Waiting to travel is the worst. We know because we spent years doing it, we’re still doing it, and even though the wait is nearly 97% over, it still sucks.
But besides working a full time job while waiting, we (eventually) figured out ways to put our waiting time to good use. We’ve maximized so much of our time waiting to travel, that we’re always engaged in some type of travel prep, and each passing day that we don’t leave to travel only increases the feeling of “will we ever really get there?”
Well, it will happen, and here’s how we made the most of our time waiting for day zero.
1. Figure out where you want to go
You may already have ideas, but you got big plans right? Dream big; list any place and every place that looks cool, and then start your research from there. Chances are, your research will not only help narrow your list, but elucidate some even cooler places you didn’t know about. And if you have no idea? Why do you want to travel again? Kidding, check out our list of Travel TV Shows to Inspire Your Trip and make those hours on the couch a little less guilty.
2. Buy your gear
Long term round the world travel is inherently minimalistic, but you do need some specialized equipment to support your lifestyle. Don’t put off buying your gear until right before you leave, you’ll be under a lot of other pressures and won’t make the best decisions. Equipment like a backpacking backpack and versatile functional clothing can be pricey, so while you still have a lot of time before you leave, make it effective by researching the gear you’ll need, and waiting to find it at the best price.
3. Educate yourself
This is a great time to develop knowledge that isn’t just interesting, but can be useful to you on the road. One of my favorite online learning platforms, edX, allows you to take online courses from universities around the world for free. Because I’m a huge marine life enthusiast, I took a course in Tropical Coastal Ecosystems with the University of Queensland, and I’m glad I did! I learned a lot, and can’t wait to see my course curriculum come to life when I snorkel and dive on my travels.
Want to know more about China before you visit? Harvard offers literally 10 different courses on Chinese history– just the history! Want to do good on your travels and volunteer? Don’t be that annoying poverty tourist who “just wants to help,” learn about what actually helps the world’s poor. Or maybe you want to learn to code and pick up some freelance work while you travel? Do it with the free and popular Code Academy.
4. Get ESL certified
In the same vein as gettin’ mo’ edumacated, educate yourself on how to educate others. But really, if you want to have the option of making money while you travel, being an English teacher is a pretty safe bet, especially in Asia. While a certificate is definitely not required to land a job, you’ll find that being a native English speaker doesn’t make you innately capable of teaching the language to non-native speakers. A certificate can help prepare you, as well as give instant teaching credentials.
There is a spectrum of available certification courses, with online certificates giving minimal training and recognition, and highly regarded programs like Trinity ESOL and CELTA giving you both hands-on training and a near universal hiring appeal.
5. Learn fun skills
Have a penchant for adventure or a mean dopamine addiction? Global travel offers chances to find adventure you don’t have access to at home, like rock climbing cliffs in Spain or scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. If you already know how to rock climb and scuba dive, it’s one less thing to worry about. Better yet, make sure you’re up to date on safety, first-aid and emergency rescue procedures- should you decide to adventure in the Third World, you’ll find lax safety standards.
6. Get some language proficiency
Notice I didn’t say “learn a language?” You won’t need to be fluent for your travels. You can even get by on being totally, linguistically useless, but knowing the basics goes a long way. Once you know where you want to go, you can find in which languages you need to learn some key phrases and words. The web is full of free language-learning apps to help, like Duolingo, Anki, Memrise and more.
7. Start a travel blog
Want to be a cool travel blogger who gets paid to travel around the world? I have no idea how to do that, but it doesn’t hurt to try. At the very least you can create an awesome digital record of your trip and keep in touch with folks back home. You don’t have to already have all your material before you start to blog. On the contrary, it’s better to get things going and get the hang of blogging before you’re out adventuring with no time for long nights in front of your computer.
8. Make your dollars count
Sign up for a credit card with miles rewards. Even though you’ll be living frugally and saving a lot of money while you wait (you will, right?!) you’ll still have basic living expenses, and then some, because nobody’s perfect. You can make your necessary spending work for you by using credit cards that offer airline miles rewards. Our favorite is the Chase United Mileage Plus Explorer, which has amazing bonus miles when you sign up, including all your regular mileage points. Just be sure and pay it off every month!
9. Make money
Seems like a given right? Well, if you want to do some serious traveling, you’re going to need to save much more than you spend, which usually requires a steady income. If you don’t have a full time gig, let’s hope you have multiple part time ones. Our advice for the employed? Better keep it on the down low that you don’t plan to stick around, unless your employer is really, really cool.
10. Develop travel friendly habits
Your life on the road isn’t going to be all sunshine, peaches, and parties. Well, there will probably be a good deal of that, but you still need to keep tabs on your money, stick to a budget, and spend wisely, all while having a good time and having a place to sleep at night. We’ve got a few more tips on good travel habits in our post on Lifestyle Changes for Travel.
I think there’s enough here to help you get started on making your time spent waiting to travel productive, whether you leave in a few years or a few months (let’s hope not!)