Hi guys I'm in Hungary and I just got married. Ttyl.
February 25, 2011 1:03 PM   Subscribe

Help me figure out what I need to prepare for my trip around the world.

I have saved up a small sum of disposable income and plan to travel around the world starting this summer (sometime around June or July). I need the hivemind to help me prepare for the trip and make sure I have everything (essential) I need. I plan to stay on the road for up to a full year and have a budget of $1000~1200 a month. I don't mind working part time to learn more about the local culture, but I don't want to work to sustain my trip.

- Airplane/train tickets. Since I'll be doing a lot of flying, how do I minimize the air fare? I am flexible and can wait/standby a few days anywhere. I'm trying to save money and headache, time is not really of essence here.

- Boarding. I plan to use Couchsurfer together with friends/relatives/friends' friends to reduce living cost.

- Passport & Visa. I plan to head to Alaska -> Japan/Korea -> SE Asia -> Europe -> Back to East Coast in September for a wedding. More traveling after that but route undecided yet (out of the country). Do I need to get Visa for any of these countries/regions? I initially planned to visit Russia and/or China but my brother convinced me to stay away (too dangerous compared to other countries). Would I need Visa for Russia/China if I change my mind?

- Health care/insurance and insurance for my belongings. I will be traveling with my camera and a couple lenses and I want to insure them in case they get stolen/damaged. I also don't want to solely rely on the healthcare of whatever country I happen to be visiting at the time. What recommendation do you have?

- What kind of clothing should I bring with me? I know I need to pack light. But since I'll be visiting regions of vastly different climate, what should I bring with me?

Any comments or suggestions is much appreciated. Thanks!
posted by jstarlee to Travel & Transportation around Hungary (16 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The Practical Nomad might be a place to start. He wrote a book, "The Practical Nomad: How to Travel Around the World."
posted by bentley at 1:25 PM on February 25, 2011

You need a visa for Vietnam and China and Russia. For other Southeast-Asian countries you can normally get them at the border. I'm not sure about the rest of the countries you mentioned, but I imagine you'll be pretty safe for most of the European cities.
posted by backwards guitar at 1:32 PM on February 25, 2011

If you are going around the world, you want an Round the World Ticket! Generally the RTW's are cheaper than the sum of flights. The general rules are a minimum of 10 days trip up to 12 months, 12-16 flights, not all flights are planned initially and you make reservations while travelling, and there is a mileage limit with more miles costing more money. Read the wikitravel article and google round the world ticket.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:11 PM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you are going through Turkey to Europe from SE Asia you will need a visa. However, you can pay cash (I believe we had to pay in American dollars) at the border.
posted by amicamentis at 2:30 PM on February 25, 2011

an Round the World Ticket? Me fail English? Unpossible!
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:30 PM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

The bible of visa requirements and State Department Factsheets: travel.state.gov. This is the State Department's website, and it's surprisingly user friendly for a gov't site. It will have up-to-date Travel Warnings (like today: Libya, Egypt, Mali) and Travel Alerts (New Zealand earthquake area, Tunisia, Bahrain) as well as a factsheet for every country. What it won't tell you are the details, for instance what amicamentis mentioned about Turkey requiring a visa but getting the visa at the border; the State Department will just tell you that you need a visa.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:35 PM on February 25, 2011

The bible of visa requirements and State Department Factsheets: travel.state.gov. This is the State Department's website, and it's surprisingly user friendly for a gov't site. It will have up-to-date Travel Warnings (like today: Libya, Egypt, Mali) and Travel Alerts (New Zealand earthquake area, Tunisia, Bahrain) as well as a factsheet for every country. What it won't tell you are the details, for instance what amicamentis mentioned about Turkey requiring a visa but getting the visa at the border; the State Department will just tell you that you need a visa.

Actually State does have the detail that you can purchase the visa for Turkey at your port of entry - I'm not sure they have that level of detail for all countries... but I assume they do.

You need a passport and visa to travel to Turkey. If you are traveling as a tourist, you can purchase a 90-day sticker visa at the port of entry for $20 (U.S) cash. There is one exception- If you are arriving by cruise ship for a day trip to Turkey, you do not require a visa if you are not staying on shore overnight.
posted by alaijmw at 2:38 PM on February 25, 2011

One tip from a former business traveler: Dr. Bonner's soap. It's awesome, and it's good for washing anything that needs washing, head to toe, and most things you put on, too. I used to buy it at "the health food store" (in the 20th century, we didn't have your "Whole Foods" and your "Intarwebs" like you kids do today!). It's low/no suds, a little tiny dab is all you need, and it's pretty seriously biodegradable, so you can use it confidently just about anywhere.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 3:55 PM on February 25, 2011

Stock up on any prescription medications you take, and things like contact lenses. Check your passport's expiration date to make sure it doesn't expire while you're away. Probably also a good idea to check your driver's license, too.
posted by Shebear at 4:36 PM on February 25, 2011

AskMeFi is full of country-specific and even continent-specific advice. Go back through the archives here; it's a treasure trove.

