We have pages dedicated to Travel Planning specifically for Choosing a Destination, Booking your Trip, Using the Correct Technology, and even making sure you have all of the Important Travel Documents. Please feel free to explore these pages on our site for general advice when it comes to Travel Planning.
This page is dedicated specifically to Long-Term Travel Planning. This type of travel planning is different from regular travel plans and vacations because you are actually making your destination your home. Thus, this page is designed for 1. Digital Nomads - who travel long-term, move around fairly regularly, and usually have some type of remote or digital work, and 2. Expats - who travel long-term, generally stick to one place for a longer period of time, and typically have a work location or office.
Most people travel for a short period of time and simply relax or explore when they are in a different location. They don’t really take much time to run errands, wash dishes, do laundry, go grocery shopping, plan for their next vacation or trip, or even schedule in some time to just lay back and catch up on their favorite Netflix show. However, you may need to do all of that now that you are traveling long-term. Even if you think you won’t want to waste any time watching Netflix, you may eventually change your mind after wearing yourself to exhaustion from your constant travels.
Check each of the sections below and decide if you should make adjustments to your 90-Day Travel Itinerary. Who knows, this may also reduce your average daily costs, per person.
ACTION ITEM: Are you generating income from your side income strategies? If so, check on the growth rate of your income to determine when you will likely have enough income coming in to begin your travels. Use the “STEP 4” tab in the “Eat Wander Explore - 90 Day Travel Itinerary” to estimate the date that you will be ready to start your adventure. The date in your Main Budget should update accordingly. Also, read over the sections below to make sure that you are not overwhelmed by your new traveling lifestyle!
Planning for the next 3+ Months
When you start off on your adventure, we recommend that you have some type of plan on where you are going to go. Alternatively, you could just blow around like the wind from place to place and see where you end up. However, in either situation, you will have to maintain your budget. Some places of the world are more expensive to live in than others, and planning for the expenses that come along with these places is usually a more stable approach.
We have met some travelers who have started out on 3 month (13 week) adventures but were broke and basically homeless at the end of their 5th week. They simply overspent in every place that they were in because they didn’t account for exchange rates or differences in customs. Additionally, they probably also lived like super-vacationers during the first 5 weeks.
To prevent yourself from causing this type of grief, it helps to plan ahead and even to pre-pay for some things. We don’t necessarily recommend pre-paying for everything, but it does make sense to pay for a place to stay for a month, or even up to 3 months in advance. You should also pay for your transportation to each location that you have booked at the same time. Pre-paying will at least guarantee that you’ll have a place to stay and transportation to get there ahead of time. As time moves forward, even if you are running low on cash, you will still be all right. Additionally, you will begin to feel the affects of your decreasing budget well before you arrive at the point where you no longer can fix your situation.
It helps some people to create a separate bank account prior to traveling and to set up a bi-weekly transfer to the account that they will be using during their travels to keep them in check. This way, as long as they don’t touch the other account, they should feel the effects of overspending sooner and they will learn to adjust earlier on as well.
That being said, we also recommend not to plan too far out as your circumstances may change unexpectedly (see below) or you may become more interested in a different location because of something you learned during your recent travels.
Keeping Yourself Flexible for Unexpected Events
So, we planned ahead a bit too far a few times already. Once, we thought it was better to lock in some really great places before the deals were all gone. We had planned out 9 months in advance. Actually, it just so happens that Jenny became pregnant and the last 3 months were going to be in Egypt, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa. Well, it is quite difficult to move around central Africa while in the last trimester, and a bit worrying for us considering that central Africa is still prone to the Zika mosquitoes. Additionally, what if Jenny went into labor early or there was an emergency of some sort? We didn’t want to have to investigate every decent hospital in the area to be readily prepared, so we decided to cancel one, and rearrange two, of the central Africa locations. So, we only ended up going to Egypt and then spent 3 full months in South Africa, where we were able to find an amazing Maternity Hospital. Anyway, it ended up costing us 50% of the reservation that we canceled and put us on the hook to find a way to come back to central Africa in the future for the other two. Plus, we lost the cost of all the flights we booked because those flights weren’t on our travel insurance package.
TIP: Unexpected events do happen, so we don’t recommend planning out more than 3 months into the future.
Changing Destinations Due to Budget Shortage
When your bank account starts to dwindle because you’ve been visiting too many expensive countries - or because you have simply been overspending - remember that there are a considerable amount of affordable countries that you could visit to reduce your spending and bring you back on track. Among them are Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, India, China (Guilin, Guangzhou, or Shenzhen), Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Morocco, Mexico, Nepal, Laos, or the Philippines. If your budget is really hurting, try traveling to one of these places for a little while.
When we were traveling through Europe, we ended up spending quite a bit more than we had budgeted. Luckily for us, we planned in Egypt for a month because it seemed like a great place to go for not too much money. Boy did we need it! Anyway, it still was an amazing experience because we were able to do so much with so little money, plus we caught back up with our budget! It was a great plan.
