So here we are, our minds made up about leaving and very excited about it. But it’s not all sunshine and roses from here. When we started to seriously think about what needed to be done before going away, we realised there are quite a few things to add to that list! Since we intend to travel as long and as far as we can, we wanted to spend as little as we possibly could. However, we also wanted to be well equipped and as safe as possible. We have definitely ended up ‘splurging’ in some things, but in the end we think we have done a decent budgeting job.
Here are the main points we’ve ticked off our list:
When it comes to picking out the cheapest flights, search engines like Skyscanner or Momondo are pretty useful. It’s also a good thing if you can afford to be flexible with dates and times. It’s usually cheaper to fly on a weekday than on a weekend, and it also helps if you are willing to have a layover or two.
In our case, the only thing we wanted for sure was to start our trip from Bangkok. This made the task even simpler, since Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport is a hub for international airlines. We ended up booking two one way tickets with Ukraine International Airlines that depart from Barcelona with a two hour layover in Kiev, and then from Kiev on to Bangkok.
We have both travelled a bit before, but in regards to backpacks we are rookies. We’ve always used either carry-ons or smaller backpacks for weekend trips. For this one though, we wanted to have room for everything we might need but be comfortable at the same time.
We are not planning to backpack in the Bear Grylls sense of the word, so we are only taking clothes, electronics and a few other things with us (no tent or sleeping bags). That’s why we have chosen 40 liter backpacks with attachable 15 liter daypacks. This seems pretty limited,
at least to Laura, but we hope to learn to live with less during this journey.
International driving licenses
These might turn out not to be necessary, but the process to get them was pretty straight forward here in Spain. We decided to get them to avoid possible fines when renting a vehicle.
For Spanish citizens, these licenses are valid outside of the EU during one year, and you only need an ID picture and your normal driving license.
Passports and Visas
When it comes to the visa policy, it should always be looked in advance, since sometimes it is required to apply for it ahead of time. Such is the case of Myanmar. In other cases, such as Thailand or Laos, the visa is simply given on arrival. In the case of Thailand there is a free tourist visa for 30 days each time one enters the country, which makes it possible to use Thailand to move across countries.
The passport thing is quite obvious, it has to be valid and last at least until the end of the trip. The point that we didn’t realize until we got into looking the visa requirements in detail, is that some countries ask for your passport to be valid for a period since you enter the country in particular. This is the case of Myanmar, where your passport needs to be valid for at least 6 months after you enter the country (it doesn’t matter if you intend to stay only one week in the country).
To be clear, we do not need any vaccinations for South East Asia. However, we thought it a good investment to get some before leaving. The process to get this done is different in every country, but it wasn’t too much of a hassle here in Spain. We both went to different doctors, and were recommended the following vaccines:
- Hepatitis A
- Meningitis ACWY
- Japanese Encephalitis
Although this took a good chunk of money, we are glad we got vaccinated. It just gives us peace of mind.
No-fee debit card
This one we hadn’t thought about, but we read some great posts like this one or this one and ended up deciding to get a new debit card that allows us to withdraw money without paying fees to our bank. It might not seem very important, but at the end of the day we think it will make a difference.
We opened an account with Ferratum Bank. They offer a free debit card which allows you to make four free withdrawals anywhere in the world. They apply the official MasterCard rate, and charge a very small fee after the fourth withdrawal. Opening the account was very straight forward, we only needed to download their free app and a quick video call with one of their agents to verify our identity. We haven’t used the card yet, but we have only read positive opinions about it and hope it will help with our budget.
We’ll try to record every euro that we spent in this trip so you can check how much we spent in lodgment, food, getting around, and so on. Here’s what we each spent in the different points above:
- Flights: 281€ each.
- International Driving License: 10€ each.
- Vaccinations: 19€ (Rabies), 47€ (Hepatitis A), 19€ (Meningitis ACWY), 172€ (Japanese Encephalitis), 18€ (Typhoid) and 49€ (Colera).
Wow, that was quite a lot of info!! We hope it was helpful if you want to start a similar trip someday. Also, we thought this spotlights the amount of work that preparing a journey like this can suppose. Enough boring stuff, the next post will be more entertaining 😛
Joan & Laura