Preparing you for your once in a lifetime trip
So, you’ve made the decision to go travelling. Whether you’re going for a month, a year or indefinitely there’s so much to think about and do before you go. So, we’ve devised this handy guide to ensure you’ve remembered to do absolutely everything before you set off on your adventure of a lifetime.
1 year to go
Where are you going?
Think about where you’d like to travel to, what sort of route you’d like to take and how long you’d like to go for. We’d recommend firstly asking yourself what you'd like to get out of your trip. Do you want to explore new cultures? Then we’d recommend South East Asia or if you're after adventure then maybe South America is for you.
Wherever you decide to go, make sure you research the areas thoroughly to ensure they’re safe to travel to and around. Not only will it make you feel more at ease it’ll also put your family and friends minds at ease.
Research some more
Once you’ve picked your destination(s), ensure you do some research around the cost of flights and accommodation. Maybe it’s worth booking your flights now, or maybe it’s worth waiting until closer to the date to book your flights – ensure you research this thoroughly so can take advantage of the best possible price.
Once you’ve got an idea of how much flights and accommodation is going to cost, you can now think about how much spending money you'll need to take. Then you’ll be able to create a monthly budget based on how much you need to save. At this point think about cutting out any unnecessary spending – every little helps! Our article 'How to save money for your gap year' will help you get started.
9 months to go
Bula, Ola, Salut, Ciao
Start thinking about learning the language of your chosen destination. Even if you just get some basic phrases down or learn some conversation starters, you’ll feel a lot more at ease when you get there and the locals will appreciate the effort you’ve put in. Our article 'How to avoid mistakes when learning a language on your gap year' will give you a few pointers.
6 months to go
An absolute must; ensure your passport is in date and ensure you’ve got enough time left on your passport to cover your trip and beyond. Most countries require your passport to be valid for at least six months after your trip has completed. If your passport is expiring soon then make sure you renew it now – you don’t want to be in a panic in a few month’s time!
Another absolute must; check to see if and what visa(s) you will need to enter your chosen country. Most countries expect you to purchase your visa beforehand, failure to do this may result in denial into the country.
Make sure you’re protected
Don’t leave vaccinations to the last minute, book a Doctor’s appointment and double check you’re up to date with all of your vaccines and double check whether you need additional vaccines for your trip. Some vaccination courses can take a couple of months and you may need two or three doses to ensure full immunity, so leave plenty of time to get this sorted.
3 months to go
Every little helps
If you’re in need of some extra pennies, why don’t you think about selling some of your old clothes, books or furniture? If you haven’t used or worn something in a while then maybe it’s time to have a clear out! We’d suggest putting anything designer or valuable on Ebay and you should do a car boot for anything else.
It’s better to be safe than sorry
Think about your insurance. Insurance is most definitely not a waste of time, so shop around for a policy that covers you for theft, delays, hospital treatments and any activities you’d like to do. If you’re one for adventure or you plan on doing some extreme sports like white water rafting or shark diving then you’ll need to check insurance policies carefully to ensure you’re covered to do these. They may cost a little more, but it’s definitely worth it.
The NHS ‘Fit for Travel’ website is a great resource of information. If you’re travelling with prescription medicine, it’s a good idea to take a copy of the prescription and a GP’s letter in case you’re stopped by customs or lose your medicine and need to replace it. You can contact the country’s UK embassy to see if your medicine is illegal in their country as well. If it is restricted then you can apply for a licence from the government before you go, you’ll need at least 10 working days to do this.
1 month to go
Decide how you’re going to have your money whilst you’re abroad. We’d recommend getting a travel card which works like a debit card. Much like your debit card, it usually has a chip and pin, you can also manage your finances online and family and friends back home are able to transfer money if you get caught short. Most cards also come with a second in case you lose one. If you do decide just to take your debit or credit card then ensure you inform your bank where, when and for how long you’re travelling for so they don’t block your card whilst you’re away. It’s always handy to carry a small amount of cash with you at all times, but please don’t take all of your travel money in cash.
It’s time to pack
You’ve probably dreaded this moment since you booked your trip – it’s time to start packing. We’d highly recommend investing in a decent sized backpack which has sturdy straps and back support. It’s also handy if your backpack is waterproof or has a waterproof cover in case of unexpected weather conditions. Whether you’re going somewhere that guarantees 365 days of sunshine a year or not, always pack study shoes or trainers, waterproofs and layers (hoodies, tracksuit bottoms, leggings etc.) you’ll thank us. Our 'Packing hints' article will help you out.
Double, triple check
Please, double check you’ve got ALL of your documents; visa(s), passport, flight details, travel insurance, maybe even your driver’s license and vaccination card. Take a photocopy of all your important documents and take the photocopy AND the original copy with you and also leave an additional photocopy at home with a family member.
1 week to go
Keep in touch
Decide whether you’re going to take your mobile phone with you, buy a cheap phone whilst you’re out there or just stick with emailing and Skype. However you decide to keep in contact with home, just make sure you do – so people know you’re safe and sound!
Share the love
Make sure you stock up on any home comforts whether it’s home-cooked meals, your mum or dad’s hugs or cuddles with your dog. Whether you’re just going away for a month or indefinitely, you’ll be surprised at how much you’ll actually miss your family, friends, or your usual Sunday dinner. Before you go make sure you see everyone who cares about you!