When I tell people I'm flirting with 30, they tell me I look like I'm in college and I have the energy of a pre-adolescent. Well, that's good because did you know there are 195 countries in this world? My goal is to travel to as many countries as my age. My current count? 14. Yikes. Better get jetsettin'! Read More

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How to Prepare for Long-Term International Travel

September 20, 2016.happynfull.0 Likes.0 Comments

How to Prepare for Long-Term International Travel

How to Prepare for a Long-Term International Travel TripMonths leading up to my travel-the-world exodus from the United States, my Google search history looked something like this:

Do I need to pay for health insurance in the United States to avoid penalty under the Affordable Healthcare Act?
How do I pull cash without ATM fees when on international travel?
How do I call for free internationally?
How do I get medication internationally without insurance?
How do you pack for so many different climates during international travel?
What is the best backpack for extended international travel trip?

Needless to say, there were endless nights of researching and scouring the web for the best approach to packing up my life for an entire year abroad. My search results were often depressing as they would come up with special packages for students in study abroad program or for expats who have employer sponsored programs.

Whether you are currently traveling or plan on traveling, here are 8 travel tips you must adopt now to manage your finances, get your healthcare in order, and travel with ease!

  1. Free ATM Withdrawals: Sign up for Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking Account

With $0 monthly service fees and $0 account minimums, this is the Charles Schwab High-Yield Investor Checking Account and ATM card a globetrotter must have! You can literally pull money from any ATM anywhere in the world and get unlimited fee rebates. For real? For real!

Schwab also provides top notch customer service and will expedite your request if needed but I would try to enroll at least one month in advance to ensure you have your ATM card in hand. I also use their Intelligent Portfolio services for investments as they have options that charge $0 fees. #winning

2. Avoid foreign transaction fees: Sign up for Barclays Arrival Plus Credit Card

Barclay Card Arrival PlusEven if you haven’t started traveling yet, it’s a good idea to get a Barclays Arrival Plus Credit Card! There is an $89 annual fee, but the travel miles are well worth it. Currently, they have a 50,000 bonus miles offer and first annual fee waived! For each purchase, you get 2X in miles, and you get 5% back on all redeemed miles.

In other words, if you qualify for the 50,000 bonus points, you get $525 of travel credit ($500 = 50,000 points, $25 = 5% of total miles). Totes worth it if you are a responsible credit card handler. Chris and I have already redeemed over $2,000 worth of points, applicable to all travel related items: airlines, hotels, airbnbs, etc. More importantly, this credit card comes with no foreign transaction fees and has a cool travel community to share stories with!

Bonus: Now that you’re going to get all of these international flights paid for, be sure to check out top tips on how to cope with long haul flights!

3. Set up auto-pay and keep track of all accounts with Mint

I currently have all of my recurring monthly bills set up on my Barclays credit card mentioned above. Since I’m going to be paying these bills anyways, I might as well get miles out of it! I rarely ever use cash or debit card for any purchases, only when it’s cash only or debit-card only!

Since I won’t have access to banks as easily, I want to make sure I’m notified of any funny charges or fraudulent alerts. This is where Mint comes into play. Great free tool to keep track of your total net worth and any funny activity happening, including when account balances are low. This helps with minimizing unnecessary overdraft fees.

4. Sign up for World Nomad Travel Insurance

According to the U.S. Affordable Healthcare Act, if you are U.S. citizen living in a foreign country for at least 330 days of a 12-month period, you are not required to get health insurance coverage. This means you qualify for a health insurance exemption. That’s music to my ears because I’m almost 30 and barely qualify for the cheapest plan. Getting old sucks, guys.

Instead of paying for insurance in the U.S., I opted for the highly reviewed and regarded travel insurance company, World Nomad. If you purchase in 3-month to 6-month increments, you save quite a bit. The reason is because if you say you’re traveling for a full year, there is a higher likelihood of an injury or cancellation occurring. You can always renew your policy before it expires so I recommend enrolling in 3-month increments. This insurance provides coverage for trip cancellations, injuries, hospital stays, etc.

5. Get a healthcare summary from your current healthcare provider

For any chronic health issues, I would talk to your healthcare provider before cancelling insurance. Most travel insurance plans do not cover pre-existing conditions. You should always have your healthcare provider give you a health summary, including your conditions and what prescriptions are needed. See if they can extend your prescription for as long as possible and get an advance in refills.

If your doctor is as strict as mine, take a look at non-profit organizations and foundations for your health condition. They often have support systems or someone you can speak to for resolution on best approach now that you’re no longer covered by U.S. insurance. My healthcare experts referred me to specialists in Asia as the cost of my medication is a fraction of what the U.S. costs. They were able to provide me with referrals of trusted specialists to ensure high quality and standards are met.

6. Free international travel texts and data: Sign up for T-Mobile Simple Choice Plan
T-Mobile is awesome for international travel

T-Mobile automatically detects when you’re in a new country and will connect to their hosts’s wi-fi

How do I make sure my friends and family don’t forget about me?

It’s funny. In the states I absolutely abhorred T-Mobile (mainly due to dropped calls) and couldn’t wait for my contract to be up. But now that I’m traveling internationally, I’ve learned they have unlimited and free international data coverage and texts in over 140+ countries! This comes with the basic Simple Choice Plan. OK, T-Mobile, I’ll stick around for a little bit longer.

Unfortunately, voice calls cost 20 cents so I combat this with a combination of What’s App, Facebook, Facetime, Skype, Google Voice, and Google Hangouts. You learn to get quite creative!

Also, for those who are digital nomads that are working abroad, I’ve found the best deal to be Skype’s business plan. For $6/month, I’m able to make unlimited outbound calls to US numbers.

7. Get the Osprey 60L Meridian Backpack for International Travel

Osprey Meridian 60L Is Awesome for Long-Term Travel

Waiting for to hop on to the bus from Amsterdam to France, the day pack zips off and goes with me while the main pack goes under the bus in storage.


I’m not sure if you live near an REI, but I would try locating the store nearest you asap. With amazing return and hassle-free warranty policies, this is the place to purchase anything travel related! The staff is super knowledgable and most are avid travelers, great for providing personal experience stories to learn from. When we think of backpacks, we often think of the oversized ones for camping. I’ve learned that this is not the way to travel as you have to empty everything out to get one thing!

The better approach are these Osprey 60L Meridian backpacks that fit universal carry on dimension requirements – super helpful so you don’t accrue more fees as you board a plane. I love these backpacks. They zips all the way around so you can essentially take anything out without having to rummage through everything. Don’t get me started on all of the hidden compartments. And whaaat? Wheels?! Detachable day backpack?!  Win. Win. Win.

8. Get Compression Bags to Fit Everything in Your Backpack

How to Pack for Long-Term International Travel

What’s inside my day pack – travel necessities!

Thank God for the $1.50 Japanese mega store, Daiso, and selling these compression bags. Given I am packing for all climates, a big, puffy jacket really shouldn’t take up half of my luggage. Well, thanks to these easy-to-use-with-no-tools compression bags, you don’t need to take up much space anymore! Everything vacuums and shrinks without needing a vacuum (they teach the roll method on the instructions). I swear these bags will provide twice as much space once you’re finished packing!

I am also told that Merino Wool does wonders for various climates. They are light, thin, but pack a lot of insulation and heating love. I saw some at R.E.I. but it’s quite steep, though I can now see how they are well worth it!

There you have it… with planning and setting things in the right motion, you can travel worry-free with a healthy financial conscious for however long you want! Looking for more tips? Check out these 14 travel tips for optimal safety!

What are your top travel tips for an extended trip abroad?

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