We are lucky to be living in an age when international travel has never been easier. Flights are cheaper in real terms than ever before, while remote working possibilities and the gig economy combine to mean that we can make an office of any beach in the world.
Nevertheless, that is not to say we can disappear on a round the world trip at a momentâ€™s notice, tempting though it might be to do so sometimes. Here are some of the preparations you need to have in place to ensure your journey is safe, enjoyable and stress-free.
Some admin matters
Few of us can just up and leave for a few months without first taking care of some basic administrative details at home. They will vary for each individual, but if relevant, should include the following:
Will you be leaving your home empty? If so, are bill payments, rent and so on taken care of? Does someone have a key to keep an eye on the place and check the mail?
If you are severing ties and selling your home / ending your tenancy, have you set up a temporary contact address for the bank, tax authorities, etc.?
Check passport validity. Some countries will be reluctant to issue a visa if your passport is nearing its expiry date.
Check the validity of payment cards. You will be reliant on the plastic, and if the card expires in the middle of your travels, you will be in a world of pain.
Health and vaccines
Consult your travel clinic well in advance of your trip to get the necessary vaccinations â€“ you need to have this in hand around three months before you set off, so donâ€™t delay. If in doubt as to whether certain shots are needed, the best plan is to have them anyway. Also, make sure you have the clinicâ€™s stamped confirmation, as some countries will want to see that before they let you in.
Of course, there is more to health preparations than vaccinations. The last thing you want is to fall ill in a remote country where you donâ€™t know the language and the health system is not all it could be. Visit your doctor for a full health check and get as much information as possible. Checking blood pressure and so on is well and good, but thyroid testing can identify a range of problems, so thyroid function tests are also worth having done before you travel.
Following on from the above, things can go wrong even with the best-laid plans, and thatâ€™s why we have insurance. Travel insurance that covers you for health, theft and the like while you are away is not expensive, and risking going without it is a false economy. Shop around for the best deal, and remember, â€œbestâ€ does not necessarily mean â€œcheapest.â€ The key is to get the most bangs for your buck, so take time reading the small print, and evaluate all the options.
Pack smart and pack light
Some people make the mistake of asking themselves what they need on their travels. That is approaching things from the wrong angle. The question they should be asking is what they must take. Toiletries and other such consumables can be bought as and when needed and will take up valuable space and add weight to your luggage.
There is also the question of how you pack, and here the golden rule is to roll, not fold. Rolling clothes doesnâ€™t just save space; it also means they come out far less wrinkled.
Finally, donâ€™t be fooled into thinking that the world is paper free. As you leave through your modern, 21st-century airport, you can take full advantage of being able to clear check-in and immigration with the flash of a smartphone and the twinkle of an eye. In Lusaka, Mangalore or Caracas, it is another story. Immigration officers in many countries still want to see â€œyour papers,â€ besides which, it is always handy to have a hard copy to hand just in case your smartphone decides to die on you.
See the world and enjoy
An around-the-world trip is something that everyone should undertake at least once in their life, and we are fortunate to live in an era when it is more feasible than ever before. The above tips will set you off on the right foot, so why not stop thinking about it and start doing it? Thereâ€™s a big wide world out there just waiting to be discovered.