The Last 5 Steps to Get Ready for a Life of Travel

Nearly everyone has a fantasy of simply picking up and leaving- whether it be a job they feel unfulfilled in, a city they have fallen out of love with, or another tumultuous situation. For most people, that remains a fantasy, because it doesn’t make sense to pick up and leave, right?  

It requires so much planning, so much preparation, so much financial security, and so much trouble.  

Well, that’s exactly what we did, and we didn’t have any of those things, either!  Our preparations for the beginning of this journey began less than a month ago, with the purchase of a car.  Within a week, I had given a month’s notice to my roommates, and planning was underway. If you’re putting off your dreams of travel because of logistics, look no further.  Make a list, and follow our steps at the end of the post.  It is possible!

Obviously, we hadn’t thought through every detail, but the timing of this trip could not have worked out better, in fact it never has, between the two of us. Jackson had just completed his contract in Dubai, was in between jobs, and was yearning for freedom.  I had grown a bit tired of New York, my work in the city, and had been missing the vagabond lifestyle I led just a couple of years ago.

However, to say that we were emotionally prepared is not to say that we were physically prepared.

Just a matter of weeks before departure - Jackson had just secured the car, and we had not made the necessary adjustments to it.  I had been deftly putting off giving notices and booking a storage unit, and very gradually worked on clearing out the space I would leave behind.  I would not suggest putting off your nomadic plans until so close to departure. The first draft of my do-to list was pages long, so daunting it felt nearly insurmountable until after the first week.  However, just like anything else, priorities prevailed, and everything (or everything important) was completed.

 (every morning the last few weeks began with these packages - BUT! - every little bit helps!)

(every morning the last few weeks began with these packages - BUT! - every little bit helps!)

The first, and easiest thing to me in the moment was to begin a fire sale on my Ecommerce site (a side business I had grown from curiosity to income stream during the last year and a half) and then start going through my own things. The online firesale influenced my decision to try and sell off my own belongings, too! To make things easier on myself, I decided I would go through my belongings three times (every week and a half or so and once while packing), so I didn’t have to make harsh decisions before I was ready.

 Each purge felt great, I realized with each pass through I needed less and less stuff, and the 15 items a week goal easily became 30 or more- even out of a small New York City bedroom. It was a rush to throw some of my tired things up for sale and make several week’s pocket money off of getting rid of it. Paring down also helped to clear out my cluttered mind and make moving on to the more difficult items on the list easier.

Seeing as I had no car, or storage space for a “get rid of pile” to accumulate, I opted to give away things I couldn’t keep or sell by leaving them on the street.

 This won’t work in every city- but the bags I left were never there when I returned in the evening

This won’t work in every city- but the bags I left were never there when I returned in the evening

While this means you can’t claim the nice tax deductible that comes along with donation, I like to think it makes someone’s day better!  It was amazing to see just how much of this stuff I had! If you have more than a month to get ready, you should try and sell every little thing - you never know what someone will buy!

Next were the more difficult, interpersonal tasks of making calls, appointments, and so on.  Every person’s prep list will be different, but the hold ups of phone tag and paperwork processing will always persist.  You can’t guarantee all the calls will be done when you leave, as not all of it is up to you. However, if you put in effort before, a Google phone account can quickly solve the rest.

Last, there was the bittersweet task of bidding my New York friends goodbye.  Not knowing exactly where this trip would lead us, or if I would end up in New York again made it all the more difficult.  Roommate dinners became regular, coordinating brunches a must, making already frantic planning even more tangled.  There was never much talk of my leaving, but my friend’s surprisingly free schedules hinted at the voyage.

The last few weeks have, of course, been hectic.  Whatever the situation, it is difficult to pack up a life and move out and on.   BUT! We would do it again in a heartbeat. Our struggles were soothed by the excitement of things ahead, and each task completed pushed us that much closer, energizing us enough to reach the finish line.  Logistics should not be a reason to put off your dream, whether it’s a weekend upstate, a month in Tahiti, or a no-return ticket to London.

No matter how frantic a deadline is, everything will somehow be done in time - I would recommend more than four weeks, though :)

Tips that saved my butt, and my money!

  1. Sell anything you can!  You’ll be amazed at what some people will buy.  I had a pair of Doc Martens with a mostly worn off silver coating that somehow put $54 back into my pocket (I started the asking at $1.99, that’s how unconvinced I was).  I went cross-platform and had the best luck with Let Go (furniture, accessories), Ebay (everything else), and Thred Up (sent in what clothes didn’t sell right before leaving and they took care of everything.)  Every little bit helps! Even if it’s just a few days worth of pocket change - or an extra, unexpected splurge experience!

  2. Schedule, and do, at least one unfun thing a day.  This keeps you from feeling overwhelmed, and trust me, what you think will take one phone call will take three, and what you think will take one day will take at least two.  Start knocking things off ASAP.
  3. Don’t underestimate the power of a night off.  I am a self-identifying workaholic, and while I can’t remember taking a whole day off since a surgery in December - look out, vacation!  - a dinner with a friend and a glass of wine will do wonders for your stressed psyche. If you don’t think you have the time, you need it even more.
  4. Don’t be afraid to hang up and call again.  I can’t tell you how many times I did this. “Ma’am, we don’t have an international phone plan that you can suspend,” Well, then, what is this SIM card I’ve had for two years that’s sitting in front of me?! Try again, it’s not insanity if you actually DO get different results.
  5. Break down your to-do list into manageable steps.  Let yourself cross things off as often as you can. When I was going through my things I listed each section of my room so I could cross off something as little as “nightstand” and feel a little more accomplished.  Plus, as said above, a lot of the things you’ll need to do will take longer than you plan, so give yourself some little things you know can be done alone and easily.

Do you have any time or money saving prep hacks?

- Sarah