentials.
To figure out how much money you’d need to save beforehand, it’s ideal to budget and have a good idea of how much you’ll be spending before the trip, and when you’re on the road.
Travelling can be a huge expense, and you always want to make sure that you have some reserve funds in case of an emergency.
Look at your monthly bank statements and see how much you’re spending.
The ideal amount of savings will be different for everyone.
More importantly, be realistic.
This is a one year trip so there should be emergency funds beyond this period in case something happens.
5. Make Money
Just because you’re travelling, doesn’t mean that you can’t make money.
In this technological age, there are plenty of ways to earn some cash even if you don’t have a full-time job.
There are a wide range of job types that you can apply to from translation to graphic design, marketing, writing and more.
If you have a website that’s up and running, you can also make money through selling advertising space, and even generating leads for other companies.
Some individuals also rent out their property while they’re travelling, so they’ve got some regular income.
If you have knowledge of the stock market and some money to invest, you can even dabble in shares.
There are plenty of ways to make money while travelling, it just depends on what works best for you.
6. Spend Wisely
It’s important that you’re tactful with your spending while traveling.
This doesn’t mean however, that you have to limit yourself to the point where you’re not enjoying the city or the amazing food that it has to offer.
To start off, it’s best to have a budget in mind and roughly how much you plan on spending per day.
It’s also wise to stay away from the restaurants that are near touristy areas as they generally have higher prices.
Certain airlines and hotels can also have complimentary perks or amenities that you can utilise to save some money (like free breakfast).
7. Plan your Itinerary & Research
It might be tempting to just decide where to go as you’re travelling.
However, having an itinerary in place will ensure you’re not spending too much time in one location.
With your itinerary, you’ll know which countries to visit and have a better budgeting plan in mind.
Remember to conduct the necessary research while planning your itinerary so you’re not abruptly jumping from one seasonality to another.
With an itinerary in mind, you’ll also have a better idea of how you’re going to travel be it booking a round-the-world plane ticket, taking a cruise, or hopping on a train.
8. Book Flights
Now that you’ve got everything else in order, it’s time to book your flights.
Most travellers look into booking a round-the-world ticket as it’s generally cheaper, and accrues a significant amount of points.
You might look into some travel websites such as Skyscanner or Google flights to also compare prices and ensure that you’re booking the cheapest flight possible.
If you’re not keen on booking flights on your end, you can also look to book through a travel agent or third-party websites.
Depending on where you’re going, it would be wise to also use some of the local transportation options within the country instead of flying.
In Europe for example, The Eurail Global Pass is a reasonably priced pass that allows international travelers to visit all of Europe.
If the country you’re visiting is advanced enough, they may even have bullet trains!
9. Where to Stay
It’s time for you to figure out where to stay.
There are options for every budget ranging from hostels to rental apartments, and hotels.
In some locations, staying at a hotel can be cheaper than renting out an Airbnb.
It’s also important to note that Airbnb is also banned in some cities.
There are plenty of resources available online for ideal accommodation for your budget and timeline.
Just remember to book early, as you can save some money with advance purchase rates.
Alternatively, you can also consider taking a world cruise that includes accommodation, food, and the exploration of multiple continents.
10. Book Attractions & Things to do
While you do have to get the logistics booked and confirmed, don’t forget to also reserve tours.
Research things you’d like to do in the countries.
Booking in advance helps you save money, and confirms your spot in a tour that could otherwise be sold out later.
City passes are incredibly popular and are worth buying if you want to see multiple attractions.
They can give discounted admissions to some of the top attractions within a city.
Some cities also have free walking tours that will take you through some of the local areas and give you a different perspective of the city.
11. Local Sim Cards for Mobile
Communicating with your loved ones while travelling is incredibly important.
However, you want to make sure you’re not incurring roaming charges as you travel.
Before purchasing a local sim card, you may want to consider using complimentary applications on your phone like WhatsApp and Skype first.
These apps allow you to text and make phone calls to your family and friends over Wi-Fi without paying a single cent.
If you prefer to purchase a local SIM card, you can always grab one at the airport or at the convenience stores.
While local SIM cards are generally readily available, there’s no harm doing some research to find out the best local cellular carrier for you to purchase your SIM card from.
12. Store Emergency Contacts
Nobody wants to deal with an emergency while travelling.
However, if you’re stuck somewhere or need help in a foreign country, there’s no worser feeling than not having anyone to call.
Programming numbers into your phone beforehand will help mitigate that issue, and you’ll have these contacts readily available when you travel.
Besides your emergency contacts, you should also have the numbers of:
- Your travel insurance provider
- Local cab company
- Health insurance company
- Local emergency respondents
- Your embassy
- Your doctor
- Credit card company
13. Pack Appropriate Clothing
Since you’ll be travelling to various locations with different climates, you need to have the right gear for all weather types.
Make sure you’re warm enough for winter climates with a warm jacket, boots, scarfs, a hat, and some thermal clothing.
It’s much easier to pack for warmer weathers as you just need clothing that’s made with lightweight material.
If you plan on going hiking, you need to have hiking appropriate clothing and a comfortable pair of hiking shoes.
14. Pack Travel Gear
With the appropriate clothing all ready to go, you’ll also need to pack the rest of your travel gear.
If you’re planning on taking some picturesque photos, remember to bring along your camera.
Take a handy backpack that can store all your items.
Make sure its comfortable to carry around during your adventures.
Don’t forget to also pack an adaptor, along with essentials like a pair of sunglasses, and a portable charger or power bank in case your battery runs out.
Having said all this (and with clothes in mind), you still want to pack as light as possible to make it easier for you to travel around.
15. Get Travel insurance
Don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before your trip.
Getting travel insurance is incredibly important as it provides support during a medical emergency, and also covers you in remote locations.
If your flight happens to get cancelled or your luggage gets lost, travel insurance will help reimburse you for these costs.
It’s better to purchase travel insurance and have your personal liability covered especially since you’ll be travelling for a whole year.
16. Get Vaccinated
Vaccines help protect you from some serious diseases.
With the proper vaccination in place, you’ll minimise your risk of coming into contact with certain diseases.
To ensure that you’re allowing ample time for the vaccination to work, you should look at getting vaccinated 4-6 weeks before your travels.
Your doctor should have medical records of what you’ve already been vaccinated against, and what you need vaccination for.
17. First Aid Kit
Having a basic first aid kit with you is incredibly helpful.
It can be just what you need in case for an emergency.
Your first aid kit should have basics like:
- Surgical tape
- Small scissors
- Antiseptic wipes
- Pain relief medication
- Creams such as antihistamine creams in case you get bitten by insects
- Prescribed medicine
18. Learn Basic Foreign Words
Learning a few basic local phrases to help you get around is often quite handy.
Most locals will appreciate your efforts and may even provide additional help.
Some language phrases that you can learn which would be handy for the road include:
- Directional phrases
- Health and wellness phrases
- Accommodation phrases
- Dining phrases
- Shopping phrases
- Phrases that can help you in case of an emergency
Where ever you go, there are most likely plenty of brief Youtube videos introducing language basics for that country.
With all of the above in place, you’re ready to head off for your adventure.
Before leaving however, don’t forget to sort out your home so that you’ll have a place to get back to after a year of travelling.
Remember to say goodbye to your loved ones!
You’ll be away for a considerable period of time.
Most importantly, enjoy yourself, document your travels, and make some unforgettable memories.