How to Prepare for a long trip

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I am sure many of you that read my blog have gone on long international trips in the past.  By long trip, I mean more than 10-14 days.  But, likewise, some of you haven’t.  I’ve been preparing for my 40 day trip to Africa, leaving at the end of April 2012, and thought it may be helpful to list the many details that one has to attend to before departure.  Because most of my trip is through an adventure travel company, G Adventures, there isn’t as much research involved.  Certain tasks take priority over others, so I will list them in order of urgency.

  • Decide upon trip and airline travel — and purchase.
  • Purchase travel insurance same day.  I secured mine through World Nomads for $129 for six weeks and it covers everything from baggage delay to emergency evacuation!  I learned my lesson last year after booking a trip for three weeks in Turkey–then flying to five Scandinavian countries for another three weeks–and had planned on purchasing insurance–but a week after I booked the trip, my mother was diagnosed with cancer.  Delta Airlines was kind enough to refund my money, so I only lost a few hundred dollars on another flight.
  • I had to order a new passport.  Although mine was still good for 4 more years, I didn’t have enough visa pages left for the countries I would be traveling through.  Get photos for passport and visas.  Apply for Visas if required .  I can get my two Visas at the border.
  • Make appointment for travel shots and any other doctor appointments.  I went through a local county health department (rather than a travel clinic) for my shots and only spent $150.
  • Order travel accessories or clothing.  I ordered a new rolling duffel/backpack, hiking shoes, and a lightweight/compressible sleeping bag.
  • Pack.  I start this early so I can see what I’ll need to purchase as far as clothing, toiletries, etc. and to see how much it weighs.  Then, I unpack the things I’ll need before the trip or that will wrinkle easily.
  • Research hostels/hotels and book.  I decided not to rent a car in Cape Town (where I’ll be for four days before the group trip begins).
  • Notify credit card companies and bank of your travel plans.
  • Set up automatic bill pay if internet connections are questionable.
  • Research things to do and book.  For some activities, I wait until I arrive and decide upon.  For example, I’d like to hike Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa, but I’m not sure what the weather will be like, and am confident I can book it when I arrive, to hike a couple of days later.
  • Type up itinerary to include contact information, time changes and currency conversions and leave a copy at home for family.
  • Make photocopies of travel documents (e-ticket/health insurance/credit cards/debit card/passport/vaccination record/itinerary).  Leave one at home and pack a copy in your suitcase.  I also e-mail a copy of my passport and credit cards to myself.
  • Download books to Kindle or other device.
  • Update I-pod with music/books.
  • Make appointments for hair and nails (I’m a girl)!

When you work full time, it’s important to get started on everything early, so that you don’t feel rushed at the end.  You want to enjoy your trip and pre-planning puts your mind at ease!

I’ve had a request from a fellow blogger to list my expenses because he would like to eventually go on this trip…so here they are–

Tour (20% off – Last Minute Special)      $2879

Airfare (Cincinnati has some of the         $1768

most expensive air travel of anywhere)

Food/wine (Most food is included)         $ 400

Trip Insurance                                              $ 130

Hostel in Cape Town                                   $ 209

Visas                                                                $ 150

Optional Excursions (approximate)         $ 350

Transfers from/to airports                         $   50

Total                                                               $5936

Don’t forget that I won’t have some of my usual expenses at home…food, gas and entertainment.  So, I can take at least $750 off the total!

Of course, there were other expenses…passport update and pics $150, shots $150, luggage, $70, sleeping bag, $112, hiking shoes $68, clothing (fleece/2 shirts) $110, toiletries/misc. $50 = $710.  But, I can use these things for other trips.

I may have left something off of this list…so much to do…if you can think of anything, let me know!

65 thoughts on “How to Prepare for a long trip

  1. Hello,

    My name is Cliff Barre and my wife Tiffany and I are responsible green travelers and active writers for our Peace, Love, and Travel blog. I recently came across your blog and really enjoyed reading your article “How to Plan for Long Trip.” I would love a chance to speak with your readers about the idea of Green Travel Tips and how it can help them become eco-friendly travelers and reduce their carbon footprint while traveling. I have some tips for before traveling, during traveling, and some green destinations to travel to.

