Preparing for Long-Term Travel

There is so much to sort out before travelling long-term. As a procrastinator, it usually takes me a while to get everything in order.

It helps if I write a ‘to do’ list, so here are some things I will be looking into over the next couple of months:


I already have a 55 litre backpack which has been gathering dust in the cupboard for a few years now. I am excited to finally have the opportunity to put it to good use. My main concern is that it will not have enough room. But I do not want to travel too heavy.  If I need anything else, it is not like I am going trekking in the North Pole – there will be shops to purchase any essential extras. I am seriously considering buying a waterproof and watertight bag to keep items such as my camera and laptop in. Another piece of luggage on my list is a durable day pack.


Speaking to my family when I was in Australia involved squashing into a phone box a couple of times a week. Now there are many more options for keeping in touch with people back home. Probably the greatest revolution in communication is Skype – something that is completely free and enables you to see who you are talking to.

This is probably something I will use, along with email and maybe even social networks (if I can get any of my family to sign up to Facebook). Another option I am considering is getting an international sim card or seeing what contract options there are with my mobile phone provider to cover international phone calls and texting. A traditional way of keeping in touch is, of course, postcards. I plan on sending lots of these.


Clothing: Last time I went backpacking was to Australia in 2005. I packed all of the wrong things. The biggest problem was that I did not have enough warm clothes. It was freezing in Sydney during July and I had not anticipated just how cold it would be. Before I and my friends took an unscheduled flight up to the toasty tropical heat of Cairns, Queensland, I spent a few weeks shivering my bum off in the cheapest and snuggest jumper I could find – a sheep-like beige fleece with a picture of Sydney Harbour Bridge on it. The moral of that story was: check what the weather is going to be like beforehand (common sense, I know).

In terms of clothing for spring and summer in Canada and the USA, I am sticking to the basics such as a few vest tops, a couple of long-sleeved tops, a cardigan, a weatherproof jacket, a pair of jeans, a pair of combats, two pairs of shorts, a casual skirt, a casual dress, swimwear and a week’s worth of underwear. For footwear, I want to take a pair of flip-flops and some hiking shoes – both of which I already have. I also want to take a pair of lightweight trainers/pumps to travel in and for city walking. If any workwear is required I am going to buy this when I arrive. In Australia, I had to buy some black trousers and a white shirt, along with some plain black shoes in order to take on some hospitality work.

Toiletries: I got a couple of travel-size shower kits for Christmas which will do nicely. I have dry skin, so will be taking the day moisturiser and night cream that I use at home. Other than the obvious items, such as a toothbrush, toothpaste and a deodorant, I am packing face wipes, a flannel, a bar of soap, sunscreen, vaseline lip balm,  a travel towel and maybe a toilet roll – just in case there is not any in the hostel when I arrive in Vancouver. I don’t want to take too much makeup. Most likely, I will just take a concealer and maybe a mascara and some blusher.

Equipment: I am definitely taking my laptop. Despite it being bulky, this is an essential item if I am going to keep up with this blog and complete all of the writing I want to. I have tried using a net book and could not get used to the smaller keys and screen. Other items I am taking are my mobile phone, a camera and my iPod.


All I know for certain at the moment is that I am due to fly to Vancouver in May and fly back to London from Toronto in November. While I do not want to plan ever last day, I would like to have some rough ideas of places I want to visit, good locations to pick up some casual work and the different modes of transport to use. I’m going to keep an open mind on my onwards destinations from Vancouver as you never know what opportunities will come up on arrival.


I am not exactly unfit, but I want to be able to run down the street without having a puffing and panting fit. I want to go on long hikes and not be in too much pain the next day, and to lose around a stone in order to get to my ‘comfortable weight’. I want to be in my best possible fitness to get the most out of my time travelling. How am I going to do this? I plan to start doing some yoga every morning. Years ago I used to do around an hour a day and within a couple of weeks I could see a drastic transformation in my muscle tone. I also want to build up my cardio fitness by doing a couple of fast-paced workouts a week; ie stick some techno crap on my iPod and jump around the room like a loon for 40 minutes or so.


I want to work in Canada if necessary and have applied for a working holiday visa through the International Experience Canada (IEC) scheme. I am shortly going to purchase my travel insurance and want to find cover that would include a return journey home if I needed to get back for an emergency.

I have noticed that this does not seem to be included in a lot of the policies I have looked at, so want to shop around before getting this. I am going to keep copies of all of my documents at home, just in case anything goes missing.


I do not own a property, but I am a bit of a hoarder and have lots of possessions. I do not want to pay out for storage and my family and boyfriend only have space for a few bags of items, so my solution is to sell as much as possible and give the rest to charity shops. I have everything from clothes and books to exercise equipment and a guitar to sell. Ebay, here I come.


I am sure there are plenty of things I have missed off this list. How do you prepare in the months leading up to a big trip?







  1. January 26, 2012 / 19:30

    Love the site for the travel-minded! I’m planning my own American adventure for summer and am relying on several years of backpack know-how including the use of Tupperware ALWAYS! for hardrive/cell phone storage, food safety, and all things in between!

    Would love to hear how the preparation iscoming. Would also love to hear about how you’re funding your trip — it’s the toughest thing my girl and I are experiencing right now!
    Best, and travel on!

  2. January 26, 2012 / 19:52

    Hi Jason, thank you! I never thought of using tupperware for storing phone etc…nice tip! I think I’m going to write some more posts about how the planning is going. To be honest, I’m finding really hard saving up and will most likely have to work and volunteer along the way to keep costs low. I’m currently having a clear out on Ebay, doing some freelance writing alongside my full-time job. I keep chipping away and the small amounts of change I’m saving are starting to add up. Good luck with your trip, I’m sure you guys will get there with the saving up, it’s amazing what you can do with determination!