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How to plan a year travelling abroad

This is a guest post written by Sarah Duncan, a travel writer from Australia, who has recently been living and working in Bogota, Colombia. She has put her years of travelling the world, living abroad and eating exotic food to the pen. Find out about daily life in Colombia, useful travel tips, how Sarah was bestowed her nickname Sarepa and much more by visiting her website.

Just the other day I had a conversation with a friend about what it’s like to start over; about selling up and living abroad; about what it’s like to quit your job, pack up your life and move to the other side of the world.

All images courtesy of Sarah Duncan (Sarepa)

I’ve packed up my life and decided to begin again twice over the last six years, and now, after 28 years of life, I can fit all of my possessions in one and a half suitcases. But, if you’re thinking about taking the plunge, if you’re feeling the pangs of wanderlust and want to move overseas to immerse yourself into another culture, then here’s what you need to know.

1. Decide where to go

It’s all well and good knowing you want to spend a year abroad, but the import thing is deciding where in the world you want to go. What kind of experiences are you after? What are your goals for the trips? Do you want to backpack around South East Asia? Or, perhaps you want to live and study in France, learning the language and the culture as you go? The first step is really knowing where you want to go, so you know how much time and money you need to make it happen.

2. Organise your cash flow

Once you know where you want to go, it’s time to start saving. For six months to a year before you plan to go – depending on your personal situation and saving abilities – make sure you buckle down and save. Instead of going out and buying lunch or that coffee every day, put that money into your savings account and watch the travel funds grow.

3. Buy your ticket

Buying your ticket early means you can take advantage of optimum savings, but it also makes the adventure seem all the more real. Once the ticket is bought you’ll be more motivated to save and do your research. Until your ticket is bought, your travel abroad plans are just ideas and fantasies that might or might not happen. But once that ticket is staring back at you with a date locked in, you know it’s real.

4. Move in with friends or family

If you really want to make the most of saving for your big overseas escape, it is absolutely a must that you cut down your expenses in any way possible. If it’s an option for you, stay with friends or family for a month or so before you go so you can save that rent money and put it towards your trip.

5. The trip logistics

So, the ticket is bought, you know where you want to go, but what now? Well, whether you are a planner or a bit more laid back, it’s a great idea to have at least the first two weeks sorted in terms of where you’re going to stay and where you’re going to visit. After the first two weeks you’ll feel more settled into your new country and will meet people which are sure to lead to friendship and travel plans. Look at organising your first couple of weeks of accommodation in a hostel or at a homestay.

6. Loose ends

To avoid worrying about what’s going on back at “home” while you’re away, it’s really important to tie up loose ends before you leave. Figure out what you’re going to do with things like your phone contract, your furniture and excess baggage you might be looking at putting into storage.

7. Make connections

Do you know people from where you’re heading to? Get in touch with them, organise to meet up, see if you can stay with them for a night or two. If you don’t know anyone in the area you’re heading to, why not stay with a host family, study at a language school to meet people or make connections through the local expat or couchsurfing communities.

8. Enjoy!

Once you’ve made all these plans, there’s no going back. So enjoy yourself, take heaps of photos and tell us all about it. Have fun!

What other advice do you have for people looking to take the plunge to live abroad? Let us know in the comments.

By Sarah Duncan

Read more from Sarah and life in Colombia.

If you have been inspired by Sarah and her experiences, why not make your own journey? Frontier runs over 300 dedicated conservation, community and adventure projects worldwide.

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