Southeast Asia Backpacking Preparation Checklist
What to do – How to prepare
Planning a tip to Southeast Asia? Below is a full preparation list to help you plan your trip!
Also check out our Southeast Asia Packing Checklist
This is the exciting part! Start planning where you want to go. You may not have a strict route, but it is useful to have a vague idea of what you want to see and where you want to visit. Bear in mind that your plans will almost certainly change! Start reading guidebooks and looking online and write down a proposed route. Indietraveller has some useful route planning advice.
Most countries in Southeast Asia are safe to travel in, and most visits trouble free. However it is very important to check government travel advice before travelling. https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice In most countries you visit it is likely that there will be some areas where travel is not recommended. Make sure you take this into account when planning your route.
Once you've decided where you want to go you'll want to book your flights! You may not want to book all your internal flights, but you'll need at least a flight from home to your first destination. I use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights on the day I want to travel, or to explore the cheapest month to travel. If you know how long you are travelling for, and where you'll be when you want to return, book a return ticket, otherwise you could book a one way ticket and plan to book your return flight when you are away. STA travel offer a MultiFLEX pass, starting at £29 these passes let you change your flights; this is good, as you may wish to stay longer than you initially planned! Flights through STA are usually a good price. I have flown to Asia with a number of different airlines: Quatar Airways, Air China, China Southern, Air Vietnam and KLM. My favourite airline was Quatar Airways, but this was also more expensive, Air China were also a good airline, where China Southern left something to be desired. Check reviews and prices before you make your decision.
Travel insurance is essential. It is often difficult to find travel insurance which will protect you for an elongated holiday. On my most recent trip I booked through Go Walkabout, but World Nomads is also highly recommended.
Find out whether you require a Visa for any of your destinations, and apply well in time of your departure date (at least a month before) to give your visa time to arrive. Most subsequent travel Visas can be applied for while in Asia, in the major cities. Check if you need a Visa here and read more here.
For most trips to Southeast Asia you will need vaccinations. Book your vaccinations at least a month and a half before your trip as most courses take a month to complete! Check the Fit For Travel website to check what vaccinations you may require. Also make sure you are up to date on all regular vaccinations as well.
Getting a prescription for malaria tablets is essential for most trips to South East Asia. To check if the areas you are travelling to are effected by Malaria check the Fit For Travel website and select your destination. Most doctors offer three different types of Malaria tablets, from cheapest to most expensive: • Mefloquine • Doxycycline • Atovaquone/Proguanil I ordered my tablets from nomadtravel , but, especially if it is your first time travelling, you should consider having a consultation with your doctor to see which tablets are right for you. Personally I recommend Doxycycline, it is relatively cheap and I haven't experienced any serious side effects. Read reviews and side effects carefully before you make your decision. And make sure you have enough tablets to last for the duration of your trip, and the allocated time for after your trip. Even with Malaria tablets it is important to take bite prevention precautions, read about how to avoid bites at Fit For Travel.
For long trips I do not recommend that you bring enough cash to last your entire trip, as you risk having it lost or stolen! Instead I recommend that you bring enough cash (in the currency of your arrival destination) to last 1 week, and a few US dollars. You can compare exchange rates here. Then bring a card, or travel money card to withdraw money for the rest of your trip. If your bank does not offer competitive exchange rates consider a Caxton Fx currency card or an STA Travel Money Card. These card boasts no withdrawal fees at ATMs, and you load them with money as you go, so that if they are stolen, you do not have to worry about all the money being withdrawn from your bank. You can also get someone at home to load the money onto your card for you. Take a look at this website to review other currency cards. There is access to ATMs through most of Southeast Asia, excluding some islands.
It is important to book your first few nights accommodation, so that when you arrive in your first destination you are not lost and vulnerable. In Asia I usually book through Hostel World or Agoda. You could also try Booking.com or Trivago. Find and print out detailed directions to your accommodation from the airport and show these to your taxi driver.
Just before you leave you should photocopy all important documents twice: • Passport • Travel Insurance Details • Flight Boarding Passes Take one copy with you and leave one at home in case of emergency.