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World Wide Wanders - Before You Go - Planning & Preparation

The Planning of a backpacking trip can turn what should be an enjoyable & exciting experience into a strategical nightmare so it is important to ensure that all bases are covered as concisely as possible. The following step by step guide should give an indication of the things that should be considered in the preparation stages leading up to the trip of your lifetime.

    - Decide how long you have available to undertake the trip as this can have a big bearing on the types of tickets you can purchase.

    - Decide on the desired countries you wish to visit.

If the trip will take 12 months or less and the countries are spread around the globe, then it is probably best to consider purchasing a round-the-world ticket as this is often the cheapest way to travel especially if the countries are widely spread. A specialist Travel Agent would be able to advise with more detail when you have decided on the aforementioned points.

If a round-the-world ticket isn't an option because the planned trip is longer than 12 months or for other reasons then it is advisable to try to stick to one airline from the starting point to the halfway point as this will cut the cost considerably, many airlines fly from one side of the globe to the other with many stop-off's along the way. Many of which may not be exactly the places you wish to visit but will be close enough for you to visit them via add-on flights or overland trips.

Under 26's are eligible for an international youth travel card and students to an international student travel card which although must be purchased are cheap & can save money on the purchasing of tickets and other such things. Please note that neither of the travel cards save money on some round-the-world tickets as these are often already discounted.

    - Once the outline of the trip is planned the next thing to think about is the acquisition of Travel and Work Visas.

Although in most countries Travel Visas can be readily obtained at the point of entry, some countries require travellers to organise them before arrival these include India and Australia among others.

When applying for travel or work visas, allow plenty of time before the departure date, as the process involves sending in documents that are essential for the trip such as passports. Although the process is generally quite smooth, time should also be allowed for complications that may arise with the applications.

Australian travel and work Visas can be obtained over the internet which considerably speeds up the process, but means a visit to the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) office upon arrival, or sending your passport by registered post to Hobart Onshore Processing Centre, GPO BOX 1496, Hobart Tasmania 7001, Australia. Enclosing a stamped address envelope.

    - Travel insurance is a must for any trip to ensure health and dental cover while abroad, along with costs associated with loss of baggage/equipment, cancellations and trip alterations.

Although many types of travel insurance are available it is a good idea to have the highest level of cover available. Things to watch when purchasing travel insurance are that the excess waiver you expected to pay in the event of a claim is as low as possible as if money becomes tight it may dissuade people from claiming. There is also often an option to pay a little more for your insurance to waiver any excess payable on health and dental costs. If two people are travelling together you can obtain a joint travel insurance policy, although this is not a good idea as the cost of a joint policy is often the same or very similar to two sole policies and in the eventuality that both individuals go their separate ways even for a short period of time one of them may not be covered by the joint policy.

    - Injections and inoculations for tropical diseases and illnesses are a must. Although the thought of having the injections is bad, the illnesses themselves are far worse and worth avoiding. The types of injections required for the countries change all the time as different diseases are rife at different times of the year and often depend on what is around at the time of visiting.

Most health centres offer travel advice and will provide a scheduled list of the required courses of injections. These vary in cost depending upon the catchment area of the health centre, be warned this can cost more than you anticipate.

    - Applications for credit cards should be made in plenty of time to ensure they are processed and returned before departure.

    - Applications for debit cards should also be made in plenty of time to ensure they are processed and returned before departure.

Credit cards may be extremely useful on any backpacking trip as they act as an emergency access route to buy goods and services, whereas debit cards on the other hand will be used in more of a day-to-day fashion as with these cash is made available from cash point machines the world over. Recent changes in legislation mean that credit cards can no-longer be used to purchase Travellers Cheques therefore the debit card will be the easiest means of doing so.

Debit Cards taken on a world trip should carry the Visa symbol as this is recognised across the majority of the world and will therefore stand a better chance of being accepted. Likewise credit cards should also carry either

Visa or Mastercard symbols to stand a better chance of worldwide acceptance.

    - Another thing to consider is transportation to the Airport of departure.

There are many ways to get to the Airport, although cost will generally factor high in the priority list and a coach trip is often the easiest way of getting there and should be considered early in the preparations so as to avoid disappointment.

    - The buying of the Gear & Equipment is essential. Our list of recommendations can be found by following the link at the base of the page, but this should be tailored to suit the individual requirements.

    - The local currency or that recommended by the Bureaux de Change should be brought in good time.

    - Travellers Cheques should be purchased if quantities of money are going to be taken.

It is a good idea to take local currency or as specified by the Bureaux de Change as some vendors will only accept this. Travellers Cheques on the other hand are a good way of taking large amounts of currency as there is no charge for converting them when abroad, only the exchange rate. Whereas if debit or credit cards are used they more often that not incur charges on top of the currency conversion. They are also insured if lost or stolen, meaning that they are one of the more secure ways of taking currency abroad.

If traveller's cheques are taken they should be signed upon purchasing and the receipts should be stored separately from the cheques themselves.

    - Any prescribed medication or tablets that are required should be taken, if possible.

Most doctors will be happy to prescribe as much of the required medication as they can. If more is required they will occasionally top this up with a private prescription. However, if this isn't possible due to the types of medication needed, do not despair as there is a good chance that they can be obtained over the counter in many countries. Ensure if you do need to do this that an empty box of the previous prescription is handed to the pharmacist.

    - A concise list of useful contact and telephone numbers should be compiled to ensure that they are all within easy reach.

    - It isn't essential but may prove extremely sensible to list all the important details & store them with a trustee.

All important details such as Travellers Cheques numbers, credit/debit card numbers, airline numbers, ticket numbers, bank details & useful contact numbers should be entrusted to a close family member. This way if anything should happen to the belongings a swift phone call combined with the assistance of the trustee will ensure that the appropriate actions are taken.

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