six to 12 months
Rough out itinerary.
Scope plane ticket prices, start watching for fare sales.
Start networking: write/email friends, friends of friends in your destinations; join http://www.servas.org/" target="_blank">Servas or other homestay organizations.
 
three to six months
Begin looking for someone to sublet your home.
Check to make sure your passport's good for the duration of your trip plus six months.
three months
Visas: apply now (for a list of requirements for U.S. citizens, consult the State Department).
Investigate international drivers permits. Your regular license will probably work fine, but if you want one just in case check out: AAA or the National Auto Club.
Read or re-read your guidebooks.
 
two months
Check with your health clinic or the Centers for Disease Control to see what immunizations you'll need.
Look into travel insurance options.
Consult the International Association for Medical Assistance for Travelers for a directory of English-speaking doctors.
Ramp up your fitness regimen. I increased my exercise program to include aerobics and weight training, and increased my swimming to a mile three times a week.
Exams: See your doctor and dentist.
Find a friend to oversee your finances.
one month
Set up auto pay system on credit cards, overdraft protection on checking.
Draft agreements with the people watching your car, house.
Hire house/yard keeper if necessary.
Start buying things needed for the trip.
Start packing.
 
countdown
Prepare instructions for pet/yard/house, including repair contacts.
Get pets in for check-ups; leave your credit card number with the vets.
Prepay bills.
Change over utilities.
Put together a general itinerary to leave with friends/family.
Change money.

Globetrotter's Checklist

Planning and prep work are key to pulling off a long-term international adventure. This checklist isn't exhaustive, but it'll get you headed in the right direction.

Your Pilgrimage

Destinations

Explore our Archives

join the pilgrimage

Sign up for our periodic divamail dispatches