In exactly one months time, I will be landing in Bangkok and will be beginning my epic adventure which will take me to so many countries and lead me to so many things I have never experienced before.
As it gets nearer to when I leave, and time seems to be going quicker, all my spare time lately seems to be occupied by last minute planning and, to be frank, getting my shit together!! There are some things I wish I planned earlier, so the sooner you start getting everything organised, the better and easier your life will be. Below, I’ve listed the absolute essentials that you need to plan and organise in the months and weeks leading up to your departure date.
This is the one that is occupying my mind most at the moment. Mostly because I got my typhoid jab yesterday, and as I write this my arm is aching. I’ve totally left it to the last minute, and some of my vaccinations I wish I sorted months ago. But I’m sorting it now and hopefully there will still be time.
Depending where you go in the world, vaccinations are so important. Some you won’t need depending on the duration of your trip or how you’ll be travelling, but if you’re backpacking for a long period of time around under-developed countries, you’re gonna have to get a few jabs I’m afraid.
The most important one is Typhoid, which is free on the NHS. Hepatitis A is also free, as is Polio and Tetanus, both of which I got in school and so I don’t need to worry about at the moment. Other ones may cost you money and sometimes it’s good to shop around. I’m getting my rabies jab and hopefully my hepatitis B jab on the NHS, which will set me back over £100 for each vaccination. I warn you, I left it last minute to get my hepatitis B jab and will now need a rapid course, so do your homework on what you need. Don’t listen if someone tells you your risk isn’t that high if you think you will need it. You can’t put a price on health.
Another thing to consider is malaria tablets. I hate malaria tablets so much, but for much of Cambodia and certain islands such as The Gili Islands, I may need them, and I’d rather not take the risk. At the moment Asda are selling Malarone for £1 a pill so I will probably get them from there. There are many different malaria tablets on offer, but not all of them work in certain areas, and some have pretty gnarly side effects. Do some research and try to work out which is best for you.
One of my favourite travel bloggers, Lauren from Never Ending Footsteps wrote a brilliant, very comprehensive post on travel vaccinations and I strongly recommend giving that a read by clicking here
Another useful site is fitfortravel.nhs.uk, which is run by the NHS and gives you lots of travel health advice and allows you to view the risk for each country you are visiting.
It honestly shocks me that so many people still seem to think insurance is optional. It isn’t. It’s a necessity. An often unfortunately expensive necessity yes, but a necessity non-the-less. With insurance, take some time to shop around, do some research, and find which works best for you and your trip. Don’t just grab the first policy you see. You’ll often find travel insurance much cheaper than the first option, but of course, it is still important to ensure you are completely covered.
I personally got my insurance from Outbacker. Why? I liked the fact that they specialise in backpacker insurance. They were a lot cheaper compared to other options, and that was including me adding on all the sports categories. They also cover working holidays, which was important for me for when I hit Australia.
The only drawback? Many of these insurance companies won’t cover gadgets, or at least, not if their worth a lot of money. Considering I plan on taking some fairly costly gear I will have to take out a separate policy for my laptop and cameras. I plan on using Photoguard as I have seen this recommended by others.
How are you going to keep your money safe? Most travellers will use a cashcard that you can top up and use around the globe. I think this is a great option and a lot cheaper than using a debit/credit card, as well as safer than carrying wods of cash everywhere you go (even though it is important to keep some cash on you always in case of an emergency). There’s loads of different options for cashcards out there with different rates. I personally am going to use STA’s card. When I booked my flights I got one of their cards anyway, so it’s less hassle in that respect. But they also have great rates.
This is going to be such an issue for me, because I have a contract that is no where near it’s end date that I need to sort out. I got my phone stolen back in october, and with no insurance my cheapest option was to buy myself out of my contract and start a new one. So frustrating!! If you’re planning on travelling, I don’t recommend taking out a two year contract a year before you’re due to leave!
My plan is to hopefully pass my contract on to some willing friend or family member, get a new unlocked phone, and then purchase a global sim card. For me, I need my phone. It is essential for me to be able to stay in touch with the rest of the world if things go wrong. But now it is easy to grab sim cards on the go which will make it a lot cheaper than using a UK sim card.
5. Packing/Planning what to take.
Yay, the fun part! Or at least way funner than all the boring (yet important) stuff above. Even though it can often be stressful, I love packing, planning, writing lists, and of course, shopping (even though my bank balance may beg to differ). There is so much to consider when it comes to packing for a long trip – what bag do you take? how many clothes do you pack? what about shoes, toiletries, meds? I will be writing my own packing list soon, revealing what bag i’ll be using and everything i’ll be taking.
6. Planning your arrival.
I haven’t planned a lot for my trip. I know any plans I do make will go out the window and I want to keep my plans as flexible as possible.
However, there are a few important things to consider before you leave, mostly concerning your arrival in your new country. Unless you’re a seasoned traveller or it’s all already been planned for you, I’d recommend booking your first couple of night accommodation and sorting out transfers from the airport. I personally do not want to be wandering around Bangkok International at 6am, after a 16 hour journey, looking for a taxi. I also don’t want to be wandering around looking for a hostel and wanting to cry. I have booked two nights at Lub D Siam Square. I’m yet to sort out transfers, but by doing a little google I know there are lots of options available to me. These are the little things that don’t take a moment to sort and can save so much hassle once you get there.