Planning for backpacking or long-term travel can be daunting and stressful.

It seems like there’s a neverending list of things to do before you go. It’s easier to just ignore it.

But in reality, putting these jobs off until the last minute will add far more stress to your life and will make your last few weeks at home horrible.

You should be out having fun and final farewells with all of your close friends and family. This should be the most exciting time of your life getting ready for incredible experiences and not getting overwhelmed by a silly to-do list.

So to make it simple for you, here are 20 things you need to do before you go. Get started on them STAT.​

1. Find a fee-free credit card

On average it used to cost me $15 AUD to withdrawal money; $5 ATM fee from the Australian bank, $5 local ATM fee and $5 currency conversion fee. In some places in Asia we were limited to taking out $100 at a time. So it cost us $15 in bank fees to get $100. You do the math.

We also realised that NAB, a bank in Australia, adds the conversion fee into the withdrawal amount so you wouldn’t know you’re getting the extra charge unless you call and ask them what it is. Do your own research for the best card for you depending on which country you’re in. Read forums and private reviews rather than just the information from the banks’ websites.

For our Aussies: We've found the Citibank Plus Visa Debit card fan-freaking-tastic. NO fees on their end so you only pay whatever the local ATM charges, which on many occasions is nothing!

I’ve also found travel cards to be pretty useless. You have to pay to upload AND withdrawal your money and with a few calculations you'll see you're not saving much/anything by using one. You're better off finding your own fee-free Visa or Mastercard.

2. Cancel unnecessary payments and expenses

Look through your bank statement and list all your direct debits, some you may have even forgotten about. See if anything can be cancelled or needs to be cancelled in advance. For example, my gym membership needed a 28 day notice period for cancellations, so work out when you need to call them and set a reminder in your phone.

Use this time to see if you can downscale any other expenses. Do you still require pay TV? Can you change to a lower phone plan? Anything else you can cut?

3. Find easy ways to pay your bills from overseas

You may have some bills you need to keep paying while you're away. Set up a direct debit or request to get the bills emailed to you to pay easily online.

Tip for Australians - I signed up to Australia Post’s ‘MyPost Digital Mailbox’ which lets you pay some bills via their app just using a pin. It’s extremely easy to use but there aren’t that many companies registered with it so you probably can't use it for all your bills.

4. Delegate someone as your Power of Attorney

Someone who can act on your behalf and legally sign for you if you have issues while you're away and can't get access to a printer, scanner, decent wifi etc., especially if you're travelling to small, rural villages.

It's pretty obvious but I just want to emphasise - this has to be someone you really, truly, 100% trust AND someone you can count on to follow through with a problem or issue you're having at home.

5. Save documents in an accessible (secure) online location

Save copies of your ID, passport, bank details, visas, prescriptions and anything else you may need access to while you're away.

Another option is to give hard copies to family members then get the info over the phone if you need it.

6. Tell your bank where you’re going

Closer to your departure date inform your bank that you’re leaving and which countries you’ll be going to. Be sure to also mention stop over countries so your card doesn’t get blocked if you need to buy a coffee and lunch at a random airport in transit.

7. Redirect your mail

This is the easier option but comes with a cost. Otherwise, call each company you have an account with and register a new address with them in case something important comes through.

Again, be sure to redirect to someone you really trust because they'll be dealing with your sensitive accounts and information.

8. Simplify your life

Start living a minimalistic life to prepare yourself for what’s to come. Set aside only the necessities and sell or give away anything else.

Remember, the whole point of travelling is to experience new cultures, meet new people, try new food, immerse yourself in the local customs. THIS is the reason you’re going, not to worry about new clothes and gadgets (although I still secretly dream of having a large, portable wardrobe I can take around the world).

The more you start realising that you can live without all that ‘stuff’ the easier it'll be when you leave with your small pack.

9. Use up all your food

Go through your pantry and start using up everything in your kitchen. Get creative and try not to throw anything away. This is both budget and eco-friendly! Who says scrambled eggs, pickles and pasta don’t go together?

10. Decide on luggage

Decide how much stuff you want to carry with you then pick your pack. It's important to understand that 20kgs is a lot and just because you can take that much, doesn't mean you should, especially if you'll be carrying that weight on your back.

To decide what to bring, look up packing lists for your destinations and take notice of the clothes you already own that are really comfortable and versatile. You can start playing around with clothing options so you know how much stuff you realistically want to take.

