The longest trip away from home that I ever took lasted about 2 months. I don’t remember doing anything special. I stuffed all my clothes in a backpack and went. I didn’t have trip insurance, I didn’t look into special health care options, I didn’t cancel my mail or sell my car, I didn’t worry about how to get money, and I certainly didn’t try to learn any new languages. This trip is a whole new beast.
Below is an account of only some of the organizational things we have thought of in preparation for our trip:
Permanent residence: We do not own a house and I imagine there are very few reasons why someone would be compelled to maintain two rentals simultaneously. So we moved out of our rental house. Our nearest family lives in an adjacent state. Graciously, we were allowed to store the aftermath of our minimalist endeavors in their garage. We changed our permanent residence to match the location of our stuff. Some things we had to consider were: Change of addresses (U.S. Postal Service can be done online for a $1 fee and they will forward your mail for up to a year), driver’s licenses (A note from a family member confirming that we were actually moving in and two bills in their name seemed to be sufficient), voter registration (can be done at the DMV), and car registration (we decided that selling our cars would be a better option).
Health Insurance: It turns out that health insurance must match the state in which you are a permanent resident, so we had to make some changes. We enlisted the help of a health insurance agent who was certified through a variety of agencies. He was able to put together various quotes for different policies and look into policies that specialize in international travel (without any success). European health care is familiar with insurance companies in the United States, but we were told all bets were off in other areas of the world (i.e. the ones we’ll be visiting). We will probably have to pay up front for any medical care and file claims with our insurance later. We are currently looking into additional trip insurance with a medical evacuation rider in case we need to get back to the states in an emergency.
Money: ATM fees, international credit card fees, international bank fees? We are currently undecided as to the best and cheapest way to get our money abroad. We have been told from other reliable world travelers that getting as much cash out of an ATM at a time and doing this as infrequently as possible is a good way to keep a handle on fees. Also we’ve been told to avoid using credit cards because the fees are really high, although at this point it’s just hearsay. Also, if you are going to order currency prior to your trip you can do so through your local bank, but it could take up to two weeks for “unpopular” countries.
Again, these are just a few of the things that we’ve thought of before our trip. There are numerous other things that we have either thought of and dismissed, or haven’t thought of and will come back to haunt us in one way or another.