“I’m not talking coconut oil and bug spray…”
In the midst of planning my 12 month backpacking trip across Asia it baffles me how people survive without doing any research at all! Don’t get me wrong, as I stated in my should you make travel plans post I’m totally in favour of going with the flow and being spontaneous but a girl needs to fulfill her organised reputation a little, right?
The more I read up on what I should be getting organised, the more I realise how bloody clueless about long term travel I was to start with!
‘Wait.. aren’t you a travel blogger?’
Whilst in Thailand the temptation to cancel my ticket home and live on the islands forever was immense, thank heavens I came home to
say my goodbyes and gather my finance s sort my sh*t out first! Good job I’m around to sort yours out too!
Here’s what I’ve discovered you must pack, through 100 days of extensive travel planning, pinning and prep since booking my one way ticket back to Southeast Asia.
1/ Spare passport photos
My first discovery wasn’t at all obvious… to me anyway, but is certainly an essential for long term travel. Unless you want to be wandering the streets of your new destination in search of a passport photo booth, (potentially late at night, tut tut) then you will need to carry some spares for use at immigration. Countries like Indonesia require you to have 2 photos to process your visa and enter smoothly. Save yourself the hassle and get them done beforehand.
2/ Onward travel tickets
So if the lack of an ID photo hasn’t stopped you travelling to your next location, the lack of this document may cause you further obstacles at immigration. (Don’t make me tut tut you again!)
Once more, little be-known to me, you need to provide proof of your departure from a country if you plan to enter on a one way ticket. Makes sense I suppose, how else would they track if all these backpackers were sticking around past their visa allowance? Except, proof must be a flight out of the country. By air only. Strictly SKY travel people. Aka. the most stupid travel rule ever written! (Anyone else planning overland transport share my frustration?)
What about the 3 day slowboat from Thailand into Laos? Doesn’t count. The 10 hour bus from Vietnam to Cambodia? Doesn’t count. The Ferry from Cambodia to Thailand? NOPE.
Most backpackers do the typical SE Asia loop via overland travel only, as I plan to, but when this exit isn’t excepted you must be prepared or else authorities may not let you enter a country or board your initial flight into it. Be ready with a cheap domestic flight booking (e.g. £15 from Thailand – Cambodia) and get a refund on the other side of the boarding gate. Another option, I’ve heard about on the travel ‘streets‘, is to use a fake boarding pass generated online. You didn’t hear it from me, okay? I personally wouldn’t take the risk but let me know if it’s worked for you.
3/ Photocopies of your documents
This one is to keep your mum happy, mostly, but for your own good too of course.
Photocopy your passport and ID so that you have 2 (or more) copies. And keep them in separate places whilst on the road clever clogs, if anybody decides to rob you of your most important travel essential (your passport, duh) then you will be ready with a backup to take to the local embassy! Top travel marks.
Keep yourself a digital copy on email or somewhere safe (like Dropbox or Google Drive) and leave a copy at home, your mum always has your back after all (and so do I) ;).
4/ Backpack rain cover
I learned this lesson the hard way!
It was the hot season in Thailand but that didn’t stop the storm rolling in over Koh Phangan. We all grimaced at each other at the thought of our passports and belongings getting soaked on top of the truck taking us from the ferry port to the guesthouse. As we retrieved the dripping bags from the roof of the taxi, cameras and passports were the first things to be checked for water damage. It’s a good idea to invest in a backpack cover or one that has a cover included with it. The rainy and monsoon seasons abroad are infamous for causing floods and putting cities on pause, particularly in SE Asia.
5/ Which brings me onto… Ziploc bags
Yup, they’re not just for sandwiches! Bring a pack of these for those essentials that you don’t trust to stay in good condition when living at the bottom of your endless backpacks for months on end. Wrap up your passport, emergency cash and small electrics to protect them from god knows what you get up to.
That concludes my top 5! I hope you found the post helpful as I wish that someone had written this for me at the beginning of my travels. You’re welcome.
So let’s make this post viral and help out as many wanderers as we can! Like, share, follow, pin and subscribe, for the sake of immigration queues everywhere!