Long trips and journeys require some preparation . Here are some tips / info and points to think about when you leave for several months.
This is not necessarily the most pleasant part of a travel but if you wanna be quiet, this is a must ! And remember that some steps take time, so start preparing FEW MONTHS before your departure ! Travel Insurance
How to choose ?
- It must be valid in the country you are going through (yes it may be a stupid remark, but you should think about it ) .
- It should cover your injuries or sudden illnesses . It means, pay all medical expenses . ( Warning, if you have chronic diseases or symptoms before you go , ask what are the formalities , some insurances do not cover what happened before the trip )
- The assistance must be available 24h/24.
- It must cover the loss, breakage or theft of personal items such as luggage, documentation ... ( But be careful to check the terms and conditions, for example, for electronic devices such protection generally applies only during transportation, plane, bus , train)
- It must propose a Liability
- Your booking for flight, hotel , etc. , should be protected in case of cancellation.
- And of course it must cover legal costs if the case arises, participate in your research, and / or repatriation , support the arrival of a family member in case of hospitalization and cover situations emergencies ( Attack , natural disaster, death of a close ... )
Depending on where you will be, you may need to be immunized against certain diseases. Here is the list (not exhaustive) of vaccines that you might need . In all cases, it is strongly recommended to consult a specialized institute in tropical diseases.
- Yellow fever : This is a viral disease transmitted by certain mosquitoes in sub- Saharan Africa and the Amazon Basin. Symptoms vary in severity of influenza like illness to jaundice with bleeding whose evolution can be fatal. The vaccine is required for entry into certain countries.
- Typhoid : This is a bacterial disease transmitted by consumption of contaminated water or food. The risk is higher in developing countries with insufficient sanitary conditions.
- Hepatitis A: This is a disease caused by a virus that can infect the liver and cause jaundice or , more rarely, a very serious fulminant hepatitis . The virus is transmitted orally, by ingestion of contaminated food or beverages. The disease is prevalent in many developing countries .
- Hepatitis B is caused by a virus that infects the liver. It can be transmitted through blood , sexual intercourse or use of contaminated needles ( drug , medical treatment) . The disease occurs worldwide . The symptoms are highly variable and the infection can go undetected though a person is infectious . Hepatitis B can become chronic with the risk of developing cirrhosis or liver cancer .
- Japanese encephalitis : This is a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes, which prevails in rural areas of Asia . Most infections are asymptomatic but sometimes the disease can cause severe encephalitis.
- Rabies : This is a widespread worldwide disease that is caused by a virus transmitted to humans through the saliva of an infected animal when bitten, scratching or licking a wound . This is an invariably fatal disease if no vaccine is given time in the absence of specific treatment. ( FYI, we have chosen not to make the vaccine )
(source: www.safetravel.ch )
Of course, in addition to these specific vaccines you need to be up to date on traditional vaccines (DT Polio, MMR ... )
Remember that some vaccines require a booster or should be done some time before exposure to the disease, so do things in a timely manner ! The first aid kit
It is advisable to travel with a number of drugs.
- Anti Malaria pills:
In some areas of the world ( Africa, parts of rural Asia and Amazon region ) with malaria . It is a parasitic disease transmitted by mosquitoes that bite at night . It is manifested by fever and flu-like symptoms and can be fatal . Unfortunately there is no vaccine to fight against this scourge, and total protection does not exist because there are so many different types. Drugs can not guarantee 100% protection.
In infested areas should obviously take precautions :
- Use mosquito repellent on you AND your clothes
- Sleep under an ITN
- Wear long clothing in the late afternoon ( higher risk )
But to protect you even more effectively there are drug treatments. They are more or less expensive but mostly they have more or fewer side effects (indigestion, intolerance to sunlight, insomnia, depression, hallucination ... ) ! Learn well ! We opted for Malarone which is more expensive but it is also one that has the least side effects ...
We will take it in Africa, then stop in Asia ( we will protect ourselves with repellent and keep a curative treatment in cases of suspected fever) and resume taking Malarone in Amazon.
In all cases , if an abnormal fever, and flu condition within 3 months after traveling in an infested area , consult a doctor and inform him of the travel immediately !
- The rest of the first aid kit
In addition to anti Malaria pills , it is still good to go with a minimum of medication.
- " Anti- diarrheal " Les: Of course, with a change of diet , spicy dishes , not always fresh food, …, your stomach will be put to the test , so remember to take anti emetic and anti diarrheal !
