How to plan for long-term travel

So you’re finally taking the plunge and traveling long term?  Amazing!  Get ready for one of the best times of your life.  But before you set off, there’s a lot of planning to do.  Planning for any trip can be so fun.  But there is something even more special about planning for long-term travel.  It comes with a lot more considerations than a short 2 -week trip.  Having spent more than 14 months on the road, we learned quite a few things really quickly when it comes to planning.

So here are the main things to keep in mind when you decide to travel long-term.  We’ve broken it down on a timeline, but obviously, it’s quite flexible.  We decided to leave 4 months before our date, so this is more of a general guideline.

6-12 months before

Ask the important questions

There are tons of ways to travel long-term.  That’s why it’s important that you ask yourself some key questions to prepare accordingly.

  • What’s your travel style going to be? Will you be roughing it or living it up in luxury?  Will you stay in dorms or private rooms?
  • What’s your budget?  This will depend on how much you can save, what you plan on spending, where you want to go and how long you will travel for.
  • How are you traveling? Are you going solo, with a friend, or a partner?
  • Will you be working as you travel?  You can choose to pick up odd jobs, doing a working tourist visa, freelance, workaways or just enjoying life.
  • How long do you want to travel for?  Is it a few months? A year? Until you run out of cash?
  • Why do you want to travel the world?  
  • What do you want to get out of the experience?

Start saving

It’s never too early to start saving.  Regardless of how you want to travel, chances are the money you save now will help you travel for longer.  Your dollar saved will probably go further abroad than it goes back home, so put in the effort and start saving now.  Even before you decide to travel, if you can!  Here are some tips on how you can save money before and during your travels.

Some important advice that might help you:

  • Have a piggy bank account:  Basically, make sure you have a contingency that you keep on the side.  This is in case things go wrong, or your trip costs more than you think.  Because it always ends up costing more than you think!
  • Keep money for when you get back:  Just like your piggy bank, make sure you keep some money for when you get back.  We kept about $2,000, just enough to get things started again.  Depending on where you live, and what your situation is, you may need more or less than this.

Passport

Regardless of where you’re going, you will need a valid passport.  Make sure yours won’t expire for at least 6 months, or longer than you plan to travel for.  Check that you have at least 4 empty pages.  Also, make electronic and hard copies of your passport and keep them in a secure location while you’re traveling (not in your wallet).  And finally, give a copy to your parents or someone you trust.

Passports.jpg
You won’t be going far without these bad boys!

Start planning your itinerary

This does not mean to start planning every single day of your trip.  In fact, we beg you not to do that!  Keep some flexibility because itineraries change.  What we mean is to start making the list of countries you want to visit.  Check when the high and low tourist seasons are, look at the weather (dry vs wet season), look at the cost of living there, make sure there are some festivals happening.  This is also going to help you decide what to pack.

Travel map Europe
Grab a map and figure out where you want to go!

Visas & other paperwork

While your checking the list of countries you want to visit, look into visas as well.  A few countries don’t need any visas, others you’ll need to get online and some you can get at the airport.  Some are more expensive than others, so just make sure you do your research before you head out.

Also, if you’ll be driving in any of the countries you’ll be visiting, make sure to get an international driver’s licence.  You may need it to rent scooters in certain countries so make sure you have it done.  It’s not that expensive and it’s well worth it.

3-6 months before

Vaccines

Once you have your initial list of countries, make your way to the traveler’s clinic.  Get all the shots you need to get.  Start doing this at least 4 months before you head out, as some need multiple shots.  They will also let you know if you need any medication.

Insurance

We debate about this all the time, but really, there should be no debate.  Just get travel insurance.  It is a hefty chunk of money, but it’s well worth it.  Our rule is that is your trip is going to cost more than the cost of insurance, you should get it.  You can see what you want to have covered, but keep in mind that luggage gets lost, goods get stollen, flights get cancelled.  Don’t be stingy on this.

Start downsizing and selling

Depending on if you’re looking to live the nomad life forever or for a determined amount of time, start downsizing and selling what you no longer need.  You can start getting rid of things you know you won’t need or miss before you leave right away.  For anything else, wait 2 months before leaving to start selling it.  You’ll probably need it until then.

You can get rid of clothes, furniture, electronics, kitchen supplies, whatever.  You’ll notice as you travel that you get used to having so little so you don’t want to come back to unnecessary clutter.  Good sites to sell things on are Craigslist, eBay, and Kijiji.  You can even host a garage sale or a private sale for your friends.  Some things you can donate to charities.

