The Case for Extended Trips
We’ve all felt the pangs of envy as our friends and family have regaled us with tales of their travels and the odd and wondrous things they’ve seen. When you hear they spent 2 months abroad, you think, “I want to spend 2 months abroad.” Well, maybe you should.
Opportunities like this are only afforded by free time, which may be the rarest commodity of all. In other words, if you want to go and you’re able to go, you should go. You never know when the window where it’s possible to take an extended trip will close. Tour the country, spend a summer in Costa Rica, go live in Germany for a while. These are memories we all deserve to have.
Seven Tips for Successful Extended Travel
While there’s no getting around that extended trips require lots of planning, when you break the planning down by steps it seems much less daunting. Here are seven things you should definitely do to ensure an enjoyable and memorable trip.
1. Have a Different Money Philosophy for Long Trips
Though it may seem counter-intuitive, unless there is a very specific and immediate reason to do so, you should never carry more cash on your person than you would in everyday life at home on long trips.
It’s relatively common knowledge that you shouldn’t carry lots of cash in heavily trafficked tourist destinations because of pick-pockets, thieves, and the like. But many more trips have been ruined by bad luck than by anything nefarious – we leave purses on subways, wallets in shoes on the beach. Things happen.
When we lose cash, it’s gone for good. So pay with plastic when you’re on your journey, or bring travelers checks. A bad day caused by losing either of these are much better than a great trip cut short because you lost hundreds of dollars.
2. Budget Well Ahead of Time
When you decide to go away for a trip longer than a normal vacation, you should start saving right away. Don’t make the mistake of waiting weeks to iron out other details before you start putting money aside – in those few weeks you could have saved a bundle by skimping on your usual entertainment and dining out at home.
3. Don’t Forget to Budget to Leave Something Left Over
It would be a shame if living above your means for a few months on vacation meant that you’d have to live like a pauper when you returned home.
4. Get Vaccinated
Some of the most beautiful places in the world carry diseases that can wreak havoc on your defenseless immune system, sometimes dangerously so. Find the needed shots for any destination here. And do this research well in advance, so that you’re vaccinated upon arrival.
5. Get a Check-Up
If most of us are honest, we don’t get a checkup nearly as often as we should. Before you go on a long trip, getting a checkup is a must. This is how you nip problems in the bud before they can get to the point where they ruin your trip. Throw in the fact that some destinations have less-than-desirable emergency care, and it’s evident why this is a good idea. You’re probably due one anyway. Bite the bullet and go to the doctor.
6. Bring a Well-Made and Flexible Wardrobe
Quality is infinitely more important than quantity here. The clothes you pack should be both durable and easily matched with other pieces. Chances are, you’ll end up shopping on your trip, so there’ll be plenty of opportunities to add more color and character to your garb, if you want.
You’ll also want some quality footwear – not just something cheap and attractive. Aching feet have killed many a day of sight-seeing.
And remember a rain jacket. This shouldn’t be a shell or a parka, either. It should be waterproof, breathable, and packable. Nothing is worse than being soaked with sweat under a coat that’s too thick while exploring, while your only other option is to carry it around for hours. Get a nice, lightweight rain jacket and keep it in your day pack.
7. The Biggest Key to Safety: Planning Ahead
When you’re going away for an extended period, planning ahead may be the most important step to ensuring the safety of your travel party. While it may have been excusable to end up with a hotel reservation in a potentially dangerous area a few decades ago, in the age of the internet, there’s really no excuse. With 15 minutes and a Google search, you can find out what areas in your destination are safe, what to avoid, where tourist traps are, and those off-the-beaten-path spots that tour guides may not show you.
Also, before you land on the tarmac in a foreign country, you should already know where the US Embassy is. In extreme cases, the embassy can be an invaluable lifeline if things turn sour – they can be your only ticket home.
Stories to Tell
Extended trips are chances to gain knowledge only attainable by travelers. Steinbeck knew it, as did Hunter S. Thompson: the only way to get to know your world is to immerse yourself in it, and not just for a week. The best adventures grow us as people – and they’re a heck of a lot of fun.
About The Author: Jeffrey Ferraro is a travel expert and enthusiast. He is the Director of Marketing of Diamond Tours, the leading provider of charter group bus tours in the US and Canada, which include tours of major cities, bus trips to shows and casinos. Jeffrey loves uncovering lesser known travel destinations and sharing them with his customers.
Image: Google Commons