How to Prepare for Your First Ever Long-Term Travel Experience

A woman stands with her backpack on a crowded road as she prepares for a long-term travel experience

If you haven’t heard, I’m getting ready for a long-term travel experience in about three weeks! My trip will bring me around the world in 180 days, mostly via train. When I had the opportunity to share this guest post with you about how to prepare for your first ever long-term travel experience, I obviously couldn’t resist. Long-term travel is an experience that I’ve been lucky enough to have before and it totally changed my world views and life plans. And that was only two months… I can’t imagine what six months will bring, but I know I can’t recommend it enough. If you’re looking to plan your own adventure, here’s a basic breakdown of how to get started.

This post was written in collaboration with 1cover. This post may contain affiliate links.

Chances are you’ll be filled with mixed emotions before you go long-term travelling for the first time.

It’s exciting and daunting all at once, and there’s a lot to think about.

The good news is that you can break everything down into smaller, more manageable steps. Ticking them all off will give you a sense of accomplishment before you’ve even set off — and you’ll be ready before you know it.

Here are seven ways to prepare for your first ever long-term travel experience.

  1. Decide what kind of trip you want to take

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Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? Where do you want to stay? Are there any destinations you absolutely cannot miss?

These are all questions to ask yourself when you first start planning your trip. It makes the rest of the process much easier once you have a clear path in mind, plus it helps you focus on what you truly want to experience and therefore get as much out of it as you can.

2. Create a realistic budget — and then add more

Once you know where you’re going and what you’re doing, you can begin to research the cost of everything in your destination(s).

What to include in your budget:

  • Transport (flights and getting about day-to-day)
  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Excursions/exploring

Whatever total you reach, always add a significant amount on. This safety net gives you more freedom to be spontaneous and also means you’ll have money in case of emergencies.

Got your final budget? Start saving. It’s a lot easier to find the willpower to put money aside when you have a goal and a target amount in mind.

3. Sell everything you won’t need

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Not only is this an excellent way to raise funds for your trip, but it helps you to declutter and you’ll save a huge amount on the cost of storage. Try local buy and sell groups, eBay, and Amazon Marketplace.

4. Book your vaccinations in good time

Speak to your local travel health clinic as soon as possible to find out what vaccinations you’ll need (and check your existing ones are up to date).

Some doses must be administered weeks apart, or months in advance, so it’s best to get it sorted as soon as possible and give your body the maximum amount of protection.

5. Create a packing list

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Not only does this make you less likely to take anything unnecessary with you, but it also gives you time to see if you’re missing any essential items.

Store everything in a durable, lightweight backpack, and buy essentials like shower gel and shampoo while you’re on the road to save space.

6. Familiarize yourself with common tourist scams

Reduce your chances of being conned on the road by learning what suspicious behaviour to watch out for.

Common tourist scams include:

  • People spilling liquids on you and then stealing your wallet when they ‘help’ you clean up.
  • Taxi drivers telling you your hotel or hostel is closed and taking you to a different, more expensive place to stay (they will earn commission for this).
  • Someone offering to help you avoid local fees at the ATM, and then scanning your card to get all the details and steal all the money from your account.

For more info and safety tips, check out Secret Traveller’s Are You About To Be Robbed? article.

7. Make sure your itinerary isn’t too jam-packed

The wonderful thing about long-term travel is being able to slow it down and really get to know a place if you want to — you don’t need to see too much at once. You can also give yourself time to relax when you need to.

It’s useful to have a rough outline of where you’re going and what you want to do, but you don’t need to plan everything right down to the last minute. Likewise, you shouldn’t set off without any plans at all (that’s only asking for trouble!) Figure out a schedule that helps you maintain some kind of routine but still gives you the flexibility to be spontaneous.


Looking for more on planning your next trip? Head to our Planning archives for the full library. 

I’ve also created three freebies to help you plan your next adventure:

  • 50 Practical Travel Tips from Solo Lady Backpackers (a 6-page PDF)
  • 20 Tips for Sustainable Travel (a checklist)
  • and 30 Jobs to See the World.

After you join the mailing list up, you’ll have access to all the freebies, AND get the password to the Global Directory! The directory will connect you to my recommended resources for each country and tons of travel topics. All blog posts I recommend are written by traveling ladies. From logistics to inspiration, the Global Directory will help you find the info you need no matter where you’re going.

How to Prepare for Your First Ever Long-Term Travel Experience