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preparing for your trip
Preparing for a trip can be pretty daunting.Having gone through it ourselves I have made a list to ease you a little bit before you make your big trip! Don't leave your country without these travel must do's...
Before embarking on your trip make sure you have checked the visa requirements for your destination. Some countries require visas on arrival whereas others may ask you to pre-arrange a visa before arriving. A useful website I used was Project Visa: http://www.projectvisa.com/
The USA has a Visa Waiver Program which allows you to apply for an electonic visa, ESTA, which you can apply for in the following link, care as there are scam websites which ask you to pay over 5 times the fee!
Some immunization injections may need to begin months before your trip. Check for your destinations immunization recommendations and get this sorted out ASAP. Most immunizations are recommended but are optional whereas in some countries there are mandatory immunizations. I advise you to take your Vaccination Record book or a photocopy with you. Malaria is also of concern in certain countries, it is usually not necessary in tourisitic areas but if you plan on going off the beaten track it is worth looking into Malaria tablets. I used the following website for immunization and Malaria information: http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/destinations.aspx
Certain countries will not accept your countires driver license. An international driving license can be purchased for around £5 and is valid for a year. If you plan on renting a car/motor vehicle it is best to be safe and take one with you.
Think ahead and BUY TRAVEL & MEDICAL INSURANCE. Yes insurances try to get away without reimbursing but it you are unlucky and something major happens overseas you will wish you had done so. Travel insurance is not worth it for small losses or incidents as when you come to have to pay the bond it will not be worth while, however, if you come by something more serious you will be thankful you thought ahead. Remember if you are a victim of theft you need to get hold of a police report ASAP (within the first 24hours) in order to send to your insurance.
It is always a wise choice to learn a few words before arriving at your destination. Learn some polite words like "hello" and "thank you". There are a few useful apps but I just simply screenshotted the words and would show them. Photos of objects are also very handy!
As mentioned in my 'Travel Essentials' page, an international adapter is the best way forward. However, if you are taking a single adapter then best to find out the adapter required and the electrical standards, a converter may be required. At times some electical devices e.g. hair straighteners and hair dryers may not work.
Find out what the countries customs are. You may offend locals even by wearing a tank top as women are supposed to be covered up. Especially in sacred temples, shoulders and legs need to be covered up so if it is too hot to cover up a sarong will be perfect for these occasions.
Guidebooks can be very handy, not only does it allow you to read about the countries destinations, customs etc it also gives you an insight on accomodation types, useful word phrases and provides a map. Our favourite guidebook is Lonely Planet and tried to pick one up from every country.
Don't be lazy and do your research. Knowing the current weather and having a rough idea of activities you would be interested in allows you to pack accordingly. There is no need in taking a warm jacket if all that is required it a thin cardigan. Even though it proves to be hard, don't over pack! This is a mistake many of us make and keep on making. You will reuse clothes several times so it's best to pack light and leave space for goodies you buy along the way! Depending on your desitination depends on the wardrobe you decide to take with you, think about it, you won't want to wear tight mini skirts when you travel in 'hippie' countries such as Thailand and Cambodia, buy a good pair of traveller pants and singlets when you get there and you are sorted!
Informing the bank of your plans and whereabout is a wise move. Banks are notorious for blocking credit/debit cards when it detects usage in foreign countries and the last thing you want is to find yourself in a foreign country without access to cash! For this reason I opened up a second bank account as a 'spare' in case this happened and guess what...it did, several times! Sometimes even if you inform the banks they will still go ahead and block your card. It is also a good idea to have a second bank account in case you are a victim of fraud and your card is cancelled, which can occur.
Another useful card is a Money Card e.g. Travelex where you lock an exchange rate when you first transfer and do not get charged when taking out money in foreign countries!
Prepare a medical bag full of goodies for when you are in desperate need for it and it saves you from hunting down a pharmacy when you are feeling poorly. Things recommended are analgesics (such as Ibuprofen or Panadol), antiseptic spray/cream, mosquito repellent, sun cream, anti-diarrheal (Imodium) and cold medications such as decongestants and strepsils. If you have prescribed medication be sure to carry a copy of the prescription with you as you may be asked for it at border control.