Planning a RTW Trip: 15 Things NOT to Forget
This is Part Two in a Series dedicated to travel tips and lessons learned while planning for an extended Round-the-World (RTW) Adventure.
Planning for extended travel around the world can be a daunting task. There are so many things to consider, so many things that must be completed before the exciting departure.
To help you plan your trip, we’ve reflected on our recent Round-the-World Adventure and come up with a checklist of 15 things you should NOT forget!
1. Photocopy your travel documentation and ID
Make 4 copies and give a copy to family, a trustworthy friend, your travel companion (if you have one) and keep one for yourself. Hide your copy in an area not easily accessible, like a hidden compartment in your backpack.
Items to copy – passport, drivers license and/or birth certificate, health card, marriage certificate (required in some Muslim countries), bank number, credit card, airline tickets info, important phone numbers in case of emergency.
2. Do you need a Visa?
Check EVERY country you plan to visit. Sound too obvious? You can imagine our surprise standing in a New Zealand airport on our way to Australia, only to learn that we needed a visa to enter. We assumed that because Canada is a Commonwealth sister country that we’d have no issue. We won’t make that mistake twice!
3. Get your Vaccinations
Consult your travel clinic or physician regarding the destinations you will be traveling to. This should be done at least 3 months in advance as some vaccinations require more than one shot. Getting ill overseas is not fun and can ruin your trip. In some cases, the disease risk can be life threatening – take it seriously.
4. Make sure your Passport is Valid
Sound like another no brainer? Well, that’s because it is! Some countries require that you have a minimum of 6 months remaining before expiration. If you’re cutting it close, get a new passport before you leave. Extended travel and RTW trips have a funny way of being unpredictable, you may want to extend your stay - so plan ahead.
5. Get a Passport with the Maximum number of pages
This point is directed towards fellow Canadians. You have the option to get a 40 page passport instead of the standard 24 page – get the 40 pager!
We got dangerously close to running out of room with all of the full page visas we collected. You’ll be amazed how quickly it fills up. If you are forced to get a new passport this can ground you for at least a week, sometimes longer.
6. Get an International Driving Permit
Even if you don’t plan on renting a vehicle or driving, getting an international permit is a good idea. Plans change, things happen. There may be a situation where you need to take the wheel. They are fairly easy to acquire and not very expense. Again, it’s simply a matter of preparation.
7. Get Travel Insurance
Don’t be that person! Yes, it can be an annoying expense that you’ll likely never end up using, but, if you get very ill or hurt, you’ll be thankful that you did (especially if you’re traveling through the US).
Travel Insurance really isn’t as expensive as you think.
8. Carry US dollars and/or Euros
Both currencies are very useful and accepted in most countries. Unexpected expenses WILL happen. Many airports (especially in South America) require arrival and departure fees which can be only paid in cash.
You may also find yourself in a city or country that doesn’t have ATM’s – this happened to us in Bolivia and we were glad we had a secret stash of $US.
9. Stock up on Medication
Go to the pharmacy and get all the pills you need; such as altitude sickness, fear of flying, sever upset stomach, birth control, sea sickness, back pain, headaches, water purification, etc.
You can get cheap drugs overseas, but in some cases you don’t know what you’re taking or the source may not be trustworthy.
10. Get a Living Will made
I know it sounds a overly dramatic, but you never know when it’s your time and if you have a house or lots of money in the bank, it’s best to be protected.
Obviously this is not necessary if you have no possessions, but if you do, this is an important piece of paper. Without a will, if you die there is no guarantee that your assets will go to your family.
11. Transfer your incoming mail
You never know what will come up while you are away. While we were traveling, there was a phone bill we thought was settled that apparently was not. Because we didn’t respond to our mail for over a year, we could have been sent to collections and had our credit destroyed for a measly phone bill!
Luckily we had family checking our mail for us. Disaster averted.
12. Notify your bank and credit card company
Inform your credit card company and bank where you are going, when you will be there, and for how long. We’ve heard horror stories of credit cards and bank cards being cancelled because the activity looked suspicious. Can you imagine if these cards are your sole source of getting cash? A simple call will prevent a lot of complications.
The bank/credit card company may think the account has been compromised if it is used in multiple countries in a short period of time. Cameron was pick pocketed in Thailand in 2004 (read the story here) and it can be a nightmare trying to communicate with banks while overseas.
Consider getting a backup card if your bank will allow it.
13. Get a Skype account
Embrace the Internet! Skype is the easiest and cheapest way to keep in touch with family while away. Many internet cafes have headphones but it can’t hurt to buy a decent set with a good microphone. It is so much easier (and cheaper) than using land lines and phone booths.
**Keep in mind, this post was written in 2010 – a lot has changed since then**
14. Buy a mini laptop, notebook or tablet
There are so many inexpensive models to choose from that it will pay for itself in no time. In most parts of the world Wifi is free, or at least very cheap. Having your own device will save you a lot of time and money. It’s also great for holding your photos, watching movies (you may need an external DVD drive) and calling home using Skype.
15. Get a quality camera
There is nothing worse than coming home from your trip to faraway lands and looking at crappy, fuzzy photos. You don’t have to get an expensive DSLR, but definitely don’t cheap out on your camera. Spend the extra $300, you’ll be glad you did!
Consider getting an underwater camera – we had multiple cameras that served different purposes. Here are some photos taken with our underwater camera.
Here are a few popular posts from our Around the World Trip:
- Photo Blog: Snorkeling the Red Sea in Dahab, Egypt
- Pictures of Machu Picchu, the Lost Incan City in Peru
- The Mysterious Moai of Easter Island
- Pictures from the Temples of Angkor in Cambodia
- From Backpackers to Bollywood Actors: A Day in Mumbai, India
- 17 Weird & Interesting Photos from Japan
Share your feedback and experiences in the comments section below!