Before You Go

A while before:

  • Check the visa status for nationals of your country in your country of destination. For obvious reasons. And some not so obvious ones. Sometimes I have no idea how long I’m going to spend in a place and sometimes it’s a lot more hassle in terms of time and money to extend the basic free entry visa if I decide at a later date that I want to stay longer. Often there is an option to get this over and done with for a minimal fee at the airport on arrival. This is true of Indonesia and The Philippines. With Indonesia you actually can’t extend the free initial period of 30 days if you haven’t paid for a Visa On Arrival at the airport when you entered the country. I learned that one the hard way. Anyway, check what’s required, check how long you have, check how easy it is to extend and check the cost of doing this on arrival (often cheaper).
  • Universal adapter. Carry several. Of the type where you can change the “too” option as well as the from.
  • Check the expiry date on your bank cards. And your passport for that matter – various countries aren’t keen to let you in if you have less than 6 months remaining.
  • Make sure your phone is unlocked – it’s generally extremely cheap to buy a sim in your destination country and if you’re going to use your phone while there, whether that’s to contact those back home or people you’re traveling with, a local sim and pay-as-you go is usually the cheapest way.
  • For cheap, free, quirky, fun accommodation, check out the following:

Airbnb
couchsurfing.com

I’ve found both these sites extremely useful for short term accommodation and some of the people I’ve met through them are awesome.

Longer term, try:

Trustedhousesitters.com
Mindmyhouse.com

Other cheap accommodation sites I sometimes use include:

Agoda.com
Booking.com

And if you want to work for your keep, my favourite site in terms of cheap membership and effectiveness is:

Workaway.com

Immediately Before:

  • You don’t need to stress about printing out your ticket – practically every single airline known to man will just accept your passport at the check-in desk.
  • Checking in online doesn’t necessarily save you any time if you have baggage to check because you still have to queue with everyone else at the bag drop. It does mean that you get to pick a seat that isn’t in the middle of the row if you’re travelling with a decent airline though.
  • Do have an address in your destination city handy – many countries require you to put the address of the place you’ll be staying at on your entry visa waiver form. If you already have a place booked, just put their address. I frequently don’t already have a place booked, so I just grab the address of any old hotel in town and have it somewhere handy on the plane for when I need to fill out that form.
  • No matter how hot it is outside, take warm enough clothes for plane air con.
  • Look up the exchange rate from your currency to that of your destination. Write out how many whatevers equal 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 of your currency. And carry this with you – extremely useful in those moment when you’re told a price and have absolutely no idea if it’s remotely reasonable.
  • Should you be female and your destination be SEAsia, stock up on tampons – they can be extremely hard, if not impossible to find outside of large cities.

 

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