- Anti-allergic : tablets or ointment containing cortisone can be use if you make any allergy !
- The eye serums : Sand , sun, drought ... your eyes will be strained , few single-doses of physiological serum will do the trick .
- In case of injury : Always disinfectant. Dressings are also always helpful (bulbs , abrasions ... ). Some sterile gauze and tape can be washed away.
- For "classic evils" : a painkiller and an anti-inflammatory can be added to the list. Of course sunscreen is a must to remember ...
- The " utensils " To detect a fever, a thermometer should really make the trip. You can also take asurvival blanket ...
- And ladies , the pill : Not being sure to find exactly the same pill everywhere, I chose to go with my 18 pads ... but if you do the same thing, and you go over 12 months , talk to your doctor and pharmacist because normally an order may not exceed one year's !
And remember : For any abnormal symptoms / in doubt / or symptoms that do not disappear CONSULT A DOCTOR !
Of course , do not go with a cargo : many of these products can be purchased locally , but to troubleshoot it is always nice to have on oneself.
Do not forget to travel with orders ( preferably in English ) in case of customs control , they can be requested .
Finally, if you have specific health problems that require specific medications, talk to a competent doctor who will tell you if you need to take adequate treatment for the duration of your trip or if you will easily find what you need ...
In any case , this list is only a suggestion , ask your doctor to make up the first aid kit that fits your needs ! visas
To enter certain countries you must obtain visas. Some can be buy at land border directly , others online or in embassies ... Check ! It would be a shame to see you denied entry into a country just because of a missing visas. Also remember that a visa is not valid indefinitely. Look at the dates and extend your visa if you decide to stay in the country. An expired visa can be very expensive .
For requests, it is recommended to always carry identity photos, photocopy of your official papers ... and a big smile (it helps sometimes ) ! But for more information on visas, follow our blog we will tell you how the formalities took place at the borders ! Other formalities
- Stop all contracts ( employment, lease if you rent, phone , internet )
And don’t forget that to stop certain contracts, you will have a 3 month notice .
- Prevent, if any, of your new address (give your parents for example, because you will certainly receive mail taxes , for example)
Tell everyone about your change of address. Bank jobs, State .... You never know !
- Declare your new status to taxes, employment center ...
- Request an international license (It’s a French “Paper”, I don’t know if the same applies in other countries, but to be fixed, ask your country if you need a special paper to drive abroad)
D-7 !!! It’s now time to reveal what will be the content of our house that we will carry on our back during more than 18 months! OK, not like this man
. Principal house
The most difficult choice was for sure the trekking bag. After reading many of our favorites blogs, a 60L bag for Flo and 70L for Romain appeared to be the best compromise. However, by trying bags (full if possible), an Irish brand fitted really well for each of us and the main criteria was not really the volume but our back length.
Finally, Flo selected a 60L bag, the model Light Mare Lady FA 1
from Bach, specially made for women morphology.
Romain will go for the model Specialist FA 3
from Bach as well. Its volume: 88L. Many of you could be afraid looking at this volume but some of tall travelers (regarding back length) could prefer this type of bag more comfortable than a smaller bag too small for their back. And a big trekking bag does not need to be filled fully. It gives some margin to carry punctually more stuff (during a trek in total autonomy for instance).
