Practical preparation of your long-term travel

Anyone who wants to travel longer than the annual vacation days would allow must start early with the practical preparations for the long-term trip and also remember that there is a „life after“, in other words: when you return home, things should continue smoothly without financial and other turbulence.

Checklist for the practical preparation of the long-term trip

1. Clarify visa formalities

  • For which countries do I need a visa?
  • How far in advance do I have to apply for it?
  • Do I have to send my passport to the embassy or to several embassies?
  • Are there any overlapping dates?
  • Is it worthwhile to hand over the visa procurement to a visa agency?
  • Is one passport enough for me or do I possibly need two (it might not be so easy to get two passports)?
  • What other documents do I need to submit together with the visa application?
  • How many passport photos do I need for the application / applications?

2. Think about other important documents

  • Can I drive / rent a car with my driving licence in all countries?
    • For overseas countries you almost always need an international driving licence, which you can apply for at the Road Traffic Office and usually take with you. The international driving licence is only valid in conjunction with the respective national driving licence.
  • Which vaccinations are mandatory upon entry (e.g. many countries require a yellow fever vaccination, which should not be given shortly before departure)?
  • Do I have to take my allergy passport with me?
  • Do I have copies of my passport and important documents in case they get lost?
  • Do I have some passport photos with me in case of emergency?

3. Health: Health Insurance & Travel Vaccinations

  • Have I already taken out an international health insurance suitable for the trip?
  • Advice on travel vaccinations can be obtained from a tropical institute, general practitioners or other medical practitioners: which vaccinations are useful for the trip and which should be refreshed (e.g. tetanus, diphtheria).
  • Get vaccinations as early as possible, so that incompatibilities do not occur after the start of the trip!
  • Some vaccinations have to be refreshed within a short time, others are only possible with licensed doctors and are not without complications (e.g. yellow fever).
  • Some statutory health insurance companies cover the costs.

4. Flight tickets

  • More info: Booking low-priced flights »
  • Check validity, rebooking and cancellation conditions
  • In the case of complicated flight reservations, one usually flies cheaper if one leaves the booking to the professionals in the travel agency. The service fee is definitely worth it!

5. Vacation fund

  • How do I get my money abroad?
    • Can I use my EC or credit card to withdraw money at ATMs in the countries I am traveling to? What are the fees?
    • Are Traveler Cheques still accepted in a few countries?
    • Can I pay with my credit card on site without any problems? If so, which ones are accepted? Or are there limits (in Brazil, foreigners often can only pay smaller amounts with credit cards to avoid fraud)?
    • Can someone from home transfer money to me via WesternUnion e.g. in case of emergency?
    • Am I going to a country with a higher crime rate? If so, how can I protect myself from suddenly being left destitute after theft or robbery?
    • Do I have all emergency numbers in case my credit card disappears or my account is hacked?
    • Where can I get more information in these money matters (e.g. banks, Foreign Office „, embassies, consulates etc.)?
  •  What to do in an emergency, e.g. after the theft of money or cards?
    • How can I try to protect myself in advance against robberies in insecure countries (e.g. get a money cat, money belt or similar, distribute PIN numbers in different places)?
    • Can I possibly book trustworthy accommodation in riskier cities in advance (e.g. hotel with security guards, safe, etc.) or at least find out about the security situation in the various districts on the Internet if there is no opportunity to do so while traveling?
    • Is there any tourist police in these places that I could contact?
    • Do I have all the emergency numbers in case my credit card disappears or my account is hacked?
    • Do I still have an email with my flight confirmations for security reasons?
    • Does anyone in my family / friends know where I am staying?

6. Important utensils, which I must not forget at home before departure

  • Passport, entry documents
  • Credit cards, cash
  • Vaccination certificate / proof of yellow fever vaccination, allergy passport
  • Confirmation of coverage of an international health insurance
    Driving licence (national / international)
  • Medication (are they sufficient for the duration of the trip or can I buy additional medication on-site?)
  • Glasses / contact lenses
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera / battery charger / memory card(s) (may be expensive abroad)
    Mobile phone / battery charger (can I buy a card on site so that making calls is cheaper?
  • Notebook / tablet with accessories
  • World plug / adapter
  • Contacts / addresses / notes on the trip / PIN and emergency numbers
  • … Everything else can be bought locally.

