This is by no means an exhaustive list of what you’ll need to take care of before taking off for a long-term journey, but it’s a starting point.
Scan Important Documents
This includes scanning your passport, identification cards, receipts (for insurance), etc. Save the files to Dropbox, and email them to someone you trust. This will allow someone to email you proof of your identity and nationality if your passport or ID cards are stolen. Read on for advice on how to protect your passport and avoid scams.
International Driver’s License (for US citizens)
Leave a will and medical directive with a loved one
Not to sound morbid, but something may happen to you on the road and having your wishes in a legal document makes it easier for everyone if anything were to happen. We set ours up using NOLO software before we left the United States.
Issue a Power of Attorney
Be sure to leave an authorized Power of Attorney (PoA) to a trusted family member or friend in case he/she needs to act legally on your behalf.
Transfer accounts and statements to electronic format
Unsubscribe to newsletters or magazines. Even with these actions, things still arrive in your mailbox. Ask a friend to check it from time to time or forward mail to someone you trust (thanks, Mom!).
Having a mailing/billing address when on the road
Although we haven’t lived in the United States for over 12 years, we still keep our mailing address for all credit card and financial issues in the States. It just makes it easier for us. There are sometimes benefits to having a U.S. credit card over a European one. We use a parent’s address as our mailing address – we get notified if something arrives and if necessary, we get a scanned copy. You can also try a service like Earth Class Mail. We haven’t used this ourselves, but have heard good things from other travelers.
Moving sales, donations, getting rid of stuff
Depending upon your housing situation, you may need to liquidate (almost) everything like us. It’s amazing how much stuff we had accumulated in a short time…and how quickly we’ve forgotten about it. For more advice on how to declutter and sell your things, check out Getting Rid of It from our friends Warren and Betsy.
Saving for retirement
Someone asked this on our Facebook page so we wanted to address this. Retirement saving really is a personal issue and depends on so many factors (income, access to retirement plans, etc.). Before we left our stable jobs in Prague, we lived simply not only to save money for travel, but also to put away as much money as we could in our employer’s retirement plans. We knew that we’d be unemployed for a while and weren’t sure what the future held. On the road it’s been difficult to save for retirement as our freelance life has its ups and downs, but this is something that is a priority again.
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