TIP: Plan to stagger your expensive countries with your affordable countries and your budget will thank you for it!
ACTION ITEM: If you only have expensive countries on your 90-Day Travel Itinerary, try planning in some more affordable countries in the 90 days after that. Alternatively, consider starting off your adventure in the more affordable areas to see how well you do first. Who knows, it could help prevent you from going broke in your first 5 weeks!
Planning in Time to Work
Congratulations! Your career is now to travel the world for the rest of your life! How amazing! But wait, that may still include work - especially if your Side Income isn’t generating enough to completely sustain your Lifestyle Choices yet. It is best to treat this like a real job, because it honestly is. If you don’t work this through, you are almost certainly going to lose it. But, not everything has to be “work”. When we got started we didn’t have a clear schedule and it nearly wiped us out. We would schedule activities and then come back to the place and work. If we didn’t have an activity planned, we used our “down days” to work some more. We were trying to work whenever we had time and we started to really dislike our new life… it seemed so hard! But then again, we only saved up enough for year 1 and we were expecting our business to be generating enough to sustain us by the end of that year. If you research the people who have made it long term, you’ll realize that it has taken just about all of them 2-4 years to finally make it.
Thus, you definitely have to keep working to make it a reality. The harder you work, the more you get done and the sooner it becomes a reality. But, if you work too hard, you will burn yourself out. The trick is to have a balance. We typically schedule in 3 days of “work” per week that entails sitting inside on our computers and working on our Side Income choices from Step 1 (such as this website, our blog, creating videos, managing our investments, uploading pictures to iStock, etc.). Then, we also schedule in 2 days to do other things - like explore the area that we are in, go on tours, take pictures, experience the culture of the new areas, etc. That’s pretty much like our 2 vacation days, although we are taking photos and videos while we are doing it (so, it is work as well). Thus, we do work about 5 days per week. Working 6 or 7 days per week will certainly burn you out long-term. Do yourself a favor and think about how to balance your work with the other things that you are going to have to find time for as well.
ACTION ITEM: Go to your 90-Day Travel Itinerary and make sure that you have scheduled in some work days for each week. We recommend a 3 and 2 balance like what is explained above, but do what works best for you - personally.
Planning in Time for Errands
Seriously, you are going to need at least one day per week to run errands and take care of things like haircuts, laundry, and groceries (and even buying SIM’s for your phone, other electronics, or clothes).
Haircuts: Ok, this is important! Haircuts, especially if you are a guy, are going to be necessary during your long-term travels. Haircuts are more serious than you might think. Some locations in the world have high incidents of Hepatitis C, like in Egypt.
Egypt has the highest prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the world. In Egypt, HCV prevalence rates reach 13% of the population equating to an estimated 12 million Egyptians… (ScienceDirect)
Egypt has the world’s highest prevalence of the virus. Out of 10 new infections, six occur in hospitals and clinics for various reasons. Others are infected at hairdressers and barbers because HCV can be spread through exposure to blood. (Al-Ahram)
This means that you have to be careful!!!
TIP: Learn how to cut your own hair and travel with a travel sized grooming set. If that doesn’t work for you, the first step is to make sure that you research your barbershops. Make sure that the one you go to is well established and has all of the appropriate disinfectants. Have you ever seen those tall jars of blue liquid that barbers put their combs inside? That’s one part of it, but you also need to make sure that they are disinfecting the electric cutter as well. Anything that may have potentially “cut” someone by accident previously is suspect. So, if you’re going out to a place to get your hair cut, just be safe and vigilant.
Laundry: So, you ended up trying to do your laundry on the day before you left for your next destination. Smart move, because you never know if your next location is going to have a decent washing machine or if you are going to have an issue. But wait, it is raining all day and there is no dryer! Most places in the world don’t use dryers. You will find “drying racks” to hang your clothes on and let them dry in the sun. A great time to learn how that affects your laundry situation is not the night before your flight when it has been raining all day long. Seriously, you may need to find the hair dryer… if there is one! Because sometimes, you end up taking wet clothes with you in your suitcase to your next destination… and there is no dryer there either - nor is the weather any better.
TIP: If it is supposed to be a bright sunny day today, then do some laundry - even if you only have a small load - and make sure you hang it up to dry right away. You never know when your laundry situation will change. We always pick places that are suppose to have laundry machines. In some of those locations they turned out to be broken, other places listed incorrectly or only have the laundry service during a certain season of the year, or maybe they have a washing machine - but you have to give your laundry to the hosts to run them through (turnaround is typically 24-48 hours - seriously!). Make sure you pay attention to your laundry situation and plan ahead just in case. Additionally, it might be wise to carry a large sized garbage bag with you just in case you need to carry your wet load of laundry with you to the next place.
