Nathalie Slight | Journalist
The dream: Taking a sabbatical to travel the world. The reality: Next July, Antoine and his spouse will set out on a year-long journey across 3 continents with their 2 kids in tow.
Whether you're travelling alone, as a couple or as a family, planning is always the biggest part of getting everything ready.
Even though it can seem a little daunting, planning is actually a lot of fun. "It's exciting! It's as if we're already there," says Antoine. The longer the trip, the sooner you should get started!
Expect things to get hectic as the day of your flight gets closer. The odds you'll forget something will go up. That's why Antoine made a 3-step plan to make sure he's ready--and relaxed--when the plane takes off.
2 years before
Choose the perfect time
Antoine and his family started thinking about their trip well before they planned on leaving so they could choose the best time to make it happen.
"The kids are young, but we still wanted them to be involved," says Antoine. By including them, the kids can get used to the idea of being away from home and they start looking forward to this big adventure that will turn into reality.
"In June, my wife's contract will end and the kids will be 5 and 3 years old. It'll be a perfect time for this trip."
Start saving up
The family has a savings account for travel and they've been saving up ever since they decided to make this trip around the world.
Saving up definitely requires discipline and a different perspective on spending and impulse buys. You should always ask yourself if you really need a such and such item before buying it.
One year before
Notify your employer
"I work for Desjardins, so I'm fortunate enough to get the possibility of taking this type of leave." Let your employer know well ahead of time; that way, they're more likely to say yes since they'll have time to find a replacement.
Plan the itinerary
Antoine and his spouse like to meet the locals when they travel to get a real feel of the place they're visiting and to make new connections. To make their itinerary, they combined that with their list of must-sees to choose the continents, countries, cities and villages they wanted to visit.
"We made a list of the countries we wanted to visit in Europe, Asia and South America and considered the best time to visit each place. We also looked at a lot of travel blogs too to get the opinions of real people and not just travel agencies."
Establish the budget
They planned their budget based on the information they gathered by researching the cost of transport, accommodation, food and activities in each country.
6 months or less before
Get travel insurance
"It's important to choose your travel insurance wisely. We got quotes from various places to find the best insurance for us based on things like our age, health, activities, countries visited."
Don't be afraid to ask questions about the what's covered, the criteria and the duration of your insurance as well as any additional services offered before and during the trip.
You should also consider the travel insurance you get with your credit cards or group insurance.
You should also make sure that the whole family gets the required vaccinations and takes the recommended medication specific to each destination.
Rent out your house
"We'll rent out our house while we're away. You can choose to do it yourself, or go through a specialized agency."
Once the itinerary had been drawn up, it was time to start making reservations. Airlines generally put plane tickets on sale 12 months before the departure date.
"We only booked our accommodation for the first 2 or 3 nights at each destination in case we found hidden gems once we were there."
Leave yourself some wiggle room
"We tried to plan as much as we could for our trip while giving ourselves some wiggle room. Apparently, last-minute changes make for the greatest discoveries. We made sure to keep our itinerary flexible so that we could stay longer if we really fell in love with a place along the way!"
Desjardins members get the exclusive advantage of free travel assistance, available 24/7. It includes expert advice, coordination services and practical information.
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