Long-term travel can seem like a daunting endeavour. It involves more planning and consideration then a standard 1 or 2 week vacation, involving things like visas and flights, accommodation and budgeting, and buying the right travel gear. More than that, though, long-term travel just seems out of reach for many of us. I mean, you probably have things like “jobs” and “bills” that you need to focus on, and that's understandable; they are worthwhile priorities. That being said, escaping for a month or two (or more!) — even with said jobs and bills, heck even children — is hardly impossible. In fact, it's easier than you think.
During my first years of travel I earned around $10,000 CAD per year. Hardly an admirable income, but even with that paltry sum I could still hop around the globe a few times a year to get into trouble. In the end, it all sort of comes down to two things: priorities and privilege. So, if you're lucky enough to be able to travel AND you have made the decision to head out into the world a priority, here are a few worthwhile resources to speed you on your merry way. They cover many of the nuts and bolts of long-term travel while also touching on the mindset and philosophies behind it. In short, they are worthwhile reads for any would-be backpacker.
Budget Travel Resources
This is generally considered a must-read for travellers. Most backpackers consider this the Bible of long-term travel, and for good reason. I actually never got around to reading it until after I had already been to over 20 countries, but even then it still had some solid tips and important reminders. I think this book should be required reading in high school, as it sheds light on alternative life paths – ones that don't revolve/prioritize a career and a house and 2.5 children (not that there is anything wrong with those priorities – they just aren't for everyone). Definitely give Vagabonding a read if you are at all interested in hitting the road for the short, medium, or long term. Not only does it provide some nut and bolt travel concepts, it perhaps more importantly illuminates the philosophy of travel – a philosophy worth considering.
This is a really great introduction for those who are new to the travel world, a true Beginner’s Guide to Travel. First-Time explains things like “What is a visa?” and goes into specific detail about why you need insurance, what your plan should cover, reading the fine print, etc. It even gives you a great breakdown of what you should be doing leading up to your trip – when to plan, when to make your budget, when to get your medicine and vaccinations, and when to buy and test your gear. Lansky even gives you a very detailed packing list AND a What Not To Bring list. This is a great start for anyone planning a big trip who wants all the nitty gritty details laid out before them.
If you're the kind of person who needs to know the answers to all your questions beforehand, who really is new to the world of travel, then this is a great resource for you. The details can sometimes get a bit obvious but there is a lot of useful material in here for any traveller. Just skip the section on all the horrible diseases, though...it's not exactly the most reassuring way to kick-off your adventure planning.
Matt Kepnes, aka Nomadic Matt, runs the world's most popular travel blog. I've worked for Matt since November of 2015, and his travel knowledge is pretty incredible. His book is a must-read for anyone planning a big trip. If you're not a complete newbie, you can likely skip Rough Guides and start here. $50 A Day highlights the strategies you will use to stay on budget and provides an outline for your spending in every corner of the world. Where a guidebook might tell you specifics about each little town or city you visit, $50 A Day brings your attention to the broader concepts you will need to understand to enjoy life on the roads, such as travel hacking and using membership/tourism cards to save your $$$. What is most useful are the rough cost breakdowns for different areas of the world and the financial outline they create – hence the name of the book!
What is great about this book is that Marek shows you just how possible long-term travel is – even if you have responsibilities, and even if you have a small budget. Travel The World Without Worries helps you set some realistic outlines for your trip, and reminds you not to bite off more than you can chew, to travel slowly and savour the adventure. The key points are always summed up after each chapter, so it's easy to hunt for that tip or suggestion you were looking to remember. Like How To Travel The World On $50 A Day, Travel The World Without Worries covers all the important information without the overwhelming (and sometimes unnecessary) depth of Rough Guides. I've had the pleasure of interviewing Marek, and I've even written a couple guest posts for his blog (one on Adventure Underwear and one on The Camino).
If you want to see how budget travel is done, check out his site, and definitely check out his book!
Earl is one of the top travel bloggers in the world and has written a few books to share his expertise. He has some specific knowledge (i.e an entire book!) about working on cruise ships, as well. If you are seriously considering long-term budget travel then his books are worth picking up. He even offers a money-back guarantee — that's how certain he is about the value of his advice. Check out his blog for some great tips and tricks, too.
Online forums can be an awesome secondary resource when it comes to travel. There you can ask your own questions and fill in any blanks your travel guide (or the above books) may have left. Not only that, they are great communities to be a part of, full of other travellers and vagabonds like yourself who just love talking travel and sharing stories from the road.
This is a great Facebook group for giving and getting awesome travel tips. It's essentially like an online forum (like the two you'll see below) but it's all on Facebook so it's easy to join and simple to take part in. If you don't want to join another online community, this is the group for you! There are already over 2,000 members from around the world, so if you have a travel question you can likely find an answer here!
This is a HUGE forum with TONS of information. Often too much, actually. With so many members and topics and threads it can be hard to find what you are looking for here. Nevertheless, if you are at a loss for information give it a gander and you might just find what you need. For obscure questions, this is a great place to look. It can sometimes take a while to sift through the thousands of topics and replies, but the forums are a great place to get a specific question answered. If you can't find an answer in your guidebook, check here.
I'm the Forum Manager here so it must be a pretty rad place, right? NM's Community Forums are one the better up-and-coming travel forums. There is a great community with knowledgable members who are always happy to help out where they can. Wondering about trains in Poland? Not sure how many days to spend in Malta? Ask away! You'll be sure to get the answer you need...plus, I'm there. Double win!
In the end, you really don't need to read any of these books to travel: you can just go, and I'm sure you'll be fine. BUT, there is a lot of wisdom in these resources from many years of travel – wisdom that can save you a lot of time and effort and money if given heed. So check 'em out, learn some shit, and be on your way out the door!
For the record, I was not paid or compensated in any way for this article. If you want to purchase any of the books, though, feel free to use the links above as I will get a small commission via Amazon at no extra cost to you!