Tomorrow, I leave on a 13 hour journey from Hawaii to Southeast Asia. My first ever overseas trip; solo, just me and my backpack. My first stop is The Philippines for about a month, then Bali, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. Although I am aiming for about six months or so, it really depends on how long I can make my money stretch and if I get homesick (doubt it, ha!). I wanted to share a bit of how I prepared for my trip. I started preparing about six months prior to my departure. This is a list of the 10 most important things I did to plan ahead and make the most of my travel fund:
1) SAVE! I made an excel sheet of my finances; each paycheck I mapped out all my bills that needed to be paid that week, set aside a very VERY minimal allowance that I let myself spend for that pay period (food, gas, etc.), and the rest went towards my travel fund. Making this savings fund a priority is key. Stop going out. Stop eating out.
2) BOOK. Make shit real. Book your one-way flight. I like searching on expedia.com to see what the average flight costs. But then I look at cheapoair.com because if you're flexible with dates, they find the absolute cheapest flight available (granted it may be a different date than the one you entered, or have more layovers than you'd like. Chose what fits you best). After searching both of those sites, I always book direct on the airlines website. For a few reasons. Working in the hospitality field, I know that it's easier to make changes and exceptions to your plans if booked direct rather than a third party where most of the time all sales are final. The other reason is to take advantages of any special offers. Booking flights is pretty much the best time to open a new credit card. You get a bonus savings on the current flight (in my case, $100 off) & on average 50,000 bonus miles which can equal a free round trip flight for your next trip. WHY NOT?!
3) RENT. Give 30+ day notice to landlord. Hopefully you kept your place in good shape, you'll get your deposit back and put that all towards your travel fund!
4) WORK. Put in two-week notice to work. Hopefully you have accrued vacation days, extra money to go towards your travel fund!
5) CAR. Do your research and sell your car at a competitive price based on kelly blue book and market resale value. I got lucky and sold my car at asking price and it happened to be above blue book price!
6) MINIMIZE. I sold a lot of my designer clothes and shoes on the Poshmark app. It's a resale app for almost anything but mainly women's fashion. You don't need a lot of things, so mind as well make money off of it!
7) CANCEL. I cancelled all unnecessary subscriptions and insurance I no longer need. I ended up getting a refund for my car insurance. Score!
8) HEALTH. Take advantage of your health insurance while you still have it. Re-up on prescriptions, get shots/vaccinations, etc.
9) BILLS. If you won't be working, you probably qualify for an unemployment deferment or income-driven plan or economic hardship based on a zero income for your student loans, credit cards, etc. Although I can pay however much I want towards my student loans at any time, I won't have a minimum monthly! Call and find out what your options are.
10) TRAVEL INSURANCE. Shit happens, always be covered. I've heard a lot about World Nomads Travel Insurance from bloggers and personal recommendations so I went with that. They cover a lot of reckless activities; Since I'm an adventurist, that's perf.