Vaccinations, visas, insurance and packing the right stuff
2008/08/16 § Leave a comment
Now the tickets are bought, except the last ones of course for my return to Europe. So I am highly flexible to change plans and maybe even throw in a couple of weeks, months or years of work somewhere 😉
Some of the important topics before taking the first flight are obviously things like visa and vaccination and money.
When it comes to visas the situation is highly dependable on your nationality. Even if you are a citizen of the EU it does not mean that all regulations apply equally. E.g. when travelling to Morocco lately I had to wait in line at the airport in order to get a stamp into my passport and before that I had to fill out some kind of visa application. On the other hand, french citizens do not need to have that and travel almost as if they never had left France.
If you are German the Auswärtiges Amt  is your best bett in order to get info on where you need to have what type of visa. I strongly recommend you to take care of that as soon as possible. Due to sometimes rather long waiting times of up to 4 weeks you should start 2 months ahead of your trip and add an extra months for every destination that demands proper visa.
Obviously that is if you do not life around the corner of the embassy of these nations or their consulates. But be aware that not all consulates issue holiday visas!
When I tried to get my visa for India by mail here in Spain where I am at the moment it turned out to be somewhat unnerving. I called after the usual processing time was over and was informed that they had not received the full amount of money from me which was why they had not even started to process my application. They did claim to have left a two messages on my mobile phone’s voice-box. However, my voice-box is not even activated, so that was just bull****. Be highly cautious with these things as it can screw with your whole planning. In my case, I was so early with everything that I got my visa still well in time…
When travelling to the US you should also be cautious, as there are new regulations [2, 3] for travellers starting January 2009. Then you will have to register online, well before you intend entering the USA by plane (now you will just have to fill out a card on the plane).
When it comes to south east Asia you won’t need a visa for the main hub Bangkok. However, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos do demand a tourist visa. While you can easily get the visa for Cambodia online  you can get those visas e.g. in Bangkok while you explore the city for some days. I will get the visas for Vietnam and possibly for Laos in Cambodia, while I travel around there.
For south America you will not need a visa if you are an EU citizen. Similarly for central America (and Mexico) no visa is needed. However, beware that going to Cuba still is a different story. You should check with your local embassy. I did not get one in the end and took Cuba off my list for now. However, as I understand you have to provide them with info where you will stay and things like that. So it demands some planning ahead it seems.
When it comes to vaccination you should not forget that this is not something that is up to you entirely. Depending where you travel and where you have been just before that you will need certain vaccinations. Mostly stuff you should have at home as well anyway, but especially yellow fever is needed and evidence of a recent vaccination has to be produced at the border of some nations. Else you are going to be on the next plane going back to where you came from again.
Check with you GP and take care of it at least 2 months before your trip. Some vaccinations will demand 3 shots over 1 or two months time in order to give you the desired protection. Also because in my experience especially yellow fever gave me some adverse effects. I felt like having a flu for a couple of days. So do it in time so you are fine and fit for your trip.
Of course that depends where you go and what you are planning to do. If you go scuba diving you may want to have some of the equipment with you, or if you intend to do a lot of hiking you want to have decent hiking boots for it. However, if you are like me and you are mostly in for the cultural sites and beach relaxation in between you are planning for light packing.
I intend to have one cargo pants and one jeans with me. If you are the hiking type you obviously would avoid such pants and would rather go for a more water rejecting and quick drying material. I will have two pairs of jeans shorts and a couple of beach-/running shorts. Underware does not take too much space and I prefer to take some more, so I reduce the need for washing to less than once a week, so I will have 10 sets of underware. I will need two short sleeved shirts and one long sleeved shirt. For some occassions you may want to have one that looks neat. May it be for going to a dinner or sorting things out with some goverment agency or the police after some trouble: looking neat comes in handy at times.
More important maybe than clothes (which can so easily be bought in most of the cities you will travel to) are the small things like mosquito net, decent repellents, recreational and hiking equipment, rain protection, books in you language, drugs you need, including your malaria medication and things like that. Things that may be harder to get where you go.
When it comes to malaria medication I will for obvious reasons (maintenance of my liver and mental health) not be able to take malaria prevention medication for the whole time. So I will instead have a dose of stand-by medication with me which I will need to take when I get symptoms and then I would have to look for the next hospital.
One thing I would definitely recommend is to scan tickets, passports, tan-lists of your bank, visas etc and put them on a password protected server on the internet. In case things get stolen it is much easier to get around and get replacements with these copies.
If you plan to travel for more than six weeks you have to have a special insurance. Do not get fooled into buying an insurance “valid for one year” without checking how much time of that year you are allowed to travel. There are many of these inexpensive options, however, in most cases you can use this insurance repeatedly within a year but never for a trip longer than lasting six weeks.
Hence you need to look out for other options adjusted to the special needs of round the world travellers. The least expensive and concomitantly most suitable insurance for me comes form Axa . One other thing you should be cautious about is, that some of these insurances do not cover you when staying in the USA or certain other regions of the world. In case of Axa there is a coverage for the USA but only up to a certain time.
I am going to take my EC-card and on credit card with me. I am not sure yet if I take traveller cheques with me. Since I got an account with DKB, a German internet bank, especially for this trip this might do the job. They offer you free cash withdrawing at any ATM world wide. In case of loss or theft you are merely responsible of up to 50€ before you report the loss.
I was gonna take a card from my Spanish bank too, as a backup, but I am not sure if I do that. The more stuff you have the more you can lose. But I will see how that goes.
All in all I can recommend DKB so far. The account is for free and you even get interest rates for money you have on their account. If you put it on the visa-card account you get almost 5% interest rates!
- 6-10 T-shirts
- 6-10 Underpants
- 5-7 pairs of socks
- 2 long trousers
- 2 short trousers
- 2-3 shorts for the beach or sport
- Sunhat or cap
- 1-2 short sleeved shirts
- 1-2 long sleeved shirts
- Sarong or similar cloth
- Sports shoes
- (or Hiking boots)
- Light summer shoes
- One large, one smaller towel
- Rain Jacket
- Light Jacket (to be combined with sweater/ rain jacket in cold regions)
- Guide book for you first destination
- Note-block and pens
- and/or notebook (I got an eee PC for the trip)
- iPod for music
- mobile phone
- chargers for everything
- money belt
- mosquito net
- bug repellent
- drugs you need regularly (e.g. migraine medication in my case)
- Anti malaria drugs
- Band aids and gaze
- sleeping bag
- sleeping bag inlay (a linen inlay you can use in hot countries)
- Books for recreational reading
- Sun screen
- Sun glasses
- Hat for sun protection
- Credit card(s)
- Traveller cheques
- If you have: student ID, Youth hostel membership card(s) etc.