Prepare to Travel the World Checklist

By Emily Landsiedel

Those of you that know me personally know that I’m a hyper-organized checklist lover. Peter likes to tease me for always needing to plan and have everything figured out, sometimes down to the minute detail. We balance each other out that way: I’m the planner who lessens the bumps in the road, and he’s the adapter that is quick to think on his feet when things inevitably don’t go according to plan. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited for the ups and downs of travel, and I DON’T think people should plan every tiny aspect. I know it’s important to keep an open mind to changes in plans and new situations. However, if you are more of the organized type like me and you prefer the peace of mind that comes with being a little more prepared, I’ve compiled a checklist of what you need to accomplish before going on a round-the-world trip:

9-12 Months Out

  • Update or get your passports (They need to be valid at least 6 months after you reach your destination countries.)
    • 5-15 passport photos for Visas abroad and entry requirements (check Visa requirements for the countries you plan to visit.)
  • Sell anything you don’t use/need- have a garage sale or sell stuff on Craigslist
  • Cut down your current expenses as much as possible
  • Setup a separate bank account for your travels and make sure to put all your extra money after bills into it every month on pay day
  • Apply the needs vs. wants mindset to all your purchases and watch your savings grow
  • Speaking of savings, make sure you have a cushion to come home to when you return so you’re not completely stuck
  • Determine a rough itinerary- this can change as you get closer, but it helps motivate you
  • Begin researching tourist attractions, history, transportation, and exchange rates for all your countries
  • Start learning a language or two on Duolingo (I learned some Spanish!)
  • Sign up for a travel credit card
  • Begin reading travel blogs, watching travel shows, and listening to travel podcasts to get excited and learn about long-term travel


6-8 Months Out

  • Get your immunizations. Some immunizations take six months or more to complete (because they have multiple shots) so don’t put this off!
  • Start collecting all your gear for the trip. Utilize Christmas and birthdays to save on purchases. The more you can spread out these expenses, the easier it is on your overall budget.
  • Let your international friends know you are coming to visit


2-5 Months Out

  • Sign up with frequent flyer programs like Star Alliance and One World
  • Write a living will
  • Check that your driver’s license is correct and won’t expire while you’re abroad
  • Obtain Visas if needed
  • Do all your doctor/dentist/optometrist checkups to get a clean bill of health
  • Purchase tickets for the first leg (1-2 months) of your trip and reserve rooms for at least the first two days in each location
  • Start a high yield checking account with Charles Schwab to avoid ATM fees anywhere in the world
  • Sign up on Couchsurfing and try to find friends to write you a reference
  • Get another travel credit card (Visa or Mastercard- whatever you don’t already have)


1 Month or Less Out

  • Start a blog if you’re interested in doing one
  • Get a storage shed for everything you want to keep and leave a key to it with family
  • Pay the storage fees through the month you’ll be gone
  • Sell cars and anything else you no longer need
  • If taking a road trip like us, check spare tire pressure and tire changing tools
  • Switch out wedding rings or any other valuables you keep on you
  • Put cell phone plans on hold
  • Update resume while everything is still fresh in your memory
  • Obtain an international driver’s license
  • Obtain minimum U.S. health insurance to meet the Affordable Care Act requirements (or pay the penalty during taxes)
  • Obtain Traveler’s insurance- We’re going with World Nomads
  • Get contacts/medications for the entire time you’re gone (if applicable)
  • Buy the last minute gear you need for your trip
  • Exchange some money to the local currency of your first destination
  • Notify credit cards and bank of travel plans
  • Scan copies of all important documents and keep them on an encrypted thumb drive with you as well as one copy with family at home – including numbers for banks, credit cards, insurance, etc
  • Have a goodbye party and visit any places you’re going to miss before you leave
  • Pack your stuff and GO!!

I hope this checklist was helpful! I won’t lie and say it’s been easy to get ready for this trip, but when it’s spread out over a year, it’s manageable. Besides, you have the daydream of climbing Machu Picchu, visiting the Eiffel Tower, or seeing Angkor Wat to motivate you! Now, take a page from my book, and start planning your next trip!

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