Sunday, 5 October 2014

Preparation for an Extended Long Trip

Unlike a holiday, extended trip takes up a lot of planning. To those whom says I just drop everything one day and decided to travel and leave it all behind … well ask a bit more and most likely you will see an intricate live changing procedure that undergoes before a big trip. Those that actually just drop everything and go either will find setbacks such as unable to get money although it’s all there in the bank or worst yet come home to a bigger problem.

In any case these are the few things that I had to go through in preparation for a long trip … a check list in a way
Money, ATM Withdrawal Worldwide
Without a doubt money was the first thing in mind. Do I have enough to travel? How long can I last? But more importantly will I be able to get the money out of the ATM machine half way across the world? The final moment before departure it was more crucial that one could access his own reserved ; … else …. a u-turn is bound to happen
Some might give advice on which bank to use for lower fees and better exchange rate which is all good but remember to make sure it works. So a short trip to the border and test that ATM card … pay that small painful fee … at lease you know it’s working
Also just bringing 1 card is a big no-no … always bring two from two different bank so if one fails the other has a chance. I usually bring a combination of ATM card + DEBIT/ATM card. Also ensure that both bank that are in use are able to transfer money from one to another using internet banking or phone banking, this is in the case one card is lost/spoilt/eaten you will still be able to access money though the other card by transfer …. Nothing feels worse than knowing you have the money but no way to access it … a u-turn is bound to happen halfway since half the money is inaccessible J
A third party – such as friends / parents / siblings can further expend the money accessibility issue and a lot more below but I’ll be sticking to self-sustain post for that is what I intend to do for this trip.
Bills – Phone Bills, Insurance,
Next up on the list is bills. How I wish I could travel without the worry of paying bills but unfortunately it is not the case. Whatever bill you have, phone, credit card, water, electric, insurance, etc try to minimize it by discontinuing the service. If it’s not possible such as for me (phone bills and insurance) then find a way to pay it online or auto deduction method. I personally don’t like the idea of auto deduction which can sometime be overcharge and then the troubles of calling up the bank from far far away will come in.
These days almost everything can be online … if the service is not available … find another that has it. Do remember to set up the online system few months in advance so you can test run the online payment system while you are still in the home country so troubleshooting can be done before departure.
Some bills allow you to pay them online using credit cards which can be handy. I do that for phone bills … check the bill, pay using credit card and then use the internet banking to pay the credit card. Check online banking bill payments availability as well for some will allow payment though internet banking when they tie the system into the banking services. I use this for the yearly life insurance payment
Mortgage – Loan
I am a big fan of selling everything and travel without worries yet at a young age it might not be possible. So I settle for traveling with loan and mortgage still in place. This time round I have one other item which is the house mortgage.
I choose auto – deduction for these items as the amount is pre-fixed hence I won’t have a sudden shocking deduction if it was bills. Pretty simple this one … one just have to set aside enough money for the traveling period for the auto-deduction. For example … student loan minimum payment of $100 a month … set aside $1200 for a 1 year travel
Income tax
This one is a pain in the arse. Depending on where you pay your taxes the rules will change drastically I guess. For those who pay Singapore Taxes like me this is how I manage it. Singapore taxation is accessible online through a tax portal which allows one to view check and verify his tax assessment for the year. As most of the declaration is done automatically by the employer one would just have to check how much he needs to pay. I could either pay in full or in instalment with free interest.
I use the instalment method which is tied to auto-deduction banking. Just have to set it up right and it will pay itself slowly over the 12 months … and it will also auto adjust the taxes for next year. Back-up plan if the deduction fail is to pay in full using online banking. Just stock up some money in the bank I guess …
Banking … although most of the money issue is solved as per above there is always a need to have access to your bank. Internet banking seems to be the best way as one could use Wi-Fi to connect which is free. Phone banking seems like a last resort as international call can be very costly trying to get through those annoying automated machines … PRESS 01 for English …
One of the hidden function of internet banking I have found is that you can do request via secure email though the internet banking. For example waiver of credit card subscription fees which usually the banks charges you first and the aftershock is that you call in and ask for a waiver … in this case look for the mailbox inside the internet banking and send a mail to the bank requesting for a waiver … a reply will be given within 2 working days though the same way and this way you can avoid international calls.
Alternative is of course the painful phone banking …. But I too have alternative to that which is SKYPE. Purchase some pre amount of skype credits and use it to call the bank instead … as calls to landlines are normally cheaper in skype it’s a good alternative to using an international call …
Visa check …. No help here but just thought it’s worth mentioning. One of the main points is to check for Visa requirements. Where you go and whether a Visa is required. Luckily Malaysian passport requires very minimal visa for traveling the world. My only obstacle would be Australia, USA and India … but fortunately USA Visa was obtain on the previous RTW travels and Australia visa can be obtained from a travel agency instantly. India will be my one challenge in getting the VISA on the road …. Still always plan a re-route for uncertain Visa obtainability and you’ll be fine J

TIP: Get the VISA from the travel agency in Malaysia for RM30 instead of the AUD30 if you do it online. 

Airplane ticket
I won’t pretend to be an expert in this as there are many ways to do it from hardcore no flight all boats, bus and trains to only budget airlines or even buying singles journey as you go. Important thou is that one must either have a large enough reserve or a detour is bound to happen.
I’ll be flying with Oneworld this time instead of Star Alliance. I’ll be using the ONEWORLD RTW ticket … thou it seams easy on the internet getting a RTW ticket takes a bit of effort. Trust me on this … don’t take it for granted and go talk to the nearest airline agency for that big ticket. They don’t sell these kinda ticket much especially in Asia so chances are they have no idea what they are doing and would probably overcharge you.
I’ll probably write about buying RTW tickets in a separate post …. After completing the flight with OneWorld … BEST COMPARISON EVER J

No matter how much nomadic one gets … if you are going around the world chances are you will always have a small amount of personal belonging that would require storage. I call in favours with my parents … since its free … still I thought its worth mentioning as it’s quite a key item

ALL SET …. Good Luck
Well I am all set for this next journey … once the key stuff is out of the way the next one is the fun part … PACKING LIST

No comments:

Post a Comment