1-3 months before

Check-ups

About a month before you head out, go get your usual check-ups done.  Dentist, gynaecologist, family doctor, allergy specialist, whatever you need to do on a regular basis.  Let them know you’ll be traveling for a while and where you’ll be going.  They may have important information to give you or medical advice to follow for your specific condition.

Car and real estate

At this point, you’ll need to decide what to do with your car.  Will you sell it like we did?  Will you break your lease?  Put it in storage?  These are options you can look into.  Obviously, it will depend on what your current situation is and what you expect to come back to when you get back home.  Our car was quite old but in great condition, so we just sold it.  We know that when we get back, we can get a cheaper lease or use a car-sharing service.

As for real estate, again, it depends on your current situation.  We own our condo, so we decided to put it up for rent, and have our parents take care of any issues that come up urgently.  If not, our neighbours and tenants can reach us at anytime, so this was not an issue.  If you are renting your place, you may want to break your lease or sublet your apartment.  Either way, make sure you let your landlord know.

Get gear you need

Sign up to your favourite stores’ newsletters and start keeping an eye on sales.  You’ll probably need some gear, so make sure you get them when they are discounted.  Even if you haven’t started packing yet, you know what you need to update or upgrade, whether its your photography gear, hiking shoes, backpack, whatever.  Just start looking so you have enough time to compare prices, test out some options and get a great deal.

Book your ticket

This is the other exciting thing you’ll be doing.  Book that ticket baby!  Usually, they say it’s best to book it 3 months before you go, so start looking at prices and be flexible.  Check to find the cheapest but most convenient way to get where you’re going.

2-4 weeks before

Quit your job

This is probably the most exciting and nerve-wracking part.  It’s time to quit your job!  Depending on your relationship with your employers, and what you what to do on your trip, and when you get back, you can look at different options.

Derek after leaving his job for the last time
Last day of work, peace out!
  • Leave of absence: You can ask your employers to take an unpaid leave of absence.  If you know your return date, they can potentially keep your position so that you can return to it.
  • Work abroad: We’ve met quite a few people who were able to continue working for their employer as a freelancer from abroad, or as a temporary employee when they need some extra help.  If you plan on working as you travel, this is a great option for both you and your employer as there won’t be training required.
  • Quit your job:  If these 2 options above are not possible, you can just quit your job.  Give them enough notice so that they are not stuck in a tight situation.  You want to leave on good terms.
  • Find new work: If you choose to work while you travel, start looking for contracts you can pick up as you travel.  Either you can contact local clients or you can offer your services online through sites like Fiverr.

Let your bank know

This is an obvious one.  Make sure you call up your bank and credit cards to let them know you’ll be traveling abroad, and how long you’ll be gone for.  This is so they don’t block your cards as you’re on the road.  Make sure you also know where to contact them in case they do freeze your account.  This happened to us because we stayed on the road longer than we expected.  Luckily, we knew what to do.

Power of attorney

Depending on what your situation is, you may want to give power of attorney to a trusted loved one.  Because we own property and have investments back home we can’t tend to on a daily basis, we gave power of attorney to one of our parents.  This way, if anything were to happen, we had a legally-assigned person to take care of things.  This will really depend on your situation, so it may not apply to you.  The best thing to do is to call your notary and see what does apply to your specific situation.

Packing

About a month before, start packing.  Carry your backpack around the house, check that it fits well and isn’t too heavy.  Try living with only the clothes you want to take with you.  This is a great way to figure out what you still need to get, what you think you need but don’t really, what you can live without and your absolute musts.

Cancel contracts

Cancel any contracts you don’t need anymore, like your phone contract, electricity, internet, etc.  Let them know your last date in country and when you’ll come back, if ever.

Redirect mail

Pretty straight forward.  Make sure you get your mail redirected to a loved one’s place.  Your parents, siblings, BFF, whoever.  Just get it sent there.

Say your “see you laters”

This is another one of our favourite things to do.  Have a huge party (or 3, like we did) to say Au revoir to all your friends, family, colleagues, and loved-ones.  Try to convince them to come visit you on the road.  But more importantly, enjoy your time with them.  Take pics and videos and keep those memories dearly!

And there you have it, that’s all you need to plan to get going on your long-term trip.  Is there anything else you did before leaving on your trip?  Let us know in the comments!


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15 things we wish we knew before starting our Instagram

Here are 15 things we wished we knew before starting our travel Instagram account. If you’re looking to monetize your account, you may want to know these things too.

