2 weeks' notice yesterday, unprepared and excited

Travel Forums Round the World Travel 2 weeks' notice yesterday, unprepared and excited

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11. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1071 posts) 14w Star this if you like it!

No need to get laminated copies of your passport. Simply make some regular copies.

Bring U.S. dollars that are new or fairly new, with no markings, tears, excessive folds. Bring a few $100s, $50s, $20s, etc. You sometimes get a better exchange rate with 50s and 100s. Don't keep your money all in one place. Spread it out. Never leave valuables in your bag in your hotel room. If there's a safe, put them in there.

$17,000 is a decent budget. Spend wisely, be thrifty, but don't be a skinflint or a killjoy.

I don't carry a wallet. I use a money clip that has a compartment for a few cards. I once carried a fat wallet in my front pants pocket, only to have a thief in rural Chinese remove it by cutting through my pants on a packed minibus traveling over rough roads. It didn't notice a thing until I disembarked and someone pointed to my slashed pants. It's the only time I've been successfully pick pocketed. Be alert when using public transportation; and in crowded places such as markets, terminals and tourist attractions.

I wear quick-drying cargo pants that I purchased from a company that primarily sells to police officers and security personnel. The pants have a concealed zippered security pocket within a pocket that I keep my passport and my backup credit and debit cards in. In troubled lands, I also wear a money belt for enhanced security. I don't access the money belt in public.

Pack lightly for increased flexibility. I try to keep my main bag (clothes, personal items, medicine, etc.) to no more than 7 kilos, or about 15 pounds. It's a Red Oxx Air Boss. I also have a backpack for a laptop and camera(s) that's also no more than 7 kilos. I don't check bags on flights if I can help it. If you hand wash, you can get by with just two sets of clothes, plus a rain jacket and fleece.

Some countries, such as Russia, require you to have your passport with you at all times. Go to the State Department Web site for that information. You'll also find out which countries require you to apply for a visa in the U.S. I suspect most of the countries you plan to visit will allow you to enter without a visa, will issue one at the port of entry, or you can apply for one online. If it's the latter, apply on a timely basis before you go. Don't wait until the last minute. Always keep one, two or three steps of where you're headed.

You don't have to have an actual ticket as proof of onward travel. Go online for information on various ways to satisfy the requirement. However, you'll probably have already booked a flight to your next destination or two. Just show confirmation of the booking.

When crossing borders, choose sites that are frequently used. Remote crossings can entail increased risk. I once crossed from Pakistan to Afghanistan via Chaman; and in the no man's land between the countries I got robbed at knife point. There was nobody around to help me. Where possible (most places) cross borders in a vehicle instead of by foot, although in some cases that's not avoidable. Greet immigration officials; smile, and answer questions promptly. I don't chit chat. I dress appropriately (clean shirt, pants, shoes ... in other words, not slovenly).

Your Chase Sapphire Preferred card includes some travel insurance. Check it out. But consult a travel insurance broker to inquire about medical evacuation and repatriation coverage, which isn't included in your Chase benefits. In the past, when buying medical coverage, I put in a nominal trip cost, which helped to reduce the premium, since I was only interested in medical evacuation and repatriation coverage. A couple of years ago my travel insurance broker recommended that I buy annual GeoBlue medical coverage, which I currently have. It meets my needs. I buy supplemental coverage, if needed, through the online broker that I've used for years.

Ask your doctor to write a prescription for a 90-day supply of atovaquone/proguanil. I've taken it for as long as three months without any side effects. He may recommend another antimalarial. Purchase it through your company's prescription drug plan. Mine charges $25 for a 90-day supply of the generic form of Malarone. Consult this Web site for travel health information: https://www.cdc.gov/

You will be bitten by insects. Guaranteed. So bring antihistamine to calm the itching.

I still recommend the Charles Schwab Bank VISA debit card. There is no minimum balance requirement; and you don't have to have much, if anything, in a related brokerage account. I link my Wells Fargo checking account to my two Charles Schwab Bank accounts, so money can easily be transferred. I've used the debit cards all over the world without problem; and I've never had to pay any fees to withdraw money. Should there be a charge, I'm reimbursed. I keep all withdrawal receipts. There's an additional benefit to using the Schwab card. I find out almost immediately after withdrawal what the exchange rate was via the Schwab app on my smartphone.

Take a small notebook to jot down your expenses; and another for a journal, if you like. I enjoy photography, so I take a camera or two.

Finally, use the Travellerspoint mapping system to help plot an itinerary.

12. Posted by Andrew Mack (Respected Member 517 posts) 14w Star this if you like it!

Quoting berner256

No need to get laminated copies of your passport. Simply make some regular copies.

If you laminate them then some places are more likely to accept them as a form of ID, whereas a plain photocopy can look a bit questionable.
It does the same job but purely from a psychological point of view it gets accepted more often.
This is even more the case if you've sweated all over the photocopy which then starts falling apart (which lamination prevents).

