Preparing to travel around the world

This is a guest post from my friends at Suitcase Stories. They share their experience preparing to travel around the world.

Mum: “You’re doing what??”
Me: “Traveling the world for a year, maybe more”
Mum: “Make sure you pack enough underwear!”

While my mother was worried that I wouldn’t have enough underwear, I was busy putting lists together of all the things that needed to be done before our departure.

I’m a list nerd! I list the crap out of everything! So I will admit I got a little excited putting together the “Pre Trip To-Do” list! But this was our first big extended trip. Where to start?

Enter Google. What did we do before Google? Honestly, how did we get by? So, I googled my little heart out to find out what other long-term travelers did to prepare for their big adventures.

After going through travel blog after travel blog and picking out the good, bad, and ugly from each list, I compiled my own list. No offence to the other lists out there of course – Its just when you are a list nerd, you have to create your own list. It’s out of my control. It’s a sickness I tell you!

The thing is, though, now that we have been traveling for more than a year full time, I have been able to tweak said list and I’ve taken out the things that really didn’t need to be on the list in the first place! And, of course, I have added several items that I didn’t think about in the beginning. What is it they say about hindsight?

So I want to share some of the important things you need to think about while preparing for your travels. There is a lot more than this to think about, but these are what I consider the essentials to get you started!

travel around the world


Okay, this sounds obvious, but did you know you need to have a passport that has a minimum of 6 months validity to travel into some countries? So, if your passport is close to expiring you really need to sort that out before you go to save you a big headache down the line!


I’m not talking plastic money here. I mean the little document they stick in your passport which allows you to enter a country. Not all countries require this, of course, but it’s better to look up the necessary information before you go because some visas are required to be applied for in your home country.

Round the world ticket or buy as you go

This is a topic well discussed between long-term travelers. We went with the buy-as-you-go option, which has suited us perfectly. But, that is because we are traveling without an itinerary. If you have a set path you want to follow, then an RTW ticket may work out better for you in the long run. An RTW ticket is definitely cheaper than buying as you go, but it also brings in limitations such as where you can go, which direction you go, and how long you can go for. Sorry, I can’t tell you which option to pick, this one you will have to figure out yourself.



I have fond memories of getting our vaccinations prior to our trip. Why you ask? Well, because it was the first time in 14 years that I saw my husband nearly pass out! It was hilarious. Grown men are supposed to be strong and tough, but put a teeny weeny needle in front of them and they crumble!

Whether or not you are afraid of needles, you will need some vaccinations for an RTW trip. In fact, if you go to Africa without having a yellow fever jab before you leave your home country, you may not be allowed back home! So do yourself a favor, visit a local travel doctor and let them know what countries you plan on visiting, and they will let you know what you will need. And if you are unsure of where you are going, like we were, just get the main ones like yellow fever, and hepatitis A & B. Keep in mind that some vaccinations need to be administered at least 6 months prior to departure.

Travel insurance

Please don’t try to be a hero here and think you can go without travel insurance to save money – Because let’s face it, that’s a lot of beer money! It will be your biggest regret if something goes wrong. If you are on the road long term, the chances of you losing something, getting sick, delayed flights and lost luggage are quite high. It’s just not worth the risk. For something that will cost you a few hundred dollars could potentially save you thousands and thousands of dollars. We’ve all heard the horror stories of someone not having insurance when they needed it – Don’t let it be your story!

Copies of your documents

This will take you about 5 minutes and a scanner but could save you a massive headache some day. If the worst should happen and you lose your passport or any other important document, it will be a lot easier to replace it if you can produce a copy of said document. Also, in some countries where it may be unsafe to leave your passport with say the hostel receptionist (this is asked for sometimes), you can offer them a photocopy which usually keeps them happy. If you can help it, try never to leave your actual passport with anyone, at all, ever! I’ve heard too many stories about lost passports or stolen identities from this. So if you have a copy in your Hotmail account and photocopies in your luggage, you can avoid this drama.

Tell the bank!

And then tell them again..and again! We have had our credit card (which is our debit card and only source of money!) put on hold 3 times since we left, even after telling them of our plans. Nightmare! Of course, the bank can reverse the hold, but it’s just a pain in the butt if you have to call the bank to get this sorted. It is, of course, to protect you but still a hassle to go through.

But the most important piece of advice I can give you while you prepare for your trip – Savor every moment! Take it all in and appreciate what is about to happen to you! This is going to be an unforgettable experience, something you will remember for the rest of your life, so please make the time to appreciate every single moment!

Nicole and her husband Michael are an Australian couple who gave up their careers, sold their possessions and left their ‘conventional’ life behind for a life of travel. They have been living a nomadic life for 13 months and see no end in sight.

They recently launched Suitcase Stories, a website where they share their stories, travel tips, and destination guides. Their main goal for this website is to inspire others to travel and to show people how long-term travel is not only possible but affordable.

You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Images courtesy of Suitcase Stories

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  1. Nicole and Michael, thanks for sharing your packing tips! I totally agree on all of them.

    On my first solo big trip to Europe I stayed in hostels and got in the habit of putting my money belt which contained my passport, airline tickets (yes, this was a few years ago…), spare money and cards etc under my mattress while I slept to reduce the risk of someone stealing it all.

    When I stayed in Interlaken I headed out for a full day out and only realised about an hour later than I had accidentally left my money belt with all of my valuables under the mattress. I had enough money on me for my day out but I fretted the whole day, and breathed a big sign of relief when i got back to find it till there…

    i don’t think I will ever do that again!

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  2. I try to keep to the rule of ‘don’t let anyone leave with your passport’ too, but the other day, crossing the boarder from Argentina to Bolivia by overnight bus, I had no choice but to leave my passport with the driver. I told my partner I thought it wasn’t a good idea, but he seemed to think it’d be perfectly fine, (Spoiler: it was fine in the end), but I ended up preventing him from sleeping because he was so worried by the stories I’d told him!

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    • Yeah, sometimes you just have to fork it over. I’m always nervous about it even when it’s a consulate official!

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  3. Some great tips here. Taking copies of things is something which we should all think of and keep them in a separate bag to the originals!

    Don’t forget medications too both in your carry on and checked luggage if you have plenty.

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  4. “Tell the Bank And then tell them again..and again! We have had our credit card (which is our debit card and only source of money!)”

    Wise advice indeed. But no way would I ever recommend traveling with but a single credit card. What if you lose it? What if it’s stolen? What if an ATM machine eats it?

    Far better to carry at least two (or even THREE) credit/debit cards – and preferably accounts from two (or three) DIFFERENT BANKS. That way if one bank decides to put a freeze on your card – at least you have access to your funds while you sort it out.

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    • I definitely agree. This happened to me when we were in Honduras, and it was a major challenge getting a new bank card sent to us. If I didn’t have a backup, we would’ve been screwed big time.

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