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We’re getting really close to leaving, and I have a running checklist going of all the things we still need to do. When you’re getting ready to pack up your whole life and travel indefinitely, there are many things to take care of first. Here’s our list–hopefully it will help someone. Let me know if I forgot anything!
- Get rid of anything you will leave behind. We are currently selling, donating and giving away things we don’t want or need any more. This process has gone on for the past few months, because you can’t always find the right home for everything on short notice.
- Set up a mail service. You don’t want to risk losing important mail or have to change your address every time you move to a new spot. You can sign up for a service that you authorize to handle your mail for you. This way, you only have to change your address one time.
- Fill out change of address forms. This is something you should do after setting up the mail service. I found that the post office takes about a month to start forwarding mail from when you give them the notification. We signed up for the mail service about 6 weeks before we were planning to leave, and then started the forwarding process. I wanted to make certain things were working before we left. If you expect to get important mail around the time you’re leaving, notify senders directly of your new address. Don’t forget to update your address with the DMV as well, so you can get license and registration renewals in a timely manner.
- Figure out how to pack and unpack. If you’re going to move around a lot, you want things situated in a way that allows for the easiest access but won’t go flying around your rig while you’re moving. Museum putty, earthquake straps and storage bins are very helpful.
- Buy travel gear. Make sure you have the right clothing for the climates you’ll be visiting. If you’re planning on participating in specific activities, buying new or used equipment may be cheaper than renting. Before our last trip, I bought a small inverter that plugs into the 12V outlets and can power smaller items for when we need them when we’re not plugged in.
- Talk to your employer. If you think you have to quit your job and find work on the road, you might be wrong, Depending on your job duties, perhaps you can work remotely or go on sabbatical. If you’re planning on coming back or not sure if you’ll like traveling, these might be good options that keep you from having to start all over again should you return.
- Cancel your location-based subscriptions. Examples would be cable TV and other utilities, local (not regional or national) gym memberships and the newspaper.
- Figure out how often you need internet access. Will you need reliable, mobile internet to work? Do you have a plan to keep in touch with friends and family? It might be nice to have a going-away get-together so you can see everyone one last time. Also, if you have a route planned you might want to share it with someone so they can send out the cavalry in case of emergency.
- Make sure everyone is healthy enough for travel. If you take prescription medication, make sure you have refills. You might want to explain to your doctor that you’ll be travelling, and see if they are willing to monitor you remotely. Don’t forget to schedule vet appointments as well.
- Go shopping for necessary items. If a local boutique is the only place that sells your favorite shampoo, perhaps you want to buy some extra bottles. We plan to stock up on heavy things like cat litter and pet food so we don’t have to worry about picking any up on the road for a while.
- Do any vehicle repairs and maintenance needed: oil changes, check the tires and the health of the batteries. With an RV, it’s also a good idea to go around the vehicle inside and out and tighten any screws or bolts that were loosened during your last trip.
- Consider travel insurance. Credit cards sometimes offer this service for things like refunds on reservations in emergencies. But I recommend something much more comprehensive. It should include towing, emergency medical evacuation, transportation for yourself and pets if needed. Also important are reimbursement for lodging if needed during vehicle repairs, and payment for lost or damaged property. Also, if you’re in an RV I highly recommend getting full-timer’s insurance, which covers more significant losses than normal vehicle insurance. We also opted for bicycle insurance for our e-bikes, which includes bicycle “towing” if a bike breaks down (so we don’t have to carry it for miles to the nearest bus stop or bike shop).
And as you head out on the road:
Get enough rest (if you’re not so excited you can’t sleep).
- Don’t rush. Leave yourself plenty of time to get ready, and try to do things in advance so you’re not overwhelmed.
- Check the weather forecast. You may need a different route, to go more slowly, leave earlier or later.
- Travel food and drinks. Right before we leave, I’m making a bunch of healthy, travel-friendly foods to eat on the road. This is something I typically do before we leave for any trip. But I’m going to make a concerted effort to not buy anything from gas stations when we’re on the move. The choices are usually unhealthy and expensive, and we’re not on vacation this time. This will be our way of life, so I can’t justify the extra cost.
- Double check the rig. Make sure everything is stored, tied down, locked up, etc. Check that all the systems are running properly.
- Make sure the vehicle has what it needs: fully pressurized tires, oil and coolant, windshield wiper fluid, and enough gas for the first leg of your trip.
- Make sure you have what you need: drinking water (fill up the fresh water tank and dump the black and grey tanks if you have an RV), comfortable travelling clothing. cash for places that don’t take cards, etc. We like to fill up our propane on the way out-of-town. At the gas station we pull up directions for our route while we’re filling up.
- Make sure your loved ones have what they need. We make sure our pets have their travelling harnesses and seat buckles and/or settled securely in their travel crates.
- Enjoy the adventure!