Instagram.  We all have our opinions on it, love it or hate it.  We’ve been on the platform for almost a year now. We’ve grown to a decent following, and have worked with many brands during this time.  We are, by no means, experts on the matter, but after a long period of high activity on this channel, we’ve learned quite a few things.  We’ve been through some good times and some rougher times on the platform.  We want to share what we’ve learned with those who want to document their trip in the hopes of becoming the next big social media travel influencer.  We don’t have all the answers, but this should help get things started.

Our journey

We started our Instagram page about a month after leaving on our long-term trip.  Our friends back home were begging us to document our travels so they could see where we were and what we were doing.

We started out innocently enough, posting decent enough pictures that we edited through Adobe Lightroom.  We just wanted to make them pop a little more.  We had very little followers and were doing this more for fun than with the hopes to become content creators (we actually hate the word Influencer, but that’s a story for another day).

Wediditourway Bannf Canada
The Canadian Rocky Mountains are amazing!  Banff, Canada our first stop and one of our first pics

Slowly (and yeah, we mean very slowly) our following started to grow.  After 4 months, we had about 4,000 followers.  We didn’t quite understand why people were following us, but they did.  Then, over the course of 2 months, we more than doubled our community, finally reaching 10k followers.  That was an awesome milestone!  We were so proud, so happy.  We had started putting a lot of time and energy into growing our community.

But then, things started to change.  We went go from gaining about 700 followers a week to being stuck between 11k and 12k for the last 2 months.

Wediditourway Lake in Alberta Canada
Our very first Instagram picture on our account. A beautiful lake in Alberta, Canada

This isn’t the same journey for everyone.  Some grow super fast, then stagnate.  Others are super slow to grow then gain 50k followers in 5 months.  Others just grow consistently throughout time.  It’s different for everyone, but most will tell you that these lessons are universal.

Through the ups and downs, we keep sharing our adventures with others, hoping that we can inspire others to get out there and create their own adventure.  We also love documenting our adventure through photography.  We often take a look back in time to see how far we’ve come.

So here’s what we learned along the way (and are still learning).  Hopefully, it will help you get off the ground a little quicker, and get you to where you want to be.

What we learned

You are not alone. Find your niche

When we started out, there were tons of other travel accounts out there.  There are new ones popping up every day.  Don’t worry, because there is room for everyone in this world (and on Instagram).

Wediditourway Jeju South Korea
South Korea’s island paradise, Udo Island, near Jeju

So to set yourself apart and find your niche.  Be super targeted.  If you want to do travel, dig down another two layers.  That can mean eco-friendly couple travel, or budget nature travel, or LGBTQ travel with pets.  Whatever it is, there is something that makes you unique.  Focus on that.  Always.

Find inspiration but don’t copy

Pretty simple, no?  We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again.  It’s ok to get inspired by your favourite couples out there, those amazing photographers, or the witty captions you read.  What’s not ok, is straight up copy them.

Wediditourway Mayajimacho Japan
A ferry ride from Hiroshima is Miyajima, Japan and its famous torii

It’s ok to find inspiration, in fact, it can help you get started or out of a creative slump.  It also helps you figure out what type of pictures you like, what kind of editing you want to do, and what you want to focus on.  So take a look at what other accounts are doing, what works and what doesn’t, but be sure you make it unique in your own way.

Consistency is key

We’re actually really bad with this, but we know it’s super important!  A very popular couple we know and love posts at the same time every single day.  That is commitment, and that’s the right way to do it.  Your followers will know that you are serious about the account and your work, and they’ll know to expect to see you at the same time every day.

We try to post every day, but timing gets tricky.  We’re travelling and we want to enjoy our trip as well.  We won’t turn down dates with friends, or pull our phone out when we’re in the middle of an activity.  We’d rather be fully present in the moment.

Wediditourway Cairns Australia.jpg
A fun hike through the rainforest in Cairns, Australia

Find a balance that works for you, look at what times your audience is online, and stick to that timeframe.  Be flexible, but have some rigour about it.

Extra tip: To figure out what the best time to post is, make sure you sign up for a business account on Instagram.  Use the data to target your posts as much as possible.  This will also help when you’re building your media kit.

Content is king

Your pictures, your stories, your captions, everything you put out is your content.  It’s part of your brand, and it should be as awesome as you can make it.  It’s a process for sure, and you will continuously be learning.  Make sure your content is not only good for your standards, but for the standard of what’s online.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t put anything out until it’s perfect, because perfection doesn’t exist.  Just make sure it’s the best thing that you can put out at that time.  If it doesn’t make you happy or proud to put it out there, skip that day, or post something else.