Ratios empty weight/volume are reasonable, 2.350kg for Flo’s one, 2.620 for Romain’s one. Our bags are not completely filled (fortunately), there is still approximately 10 liters for Flo and 20 liters for Romain, which will allow us to accumulate many souvenirs and gifts for children ;-)
And in order to well organize our bag, we bought these stuff sacks
from Sea to Summit. And for your Information Sea to Summit have very good products and a wide range. These sacks are ultralight and allow us to unpack and repack our stuff faster than light (at least almost J). These bags seem to be quite weak and will only be used for clothes. Some Zip bags can also be useful, especially to ensure impermeability of cameras and computer. Secondary residence and safe box
Beside these trekking bags, we will carry a daypack for visits and excursions. We both selected an Escapist 25
from Osprey. A real crush for us ; the problem is that we will have to find a way to differentiate them quickly as we both enjoyed the blue color ;-)
Finally, like every good travelers, we will secure our official papers (passport, driving license) and cash in a skin chest holder like this
Regarding clothes, we bring only clothes for warm climate first, and we will buy warmer clothes during the trip if necessary (and it will be ;-)). Choice was not so difficult as we leave during spring season, and stores do not expose yet their collection for summer. We therefore quickly selected our favorites at the “Au Vieux Campeur” in Paris. We bring the minimum (let’s say almost, we can for sure eliminate more) because the test in Thailand in 2012 has been successful and we were able to carry the minimum by cleaning regularly. Here is the list for each of us:
- 1 pair of sunglasses
- 1 swimsuit (+ 1 pareo for Flo)
- 1 light pyjamas (can be useful to sleep at local, Romain just bring the bottom and will manage with a classic T-shirt from every day as top, Flo chose a sleeveless top that she can use during the day)
- 2 sport and 2 classic bras for Flo (sport bras are much more comfortable for trekking or sport, for sure we will run a lot in playgrounds ;-) ; Romain is taking the risk of bringing none of them ;-))
- 4 underwear
- 4 pair of socks (2 pair lights and small, 1 pair light but warmer and one pair of long socks)
- 1 Buff
(useful to warm our ears, protect our neck or tie hairs (not for Romain, he does not get enough yet ;-)) and many other things)
- 1 short sleeve T-shirt & 1 sleeveless top for Flo (+ eventually the one used as pyjamas), 2 short sleeve T-shirts for Romain
- 1 short & 1 long sleeve shirt (useful to wear over a T-shirt, or cover our body in sacred places, or aerate the torso during trek (ok, Flo will avoid ;-))
- 1 canvas pants and one convertible pants to pair of shorts
- 1 bermuda short for Romain, 1 skirt for Flo
- Technical underwear for cold nights at camping (one pants + one shirt)
- 1 hat and one canvas belt
- 1 soft-shell, with flash colors to be visible while hitchhiking ;-)
- 1 microfleece hooded jacket and full zipper
- 1 poncho (with which we can carry a trekking bag)
- 1 pair of hiking shoes (short) and 1 pair of hiking sandals (thanks Keen ;-)) Hygiene
Regarding hygiene, we bring two synthetic towels
from Sea to Summit, the lightest you could find for a proper size. Then, the toiletry bag
from the same brand is ultralight as well, and can be suspended in dirty places; it includes as well many pockets very useful. We can find in it really compact Lush products such as toothpaste pellets, shampoo and soap blocks; everything really light and compact. One advice, if you travel as a couple, prefer a deodorant that satisfy both women and men, otherwise it takes place and it weights. We will try as well shampoo, soap and washing soap presented as pocket of 50 leaves from Sea to Summit : it’s light and ecologic, moreover with that we have to ration ;-). Health
For more details about health, see here
Amateur of camping, we hesitated a lot if yes or not we should bring tent, mattress and kitchen kit…Finally, in order to save a maximum of our budget in expensive countries, we decided to bring this stuff with us, and in case we do not use it enough, we could still send it back to France or let it in a country. Our choice then was to select very technical stuff that are light but comfortable so that we really want to camp. After many nights on the internet comparing models in order to do the right choice, we selected the following items:
- one tent Big Agnes, model Copper Spur UL3
, with many place inside to bring our bags into the tent, and an incredible light weight, including footprint, of 2.1kgs
- two mattresses Exped, model SynMat UL7 LW
, really good ratio comfort/weight, 640g each
- two sleeping bags Yeti GT ii 400 Gold
that can be twinned, really lights and warm (limit temperature 0°C)
- two silk travel liners, cutted on one side to stick on girlfriend and warm her ;-)
- two convertible pillows
for transports and in the tent. Ok, a bit heavy but it’s much much better than any else…and finally, the best we sleep, the lightest seems our bag… in conclusion, it’s better to sleep well and carry 100g more than have trouble to sleep and visit nothing ;-)
- one kitchen kit including : one pan, ultralight cutlery Sea to Summit (thanks Katia), glasses, plastic plates (bought at Carrefour, much more light than others), one ultralight and compact camping stove, one small towel, some freeze-dried food. To that we add several gifts from Light my Fire: one salt/pepper/spices shaker, one firestone to imitate Robinson Crusoé. We also bring one kitchen sink
Sea to Summit that can be used as a basin. Electronic stuff
And as a good tourist, but also to give you a lot of news from our trip and envy us, it was essential to bring with us photo and video camera, computer.
The choice was really difficult but we think we found the best, at least meeting our criteria.
Concerning video, as we are not big movie maker, we will only bring a GoPro which can be used really easily, compact and very light with a video quality surprising. Amateur of extreme sensations, we will as well be able to send you shiver during extra activities.