Travel Checklist: 20 Things To Do Before Travelling Long-Term #travel #backpacking

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11. Look into travel insurance options

This isn’t a ‘decide if you need travel insurance’, this is a ‘decide which one to go for’. Please don’t be silly about this, you can’t not get it, it’s just too risky!

I'm able to get travel insurance for free through my credit card, but I know not all banks have this option. Call your bank to see if you're eligible and if they cover for everything you need. Otherwise, start doing your research and sign up with an insurance company.

12. Check if you need to get visas in advance

Some visas can take a while to process, especially if you need to apply for a few, so get on this early to avoid having to pay express processing fees.

Apply directly with the agency issuing your visa otherwise you could pay an extra 100% for admin fees using a 3rd party company. We’ve used in the past and, although I can’t fault their service and efficiency, we paid more for their service fees than we did for the actual visas.

Also, check when your visa will start ticking. Sometimes they'll start from the moment you land but sometimes from when it's approved. If this is the case it’d just mean applying for it closer to your leaving date.

13. Check your passport expiry date

Actually, if you plan to go for a while it may be useful to apply for a brand new passport. Not only do you need a minimum of six months validity when you enter a country, but most countries will require a minimum amount of blank pages as well (six isn’t uncommon).

14. Apply for an international drivers licence

I've hired cars in countries where I've needed an international drivers licence but didn't have one. Sure, they gave me the car, but had I been in an accident my travel insurance could have denied my claim.

Same goes if you're driving someone else's car. If you don't have the required licence and something happens, their company could deny their claim.

An international drivers licence can usually be obtained with a simple application and no extra testing.

15. Buy some backup currency

The easiest way to get local currency is by using an ATM as soon as you arrive, particularly if you have a great card costing you nothing to withdrawal cash (remember #1?). However, sometimes you can caught out with power outages and card facilities down if you're in developing, rural areas. There were FOUR consecutive ATMs that didn’t work for us in Myanmar!

I always carry some US dollars or euros as a backup for these situations. It'll allow me to get at least some basics like food, water and accommodation. You may get a terrible exchange rate but it's better than having nothing.

16. Save a copy of your flight itinerary

Whether you print it out or take screen shots on your phone, please don't rely on internet to pull up your itinerary.

Luckily, we can now travel fairly easily showing only passports, but not always. I've even been to a couple of airports which didn't allow us to enter the building without showing our itineraries. Imagine trying to do this without internet access or wifi.

Some budget airlines (Like RyanAir) will fine you  €40 - €60 (seems to vary) for not having a printed copy of your boarding pass. Check what you need in advance so you don't have to pay a ridiculous fee!

17. Book your first night’s stay and print out the name, address and map

Having the first night booked somewhere makes it so much easier when you arrive. And booking online allows you to check out reviews to see how guests’ experiences were.

If you’re the type of traveller who likes to wander around and find a boutique guesthouse which isn’t listed online, you can do so at your own leisure on your second day without a heavy pack on your back.

18. Do research on your destination to prepare yourself

Look up common scams, areas where they’re most likely to occur, areas you should probably avoid, dos and don’ts of travelling to that country, dressing standards for us women in particular, cultural etiquette, tipping etiquette etc.

The more prepared you are the less likely you’ll be getting hassled.

19. Ditch the guide book and do your own research

I imagine you’re already looking up the big tourist attractions which, don’t get me wrong, are important to see! But also read up on other places which might appeal to you more. Less visited beaches, hidden temples, funky cafés, chilled-out suburbs. Anyone can cross the big attractions off their list but it takes extra effort to really immerse yourself in the culture.

If you have no idea where to start, book accommodation at a smaller guesthouse or a fun-looking hostel. So even if you don't do your research beforehand you can ask your hosts when you arrive. Talking directly to people who live there will give you insight from a local's perspective 🙂

20. Plan a going-away party

You absolutely cannot leave without some kind of leaving do. Get all your friends together and make a big day/night/celebration of it. Sometimes it can get lonely on the road so having memories like these to look back on will make you feel like you're close to your friends no matter where you are.

Bonus points for anyone who does a travel/country-themed costume party 😉

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What do you think about these points? Is there anything else you can add to the list?

Tell me in the comments below which one you’ll get started on first.