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There’s always the thrill of everyone’s first travel. It can be intimidating but it is an experience worth trying.
Like clockwork on the paperwork
Get the must-haves out of the way first. Before day dreaming about your destination and itinerary the first thing to pay attention to are the required travel documents.
International travel depending on the country requires tourist visas as well as passports with expiry dates no shorter than 6 months from your day of departure. Check these details to avoid the any issues with immigration.
Securing your flight dates should be much simpler these days compared to the past decade. There are numerous of mobile apps to make selection and purchase of flights quick and easy plus there are features that show cheap flights for budget-travellers.
Prepare up to three government-issued IDs as well as medical certificates for pregnant women and for travellers who need to take larger volumes of medicine such as insulin for diabetics. Baggage security will need to see these documents during luggage check-ins.
Finally, get travel insurance that covers all your destinations. For some countries, Visas can only be granted if the traveler has the required travel insurance amount coverage.
Smart tip: Email a copy of all your documents to yourself in case you lose any of them.
What’s in your bag?
Pack smart and check for prohibited items (e.g. Don’t bring gum to Singapore). Mind the weight of your luggage and if you plan on purchasing a good amount of souvenirs and goods you may want to bring an extra bag or purchase one before returning.
Some ways to maximize storage in your bag are:
- Vacuum sealing
- Removing boxed items from their packaging (if possible)
- Roll clothes tightly instead of piling them flat
- Choose one versatile outerwear instead of bringing three
A good time to be thrifty and a good time to indulge
It’s impossible to do away with horror stories of tourists who run out of money while on vacation. The danger even heightens for first-time travelers and solo backpackers. One should never make the mistake of a limited and exact budget for the itinerary. It is possible to set a specific amount on less important items like gifts and souvenirs, but never for the essentials like food and lodging. The best way to do this is to always overestimate expenses for everything. It would certainly be better to have financial excess by the end of the trip, but never a deficit.
Call your bank to make sure there won’t be issues with ATM withdrawals or credit card use.
Travel insurance works wonders
The irony in insurance is that people buy them in hopes that they won’t ever need them. Some people say that getting insurance is a waste of money but in reality the losses are higher for people who travel without one. Should anything happen to you like loss of luggage or medical emergencies, you’ll have peace of mind that you will be cared for and compensated.
Be one with the destination
Taste the local cuisine. Engage with the locals. While there is nothing wrong with going to tourist spots, ask a trusted local for a better recommendation. Be wary of tourist traps and enjoy the moment without thinking about posting it immediately on social media. Travel for the experience and not just for the photos.
OTHER than culture and food, another thing that Southeast Asia is abundant with are, unfortunately, communicable/ infectious and tropical diseases.
So, before packing up and fulfilling that persistent wanderlust for the wonders of Southeast Asia, here are some diseases that all travelers must look out for:
Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral disease common in tropical countries, including the Philippines and Malaysia.
Classic manifestations of dengue are sudden, high-grade fever, the sudden appearance of rashes two to five days after onset of fever, muscle pain, bleeding gums, and many more.
As a traveler, the best way to prevent acquiring the disease is by avoiding the bites of infected mosquitoes. This can be done with the use of mosquito repellent sprays and lotions.
Another mosquito-borne disease, however, instead of a viral pathogen, malaria is actually caused by a parasite that has five species, two of which are uncommon.
Just like Dengue, Malaria is acquired when an infected mosquito, specifically a female, takes a blood meal.
Malaria is suspected when there is a sudden onset of shivering by the patient, followed by a spike in temperature and, lastly, profuse sweating—chills, fever, sweat.
Still, the best way to avoid contraction of the disease is through mosquito repellents and wearing clothes that minimize skin exposure
Gastrointestinal (GI) diseases
Gastrointestinal problems, such as traveler’s diarrhea, can be caused by a myriad of pathogens including enteroviruses which can be found in improperly handled and served street food which is very common in Southeast Asia. Needless to say, it is begrudgingly advised that travelers should venture into these uncanny cuisines with caution. Being a picky eater in this situation is actually a good thing. Thorough hand washing before and after a meal is also an important practice.
Sexually transmitted diseases
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and their complications are disturbingly common in Southeast Asia. Earlier this year, the New Your Post released an article of the rise of a “super gonorrhea”, a strain of STD acquired by a man who traveled from Southeast Asia, that is apparently resistant to all antibiotic treatments. HIV/AIDS cases have also skyrocketed in a particular Southeast Asian country.
Travelers who practice sex tourism are, of course, of high risk. The blame is commonly pinned on sex workers; however, the bigger liability lies on unhealthy sexual practice, such as having multiple partners and unprotected sex.
This article was not written to scare all the travelers away from Southeast Asia; however, does serve as a reminder. Countless mishaps can happen out there in the big, wide world, most of which you cannot control. So, isn’t it better to take hold of those minute things that you can control?
There’s no such thing as too much security when traveling, especially if it’s in another country or continent. Investing in travel insurance, specifically one that covers Health, is always wise, especially if you’re one who takes long trips. Just always keep in mind, thorough preparation and planning is key to safe travels.
Need travel insurance for your next trip in Hong Kong and other South East Asian countries? We help expats find the best covers. Get in touch today!