When I was a kid, my parents took us on a five-week trip to Europe and it completely changed my view of the world and traveling. Up until then, I had thought that people didn’t travel before retirement or didn’t travel with kids because they couldn’t walk away from their everyday activities and responsibilities. That experience helped me see that it is possible to get out there and go on your dream vacation before age 65 with some intentional planning.
Now, I love having the chance to help others plan and encourage them to travel and take their dream vacations. It’s so rewarding to watch others live out their dreams of bike touring the Pacific Coast from Canada to Mexico, traveling the country in their Tofino van, and backpacking through Europe after missing the chance to do so in college.
With fall in full swing, many families are finding their kids back at school, and some families are experiencing an empty nest for the first time in 18 years or more. If that’s the moment you’ve been waiting for to finally take that trip you’ve been dreaming about, there might still be some items you’re unsure of or haven’t yet thought about.
Let’s say your job offers an unpaid sabbatical, but you’re not sure if taking a few months off is going to push back your retirement timeline substantially. You know you need to make your travel plans and determine your trip route, but you’re not sure what else you need to consider.
As financial advisors, we help provide clarity around these unknowns. We can certainly answer your questions about how your trip might impact your retirement timeline so you’re comfortable making the decision to take time away now that you finally can! In helping answer what else you should be keeping in mind, we’ve compiled a list of some important planning items for long-term trips:
Financials. Consider setting all your bills to autopay if you haven’t already done so. You can also set up automatic transfers for any bank or retirement accounts that you add funds to on a regular basis. Be sure to notify your financial advisor that you’ll be gone, especially if you might be unreachable for some period of time. It’s also important to notify your bank if you’re traveling so that they don’t flag your purchases as fraudulent and deny your purchases in other countries or states.
Documents. Organize your important documents and know where they are in case you need to direct someone to access them. Consider making copies of your passports, medical cards, and other documents you may need to access while traveling in case you misplace any actual documents. If you don’t already have Wills, Powers of Attorney, or Health Care Directives in place, we’d highly recommend creating those estate planning documents in case something happens while you’re traveling.
Home. Consider having someone check on your home while you’re away. You can leave them instructions for caring for your home such as watering the plants, checking that appliances are working properly, and starting up your sedentary cars every so often. Consider setting up automatic timers for lights in your home and an alarm system for security purposes if someone won’t be at your home regularly while you’re away. You can have your mail forwarded or held by the post office while you’re away as well if that’s needed. Also consider turning on auto-replies for email and tailoring your voicemail to let others know if your usual response timing may change.
Pets. If you have pets and aren’t planning on taking them with you, you’ll need to find someone to care for them while you’re away. Whether that’s family, a pet sitter through a platform like Rover, or a boarding company, it’s great to leave them with detailed instructions about your pet’s food, routine, and behavior.
Health Care. Not all medical insurance plans offer coverage outside of your home state or country. If your coverage doesn’t extend to where you’re traveling, consider putting travel medical insurance in place in case something happens. If you have any regular prescription medications, you’ll also need to work with your pharmacist to be sure you have a plan for refilling your prescriptions.
Travel Insurance. Travel insurance can help provide emergency medical coverage as well as coverage for cancelations, delays, and/or accidents while you’re traveling. Consider working with an agent to determine what the right coverage is for your travel plans.
Contingency Plan. In case something goes awry, it’s important to have a contingency plan in place. Be sure you have an emergency contact back home and have equipped them properly for anything that could come up while you’re away. For example, be sure they know who’s watching your pets or caring for your home. Consider creating a “just-in-case” bag with additional items you might need sent to you should plans change.
Conversations about planning for dream vacations is one of the best parts of my job. I’m grateful to be able to work with people to help uncover their dreams and figure out a plan to make them happen now—not only in retirement. If you’ve got ideas about what’s important for you and your future, let’s connect! I’d love to help you get there!
Disclosure: All opinions expressed in this article are for general informational purposes and constitute the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of the report. These opinions are subject to change without notice and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual or on any specific security. The material has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, however Merriman cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information, and certain information presented here may have been condensed or summarized from its original source. Merriman does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice, and nothing contained in these materials should be taken as such.