Grocery Shopping: If you are trying to save money on food, buying groceries is the way to go in most places of the world. If your place has cooking supplies, it may help you even more - but you will also have to factor in some time to do the dishes as it is generally expected that you clean up after yourself in most places of the world. Grocery shopping may be easy if the store is just around the corner, but it could be difficult if it is a few miles (or kilometers) away. Surprise! You bought food that you can cook in the oven tonight… but, you don’t have an oven!
TIP: Check to see if you have a freezer, refrigerator, oven, stove, and microwave before you leave. You never know what you don’t have if you don’t pay attention and you don’t want to buy food that can only be cooked in the oven or microwave when you don’t have either of them.
ACTION ITEM: Go to your 90-Day Travel Itinerary and make sure you have at least 1 day per week listed as an Errand Day. This could be combined with your relaxation day or your planning day (see below), but do not combine it with more than one of them unless you have tested it out for a few months and really feel like it makes sense for you to squeeze it in.
Planning in Time for Relaxation
Even if you are not religious you should consider taking a “Rest” day. If you are, then this would be a great day to visit a local church, mosque, synagogue, or temple and experience service in a different country. Alternatively, you could simply pull up a digital feed from one that you are aware of back home.
Apart from religion, it is still vital to relax every now and then. It keeps you balanced and refreshes everything - your health, your body, your mind, your soul, and your productivity. Consider this passage from BecomingMinimalist:
Ask any physician and they will tell you rest is essential for physical health. Ask any athlete and they will tell you rest is essential for physical training. Rest is needed for muscles to repair themselves and prevent injury. Ask many of yesterday’s philosophers and they will tell you rest is essential for the mind. Ask most religious leaders and they will tell you rest is essential for the soul. Ask many corporate leaders and they will tell you that rest is essential for productivity. Physicians, athletes, philosophers, poets, religious leaders, and corporate leaders all tell us the same thing: take time to rest. It is absolutely essential for a balanced, healthy life. (BecomingMinimalist)
It is possible that you will feel like the work absolutely needs to get done and that you don’t have time to rest this week. And then you feel the same the following week… and the following week, and so on. But, you must make time for rest or you will completely burn yourself out and give up on your traveling lifestyle.
Research shows you'll do better work if you take more downtime. (Inc.)
While we can only tell you from experience that rest is necessary, “Mental Health America” also recommends a regular amount of Rest, Relaxation and Exercise. One way that we measure our quality of rest is by wearing a fitbit that monitors our steps, our heart rate, and our sleep. There are a number of devices that can do this, but we have found it to be quite helpful - especially when we aren’t getting enough quality sleep!
If you are in a great beach area, perhaps you should just take a day to go to the beach. If you enjoy going to a wellness resort, sauna, or spa, perhaps you should look for one that is in your area. Alternatively, if you want to just lay back and catch up on your favorite Netflix show - tell yourself it is honestly for your health and then go and do it!
ACTION ITEM: Check your 90-Day Travel Itinerary and make sure that you have at least one Relaxation Day planned per week.
Planning for Other Things
Planning for Travel Days: Depending on how frequently you travel, your actual travel days may take a toll on you. Travel days are not relaxation days. They do require packing up all of your things, checking out of your current place, making it to your flight/train/bus on time, potentially transferring to another flight/train/bus, checking in to a new place, and unpacking. It can take a lot more out of you than you might expect. These days should not be combined with your relaxation days, but they could be combined with your errand days if - when you arrive at your new destination - you then go out for groceries and start up a load of laundry.
If you want to do a little work while you are on the plane, train, or bus - we have found that it is possible for us to write a little for our blog or even plan for future trips while we are sitting idle. Alternatively, if we need the rest, we have also been known to pull out a Nintendo Switch for a little while and get in a little relaxation while on the road (or in the sky).
Planning Time to do More Planning: As strange as it sounds, you may need to plan in some additional time simply to continue planning! As your journey will keep on going without end, you may find that having time to plan for your future trips requires a dedicated time-slot as well. We typically combine our planning days with our errand or travel days, but you will have to find time to fit it in somewhere!
Planning can be more tedious than you initially expect. After all, was it easy for you to create your 90-Day Travel Itinerary? Researching and reserving your accommodations, transportation, and entertainment is usually necessary before you arrive. And you never know if something you’ve already planned will get canceled at the last minute - we just had a cancellation just 2 days before we were supposed to check in! That suddenly turned one of our “work” days into a mandatory “planning” day. Be flexible!
ACTION ITEM: Check your 90-Day Travel Itinerary and make sure that you have some time allocated specifically for travel and planning days. Once you feel like your 90-Day Travel Itinerary is all set, feel free to reach out to us for a free review. It is our goal to make sure that you succeed. We don’t charge you anything, but we appreciate it if you let your friends know about us!
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