Regarding photography, the idea was first to bring with us a reflex camera in order to get professional pictures of our visit, but many reasons make us change our direction: first one is that having this kind of camera is interesting when you know how to handle each option to get the best picture and when you have a good knowledge in this domain. Then, even if lenses range is full of choice, this has a cost and particularly weight and volume increases a lot compared to other type of camera. Finally, as many people noticed, you never have the right lens mounted on the camera at the right moment. In conclusion, this type of camera is really interesting when you are at home but not during such a trip, at least for us.
We then thought about hybrid cameras that are lighter and smaller than reflex but disadvantages of lenses are still applicable.
Bridges cameras then appear to be a really good compromise, offering a big zoom and often a good aperture range for surprising quality on the pictures. It fits also better in hands than compact cameras and some hybrid ones, which means less risk to drop it on the floor and more stability. One model was really over all others, Panasonic DMC-FZ200
. Its price is really good and its technical characteristics are incredible. A 25-600mm zoom (x24) with an aperture of f=2.8 on all zoom range. Another point is that he is able to record video in HD 1080p at 50f/s, useful if our GoPro battery is empty or if the video camera is not accessible.
In parallel, we also bring a compact camera to be more discreet in some countries and also be able to enter the camera in some spectacles/monuments where big cameras are not allowed.
And to write many blog articles and share many pictures, we need a computer. We orient our researches to tablets and netbooks and found a good compromise, a Transformer Book Trio
from Asus which combines both tablet and netbook.
This model has the particularity to be composed of one tablet that can be attached on a keyboard; you can then choose to use it as a tablet or a netbook. Tablet has a bid advantage: it is much more intuitive than a computer for the children we will meet. And in addition, the keyboard is much more practical for
documents and articles writing. And THE biggest advantage of this model is to include two OS: Androïd on tablet that offers a store full of interesting applications and games and which can be used quickly and easily; and Windows 8 accessible, when the keyboard is connected to the tablet, a TV or a computer screen, that is useful for Office suite using as well as video and photo softwares. Androïd can also offers a really good autonomy because it needs less ressources than windows OS. Finally, it will be interesting, if we can use a TV or a computer screen, to work in parallel on the tablet and on the keyboard connected to a screen. The only disadvantage of this model is its weight: 1.8kg which is a bit more than a classic netbook.
And to quickly search something on the internet or know where we are on an offline map of a city or country, we also bring a smartphone. It could also be used to contact a friend or a local, and will finally be used as MP3 player by Romain while Flo used her own MP3 player.
In terms of accessories and storage devices, the list is as follows:
- two additional batteries for the GoPro camera (incl. one Bacpac battery) and two additional batteries for the bridge camera. One battery for the compact camera.
- 2 micro SD card (32Go) for the GoPro. 3 SD cards (32Go) for the bridge camera. One SD card (8Go) for the compact camera. One micro SD card (64 Go) for the tablet. One micro SD (64 Go) for the smartphone for maps storage and music. One USB reader for SD and micro SD cards. One external storage disk ADATA HD710
(1To) shockproof and waterproof.
- one extension cord, one three plugs adapter, one 4 USB charger
to plug GoPro, smartphone, headlamps, MP3 player, tablet, compact camera in the same time, and finally one universal world adapter ;-) OTHERS
We add to all this list the following items:
- sewing kit
- damping belts
- cable or code padlock
- one or two notebooks
- one document wallet
- one dictionary with pictures to be understood in every countries
- one headlamp each and one dynamo lamp
- string and clothes line
- one water bag
- one small brush and washing soap
- one alarm whistle
- one watch each, incl. One with a pedometer function to be proud of the distance walked each day
- one « opinel » knife and one swiss knife, in case a lion attacks us ;-)
- one slate to do hitchhiking and interact with children
And finally the most important: POMME-PIDOU !!!
Finally, regarding organization, we went for an easy one, daypack bags are used to carry cameras and computer with us, as well as warm clothes, microfleece jacket or soft-shell and many other things used in the day. Trekking bags are organized as follows: all camping stuff in Romain’s bag in order to open only one bag when we do not camp. Clothes are located in each easy bottom pocket of trekking bags. Flo is carrying toiletry bag, cables, sandals and many other things. At the end, each bag reflects our particularity, a big mess in Flo’s one and organized for Romain ;-)….
The weights are 11,3kgs for Flo and 13.3kgs for Romain, as well as 4.7kgs each in small bags. It seems that we can easily carry it , let’s see after few days, and let’s see if we can remove any item we never use…stay tuned !!!