    If you think this topic, or any other for that matter, would be of interest to your readers, please let me know and I’ll start pulling it together.

    I look forward to hearing back from you, thanks!




  2. You seem you have covered the ground very well when it comes to preparations before a trip. I mostly end up packing the night before – thus often don’t get much sleep before I go somewhere. Kind of stupid but that’s just how it goes. I also know that the more you can get done on an early stage the happier you will be the last day – because it’s gonna be more than busy enough.

    You will have such an amazing trip. Africa is a treat, as you know if you have been there before, and if not you really have something to look forward to. I look forward to follow you on your blog.


  3. Here’s a random, odd memory. A high school friend who lives in South Africa sent me some wonderful stationery with such interesting texture made of…are you ready?…elephant dung. I imagine it would make a useful gift for friends and family back home, not to mention preserve the memories for yourself, and of course, make interesting conversation.


  4. I’m impressed, you are so organized! I’m extremely organized when it comes to my job, but when it comes to traveling I’m the opposite, except for getting my hair done, :). I always seem to land on my feet. Come to think about it, I go on autopilot before every trip. I know what I need to do… Cape Town is an amazing city, and the same goes for the vineyards, 🙂


      • We should all do what works for us, :). A few years ago I used the book “1001 places” to decide my next vacation. Imagine my surprise when I opened the book on a whim and managed to pick a place in Stockholm where Iive. It was walking distance to my “great” destination.


      • I have that book. I’ve always said…there are many grand delights in our own backyard. I’ve been trying to save some of them for when I’m older. Get the far away traveling done while it’s not too hard on me.


  5. I’m amazed at how much goes into planning a trip of this caliber! Safe travels and I look forward to reading up on all of your ventures!


  6. You’re very organized so I’m sure you’ll have a good trip. There’ll probably be hiccups along the way but those should be minor since you have everything planned that could be planned for. I hope you have a great time. Looking forward to your blogs and photos of your trip.


  7. For me, preparation includes locating a house/garden/pet sitter and immaculately cleaning the house for the sitter. and getting bills set up to be paid while i’m gone.


  8. You’ve covered a LOT – far more research and time and effort than I usually put into my international excursions (like hair and nail appointments!), and likely will make the trip more satisfying and rewarding. Excellent. Knowing visa situations and packing early (and often) are really helpful. I usually get the things I think I’ll need, pack a few weeks prior to departure, and take something out of the bag every few days, to cut down on weight and excess stuff. Sore shoulders at airports are painful and largely useless – certainly not worth the extra electrical appliance or trinket that the REI guy said was Must Have.

    Have a blast on your trip. I look forward to reading about it!


  9. Sherry,

    Table Mountain is beautiful and fun to hike. Also, at a distance, it’s really cool to see the clouds come over the mountain, just like a table cloth. I enjoyed Cape town very much, but time spent in the nearby townships was very eye-opening. (I was there in ’95). Are you going to the Winelands? Stellenbosch? It’s maybe 30 miles from Cape town.


  10. Your post makes me wanna go on a trip so badly!!! I’m going to Poland (Krakow / Auschwitz) next week…for 4 days instead of 40, but well….You must have so much fun preparing this trip, right?!
    Oh and that photo….breathtaking!!!!!


  11. If I could still have my family, I would have changed the direction of my life a bit, and tried to
    do something like this….so wonderful! Have a wonderful time, safe journeys and wave to an elephant for me if you get the chance! 🙂


  12. Hi and thanks for visiting my site ( – loved your post, there’s so much good advice in there! I’ve bookmarked it for when I’m next planning a holiday – it’s best to be prepared!! Have a great time in Africa!


  13. I just realized that you will be in Africa for FORTY days! That does require careful planning, doesn’t it. But once you get there, you’ll be able to kick back and enjoy the ride, knowing that the return home isn’t a week away…you’ll be able to totally immerse yourself in your surroundings. I feel your excitement!!


  14. Hi,
    It is getting closer now, and you have obviously got everything organized, and are ready to go.. I can’t wait to hear about this trip, it really does sound fantastic, and of course looking forward to the photos as well. 😀


  15. I think we (your readers) are as excited about this trip as you are. It has been fun going through all the pre – trip stuff with you so we can appreciate all the tales when you come back.


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