Traveling can enrich your life in a way few other experiences can. It presents a tremendous opportunity for personal growth and discovery. It can help you develop skills that will serve you well in all areas of your life, such as patience, tolerance and flexibility. By experiencing other cultures first hand, you will gain a much better understanding of why people do what they do, and think the way they think. Depending on where you visit, you will also gain a much deeper appreciation for where you come from, and how grateful you are to have been born into a developed country where you were afforded the type of life that allowed for international travel.
If you are planning your first multi-country backpacking trip, you are probably bursting at the seams with excitement. This is the dream of many, and you are actually getting to live it. While you cannot possibly plan for every contingency, or guarantee a smooth ride the whole way, a little bit of forethought can bring you a long way in minimizing hassles.
Here are just a few important tips to consider:
Getting the Right Travel Insurance
No matter where you are going, it is imperative you have good travel health insurance. Being fit and healthy won’t protect you from getting in a car accident, being injured while scuba diving or attacked by a rabid stray dog. Companies like Seven Corners that specialize in international travel insurance offer a range of plans to meet your unique travel needs. Many of these services are exclusively online now and feature robust search tools for people who want to compare plans.
When choosing coverage amounts, it is important to consider the individual countries you may be visiting, as health care costs vary considerably around the world. There may be additional types of coverage you should consider, such as coverage for terrorism, natural disasters or political unrest. Make sure any insurance you pick covers all the countries you are visiting. If your travel plans are flexible, and you may be on the road longer than you are originally planning, inquire whether a policy can be extended.
Make Sure You Have the Most Up to Date Information on Entry Requirements
When researching entry requirements, make sure you the information you are looking at is up to date. If you have any doubts, get in touch with the embassy in your home country before you go. Not having the right information can leave you in a lurch. For example, you can easily apply for a Vietnam visa online, but only if you are flying in.
Planning on crossing in overland from a neighboring country? You must get a visa from an embassy outside the country beforehand so make sure you plan your trip so you are near one at the appropriate time, and have ample time for processing. Flying into Thailand will get you an automatic 30 days, but if you enter through a land border, you will only get 15.
Don’t Overextend Yourself
Depending on how much time you have, you may feel pressured to get in as much as possible—this is usually due to a combination of wanting to maximize your experience and ego. The ego part is often the bigger factor—we want to be able to rattle off as many destinations as we can to both satisfy ourselves and up the envy factor of others. It’s okay, you can admit it. All travelers are guilty of that sometimes. Don’t end up planning an itinerary that has you spending more time on the road than at your actual destinations.
Avoid that checklist mentality. Go somewhere because it seems truly interesting to you, not because some guidebook says so.
Don’t feel pressure to always be doing something all the time; while you want to get in the signature activities of a particular location, make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to just be, and soak in the environment. Be flexible with your plans –if you are not liking a particular place as much, and want to leave sooner, don’t hesitate.
Traveling through multiple countries is really exciting, but can be stressful. Plan for that, and you will handle it better. Follow these three tips to have a great trip.