Clean Up the Home Front Before You Hit the Road

Draw up a will. Yes, that right, sort out your estate. As I see it, with the freedom of travel comes the responsibility because other people shouldn’t have to clean up your mess.

Suppose, for example, you drink too much Mekong whiskey in Thailand, pass out on the trail and get run over by a slow-moving ox-cart. Unlikely perhaps, but kith and kin shouldn’t have to sort out what to do with your CV and DVD collection and the thousand dollars left in your bank account.

Do a search for “template for writing a will” and find one that suits you. Get it witnessed, leave a copy with your executrix and tick the responsibility number one box. The process of divvying up your possessions is a good exercise as you have to think it through and make decisions.

My will states that I want to be buried Muslim style: Wash the body, wrap it in a white sheet and bury it before sundown in an unmarked grave. Consequently I won’t have an epitaph. But if I did it would read “Some loved her; some hated her; everyone had an opinion.”

Write your obituary. Your obituary is your final statement to the world. Do you really want to leave it to someone else to schmaltz up? What do you want people to remember about you?

Like the will, writing your own obituary moves you one step closer to accepting your own mortality. And this is part of the travel experience. Once you have the base obit done you can update it from time to time to reflect your situation.

If you are stuck and want an example, my contact details are in the resource box. Flick me an email and I’ll send you a copy mine. I had such a wonderful time writing it. Very liberating.

Take out a living will. Basically, a living will is making your wishes known so that if you are in a state where you can’t act, someone else will. It might be that you are in a coma or on life-support and unable to speak.

Do you want the medical types to keep you alive no matter what or do you want them to pull the plug? I went for the latter. And I made a pact with a couple of close friends. If I’m in that state they are to inject me with Nembutal or insulin. That way I will just quietly – and painlessly – drift off into the final adventure, which is how I view death.

Leave someone with ‘power of attorney.’ Careful with this one. The designated person has full power to act on your behalf. That includes selling your CDs and DVDs, taking the thousand dollars left in your bank account and hawking your computer.

I once talked with a woman who said she didn’t have anyone in her life that she could trust. Sad, very sad. I have left people with power of attorney in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. And although I’ve only had to use it a couple of times in 30 some years, it is still a good thing to have in place.

Record the reasons you want to travel. For some it will be finding themselves. Nobel in theory, but if you are lost before you leave, chances are you won’t stumble across the “real you’ out there. Others want to opt for adventure tourism. Go for it. And then there are those who are just after pure, unadulterated hedonism they can’t afford in their home counties.

Me? I travel to meet interesting people, explore unusual markets and try different food and drink. Oh, and along the way I help when and where I can. Very simple; very do-able.

The idea of recording your original reasons is to compare them with your evolution and see how much perceptions shifted by the time you return.

Moving on. Once you reach this stage you are ready to hit the road. Think of it as “insurance” and chances are that if you have it you won’t need it. But if you don’t, some else is stuck with cleaning it all up.

Now you are ready to get your passport and yellow fever shot. Happy travels.

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