No matter what size journey you are taking, you need to be prepared.
As we prepared to see 9 countries in two months, we noted a few handy hints:
1) When it comes to visa’s, timing is everything!
If you are planning to see multiple countries in a row, be aware of what visa’s you need to apply for, even for a short tourist visit, and how long in advance you can apply for them.
Many countries do not require a tourist visa, or can be applied for on arrival but this is not always the case, so ensure you are aware of these kinds of restraints before committing to a country. Russia for example, which is our 9th country, isn’t so carefree – you can’t just rock up. You need a letter of invitation from Russia in order to be eligible to apply for a visa. You must apply in your home country BEFORE you leave, and a full itinerary must be included in your application. Which leads me on to number 2.
2) When you haven’t had a lot of experience travelling, some things are easier to organise through an agent.
It’s worth paying a few extra dollars for peace of mind. We organised our visa’s using the travel agent who also booked our tours, along with various flights and accommodation in the earlier part of our trip. One benefit is having detailed itinerary’s, useful for Visa applications, as well as for Mum’s who like to be kept in the know.
Booking a tour through an agent not only ensures you are using a reputable company, but assists with Visa applications.
Our letter of invitation for Russia was organised by the tour group in a timely fashion, making it easier to apply for. Although in some ways we paid more than we would have if we organised it ourselves, it was a load off our minds to know we weren’t alone and got help and advice from our travel agent every step of the way.
3) Travel insurance – read your policy.
The WHOLE policy. Read the fine print. Compare, compare, compare. Read reviews. Read the horror stories. Travel insurance is another area you don’t want to skimp out on. Having said that, be aware that many companies are willing to price match on very similar policies. You may be able to get the insurance agency you want, with a great policy for a ripper price.
4) Do a test pack.
Do MORE than one. Especially the ladies. You know that you can’t logistically take all 12 shirts, 5 pants, ski jacket, 7 dresses and 6 pairs of shoes, but until you do a decent test pack you don’t really believe it. A test pack gives you the opportunity to assess what you will prioritise and what you can leave at home. We took our packs on a 4-day trip before we left and I dumped quite a few items. You can always pick up stuff along the way too. Actually, this is more than likely, so make some room.
5) Vaccinations and medical supplies.
See the travel doctor, get advice from around the web – be ready to get a few needles, and be ready to fork out for the cost. Having said that – shop around for your prescription medicines, and research side-affects. We needed Malaria tablets for Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. The first prescription at the travel doctors were expensive for the convenience, and they were much more expensive than the other common Malaria medication, which we opted for in the end, saving much needed money. I am an asthmatic so purchased an extra supply in Australia before leaving and already have my scripts with me for repeats when I need them.
While you are thinking about all these practical elements to the journey, remember to Dream. Plan. Keep thinking about it, wish upon a star. Realise you are about to experience something great and wondrous. Be ready and open for life to astound you. Realise that you are also lucky to be able to do it. Be thankful for it, feel humbled by it. Be ready to learn from it and spread you knowledge and joy to those around you. Inspire and be inspired.
eat. seek. travel.