13. Posted by ToonSarah (Travel Guru 760 posts) 13w Star this if you like it!

I want to echo the suggestion of carrying a journal - could be a paper notebook or electronic. And take photos (or even sketch if that's your thing), and make some notes, ideally each evening, as to what you photographed, if knowing that matters to you (it does to me!) On a trip this long places may start to blur into each other and when you're home and reflecting on what you saw it will help to have some other record than your memory. You might like to keep a blog (here would be a good place!), write yourself emails, use a digital notebook ... there are lots of options. I've only had the opportunity to take short trips, but I've taken a lot of them, and I've found that since I started writing about them (initially on Virtual Tourist and more recently here) I can remember far more about them, just because of the act of writing it all down :)

14. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1071 posts) 13w Star this if you like it!

It's OK to laminate one copy that you will keep. But it's also wise to have a few regular copies that you can hand out if requested. For example, some countries ask for a copy of your main passport page to accompany a visa application, plus a photo or two. Having copies that you already have in hand beats having to find a place to make them.

After photocopying a copy of my main passport page, I trim it to size, fold it, then place it in the credit-card compartment of my money clip. Also in that compartment is my U.S. passport card that I sometimes use for identification.

When checking into accommodations, I always show my passport. Copies won't do in some places.

For protection against moisture, I wrap my passport in a thin plastic bag and place it in a "hidden travel wallet." I've used one made by Lewis N Clark for years. I also sometimes take a silk money belt for use if extra security is needed. A friend who travels in war zones recommended the silk money belt, which I use to carry larger sums of cash. Better safe than sorry.

15. Posted by Andrew Mack (Respected Member 517 posts) 13w Star this if you like it!

Quoting berner256

For protection against moisture, I wrap my passport in a thin plastic bag.

So do I (In a zip-lock bag) but it's a pain getting it out of a belt etc unless absolutely necessary, hence the laminated one in a pocket.

16. Posted by World_taster (Budding Member 6 posts) 13w Star this if you like it!

I once carried a fat wallet in my front pants pocket, only to have a thief in rural Chinese remove it by cutting through my pants on a packed minibus traveling over rough roads. It didn't notice a thing until I disembarked and someone pointed to my slashed pants.

I had that one pulled on me waiting in line at a Jack in the Box in San Francisco. Luckily I was 14 and had nothing of value in there :)

Thank you for all the insight--I'll be working on getting my hands on the malaria drugs come Monday, as well as creating copies of the passport and visa photos. Do pharmacies typically offer lamination services? Perhaps a UPS store?

Will also drop by a Charles Schwab--it'd be nice to feel free to withdraw cash anywhere in any quantity without penalty.

I'm hoping a trip to REI will get me all the clothes and supplies needed--curious though about these awesome tactical cargo pants you mention, not sure where to look for those.

17. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1071 posts) 13w Star this if you like it!

Recommend gallon-size Hefty Baggies storage bags. I carry several on each trip, including one that's always in my pants pocket. If it rains, I can protect my Panasonic Lumix ZS60 pocket camera with it. There are lots of other uses. When I had a Bernese Mountain Dog, it drank water from the bag while on walks. Zip-lock bags are too thick and aren't as versatile. However, I use one for medical supplies.

My silk money belt has a plastic liner, so it keeps passport and currency from getting damp.

Also in my Red Oxx Air Boss is a rolled up Aquapac waterproof bag that I take on hikes. It has an inner compartment to store passport and money. I usually don't carry a day pack in urban settings. Everything I need is in my cargo pants pockets, including a crushable hat (REI's Sahara River Cap), Buff, etc. But if the weather is uncertain, I'll carry a day pack with a rain jacket and perhaps a fleece.

All of my clothes are quick drying, except for the Wigwam merino wool-silk hiker socks that I wear all the time. I'm on my feet for many hours while on the road; and when I volunteer at a local hospital visiting patients before they go into surgery and afterward in the recovery room. Like good shoes, good socks are important.

I just got my new Medicare card laminated at Office Depot.

I bought my Blackhawk Lightweight Tactical Pants (now discontinued by the manufacturer ... but you can see the features on YouTube; and there are similar tactical pants made by others, such as 5.11) at LA Police Gear. They are likely to be available in stores near you. I wear one; and take a spare. Or I sometimes will include a pair of convertible pants instead, particularly if I'll be in a lot of wet places.

No need to over pack. You can buy most things overseas, except perhaps specific prescription drugs. Drugs available in the U.S. sometimes aren't available elsewhere.

If you're traveling to developing countries, bring an LED flashlight. Power outages do occur with regularity in some places. Also, electricity only may be available for a few hours at night. Costco has some inexpensive but powerful LED flashlights (three for $19.95). They operate on batteries that you can get anywhere.

