Before going on any journey – do your research!
A little preparedness goes a long way!
Here are a few basics we’ve learned along the way…
Every. Country. Is. Different.
Some allow arrival visas, which are filled out and processed by airport immigration staff. Others (like Vietnam) require an “invitation letter” and processing prior to your arrival. In fact, we missed a flight to Vietnam because we didn’t have this handled ahead of time. Live and learn.
When crossing by land, most transportation services offer the additional service of handling your visa paperwork. By all means, pay the extra and let them do it! It’s faster, easier, less stress and absolutely the way to go.
TIP: Always carry several extra passport photos. These come in handy when applying for visas. It speeds things up and saves money.
As soon as we land, we hit the airport ATM and take out a stash of local currency. Take your time and learn the bills! It’s fun (and a bit confusing) having 50,000 and 20,000 bills, but make sure you know what they are and do the math.
As soon as you land, unless you have some fancy global internet package, you’re going to be without internet. Prepare for this by downloading the local Google map so you can navigate offline. Photos and screenshots are also a lifesaver. I’m forever taking pictures of maps: at parks, at museums, trail maps, train maps.
TIP: Some entry forms require a destination address. Have your hotel name, address and phone number handy.
Learn the basics: hello, thank you, numbers and foods. I like to download any basic language app and try to cram as much as I can. It’s fun and it really does make the locals smile when they see you struggling trying. 🙂
Keeping up with prescription meds can be tricky if you’re going on a long journey. Most doctors are legally only allowed to prescribe 3 months at a time. I explained this to my doctor and we came up with a solution: double the dosage, take a half tablet at a time.
Of course, in Thailand you can buy anything you want over the counter – yes, anything – for 1/4 the price. I stocked up on a nice supply of Levothyroxine while I was there so I have backup.
Daisey is a UX designer for Art+Logic by day, soul/funk singer by night, full of love and always smiling.