6 Things to do Before You Leave on a Long Trip

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Getting ready to head out on the road is an understandably exciting and stressful time. You’re in this hazy middle ground between your old life and the new life you’ve yet to begin, and it can sometimes be hard to keep track of all you need to do before leaving on that jet plane and going off in pursuit of worldly adventures.

While I’m not heading anywhere anytime soon, a recent email prompted me to write this short little entry. They asked “What are the things you need to do before you leave home for a long time?” and I thought I’d oblige with a post rather than an email in case others have the same question.

Obviously I’ll leave ‘pack’ and ‘say goodbye’ off the list :-p

#1 – Store Your Belongings

Unless you’re lucky like me and have wonderful parents and/or friends willing to babysit your stuff for a while, you’re going to need a place to keep your most precious belongings. Storage units are generally a pretty affordable way to keep things in a safe and secure location, and companies like Taxibox have the added benefit of bringing your storage unit directly to you once you’ve come home.

Photo courtesy of Scott Myers
Photo courtesy of Scott Myers

#2 – Set up automatic payments

If you’re going on the road a while, there’s a good chance you’re going to still have bills coming in every month. Don’t forget to cancel those services you won’t need and set up automated payments for those you’re locked into through contracts or necessity.

My poor cellphone provider back in Oz must get fed up waiting 2-3 months for me to remember I still owe them for the iPad I hardly ever use. Most banks now allow for scheduled monthly payments, and even PayPal can now be set up to take care of this for you. Avoid late fees!

#3 – Sell!

If you’re headed out for a long time – be it a year of backpacking or a lengthy, 5+ year ESL jaunt like my own, you’re going to need every last cent you can get your hands on. It might be a good idea to sell some of the things you’re unlikely to need again anytime soon.

When I left for China last March I made the (perhaps unwise for Future Chris) decision to sell all of my home wares to my housemate. I also sold my desktop to my brother and my TV to an friend. Why not? I wasn’t going to need them for the foreseeable future and the extra $600 was a handy cushion for when I touched down in China.

I know others who have held full blown garage sales to fund their trips and cut down on the amount of storage they needed. Smart!

#4 – Soak it In

It might be hard to realize it as you’re rushing around packing and saying goodbyes and daydreaming about all of the places you’re going to see, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to take a moment to soak it all in before you head out for a lengthy period of time.

The family and I back together for a family photo on our property
The family and I back together for a family photo on our property

Whether this means visiting a favourite quiet place, taking the time to really talk with your siblings, or indulging in a few of your favourite foods before you leave – do it!

Two or three months down the line you’re suddenly going to wish you’d had the opportunity, so make the best of it while you can.

#5 – Tell Your Bank!

Thanks to Nomadic American for reminding me about this one.

Any bank worth its salt is checking where transactions are being made, so be sure you’ve told your bank everywhere you’re planning to be. You hear too many horror stories about travelers stranded without a cent to their name after their bank locked their card due to a suspicious transaction in some faraway place.

It’s a simple process to get in touch with your bank and give them your itinerary, and it’ll avoid a big headache farther down the line.

#6 – Party

Saying goodbyes can take a hell of a long time if you’ve got a big family and/or a big circle of friends. While it would be nice to have personal goodbyes with everybody you know, it’s a fun (and time saving) measure to have a big farewell before you leave town.

David is less than impressed at his fiance's bold choice of goodbyes.
Dave is less than impressed at his fiance’s bold choice of goodbyes.

Pick your favourite bar or just host it in your house, put the word out that you’re leaving on a jet plane, and have a blast with the people you’re not going to see for a while. If you’re lucky, they’ll even shout you your drinks. Bargain!

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  • Awesome list! We recently moved to Mexico (and back) and did all of these! Although, we didn’t sell much. We either put it in storage or donated it. Though, my best friend does have my signed Peyton Manning football…think I need to get that back before he sells it!

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  • great travel tips. You must have been traveling for a long time to know come up with this amazing tips. Thanks for sharing.

  • Great tips, thanks good I never leave for more than 5 months…..and do not need to do all that 🙂

    • Chris

      I seem to have made a habit of moving halfway around the world to teach, Marysia. Definitely requires a lot of pre-planning. Looks like I might be doing that again next year too!

  • Charli & Ben

    Great tips! I think party is definitely the most enjoyable, I remember getting seriously stressed out about having to move and store all my stuff. Turns out i had quite a lot of it and as I had no idea when I’d be back decided to flog as much of it as I could. Saved me a lot in storage fees and topped up my travel fund too!

    • CWB

      I daresay I’ll be doing just that in a few months if I decide to leave China. I’ve accumulated quite a bit of junk in my two years here.

  • Nomadic American

    Another important one: inform your bank that you’re traveling overseas.

    • Chris

      Very good suggestion, Heather. I’ve updated the list to include it!

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