Although the coronavirus has definitely put a ~damper~ on our travel plans, when we reflect back on our preparation days it was clear that the stresses of everyday life made it incredibly difficult to plan. With many daily stresses on an inevitable hold (i.e. going into the office, taking your cat to the dentist, the busy humdrums of normal life), we think it’s actually the perfect time to start planning your future around full time travel.
Before we get into some planning tips, let us ~spill some tea~ on full time travel: a big part of living the lifestyle is learning to roll with the punches and you really can only plan *so much.* It’s also worth noting that everyone’s journey into full time travel will be slightly different, so feel free to do what works for you! However, with all of that being said, there are things you can start doing today to plan a life around full time travel so you can be as prepared as possible when the green light on international travel comes. So without further ado, here are 10 steps you can take right now to plan for full time travel after COVID.
As you’re reading through our tips, you can follow along with our downloadable freebie checklist to help you realize your dreams!
1. START SETTING QUANTITATIVE, REALISTIC, FINANCIAL GOALS (& start saving!)
Setting financial goals is really the first step into making your travel dreams a reality! Luckily for you, we’ve done the leg work already and developed a google excel sheet to help you determine how much your trip will cost, how much money you need to save for your trip, and how much money you need to save each month to afford your impending travels. Check out the super fun and nerdy spreadsheets here and start saving today! For more on how to afford full time travel, we also created a blog post where we detail our best financial tips and strategies to afford full time travel!
2. FIGURE OUT THE "INCOME PART" (start by listening to our favorite travel podcasts)
Maybe you don’t know exactly what your “travel job” will be just yet, but that’s okay! The good news is that there are TONS of people out there that are already living these lifestyles, and some of them may surprise you. Now is the perfect time to learn about different types of location independent jobs through podcasts to get inspired for your journey! Did you know that there are lawyers that do full time travel? And economists too? If remote life isn’t your thing, there are definitely still plenty of jobs in the education and hospitality sectors that offer lots of flexibility for travel (hello hostel workers and English teachers!). There are a few podcasts we really love that feature different people who have prioritized travel in their lives, both location independent and dependent people. Some of these podcasts are: Extra Pack of Peanuts, Location Indie, Zero to Travel, and for a more fun one on the not-so-glamorous side of travel, we highly recommend The Sweaty Traveler!
3. MAKE A TIMELINE (but don't rush yourself)
How long do you want to be gone? When do you want to leave? These are all important questions you need to ask yourself! Having a legit timeline will help you create financial goals and stick to a plan. You can even start your timeline today if you’re ready to start saving! Be sure to make a timeline that’s realistic (especially with COVID) where you could sensibly save the amount of money you’d feel comfortable taking off into parts unknown with. We’d recommend bookending this around when your lease ends if you rent.
4. START TELLING YOU FRIENDS AND FAMILY ABOUT YOUR DECISION TO HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE
Not only does telling friends and family make the experience more “real,” you’re more likely to hold yourself accountable. Word of advice: not everyone is going to like this decision (unconventional lives scare people who cling to comfort zones!), so be prepared to be met with some pushback (mostly good intentioned).
5. MAKE A "BACKUP PLAN"
One of the many reasons people are deterred from full time travel is that they are fearful of it “not working out” or going broke (we definitely felt this). To overcome this, imagine your absolute worst case scenario (for both of us, this was going back to our old jobs). Although this isn’t an ideal position to be in, it takes a lot of the fear out of taking the leap.
6. BUY THE PLANE TICKET (okay actually wait on this one, but make a plan to buy one)
We aren’t encouraging anyone to go out and book a plane ticket right now, but this was *probably* the single handed most important thing we did. Buying the plane ticket held us accountable for our trip and gave us a real tangible deadline to prepare to leave. In COVID times, we would definitely pick and set a date/location you are excited to visit, but maybe hold off on booking tickets right now because of COVID (or get a refundable ticket that can be used in the future).
7. CHECK YOUR PASSPORT
This seems incredibly obvious, but Lauren was totally guilty of this. Check how many passport pages you have remaining WELL before you depart. Understand that many countries require you to have a certain amount of blank passport pages to enter the country. If your passport is starting to look full (or a little worse for wear) we’d highly recommend getting a new one. Pro tip: on the new application forms, US citizens can request a special book with 52 pages for free! One country for each week of the year perhaps?
8. MAP YOUR ROUTE
Not only will this give you major wanderlust vibes and reinvigorate your desire to take the plunge, it’s super important for planning. Your route doesn’t need to be set in stone, but being able to budget for different destinations and your transport between them (i.e. its way more expensive to spend a month in Japan vs India) will help you plan your finances. In addition, you’ll have a good idea of what vaccines you’ll be required to get and any visas that need to be requested well before the date you plan to leave.
9. CREATE A CONTINGENCY PLAN
No one ever expects an emergency, but trust us– it happens. We were really scared when we were forced to come home from the pandemic, but extremely grateful that we had plans in place to come home. This could include researching insurance options, saving enough money for a plane ticket home (we’d recommend at least 2K just in case), setting aside some extra miles for a potential emergency flight, and having extra copies of all of your documents. This will also help you mentally prepare for your trip if you start having doubts (contingency plans bolster confidence!)!
10. ACCEPT THAT THE HARDEST PART IS THE FIRST STEP
This is TOTALLY corny and even we didn’t believe it until we left, but trust us, taking the first step is absolutely the hardest part. The mental gymnastics you do to make a lifestyle switch is exhausting, but once you start you’ll be so glad you did it. To achieve something better than what you currently have, there are always growing pains. Happy ~future~ travels friends.