Preparation for my travels
Preparing for travels seemed very daunting to me. As someone who LOVES to be organised and writes lists for everything possible the concept of not really planning was a weird one. It may just be me, but there is something satisfying about ticking things off the list (like I have achieved something)!
But early on in my travel planning I decided that I was going to go with the flow, embrace the spontaneity and see where my travels took me as much as I could.
Obviously, I had planned a route out and needed to book my major flights but I did a bit of research and found that if I booked my flights with STA I could get the multi-flex pass.
This turned out to be a smart move. My friend Emily, mentioned one night when she had kindly let me stay at her flat in London after a boozy work event (sorry again Em for getting you out of bed), that she was going to be travelling over Summer, but that the final part she was going to have to do alone. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to invite myself!
STA were great and I was easily able to change my flight to an earlier date, having the flexibility to change is ideal. If you are somewhere and you love it so much you want to stay you just need to pick up the phone, email or go to an STA store and they sort it all out for you. They even give you a summary itinerary of all your flights (perfect for someone like me who gets that unreasonable fear of missing a flight every time I fly even though I have never missed a flight).
So, with my flights booked I then turned to the other ‘stuff’ I needed to do and naturally created a list.
Money & budget
How to spend money
Let the bank know what countries I will be in
Valid passport was easy, just make sure you have at least 6 months on your passport at the end of your trip and that you have enough bank pages for visa stamps.
For injections I decided to be safe and get all the vaccinations recommended to me by the nurse, so this included all the free ones on the NHS, Typhoid, Ditherier, Polio, Tetanus, and Hepatitis A. As well as paying for Rabies, Japanese Encephalitis and Hepatitis B, this cost approx. £400 so it wasn’t cheap but I decided if I could afford to travel then I could afford to stay healthy! After all, my trip wouldn’t exactly be fun if I ended up getting ill or worse dying… I also got Malaria tablets for an area of Indonesia which was classed as high risk.
When you go to your doctors and ask the receptionist about travel vaccinations they tell you that you don’t need to see the nurse until 6 weeks before you go, if you are going travelling for a long period of time across numerous countries ignore that receptionist that thinks she knows everything, she doesn’t!
Often the doctor has to order in the vaccinations and for Japanese encephalitis you have to get a prescription from the doctor and go to a pharmacy and collect the injections yourself. Hep B and Rabies are a course of 3 and Japanese encephalitis is a course of 2 injections. For them to be effective, they must be given at specific times over a number of weeks, and therefore it is best to allow plenty of time to ensure you are not at risk.
A useful website to help educate you on the potential requirements for vaccinations was Fit for travel
Money and budgeting:
Money and budgeting was fairly hard to decide as I had never visited these places and had heard mixed comments in terms of cost of living. I guess in reality it all depends on how much you eat and drink, your travel style and what other activities you wanted to do. However, I found a website Budget my trip which gave daily costs for a variety of travel styles, I then aimed for the mid-range travel style with the thought that I would travel budget i.e. hostels etc. but that the extra money could be used for fun stuff!
This is the rough budget I am working towards:
I did a bit of googling on the best type of rucksack to take with me and read lots of reviews. Osprey seemed to come up within the top 3 on numerous websites and blogs that I had read so I decided to go with that brand. I went to a few shops and tried them on for size, I settled on the Farpoint 80l. I probably could have gone smaller but knowing how much I like to pack for a holiday (I am always that person that goes over the luggage limit, sorry about me) I figured bigger was better.
I recommend finding a backpack that has straps that can be stowed away for flights and that is fully openable like a suitcase rather than a top loader. This means that your luggage is unlikely to end up getting caught on the airport luggage system and means you do not have to unpack your whole bag just to find one thing!
UPDATE: I am writing this 6 days into my travelling experience and have vowed to reduce my luggage weight when I go to Singapore, as 15kg feels HEAVY in the heat when you are walking looking for your hostel/taxi or anything else for that matter! Luckily, I don’t have to bin it all, when Emily goes home she is going to take me extras back with her.
Carrying my money:
I decided the best way to carry my money was to not have all my eggs in one basket. I didn’t want to be reliant on one card, in case it didn’t work or it got eaten by the cash machine. I therefore decided to bring my virgin credit card, NatWest credit card, debit card and a Revolut card.
My intention is to mainly use the Revolut card, it’s a card that you can use across the world at anywhere that accepts Mastercard (so most places) the really good thing is they give you interbank exchange rates. You literally load your home currency on via an app and then you can draw out cash or spend in foreign currency and you get the interbank rate. The app also tracks what you spend your money on which is handy to know, and if you card gets lost or stolen you can block it easily via the app.
Letting my bank know where I am going to be so that they allow spending, should have been simple but it wasn’t when you have no fixed dates. Not sure how to get over this one, what I have been doing is just logging on online and changing the country the day before I leave a destination to the new destination. Another reason that Revolut is great, there is none of that fuss.
Travel insurance, what a bore! Obviously, I understand the importance of having good travel insurance, I wouldn’t want anything to happen and me not be covered. But when you start reading the policies you realise that most of them don’t cover you for half the things you would expect them to! I also knew that I was going to be taking a few pricey gadgets away and wanted to make sure they were covered and most policies do not offer high single item cover. I did A LOT of googling, and reading of insurance policies and found some of them were just an absolute rip off, one company quoted me £700, like seriously, have a word! I finally settled on World First, they had good medical and activity cover, they also had a gadget cover add-on and positive reviews it came in at around £180, which I thought quite reasonable in comparison.
Being a UK citizens Visas weren’t as much of a problem as I thought they could be. For lots of the countries I was visiting I didn’t require a visa in advance or if they did you are able to complete them online. However, I did note that governments seem to regularly change their border rules, for example Vietnam rules changed in June 2017, so I recommended checking first and not just assuming!
I will update as I travel if there is anything else I think of 🙂