Friday, March 23

traveling around the world • preparations


There are very few things that stress me out as much as travel prep does. Don't get me wrong: I love the excitement and getting my shit together does make me feel empowered and independent. I'm also one of those people who love packing. It's so satisfying to me to just fit my life into a backpack. But god - if I'd never have to look into visa stuff again that'd be a HUGE relief.

I'm currently sat on the cool, marble floor of an airport in Sweden, my backpack by my side, A$AP Ferg blasting out of my headphones (probably ruining my hearing) and I feel so very carefree. Yes- okay, there's stuff racing through my mind (like cash withdrawals, currency exchange and bus routes from Bangkok Airport to the city centre) but it's all good. My life has been compressed to 50 liters. 11.8 kilograms. Wonderful.

The weeks, months prior to today, however, have been slightly less carefree and dreamy and floaty. I was running around, getting vaccinations, a new passport, reading everything I could find on international public transport, budgeting and malaria all while I was also working my ass of to make some extra cash to get me through these months of traveling. I didn't sleep. As soon as I closed my eyes I saw images of visas, travel documents, proof of onward travel and maps of places I could, at that point, only dream of. 

I decided to create a simple yet informative guide to traveling the world (mostly South East Asia). A structured overview of things to be done, to be considered and to be bought. Stuff to take care of to ensure a care free, worry free, comfortable and budget proof trip. To get you through the preparations WITHOUT the sleepless nights :) You're welcome. 

booking tickets


I book pretty much all of my tickets through Kiwi. Kiwi is a super convenient flight booking website with loads of useful features. It's easy to use and in my experience Kiwi finds the cheapest flight deals at least 90% of the time. 

The key to finding the best deals is checking different dates, being flexible and considering different airports than the ones closest to home. Oh and planning your trips and flights outside of holiday season (if possible) is always a good idea. Kiwi basically does most of these things for you:

Kiwi searches for the cheapest route, regardless of codeshares

This is what makes Kiwi so awesome. While other flight search engines will try to get you booked through your entire route on either the same airline or airlines with codeshares, Kiwi will look at all of the cheapest possibilities, even if it means putting you on two totally separate flights (where you have to check in again during your layover) or sending you to a random airport totally off route.
While this isn’t ideal for people looking for the fastest and easiest way to get somewhere, it’s perfect for people looking for the absolute cheapest option.

In fact, this is what I used to spend hours doing myself – often I’d end up booking a flight from Oslo to London, and then London to wherever I was actually going, as it tended to be much cheaper.
So basically Kiwi does flight hacking for you. It’s a HUGE timesaver.
source: heartmybackpack
Some things to be considerate of:
Making sure you don't need a transit visa when having a long layover. (! You really don't want to be in trouble over such a silly thing.) Especially if you want to check out the city or something. If you're on a budget it's always a good idea to try and fit all your belongings into your hand luggage. Keep in mind that different airlines have different rules for luggage size and weight. Always check the website of the airline you're flying with.

visa


Ahh - if there is something that stresses me out it's taking care of visa stuff. It's all very formal and the idea of accidentally making mistakes and ending up in loads of trouble never really leaves the back of my mind. 

The easiest way to find out whether you need a visa and how to obtain it is through going to the government immigration website of the country of destination. Just click the tab that says 'visas'. Easy as that. In a lot of countries it's actually not that complicated and possible to enter without visa and get a visa upon arrival at the airport. In other countries you apply for a visa online and get either an electronic visa or documents (though paperwork is considered kind of oldskool). There are a few exceptions where you still need to send out your passport to an embassy to get the visa in your passport (it's complicated - I'm not sure if I'm explaining it right). But those are quite rare.

In short: it's mostly visa upon arrival or electronic visas. It's not that scary or complicated. The cost of the visa varies per country. Look it up! Get it out of the way! It'll free up lots of mind space for way more fun stuff :)

To get your visa upon arrival there are a few things to keep in mind though: you will often need to pay for it in local currency and you'll probably need proof of onward travel. A plainticket to prove you'll leave the country within 30 days (check for how long your visa will be valid! it might be 15 or 60 days). If you're not entirely sure yet where you want to go I'd advice you to buy a so-called 'throwaway ticket' - a cheap ticket to pretty much anywhere just to prove your departure. Get a flight to Vietnam for €25 and decide later whether you want to use it or not!

Oh and always keep printed copies of electronic visa. Even if it's not required. Just to be sure.

health: vaccinations, insurances, meds


Check whether you need vaccinations - in most countries in Asia, South America and Africa it is more often than not advised or even mandatory to get a few. If so - get them at least six to eight weeks in advance at a specialised medical centre. I went to the GGD in Amsterdam and made an appointment online. I was advised and informed by multiple professionals and got my vaccinations that same day. 

Getting an insurance for your travels is always a good idea but not always very appealing as it's often very expensive. I checked with my own insurance whether it'd be an option to update to a deal with slightly more coverage and found something that was only ten euros more than what I was already paying. There are loads of different options out there, at different pricepoints and I would definitely advice to at least look into it.

Last but not least you'll have to look into what kinds of medication and medical supplies to bring. Read up on local diseases, what to be cautious of, whether you'll need Malaria medication and/or mosquito nets. Those types of things. The amount of stuff you stock up on and how detailed your shopping list will b will obviously depend on where you're going and the duration of your trip. Working in Melbourne you'll have access to pharmacies, hospitals, grocery stores and all the good stuff. Getting your hands on specific medication or treatments won't be that easy on a remote island or somewhere on top of a mountain. In these last few cases you'll have to bring bandages, disinfecting gels, antipyretics and much more. Ask a doctor! Someone who's qualified to provide the right information. Be safe :) 

Check: lonelyplanet > your destination > in detail > health & insurances

money stuff: credit cards, cash, valuta


Credit cards are super duper handy. However: in most countries you need a monthly income of at least €1000 to acquire a credit card. Lots of banks do offer student cards or deals that allow you to get a credit card with a lower spending limit. I found my credit card through a Dutch company called ANWB. I can spend up to €500 a month and there are little to no additional fees. 

I won't have to worry about not being able to book flights or hostels and have a safe paying method at hand at all times. 

Regarding cash: wear cash on you in multiple places. Never store all your cash in one spot. Find an ATM machine when you arrive and cash enough to sustain you for a while. Usually you will be charged for cash withdrawals (in Thailand you'll pay about 200 baht) so it's always better to cash at lot at once. Besides - there won't be ATM machines everywhere so it's good to always have a little extra on you.

Check: lonelyplanet > your destination > in detail > money


If there's any of the above topics you'd like me to write some more about then feel free to leave a comment or send me an email! I'll soon update on my own travels and post the next chapter of this series :)

Let me know if this was useful! Next up: a summary of documents to acquire and a super detailed and somewhat minimalist (yet comfortable) packing list.


3 comments:

  1. Supergoede tips! Goed uitgelegd en goed te doen allemaal :)
    Ik heb net vanavond een visum aangevraagd voor Rusland - dat is er dus zo eentje die nog ouderwets met je paspoort opsturen enzo moet :') Hopelijk lukt het allemaal, haha, best spannend! ZOVEEL ZIN IN.

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    1. Oooh wat spannend! Rusland lijkt me zo'n mooi en interessant land - maar 't heeft ook wel iets intimiderends ofzo. Heel veel plezier! :)

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  2. Ik had nog nooit van Kiwi gehoord maar echt een fijne tip! Wel verleidelijk, want ik zie al allemaal leuke en goedkope bestemmingen voorbij komen :')

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Thanks!