Ever thought of planning for your own long trip too? Learn from our mistakes and plan better for your next trip!
1. Start getting those jabs early!
Some vaccinations require multiple doses over a few months. Eg. Hep A & B. The vaccinations that you require will depend on the regions that you will be travelling to. The easiest way would be to visit a travel clinic (we went to Tan Tock Seng Travel Clinic) and to just tell them all of the countries that you’re planning to travelling to. They will advise you accordingly on which jabs to take.
Tip: If you’re pressed on time, there are some clinics that offer the accelerated jabs for Hep A/B which can be completed in a month.
2. Apply for your visas first
Don’t leave this to the last. Once you’ve confirmed the countries that you’ll be visiting, start planning on the visa application. Some countries require you to send your passport over to the nearest embassy or to leave your passport at the embassy for 1-2 weeks. For us, we researched on which visa we could apply in Singapore and went ahead to apply for the first few countries that we will be heading to, namely China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan. For those planning on visiting the same countries as we did for Footprints Across Asia, here’s the post on the visa guide!
Tip: Some visas require you to travel within 3 months from your date of application. So you can’t apply that ahead in advance too.
3. Pack light!
A long term trip doesn’t equate to a 50 kg backpack. Doesn’t mean you’re travelling for a year means you have to bring 365 sets of clothes (okay exaggeration here but you get my point). You just have to learn to pack smartly and bring clothes that can double up as multiple seasonal clothes. Bring clothes that are light and quick dry. Our Northface dri fit Tshit and convertible pants absorbs moisture and dries really quickly! We only brought 1 pants and 2 dri fit shirts for our daily use. Which also means we have to do our laundry quite often. And we had no problem drying our clothes overnight!
Tip: Forget about your fancy thick coats which will take years to dry. Think practical and opt for light dri fit clothings which dries really quickly and are odour free!
4. Set aside a budget and stick to it
Discipline, people. This is especially important if you’re travelling for a long period! You don’t want to end up spending all your money and having to return home because you’ve used up all your money. We advise strongly to record every single expense using a mobile app to keep track of your expenses. That way you’re in control of your money and not the other way around! Check out our post on why travelling budget is not for everyone!
Tip: Do your research and find out the average cost/day of travelling in the countries that you’re planning to go. Set aside your budget based on this estimation.
5. Leave your cartons of medication at home
So this happened to us. Us being typical kiasu Singaporeans, bought and packed a huge box of medication for our trip. There are TONS of pharmacies/clinics/hospital in most of the countries that we went too. Of course having said that, you should definitely still bring a small pack of your usual medication, especially the less common ones. But otherwise, you should have no problem finding panadol, cough/sore throat medicine, flu, fever, infection, etc medicine overseas (unless you have any drug allergies, then you better prepare your own medication).
Tip: Off the shelf medication is much cheaper overseas too!
6. Lighten your load and leave the shelf of guide books at home
Yes, you might be travelling to 20 countries, but that doesn’t mean that you have to bring the physical books along! Buy the e-book version and avoid carrying multiple countries guidebooks in your bag! For us we had a mixture of physical guide books and e-books in our kindle.
Tip: Depending on where you’re travelling to, internet might not always be available. So, it’s always a safer bet to have a guide book with you!
7. Bring US$ as spare cash
We just don’t feel safe carrying too much cash with us. So our strategy was, we brought some local currencies for the first country (which was China for us) and then drew from the ATM when we needed more cash. For the rest of the countries we’ll usually just draw from the ATM. But there are many countries (eg. Turkmenistan and Iran) that do not have ATM or even money changers. At least these countries still accept US$ or you could always change them with your hotel or even restaurant owners.
Tip: Always bring some spare US$ as they are recognised and accepted internationally.
8. An electric cooker is a huge bonus!
We bought ours from Uzbekistan for $10 only! Look at how much we’ve used it! The above photo was taken sadly when it has reached the end of its life and we had to bid farewell to it. This was like a godsend to us. During the cold wintry months, we were ecstatic to be able to make ourselves a cup of hot tea or hot noodles soup! One of the best feeling ever!
We brought a cooking stove with us initially but it was so challenging to find the fuel! Only big cities with camping stores would sell the fuel that we need. But also we can’t buy the fuel in bulk as they are restricted items that can’t be brought into trains/planes. Electric cooker is the easiest and most convenient.
Tip: A must bring item especially if you’re travelling during the winter months!
9. Planning your route and countries to go
Again, a long trip doesn’t mean you must squeeze in a gazillion countries in your ‘to go’ list. Take your time and fully immerse yourself in the place that you’re in instead of simply rushing off from one main attraction to the next and then flying off to the next country. Just typing that is already making me feel breathless and exhausted. Always remember, travel is not a race but a journey.