Now that we’re well into our backpacking adventure through South America, I think it’s about time we make our announcement! We did something major and left the United States to travel through two continents, South America and Europe, for one year. Whether or not that time frame will be extended, who knows?
As anyone can imagine, pulling the trigger on such a massive trip was a tricky move to navigate. Sure, there were times that it seemed like we were biting off more than we could chew. But once the ball started rolling there was no going back! Now that we’re in it, we are so very glad we stuck to our guns and made this incredible adventure happen.
We understand that traveling during the pandemic is controversial, but we are taking the current state of things very seriously. We are very cautious in protecting ourselves as well as others the entire time we’re out. We’re both fully vaccinated against COVID-19, we always wear our masks while out, and we avoid large, dense crowds.
In this post, we’ll go through some of the preparations for the journey!
How to Prepare for One Year of World Travel
Many people dream of hitting pause on life to travel the world, and we are grateful to have the opportunity to do it. With self-discipline, determination, and good fortune, we were able to make this trip of a lifetime happen.
It takes a certain risk-taking mentality to commit to the cause, and it’s certainly not for everyone. So once you’ve got your mind set to make it happen, where do you start? The truth is, with the various paces of life, there’s no perfect way of preparing for one year of world travel. We’ll share with you our perfectly imperfect preparation list for our dream trip come true!
- Save, save, save! We can’t stress this one enough. There’s no way a full year of world travel can happen without consistent saving and cautious spending. If you dream it and you want it, make the small momentary sacrifices and it’ll be well worth it!
- It’s best to have a budget! Seriously, budgets are your friend and shouldn’t be feared. They help guide your spending. Consider one budget for stays and food, and a separate one for extras such as tips, park entry fees, souvenirs, etc.
- Draft your itinerary, but leave it open for adventurous flexibility! We created a list of the countries we planned on visiting in South America with a sublist of destinations within each country. The only booking we made was for our one way flight to Ecuador and the first week’s stay at an AirBnb in Quito. The rest we would plan as we go.
- If you’re selling a lot of your stuff, start early if possible! For us, experiences and memories have far greater value than material things. We only planned on keeping the essentials (precious memorabilia, some clothes for when we return, kitchenware, etc.) and we sold everything else! We sold all of our furniture, our game system and television, both of our cars, and even some oldie but goodie halloween costumes. We sold our furniture and cars during the last three weeks before our departure date. It took about three solid months to sell everything big and small through OfferUp and Facebook Marketplace. We put everything else in a small storage unit.
- If you’ll be leaving your job, notify the company ahead of time! Leaving our jobs was the tipping point which signified that there was no turning back. It was also one of the tougher decisions to make. We both loved the companies we worked for, and therefore giving them a far-advanced notice of our departure was important to us. You don’t want to leave them hanging without a chance to prepare for your resignation and replacement.
- If you won’t be returning to the same home or apartment, make sure to cancel all utilities and set up change of address with your local postal service. You can set up a P.O. Box and have someone close check it for you while you’re away. You might also ask a relative or friend if you can use their mailing address as your forwarding address.
- Another big one we suggest if you are planning on using credit cards on your trip is getting a credit card that doesn’t have any international transaction fees. Most credit cards come with a 3% international transaction fee, but this is avoidable with some credit cards.
- Make sure to check the CDC Website for vaccination requirements and recommendations for the particular countries you’ll be traveling to. You can also check with your airline, as they often report which vaccinations and/or requirements are mandatory to enter certain countries. Staying on top of this is important, since countries may change vaccination requirements without notice. During the time of our trip to Ecuador, it was recommended but not mandatory to receive the Yellow Fever vaccination and not necessary when traveling in Quito. We still wanted to get it, as we were planning on visiting other areas of Ecuador. Since that particular vaccine was tricky to find in Los Angeles (it was only administered at travel health clinics at a high price) we waited until our arrival to Quito to get the vaccination. In any case, once you get the Yellow Fever vaccine you should be given an international certification of vaccination.
- We also highly recommend purchasing travel insurance! We purchased our comprehensive plan through World Nomads. It covers us for medical emergencies, damaged or lost luggage and valuables, trip cancellation, and more!
- With all the varying international travel policies due to the global pandemic, we recommend researching the border crossing policies, visa requirements and travel bans for all countries you plan to visit. A good example of this is Peru’s foreign traveler policy. We were hoping by the time we finished in Ecuador, we could cross the Ecuador-Peru border by land. The time has come where we are ready for Peru, but we are only allowed to enter by plane. Thus, we’ll by flying from Quito to Lima next week. Research your border crossing policies!
- Most importantly, once you’ve got your mind set to travel the world for a year, don’t back down! Several reasons why you shouldn’t take this trip may surface, many based on fear. Don’t be discouraged from going through with your plans, as it’s more than likely there will be some people who disagree with them. If your light guides you to take a year to explore our amazing planet, then you must follow it.
If you’re considering traveling the world for an entire year, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us in the comments with any questions. We’ll be happy to share the knowledge we’ve built from our travels.