Well here we are once again, gearing up for a whole new adventure. You know you want to escape, eject and explore and are almost ready to make the unnerving leap of faith in to the unknown but not really sure how or even where to begin planning such a risky move. The route has been carved and the ball set in motion but with only a rough outline in mind and a festering curiosity to conquer new lands it can be truly challenging to make the right preparations when planning a lengthy journey like that of The Wanderlion. Although it’s impossible to be ready for every single roadblock and obstacle, after the original Bruce Adventures of 2013 I quickly realized there’s a few basics to consider when setting off on an epic quest of uncertainty and lots you can do to make sticky situations a little more manageable. When people ask me where to start it’s not really an easy answer however, here are a few basic, yet important steps to consider before embarking on your life quest that have helped me out along the way. I will dispense this advice now…
Step 1: Put your absent life on autopilot. Generally this means just making sure all the basic rudimentary functions of your daily life run like a well-oiled machine while you’re gone. A good place to start is to sign up for automatic payments of each and every bill you receive and link them all to one account so to cut down on confusion of where funds are being drawn from. It’s a simple process that takes only a few minutes per bill and will save you a huge headache in the long run. Many payments such as cell phones and insurance policies can even be “suspended” until further notice or for just a small fee to keep the account alive. For instance, I was just informed of a North American pay-as-you-go provider called “Chattr” which will keep your account active for up to 6 months and all you need to do is load it with a basic $20 plan. Many companies also have tablet plans that cost under $20 that will allow you to keep your digits without switching providers. Similarly, if you have a vehicle, remove collision and liability from your policy to save a huge chunk of change. Anyways, back on track. Obviously if you own a home it will have to be cared for and depending on whether or not it will be occupied while you’re gone your basic services can be shut down. More on this later.
Step 2. Purge as much as possible. Getting rid of as much shit connecting you to your ghost life not only means possibly making a little bit of extra pocket change before your trip but it’s less to think about just collecting dust while you’re gone. Donate furniture to friends, put keepsakes in storage, sell your car but keep your motorcycle ;). You’ll crave that one when you come back. Hell, remember that friend who said they love your dog, cat of even goldfish enough to steal them. Well here’s their chance to be a bonafide godparent until further notice. Besides, they probably owe you one for something, call in that favor. Have a house full of crap and can’t get rid of it all? No problem, there are lots of house sitting services like www.housesitting.com ready to replace you in your home with a perfectly capable stand in. Remember, it’s all about absorbing new experiences and the more arteries you have keeping you attached to home, the less you will fully integrate with your new found freedom.
Step 3. Find travel insurance. Full coverage if you don’t already have a pre-existing policy but at very least travel medical. For Canadian travelers Kanetix.ca is a good place to start and gives pretty reasonable & comparative rates. You can also check out Nomadic Matt’s tips on finding the right insurance at http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/travel-insurance/ for my fellow American residents. Make sure you do your best to list all the places you’re travelling or simply get global coverage which most companies provide. I prefer to under assume how long I’ll be gone in this case rather than plan for extra time. If you need to extend your coverage it’s just a phone call to do so. There’s a better chance that an insurance company will not reimburse you for returning ahead of schedule. But for the love of god set yourself a reminder a cpl weeks ahead of your policies expiry because by that point you will without a doubt be completely immersed in new exciting experiences and your health insurance will likely be the last thing on your mind. Also, for Ontario residents it’s a good idea to call Ohip make an inquiry to extend your provincial coverage, otherwise it will be void if you are out of Canada for more than 212 consecutive days. If you have home or renters insurance your contents are usually covered in case of lost baggage but always best to confirm with your insurance company and verify their policies.
Step 4. Get a checkup and visit a travel clinic. When I did this for the first time I went absolutely nuts with it and took every single recommended prescription under the sun from my doctor. Realistically will you need heaps of drugs and ointments to keep you safe while you’re gone? Probably not. Is it good to take precautions? Absolutely. General shots like a tetanus, hepatitis and so forth are just good measures to take before you leave but in my opinion the rest is really up to you. Different strains are limited to different areas and a travel clinic will know how to best protect you against contracting something abroad. Majority of the time unless you’re visiting extremely rural areas your chances of exposure to many of the harmful conditions like malaria are pretty slim. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen but you really just have to weigh your chances against hauling around a butt load of medication with you everywhere you go. Urban centres are less susceptible to this so you make the call. If you’re just city hopping I’d say less is more but if extensive backcountry trekking is more your game I’d load up. Also, it helps to plan this a cpl months in advance as some shots require more than one injection spread out over time. Aside from that just a general checkup is a good housekeeping measure including blood work and STI testing.
Step 5. Pack your bags thoroughly but conservatively. You don’t need a lot of things, you just need the right things. See Wanderlion’s Master Travel List: Tropix for details on this.
Step 6. Scan the following:
-Travel Insurance Policy Number
-Credit Cards (front & back)
-Personal Banking Cards (front & back)
With the exception of the financial cards, make hard copies of the rest and seal them up in an airtight bag just in case you lose the originals or even worse have them stolen. Keep an electronic copy of important documents safely in an easy to access folder in your email account as a failsafe to access in any possible situation (as long as there’s a reliable wifi connection).
Well there you have it, you’re all set to embark on a quest of epic proportions. As I said, these are just a few basics I follow while getting in the right headspace for such a massive travel undertaking. Hope they help you too. Lots more to come on Planning Your Trip so stay tuned 🙂