Have you ever taken a holiday or vacation and felt like it wasn’t long enough? So many people feel that they have such a great time away, that after a short week or two, it can be hard to go back to normality and routine. Life, unfortunately, means that we have jobs to get back to, bills to pay, and a home to look after. However, all of those things shouldn’t stop you from considering extended vacations and travel in the future. It just means that you need to plan a little better.
Many companies will offer career breaks or sabbaticals away from your job. Your home could be rented out as a holiday rental while you are away, which would more than cover your expenses and may even help towards funding your own adventure. In all honesty, life is short, and even if you have a young family, it is still possible to make the most out of your traveling and to see the world. So if you are thinking of taking the plunge and have sorted out all of those things, then you may be wondering what to think about in terms of the actual trip. Here are some suggestions for extended travel (and more specific tips for backpacking!)
How Much to Pack and How to Do It?
Packing for a trip that is longer than the average week or two isn’t as easy as you might think. Of course, if you are staying where you have access to washing facilities then that could make the packing process easier, but what else can you do? You could plan a capsule wardrobe and strategically pack things that will work well with one another. This could help you save on space and time when it comes to the clothes you wear.
Even if you’re going to be gone on an extended vacation that lasts months, you don’t need to pack that much because you’ll be doing laundry. Choose wardrobe options that go with multiple pieces, so it looks like you’re wearing different outfits even if it’s just a different combination.
Where To Go and What To Do?
The next thing to think about would be where to go and what you might want to do when you get there. The destination could be somewhere you have always wanted to travel to, but it could also be a place where you know you can travel onwards from that point. Perhaps a larger country like Australia with many different cities to explore, or a region like Asia, where you can choose one spot and then travel to other points more easily. At the end of the day, you want to ensure that you can make the most out of this trip away, as you may not get to do something like this as often as you would like to.
Something I like to do is use my trusty Skyscanner hacks to explore my options. I’ll put the city/country I’m planning on being in, and I will search everywhere. I use the prices to dictate where the next stop will be if I don’t have a definitive plan!
I also have a “bucket book.” I bought two copies of a book (one to read, and one to cut up!), bought a photo album, and cut out the fun facts of a place. So now, when I go to the place from the book, I paste the nice title from the book, a little blurb about the place, and a picture that I took there. I can’t wait to complete it! I bought the first book below because it had a smaller list, but there are a lot of options for varying list sizes! I certainly couldn’t commit to 1000! They even have for continents and specific countries.
You don’t have to make the scrapbook like me, but it’s still a nice way to guide your trips to places you didn’t know about!
As for what to actually do when you’re there…. day trips! If you’re not interested in group travel for your extended vacation, consider day trips! My favorite two spots to get them are Viator and Tour Radar. Viator is great for 1-3 day trips, and Tour Radar has everything from 1-60 day trips! Tour Radar is basically a search engine for tours, and it has sales frequently. I bought my TransMongolian tour (and many more!) through them!
Where to stay?
The big decision to make is in regards to your accommodation. Most of the time when you go on vacation you will probably stay in a hotel or on a resort somewhere, but doing this for a longer period of time could end up costing you fortunes. This is when looking at a house for rent could be the ideal option. It gives you the flexibility of having a kitchen and washing facilities, so it can feel more like a home from home. But you also get the value for money and the option of experiencing the local culture a little more. It could certainly be the best scenario as a single traveler, as a family or group of people.
If you’re very flexible, you could look into house or pet sitting. It’s similar to the above, but with varying lengths of contracts. You’d stay at an “employer’s” home to watch their things while they’re away. Depending on the contract, you can have access to different aspects of their life!
Another affordable option that depends on strangers is Couchsurfing. This is probably best for solo travelers or couples, and not great if you have pets or kids. Couchsurfing is where you are in the home with the occupant. It’s a wonderful way to learn about the locals (and it’s free!), but you will have less privacy. Couchsurfing doesn’t necessarily mean a couch, because you can also have a separate bedroom in some cases!
And of course, there are always hotels and hostels. Those can add up if you’re going on an extended vacation. Look for deals where you can! With Booking.com, after you’ve stayed 5 nights, you get 10% off. And with Hotels.com, you can pay for 10 nights and then get a free night! Utilize those rewards!
Another thing to think about and to also take time in considering is the overall budget. At the end of the day, it is worth looking at what you may spend daily, and including things like breakfast, lunch and mealtime expenses as well as drinks and excursions. You may not do this each day, but pricing it into your budget means that you have enough to cover all factors. There are a lot of things to consider when trying to travel on a budget.
It’s also worth searching up other people’s budgets to get you an idea. I don’t think many other blogger’s offer up quite as specific budgets as I do (#HumbleBrag), but it definitely helps give you an idea of how much money you need to save for specific area. Some areas of the world are more expensive (Europe, Australia, some North American) and some are very cheap (most Asian, African, and South American).
Traveling alone or with company?
Finally, the last decision you may need to think about would be whether or not you are traveling alone or with company. This could affect some of the choices you are going to make, so you may want to ensure that this decision is one you make earlier on in the planning process. It helps to know whether you need to consider others before deciding on what you do and where you stay. If you do travel alone, think about how you will keep in touch with people. Maybe share things on social media or keep people up to date with an online blog. It doesn’t have to be as time consuming as a blog like this. That link takes you to where I first started chronicling my time in Australia. It’s basically just a digital diary.
Some perks for Solo Travel is that you don’t have to compromise what you want to do! You can go and do whatever you want and whenever you want (as long as you’re following my solo travel safety tips!). If you’re not sure if a totally solo trip is for you, you can always do a group trip! That’s something a lot of my travel clients prefer because they feel safe and like having a guide.
The perks of having a traveling companion are that you have someone to split to accommodation costs with, someone to take your picture, and someone to chat with. Sometimes on my extended travels, I like to mix it up. I’ll be alone for some parts, maybe a group tour, and then meet up with friends. It’s a nice way to keep things fresh!
What if Something Goes Wrong?
That is always a possibility, but something that we always need to keep an eye out for. The answer is Insurance. Sadly, a necessary evil sometimes that you hope you never have to use. For shorter trips, there are a variety of places to look into, but for extended travel, I have to suggest World Nomads.
World Nomads let’s you get a YEAR of insurance for very cheap. It’ll cover every single trip you take! Your flights, bags, delays, hotels, deposits will all be protected. If you foresee many or long trips in your future, it’s hands down the best option.
Let’s hope this has given you the inspiration you need to consider taking an extended vacation in the future. If you’re like me and still want more, please keep researching for more tips to prepare for long term travel. It’s a big commitment, and I know you want to make sure it goes well! Research Research Research!