Wediditourway Wanaka New Zealand
We found this little furball near Wanaka, New Zealand

Extra tip: To make sure your pics are always on point, make sure you edit them with software like Adobe Lightroom.  If you want to create a consistent feed, use presets like the ones from Aggie Lal (@travel_inhershoes) or Marie Fe and Jake Snow (@mariefeandjakesnow).

Stories are queen

Often, people focus so much on their feed, they forget to put effort into their stories.  Your stories should to have purpose too.  They need to show your personality and what makes you unique.  Put effort into your stories, and show the real you.  Take people on the adventure with you, share candid moments.  This is what will keep them coming back.  Be consistent with your stories as well!

Wediditourway SignaporeWediditourway Marine Bay Sands Signapore
Staying silly, as always, in Singapore

Extra tip:  If you want to create a nice theme through your stories, use an app like Unfold.  You can also put hashtags in your stories so more people see them, either through the #Hashtag sticker, or even just as text hidden in your story.  Be sure to use the location as well, as that will help get more views and help locate people.

Another extra tip: If you start creating your story, then save it to share later, beware!  Pretty much anything you save, like the slider, a poll, heck even hashtags, will not work if you post a saved story later on!  So create your caption and save that story, but add anything else that adds engagement just before posting.

Start before your trip

This was one of our big lessons.  We should have started creating content before we left on our trip.  There are so many reasons for that.  You get to learn how to use your gear.  You figure out what works and doesn’t for you (in terms of style, poses, editing, all of it!)  You get to see if you need more gear.  And even more importantly, you start building your community while you’re still at home.  Just make sure your content fits with your niche.

Wediditourway Ao Nang Thailand
Thailand has the nicest sunsets, Ao Nang is no exception

Engage. A lot.

The key to succeed on Instagram is no secret.  Engage, engage, engage.  The earlier you start, the more you do, the better!  Some larger accounts say that to grow, you need to spend a good 3-5 hours/day liking, commenting and following other accounts.

To be honest, we know we should have done more of this, especially in the beginning, when the algorithm wasn’t such a *insert expletive of your choice here*!  But to be honest, we were having too much fun on adventures to spend that much of our time on social media.  But if your goal is to grow quickly, then spend your free time engaging.  It’s called social media for a reason.  So get social.

Wediditourway Angkor Wat Siem Reap Cambodia
Angkor Wat, enough said!  Siem Reap, Cambodia

And like we said, if you start before you leave, you can do this while you’re watching TV at home, vs taking time away from your adventure, once you’re abroad.

Extra tip: It’s hard to get people to comment on your posts naturally, unless you are super kick-ass (which we’re sure you are!)  In the beginning, we would recommend joining 2-3 pods to get more comments (aka engagement).  Once your growth starts happening organically, you can drop out of them, as you will be getting regular engagement anyways.  Also, when people comment on your posts, be sure to return the favour and like/comment on their latest post too.

Don’t focus on the numbers

Ok, easier said than done.  Hell, we still get caught up in the numbers sometimes!  And we get it.  You put in so much time and effort to create great content.  You pick outfits and props, take the pics, edit them, think of captions and engage with others.  You want the numbers to reflect your hard work.  But the algorithm changes again, and you’re stuck wondering why your numbers are garbage.

So save yourself the trouble.  Really!  Don’t pay too much attention to the stats.  They will get you depressed.  And don’t compare yourself to others either.  You never know what they are really doing to get their numbers.  Did they buy likes, followers or comments?  Are they using the right hashtags?  Are they spending twice as much time as you on this?  Who knows, and really, who cares?!  Just work on your own path, enjoy the journey, and stay focused.

Wediditourway Langkawi Malaysia
Enjoying one of many waterfalls in Langkawi, Malaysia

The only times we would say to pay attention to those numbers are when a post does really well, or really poorly.  Try to draw conclusions so you can either replicate or avoid the same things.

Post only your best

Post only your best work on your feed.  Not what you think is ok, but really your best or your favourite.  If it’s not good enough, then don’t post, and just engage on that day.

Wediditourway Dumaguete Philippines
Taking it easy near Dumaguete, Philippines

People see so many posts in a day, that to really get the best engagement, you should be posting only your greatest work… or work that makes you happy!

It’s a lot more work than you think

We totally thought we could put some hashtags up, take good pics and grow a following magically.  Nope!  It’s a lot of work.  Like a lot!

We’re not just talking about the Instagram part, but all of it.  If you want to have a blog and a Pinterest, that will take a lot of time.  If you want to work with brands, you’ll need to build a media kit.  You’ll need to reach out to a lot of brands who often won’t answer you.  Reaching out and sending personalized requests takes time, effort and grit.

