(Yet Another) Pre-Departure Checklist

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How are you preparing for your journey? I made a list of all the important yet boring stuff that just has to be done before I go, and this is what it looks like:

Vaccinations
Always check before you go to a foreign country what kind of illnesses are there. Depending on your vaccination history, it may take a while to get them all done in time, so keep yourself at least a couple of months.

My Vaccs is a good website where to check all the hotspots and recommended vaccinations, but the best way is to talk to your doctor.
Regarding Malaria, there are pills that you can easily buy in pharmacies even at the airport in India. However, it is a treatment and it takes about a week to fully work as a vaccine. (Please, learn from my mistakes…)

Flight
Time to buy the flight yes!
Or… Nooo! Hours looking for the best deals, not fun! However, the earlier you buy the flight, the better and cheaper you’ll find it. I got mine to India for £440 (A/R) with Emirates four months in advance last year, London-Dubai-Bangalore.
This year I bought it one month before, and they were all terrible journeys – changing 3 times, 20+ hours long, expensive, arriving at 4am, etc… I finally got one to Lucknow with Air India which was fairly cheap compared to the others, €450 one way, and it arrives at 5pm. I’ll still have to wait 6h in Delhi and change flight twice nevertheless!

Website/blog
Planning to build a blog to update with your adventures? Well, unless you’re a technology geek, It will take time – so prepare to spare some in advance and don’t do it all at the last minute!

Visa
Usually it takes around 2 weeks, but I’d say doing it about a month in advance is the best time as its duration starts from the day they issue it, and you don’t want to risk delays. I advise to apply for visa after booking the flight as well, to provide more detailed info and because unless you’re wanted by the police, there is no real reason why they shouldn’t give it to you!
You will need a visa only for your country of arrival though, as most countries now accept applications at the airport or you can get one in a nearby state.
*Remember to make copies of your documents and leave them to your family!

Check my Visa section on this website for more detailed info on the countries I am visiting, I will update it regularly.

Shopping!
Well, not that kind of shopping… You will need a proper rucksack, appropriate clothes depending on the weather, and all the various gadgets: a headlight, mosquito repellent, sleeping bag and medicines are just a few vital ones.

Regarding the rucksacks, they come in various sizes (in Liters) depending on how long you are planning to travel. To go to India for a month last year, I used Blacks’ Alpine W 55+5 and I found it just perfect.

Blacks Alpine 55+5 W
Blacks Alpine 55+5 W

It sits on your hips so that the weight carried doesn’t affect your back, it’s light and with loads of compartments but still easy to use. I might use it for this next trip as well, even though for 6 months it might be a bit little but it’s always better not to bring much with you (YOU WON’T USE IT, trust me!). Especially for a woman, a smaller bag won’t get as much attention, and your back will thank you afterwards!
If you need some more info on rucksacks, have a read at Gap Year Travel post where you can also find a list of the best ones around. However, I suggest you not to buy rucksacks on the internet as it’s always best to try them on first, and get the help of someone who knows best.

Oh, and don’t forget the get a diary, it will be amazing to read about your experiences and feelings after a few years. My friend Valentina got me a Travel Moleskine this Christmas, and it’s brilliant!

Travel Insurance
Oh yes, you have to buy a travel insurance too, what did you think?
Nothing will probably happen to you, but you don’t want to risk not to be covered for every inconvenience. Last year I used this one, which is efficient and cheap – the only flaw is that it is only for UK residents (why did I come back to Italy, why!). So this leaves me into trying to find another one in yet another hours long research on the Internet.

Check with your Doctor
It’s always good to have a general visit with your doctor to see if you need anything sorted before you go. In my case for example, I need to get my wisdom teeth out and try to fix my hurting ankle!! 🙁

MoneyMoneyMoney
Get your money sorted! Especially if you’re a mess like me, with two bank accounts in two different countries, 4 prepaid cards (empty, of course), cash laying around everywhere with no knowledge whatsoever of what a wallet is.
What I’ll do is to move everything on one bank account (the British one of course, Italian banks are so modern that even the mainstream Unicredit card won’t work overseas – don’t trust what they tell you), and keep the other for emergency and internet banking. Then I’ll try to figure out what on earth these travel checks I read everywhere about are exactly, and how to get hold of them in here. What about the cash? Yes I’ll get a couple of hundreds Dollars which where I’m going will last for a while, it’s always best not to have much on you in cash so don’t over do it! Plus we live in a globalized world, so as much as we expect to travel into underdeveloped, poor and whatever countries, well, you will still be able to find an ATM machine somewhere in there!
*Remember to advise in advance you bank on where you are going, you won’t like to have your account blocked because they think they stole your card!

So, are we ready to go?? I’m definitely not! Shouldn’t waste time writing this checklist perhaps, and actually do something!

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