July 19, 2021
Since I returned home from Peru at the end of February 2020, I have been dreaming about my future travel plans. After waiting not so patiently for more than 500 days I am finally in the planning stages of a six month trip across Central and South America. In less than three months, I wil be packing up my life here in Canada and embarking on one of the craziest adventures of my life. Although I have a couple solo trip experience under my belt, the pandemic is going to change the way we travel and I am doing everything in my power to be ready.
Before you book your ticket, you should definetly look into which countries are open for travel, and which countries have restrictions. Restrictions are all dependent on what country you live in, which country you plan to visit, and whether or not you have been vaccinated (and if you have been, what type of vaccine were you have given). Restrictions for travel are all different right now. Some countries are fully open with no restricitions, some require a quaratine, some require a negative test before or on arrival, and some countries are saying if you are fully vaccinated, you do not need to quarantine or take a COVID test. It is a good idea to look at the travel advisories on your countries website or quickly Google "where can (insert country of residence here) travel to right now" and you should find what you are looking for.
Booking your ticket wil probably be one of the most stressful parts of planning your trip. On top of finding a flight that ticks all the boxes in terms of date and time, luggage policies and maybe even the airline itself, you want to make sure you find something with flexible cancellation policies. Oh, and you know how when you are asked to check off that you have read the companies terms and conditions, but you ignore it and check off that you read it, when you really didn't? Yeah, not this time. Read the fine print.
The first thing I did after I booked my ticket was to make sure my immunizations and vaccines were up to date. In school, I did not get all the shots I was supposed to get, so I already knew I was behind. I started by checking what was outstanding through my regions public health unit and then booked an appointment with my doctor to find out which shots were necessary for my trip. Secondly, I would recommend to book an appointment with a travel clinic, family doctor or look online at your countries travel advisories to see if they recommend any other shots, like a rabies vaccine. All of these shots will require more than one dose and need time to become effective. If you are like me and needed multiple shots, there will be a wait time in between doses, especially if mixing different shots. Of course, now more than ever, if you are in a position where you can recieve a Covid-19 vaccine, do it. There are different agreements between countries on what kind of travel is allowed when you are vaccinated. It could save you from having to quarantine or mean that you are able to enter a country, simply because you have been vaccinated.
Speaking of personal health, I would definitely recommend just getting a routine check up with your doctor and dentist to make sure you are in good health. You do not want to run into any preventable issues while you are in an unfamiliar country, even if you have proper health and travel insurance. Sure, there will be things that you can't foresee happening, but ensuring you are in good health will be helpful in the long run and will give you peace of mind while you are away. During the last three weeks, I have undergone three surgeries, two of which was not planned. It started with my having an emergency surgery to have my gallbladder removed. I had gallstones and an infection. Two short weeks later, my wisdom teeth were sent their eviction notice but a few days later, I ended up having some complications from the procedure and needed another one to try and repair the damage. These are things that would have sucked to have to deal with while abroad. Also if you take any medications on a regular basis, make sure that you fill your prescriptions.
It's time to find travel insurance. What i am learning now, is that many insurance companies are just starting to implement covid-19 into their policies and some still wont cover you, because they think that if you know there is a global pandemic happening, everything is at your own risk. I am planning a trip to Costa Rica, and what i have seen from their travel website, is that they require a certain amount of coverage for travel insurance. I think they need $500000 for if you get sick and require medical attention due to covid, and $2000 for expenses incurred if you need to quarantine due to covid. Do your research and pay close attention to these details, as some countries may need proof upon arrival that you have the coverage they are looking for.
If you require any visas for your trip, secure them once you know the dates you are travelling. Do not wait last minute and stress about timing or have to fork up extra money to expedite your documents.
Just to be safe, I like to compile all my documents, and make physical and digitial copies of them for personal records but to also share with trusted friends and family. This will be beneficial if you lose or have any of your ID stolen or damaged.
I always make sure I have copies of:
Before I travel, I try and arrange important contact information that I may need during my trip. This includes, names, phone numbers, addresses, and emails for:
Some countries have contact information for "Whats App" as well, so it might be helpful to download the app and store contacts there.
For all of my travels I have created a private Google document that has all my trip information.
Once the document is finished, I print off the final copy and share the document with trusted friends and family so they are able to see what I am up to.
In all my past trips, I have used my existing phone plan with roaming features and I think it only came out to be $12 a day (depending on the country you are visiting and what phone company you are with). However, because I plan to travel long term, I am looking to purchase a SIM card in the country I plan to travel to. I am a little bit unfamiliar with the process, but online I have seen that lots of people have been able to buy them at the airport, in malls and some accommodation spots will also sell them.
It is always a good idea to have cash on hand with you when travelling, but make sure they are hidden in different spots. Most currency can be exchanged at your local bank, but there are specific currency exchange locations and the airport will have stations set up throughout the terminals.