Then, once you get a collaboration, the work doesn’t stop.  You have to shoot, edit, put together what you promised the brand and send a report of your results.  It’s a lot of time and effort, but if you enjoy it, it’s totally worth every minute of it.

Wediditourway Berlin Germany
Taking in some awesome street art in Berlin, Germany

If you’re not in it for the long-term, or to monetize your account, then just stick to the parts you enjoy, and focus on those.

Extra tip:  When brands do start wanting to work with you, choose wisely.  There is no need to push products or brands you wouldn’t use in real life.  So stay true to who you are, and use your “influence” for good.  The perks may seem enticing, but don’t sell out your community for a quick pay-check.

Keep learning and evolving

Don’t get comfortable.  Ever!  Always look to perfect your skills.  Whether it’s your photography, your captions, your editing, your poses, whatever.  There area ton of sources out there to help you.  Look for the content creators you like and soak in their knowledge.  It will only help you grow as a creator, and keep your material fresh.

Wediditourway Valencia Spain
Always time for a good laugh, Valencia, Spain

Have fun with it

This is our #1 rule.  Just have fun with it!  Don’t let it get too serious.  Don’t get into arguments because of it.  Don’t let that famous Instagram shot be the only purpose for your trip.

Wediditourway Sahara desert Morocco
Strolling through the Sahara Desert, Morocco

The day you stop having fun, you need to re-evaluate what you’re doing and how you can make this fun again.  And if you can’t find the fun in it anymore, maybe it’s time you stop…

Have no shame

We’re not talking about getting naked, but if that’s your thing, go for it.  We’re not saying it’s ok to break the rules either, cause you should never “Do it for the ‘Gram”.  We’re talking about taking pictures in front of people.

It’s pretty awkward to set up a tripod in a crowded place, and start posing in front of strangers.  Like the time a security guard followed us around and stood 3 feet from us while we were shooting… AWKWARD!

Wediditourway Eauze France
We got some stares here, being silly again, in Eauze, France

People will stare, they will ask questions, and give you weird looks.  Just ignore them and have fun with it.

Make friends with other couples

This is probably the best part of Instagram: being able to connect with people.  Being a content creator on Instagram is not a competition.  Don’t push anyone down.  Seriously, there is room for everyone on the platform and that’s pretty awesome.

Wediditourway Athens Greece
Athens was jus amazing, Greece

Make friends with others, because the travel life can sometimes get lonely.  It’s fun to meet Insta-friends around the world.  When times get tough, or you need some advice, you can have a support system around you.  A bonus is that you can have friends (and places to crash) all over the world!

Diversify your portfolio

We were lucky that pretty early on in our journey, we met an awesome, pretty famous Instagram couple.  They were kind enough to share some knowledge that was passed on to them by another wise blogger.  And we’re passing it on to you now.  Don’t put all your eggs in the same basket, i.e. Instagram.

They told us to focus on our blog, because that’s a piece of the internet we actually own.  When wise people talk, we listen.

From then on, we focused more of our energy on the blog, not forgetting IG completely, but not putting in as much time and effort into it.  We also starting building our audience on Pinterest.

Wediditourway Dilijan Armenia
One of a hundred amazing sunsets we have captured, Dilijan, Armenia

We’re really happy we took this piece of advice.  We’re happy Instagram gets us to work with amazing brands, companies and hotels, but with the ever-changing algorithm, we’re using it more as a media channel for our blog.  If Instagram wants you to pay to get your content seen, and they are acting like a media outlet, then we will treat them like one!

The blog isn’t for everyone.  You really need to enjoy writing and have to find your niche there too.  If that’s not your thing, go for a Youtube channel, or become a Pinterest guru.  Just focus on the things that bring you joy.  And if you just want to post pics on Instagram, then do that.

So there it is, all the advice we wish we knew before we got started.  It would have helped manage our expectations and helped us avoid some important mis-steps.  But like we said, it’s a process, and for the most part, we’ve been enjoying it.

If you want even more tips from some of our favourite Instagram couples, you can check out their wise words here.

Is there any advice that you got that could help others?  What’s your favourite tip?  Let us know in the comments!


We put a lot of time and effort into the content we create.  Please like, comment and share, every action on your part helps us out tremendously and is very much appreciated.

Love our blog? Sign up to get our latest posts, and help keep our dream going

You can also help us by pinning it for others to find.


15 things we wished we knew before starting our Instagram account. We've learned so much in less than a year. We're happy to share our journey with you so you can learn from our mistakes and thrive. www.wediditourway.com