Instead of expensive camping towels, take some reusable Heavy Duty Handi Wipes. They dry quickly. I'm taking some on my trip to the Himalayas.

If you hand wash, shampoo is a more effective cleaner than bar soap. After washing, wring the clothes, wrap it in a towel and pound it to remove excess moisture. It dries more quickly that way. In some countries, such as India and South Africa, detergent bars are available. I bought one last year in Japan.

Finally, when you're on the road and need or want something, just ask. You'll be surprised to find that many people don't bother to ask, so they go without. I recall the time at a hotel in Cameroon where there wasn't anything to hang my clothes in the room. So I asked if I could have some hangers. To my surprise, I not only got hangers, but also an armoire to put the hangers in. And, the manager asked if I wanted a portable air conditioner, too. I thanked the manager profusely for his help and generosity.

[ Edit: Edited on 09-Sep-2018, at 15:06 by berner256 ]

18. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 2125 posts) 13w Star this if you like it!

"I'll be working on getting my hands on the malaria drugs come Monday, as well as creating copies of the passport and visa photos. Do pharmacies typically offer lamination services? Perhaps a UPS store?"

See what your local Staples store can do for you too.

"..-I'll be working on getting my hands on the malaria drugs .."

You won't need malaria drugs for every country you visit. And for some countries maybe only if visiting certain parts of that country. Malarone has some side affects. For the places that I go to I can get by with cheap Doxycycline that I can buy from some local pharmacies overseas without prescription. Some side affects with this too but for me, off and on for years, no real problems. Check with your doctor for any medical advice!

Many tourists go on holidays overseas with the clothes they own at home. Chances are you won't have to suit up like "Stanley looking for Livingstone" on safari. I wear ball caps, especially in areas with a lot of sunshine! The brim keeps rain and sun off my face and glasses. Also for some areas I visit I am a little taller than locals. The brim hits long hanging stuff that many Asians just walk under.

In most countries you visit local supermarkets and pharmacies probably have some type of wet-wipe type hand cleaners. You will lessen the chance of food borne stomach problems if you clean your hands off immediately before touching food you eat. Sometimes if you get sick overseas it might not be the cheap food but because your hands picked up all sorts of contamination just by normal things you touch. Even on planes the tray in front of your seat is not that clean! (I travel with wet-wipes on planes too!)

For my long flights I raid the cabin toilet and grab some paper towels. Good for spills and sometimes you don't get enough on your food tray. I refuse to touch door handles on planes and use a paper towel to push the door shut after washing up. (Flyer Talk Forum has some help with flying long distances if you are not experienced.) I bring a sleep mask, ear plugs and my own blow up pillow.

For each country you visit always learn how to say hello and thank you if you learn nothing else!

Depending on the country, Thailand, and some nearby countries for instance, not all toilets have TP! When out and about for several hours away from my hotel I always have TP in my walk-around bag. The wet-wipes come in handy when no running water is available in a toilet or you have to hide behind a tree because no toilet is available!

  • *Do NOT fall in love with some "person" you meet on your travels and later on send money back to this person. (Like so many guys and even gals do!) You may not be the only one sending cash to this person!

Having fun yet?

[ Edit: Edited on 09-Sep-2018, at 16:51 by karazyal ]

19. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1071 posts) 13w Star this if you like it!

My friend, Barbara, takes Doxycycline; I prefer atovaquone/proguanil. But check with your doctor. He may have a preference. Also check the CDC Web site for information on where an antimalarial is recommended. You won't need it in Europe. In some areas of Nepal and India it's not necessary at higher elevations.

It's wise to roll down your sleeves at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are active, or when you're standing in the shade. Some insects can bite through clothes. Besides mosquitoes, be aware of sand flies, which can be prevalent on beaches, etc. My friend uses insect repellent. I usually don't. But if I have to, I use Picaridin, available at REI.

Instead of wipes, I prefer to use hand sanitizer (no need to dispose of anything). Get a small bottle before you leave. I bought one this afternoon from Target. Also consider a bottle of saline nasal spray. I'm taking one to the Himalayas, where the air is dry.

To prevent illness, wash your hands often.

Please be aware that not all cases of TD are the result of bacteria. Oily food can be the culprit. In many Chinese restaurants, for example, cooks add extra oil to make the food "shine," thus making it appear more appetizing.

20. Posted by World_taster (Budding Member 6 posts) 13w Star this if you like it!

I have a couple friends that received a malaria shot, and say it protects them for 3 years after injection. This sounds like a much better option than swallowing pills the whole time I'm out there. Anybody have experience with that?

And thanks for the tips on staying healthy--having my health compromised while I'm out in the unknown traveling alone is definitely a big concern of mine. Bringing a small container of hand sanitizer seems like the most reasonable option.