Coming up very soon, I will be jetting off to Asia for three whole months. I’ve always wanted to journey to the far east for the legendary cuisine, fashion, and to see what kind of trouble I can get into (in moderation, of course). But, there are a few things that you absolutely need to take care of before you go, not just to Asia, but anywhere.
Get your vaccines. As much fun as you plan on having, your trip can quickly turn south with a bad virus or infection. Some countries won’t even let you in without certain vaccines. I went to my local travel clinic at Mass General Hospital. Remember to bring your itinerary and let your doctor know of any pertinent medical history. If you have medications that you are currently taking, remember to get them filled in advance so you have enough for your trip. Once you have all of the vaccines that you need, you will be given a certificate from the World Heath Organization, like the one below. Remember to give yourself enough time, shots can take up to 2-3 weeks to be effective.
Make sure you have all your visas. Applying for travel visas is one of the most time consuming parts of your preparation. One wrong move and your visa will be denied, which could mean up to two weeks before being able to apply for a visa again. My best advice, hire a professional. Navigating the complicated paperwork from some countries can be daunting and those who work at travel agencies will be able to spot even the smallest blemish that could cause your application to be sent back. On top of that, travel agents usually have couriers who can bring your passport around to every embassy that you need, which saves you a ton of time especially if you don’t live in the city that the embassy is in.
Register with the State Department. While you never expect disaster to strike, you can never be too careful. Did you know that the state department actively tries to find U.S. citizens in the event of a disaster? While they won’t swoop in if your maid service is sub-par, they are required to extract you from the country under certain circumstances, whether they be political or environmental. You can register with the State Department here. In addition to letting them know where you will be, you can also specify the people who are allowed to know about your whereabouts, such as family members or business associates. This is a relatively quick and painless process and could save you more than a headache in a sticky situation.
Give a friend or family member the necessities. Leaving a copy of your passport, itinerary, and visas with a family member or friend back home can save you a lot of trouble if you lose any of them. It wouldn’t hurt to carry a copy on you as well. You never know what might happen, and if you lose your passport, you could be stranded while the consulate works to figure out who you are. Having someone you trust with your itinerary is a good plan as well. Let them know how often you should be checking in, and if they don’t hear from you, they will have a rough idea of how to get a hold of you.