Further links on the subject of long-term travel:

Planning & preparation >>
Tips: Travel guides & multimedia >>

Long-term journey & challenges

Strangeness can only arise in relation to the other, the unknown. This means, for example, when we compare our cultural characteristics with those elsewhere on earth, they often appear foreign to us. Of course, it is the same the other way around. Many Mexicans, Chinese or Ghanaians, for example, also find our German culture foreign, i.e. unfamiliar. When we encounter „foreign“, intercultural competence is particularly in demand. With this ability we can understand the other culture better and enrich our long-term stay.


Stereotypes, which can be positive or negative, can be used to mentally simplify complex characteristics and reactions of people from other cultures. For example, someone who has never come into contact with a particular culture will initially stick to the information he already has. He tries to put the behavior of people who are foreign to him in a known context in order to create his own simplified picture, and to be able to orientate himself. This makes it easier to deal with other cultures at first. However, everyone should be aware that this information about the other culture is only very incomplete and must be questioned.


„It’s harder to shatter a preconceived idea than an atom.“ (Albert Einstein)

„A verdict is debatable, a prejudice never is.“ (Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach)

When this general, simplified information on opinions and attitudes becomes solidified, i.e. highly emotional, one speaks of prejudice. Prejudices are almost always negative.

> Stereotypes due to lack of knowledge (not everyone can know that Oman has become a modern country in the last few decades): „In Oman there are more camels on the roads than cars.“
> Prejudice (to degrade the people there to „camel drivers“ is a prejudice and insulting): „Oman is a backward country where only camel drivers live.“

Reducing prejudices and stereotypes with intercultural competence

Many people feel insecure when meeting the other / stranger, because their value system is deeply affected.

Get to know each other better

To be able to cope with the new situation and to understand the other culture better, you must first become aware of your own culture, value systems and thought patterns. This is not so easy, because our ways of thinking and acting are already shaped in childhood and take place unconsciously.

Get to know your partner better

After this intensive encounter with yourself, it is now time to acquire intercultural competence bit by bit, in order to be able to benefit from the long-term journey and the contact with foreign cultures. Developing tolerance for cultural diversity is a good start, but not enough.
Therefore, besides the language, get to know the people of the other culture more intensively (as in a relationship): How do they see their homeland / the world, how do they think / feel in a certain situation and why …? For this lengthy process it is necessary to spend a long time in the respective place.

Accept that you are changing

The new culture with different views on personal relationships, working methods, problem solving etc. will influence you. You will certainly also become more curious, open and flexible (if you are not already). If you have lived or traveled abroad for a very long time, you will eventually reach the point of not wanting to go back home, but also not really feeling at home in the new culture.

When visiting home, it is expected that the same person who left a long time ago will return. But this will not be the case, which may lead to conflicts with those who stayed at home, whose lives and perspectives have not changed that much.

Learn, learn and do not despair

To penetrate deeply into the new culture and learn more about it without judging it requires a lot of patience and perseverance. See yourself as a neutral observer and also become aware of your own uneasiness if you do not understand certain behavior or processes at all. This is sometimes not easy, but neutral observation and calm acceptance of the situation prevents prejudices and frustrations from being nurtured.

So just try to observe your fellow human beings and develop understanding for them. To gain a deeper cultural insight, you will have to approach the new culture with „trial and error“. This can be a painful learning process. It also helps to have a familiar person from the region at your side and to have certain ways of thinking explained to you from a local perspective.
In this process of adaptation, however, no one should blame the foreign culture for any difficulties that arise, but should simply admit to their negative reactions to certain processes.

Most people go through three phases in the intercultural learning process:

  • They are reluctant to change and adapt to their environment.
  • They accept the new culture and its demands, but do not change themselves.
  • They adapt and change in the sense that they adopt new behaviors, acquire new knowledge and skills and change the way they see things.

It is not about giving up oneself and one’s culture completely, but about developing intercultural sensitivity, i.e. including cultural differences and new cultural patterns in one’s own view.

If you have successfully gone through this intercultural learning process, you can experience the not so foreign culture even more intensively and further deepen your intercultural competence.

Redefine your cultural identity

After all these experiences you should – during long stays abroad – define for yourself where you belong, which values you want to live by, which culture you identify with (of course, there can be several). Maybe you suddenly have the feeling that you no longer belong anywhere or that you are „lost in cultures“.

In any case, even in the farthest corner of the world you should keep in touch with the friends / people from the different cultures that are important to you and have a working network. In the age of the internet, this is actually no longer so difficult. Talk to your friends about how you are doing, so that they can put themselves in your shoes.