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10 Things You Need To Do Before Your Long-Term Adventure Abroad

Prepare for the trip of a lifetime.

By: Rachel Davidson + Save to a List

You’re going away on a long-term, far-away adventure, and you couldn’t be more excited! But before you pack your pack and tie up your hiking boots, you have some business to take care of. Don’t blow off this list of must-dos before you leave the country. You’ll be happy you didn’t.

1. Splurge on the right gear.

You’ve been saving up to be able to afford your overseas adventure for a very long time, but now is not the time to skimp on big purchases that matter. Make sure you have a durable backpack or duffel bag that will stand up to daily travel damages. Pick out a comfortable, sturdy, and long-lasting pair of walking shoes. Do some research on the climates that you’ll be visiting - do you need an industrial strength Himalayan parka, or will your tried-and-true down jacket suffice?

Backpack Torres Del Pain’e “O” Circuit | Photo: Ian Glass

2. Stock up on USA-made medications.

It’s not fun trying to read international medical labels. Language gap? Metric system confusion? If you pack your bag with over-the-counter brands you’re familiar with back home, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and sweat. In this case it’s better to be a little overly cautious than sorry.

Don’t forget to pack:

  • Cold & flu pills
  • Indigestion pills (liquids are a no-no, grab the capsule version of Pepto Bismol)
  • Cough drops
  • Diuretic and anti-diarrhea pills

3. Visit your doctor and dentist.

Even if you feel happy and healthy as can be, give yourself peace of mind by taking advantage of a familiar hospital environment. Get a physical, standard lab tests, and a good teeth cleaning to ensure everything’s working as it should before you embark on your journey.

4. Go old school.

Print out your itineraries, extra copies of your passport, and start collecting maps of your destination. Yes, that’s what I said - real, foldable maps that fit in a slim pocket. These paper documents may be the only reliable thing you end up packing. Sorry Google Maps, we’re doing it the old fashioned way.

Hike up Pöllartschlucht to the Best Views of Schloss Neuschwanstein | Photo: Moritz Wolf

5. Let your bank and credit card companies know you’re traveling.

This should be one of the first things on your list. You certainly won’t get far if your bank shuts down your cards the second you try to purchase a candy bar at the Istanbul airport. Even if you don’t have an itinerary set in stone, a simple phone call to customer service will save you a world of trouble and confusion before you’re trapped cashless in a foreign country.

6. File your tax returns.

Yes, we all normally wait until the last minute to get around to Tax Day… but if you’re going to be on the move and away from stable internet for an extended period of time, it’s just not worth it to procrastinate. Get it taken care of, and enjoy your bragging rights when your friends start to stress months after you’ve got it off your back.

7. Apply for a credit card with excellent travel rewards.

A lot of us are pretty clueless when it comes to making smart purchases using credit. The truth is, when you’re using your debit account on these huge expenses like flights, train travel, accommodations, and more, you’re basically throwing away money you could be earning on your next trip. Find a credit card that makes sense for you, and start tallying up those points!

Hike the Longji Rice Terraces | Photo: Michael Gabbert

8. Decide what you want to do with your phone.

How attached are you to communicating with friends and family while you’re on the road? Choosing an international phone plan can be costly and unreliable, but it may be worth the expense for the comfort of having home right at your fingertips. On the other hand, if you’re out exploring the world, why would you want to be tied back to the place you just left? The choice is yours - but you’ll want to make it sooner rather than later.

9. Get organized.

When you’re living out of a backpack or suitcase for months on end, you learn a little bit about necessity. Make a pile of all of the things you want to take, and cut it in half. Focus on the items you have to take, bring only what you can’t live without. Pack your clothes efficiently, have your camera accessible, and bury your important items like your passport somewhere safe.

10. Learn, explore, and grow.

Pick up a book with key phrases of the local language you’ll be visiting. Pack a camera you trust to capture the beauty of all the new sights and places you’ll see. Leave your bag a little less than full, so you’ll have room to collect trinkets you can share with friends and family back home. Above all, prepare to be surprised by how much you discover while on your adventure.

Photograph Santa Maddalena Church in the Dolomites | Photo: Jason Hatfield

Cover photo: Kyle Obermann

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We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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