Preamble: The Laundry List
Planning a six month trip is much more romantic when said out loud, than it looks on paper. The planning process has been a learning curve in itself. Depending on the length of the trip you are taking, there is a laundry list of “little things” that must be taken care of before you hop continents.
Insert your dreams into what you are going to make your reality. Take into consideration that your itinerary is going to evolve, not once, not twice, but possibly up to five times. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, it is all part of the process. Flexibility is key when building your itinerary. Your plans are subject to change once you get to your destination(s), so don’t be heartbroken if something changes last minute (this is all part of the adventure).
*Liv tip: personalize your itinerary on Google Maps by creating your own map. You can save your map, create a timeline, and share it with anyone.
Do your research! There are so many local resources, that can help guide you through the immunization process. It can seem pretty daunting, but it is 110% worth it. Vaccinations for international travel can be expensive, but some of the cost can be subsidized if you have secondary health insurance. I visited my family physician and told him about the countries I was traveling to. I had done some preliminary research of which diseases I would need to be immunized for, which helped speed up the visit. He double checked the areas I was going to be traveling in and confirmed the immunizations needed. I filled the prescription at the pharmacy and was completely covered, minus the pharmacy injection fee ($20.00 CAD - this may depend on what kind of extra coverage you have).
You also have the option to book an appointment at a travel clinic. This can be more costly, as international travel immunizations are not covered by Alberta health care.
Apply in advance, but not too far in advance. I would suggest giving yourself a 2-3 month window to apply and to give yourself time for the visa to arrive. Applying too far in advance can be a potentially expensive error. Your travel plans may change, and for entry into certain countries, you may not be able to modify your visa entry or departure dates.
Do yourself a favour, and really read the fine print.
Fun example: I thought I was being meticulous while filling out my partner and I’s Chinese visa applications. I thought wrong. We went to Calgary to have a face-to-face appointment at the Chinese visa office, and I am so glad we did. In order to enter the country, you must have proof of booked accommodation, an outbound flight, and your complete itinerary while visiting. None of those important details were to be found on the Chinese visa application website.
**Side note: if you plan on driving on your trip, you should cover your bases by getting an IDP (International Driver’s Permit). This document is proof that you possess a valid driver’s license in your country of residence. Getting pulled over by foreign police sucks, and by having the proper documentation you can save yourself an explanation.
Whether you are traveling with regular luggage or a traveler’s backpack, I would highly suggest doing a pre-pack a few weeks before your departure date. Having an idea of what you need and don’t need helps to ease the anxiety and stress attached to packing. If you haven’t traveled for a long period of time before, it can be overwhelming to have to stuff your life in a bag and leap into the abyss of uncertainty.
The word “budget” makes my toes curl just as much as yours, but let me tell you… it’s necessary. A few glasses of wine may ease the initial angst (10/10 would recommend). But really, the theme of this entire post is: “try your hardest to not screw yourself over, health-wise, and financially”. You don’t have to be a broke ass traveler. It’s all about balance.
Ask yourself a few honest questions:
1.) How long do I want to travel for?
2.) How much can I, and am I willing to save for my trip?
3.) What kind of lifestyle do I want to live while I travel, and am I able to compromise?
4.) How much disposable cash do I really need while traveling (be realistic)?
5.) How much money will I need to save additionally for when I come home?
Put your data into a spreadsheet or download a budgeting app. Having a visual representation of what you are working with will make your trips financial details much clearer, and highlight possible limitations or possible opportunities.
Everyone’s planning process is different.
Thank you for taking the time to read about mine.
Stay tuned for Chapter 1: Hong Kong.