My biggest suggestion would be to think hard about which you value more: flexibility or cost. Transportation and accommodation will be the biggest cash-suckers. Booking trains and flights - especially regional flights with budget airlines - will be a LOT cheaper if you do it a few months in advance. (So much so that in my planning of travel through Europe, it never made sense for me to opt for Eurail passes. I'm not a student, YMMV.) Last-minute deals were few and far between, in my experience. Oh, and don't rule out regional bus lines - often very comfortable, and usually the cheapest option.

You'll also wind up in better hostels/accommodations if you plan as far in advance as possible. This is particularly true for the tourist high season - my experience with Europe in autumn/winter is that last-minute bookings were no biggie, but summer meant slim/expensive pickings.

The downside to all this frugal planning is that saving the most cash means forgoing flexibility. The cheapest plane/train tickets tend to be non-refundable. And if your budget is stretched too tightly, you'll sometimes miss out. Let's say you adore Istanbul, and wish you'd planned for more than 3 nights, but have already paid for a 15-euro flight to Frankfurt (or wherever). Is your extra time in the city worth the extra, say, 80 euros, factoring in money lost and the cost of a new ticket?

For this reason I might consider upping your monthly budget and aiming for less than a full year - or setting aside an extra pool of money to draw on in special situations. (On that note, based on friends/acquaintances, even the most budget-conscious travelers often come up short sooner than they'd planned. Think about what you'll do if you start running out of cash before you've run out of travel.)

And all that said, have an amazing time! Sounds like an incredible trip.
posted by nicoleincanada at 9:54 PM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sounds fantastic! You might check www.bootsnall.com, it has a lot of articles about this sort of thing as well as resources for RTW tickets.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:40 PM on February 25, 2011

On health insurance, once again your friends at the State Department can provide some background.

Also, I don't know what your brother's experience is, but I've been to both Russia and China as a tourist within the last year or two, and would not say they're any more dangerous for tourists than average. They may be more challenging than places like Western Europe or SE Asia that have well-trodden tourist trail for backpackers, but I wouldn't say they're dangerous. Some see that as a disadvantage, others see it as a bonus. You may not get another chance to spend an extended period in China or Russia. Don't let the "danger" scare you off if that's where you want to go.
posted by Pseudonaut at 2:05 AM on February 26, 2011

nicoleincanada is dead on, that is just not a reasonable amount of money. Go for 8 months, and add 50% to your monthly budget. Or be more willing to work to top up your reserves.

I know I need to pack light.

I can't stress this enough! Don't be the moron with the huge backpack, sweating and grunting everywhere you go! Get a comfortable little messenger bag or large purse type of thing, and use the capacity of that bag as a hard limit on your carrying capacity. You don't want to check in your bags on flights - I promise you, checked bags will eventually be lost. Much better to be able to sail through the airport with everything already on your person.

Bring two pairs socks, and two pairs underwear. Alternatively (if it were me) wear sandals with no socks, and go commando. But if you must bring socks / undies, just one extra pair and wash them every single day. The alternative is carrying around a bag of dirty laundry, this is a no-brainer.

If you pass through Gua Musang I have a free bed waiting for you.
posted by Meatbomb at 4:13 AM on February 26, 2011

China is far from dangerous. Don't listen to your brother. You will be highly rewarded if you go. And you most definitely will need a visa.

A visa for S Korea isn't required, but proof of passage out of the country is. And beware of the prices in Japan. It can be a shockingly expensive country.

And Meatbomb is right about packing. Keep in mind when shopping for a backpack that whatever size you get, you will fill it. So if you go for some huge monstrosity, you will fill that huge monstrosity. Better to get something somewhat smaller in order to guarantee that you pack light. And leave the laptop at home if you had planned in bringing one. Internet cafes are a dime a dozen, especially in Asia.

Also, echoing anyone who said that your budget seems way too tight. You'll be amazed how fast money can fly out of your wallet in some places. A year abroad sounds like an amazing experience, but 6 or 8 months is no less rewarding, and probably better if means that you will have enough money to do everything you want to do and go everyone you want to go.

All that said, have a blast!!
posted by fso at 11:38 AM on February 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thanks for all the wonderful answers. Looks like half an year is more realistic for my budget (better be safe than sorry right?) I really want this trip to be about having fun - if I have to spend a little more here and there (not astronomically more that's fine. I've worked a lot of late hours for that exact reason.

As far as laptop goes since I'll be taking a lot of pictures I would really really like to bring one with me so I can post-process and upload pictures; I also intend to write about my trip and I think having a laptop would just be much more convenient.

Thanks again!
posted by jstarlee at 11:30 AM on February 27, 2011

A teeny tiny laptop, right? :)

It sounds like you might need two bags. Your tech bag - laptop and camera gear, and travel bag with clothes toiletries etc.

Another option (maybe better) is a safari / journalist type vest where you can carry your camera and lenses. When I pack I make sure that I have everything mission critical - passport, cards and money, camera - on my physical person and not in a bag. So you know that even full on loss of baggage will not completely screw you.

However you go, make sure your full gear setup is light enough and can all coexist on your body... you will be porting this stuff around for much of your time when not checked into accom. somewhere. I would definitely consider a day or two dry run in your own town just to be sure that your chosen setup is ergonomic enough.

Oh one more thing: feminine products, shampoo, soap, etc. are available everywhere on the planet - carry tiny tiny supplies and replenish as necessary.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:56 PM on February 27, 2011

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