Beau and I made the decision to travel around the world. We sold his house and quit our jobs, or rather he quit his job, I was laid off. We have been working on our basic plan and getting prepared for our September 18th departure date. First stop, Beijing China!!
Before lift off we've had a few important things to take care of such as vaccinations, visas, and travel insurance.
While visiting my parents I attended a travel health clinic in Kelowna. While there I got vaccinations for Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Polio, and an update for Mumps, Measles and Rubella. I also had a blood test to check if my Hepatitis B vaccination took because apparently it doesn't always take. Fortunately I'm all good. Beau still had to get his shots so we attended a travel health clinic in downtown Ottawa. He got all of the above vaccinations as well as Tetanus and Diphtheria. For some reason the doctor in Kelowna didn't give me Tetanus and Diphtheria with my Polio shot so the guy in Ottawa gave me those. We also got a drinkable vaccination for Cholera which we need to take two weeks before we leave and it will also protect us against travelers diarrhea (caused by bacteria infection) for 3 months. We also have a prescription for some antibiotics in case this crops up on our trip.
Malaria is another biggie that we need protection for. Area's such as Cambodia, Laos, parts of Thailand and Indonesia, as well as India are Malaria zones. We were prescribed Doxycycline to help prevent Malaria. It needs to be taken 2 days before entering a zone and 28 days after leaving. So lots of pills :( The doctor gave us a prescription for 200 pills so we can take them at our own discretion. Currently we are on a week long trial run to make sure we don't have any side effects.
China: Since our first stop is China, it is the most important visa and we need one before we get there. We got a dual entry visa for China since we want to go to Hong Kong and it's considered leaving the country to go there! We drove down to Toronto, waited in line for an hour or so and dropped off our visa applications, passports, and pictures. Our visas were ready 4 days later but we had to go back to Toronto and physically pick them up. It cost $75/visa for a dual entry visa and each visit can be for 30 days.
Vietnam: The Vietnamese visa is also needed prior to arrival in Vietnam. While we were in Ottawa for the health clinic we went to the Vietnamese Embassy and dropped off our visa applications, passports and pictures. This embassy was completely different from the Chinese one in Toronto. It was in a residential area, in a nice little house, not a soul around or a line to wait in. We were also able to give them a prepaid envelope so they just mailed everything back to us instead of having to go back to Ottawa to pick them up. The Vietnam visa cost $93 for single entry 30 day visa.
South Asia: As far as we can tell most of the countries in South Asia issue tourist visas upon arrival at the boarder. Hopefully this remains the case when we arrive at each destination.
Australia & NZ: Technically we need a visa for Australia but it's just an online application. Nothing needs to be sent anywhere. No visa is needed for New Zealand since we are Canadian citizens.
India: We will need a visa for India but we are going to apply for it once we are in Australia.
Egypt: Visas will be issued upon arrival
Europe: We don't need a visa for Europe since we are Canadian.
It was difficult at first to find an insurance company that covered long term travel, ie longer than 6 months. We found a few good companies that offered long term travel options or at least the option to extend your coverage, but we narrowed it down to two companies. PC Financial initially offered good rates online but apparently their website hadn't been up dated yet to reflect their new rates. They offered just Emergency Medical insurance; the old prices was $623 for a year which they would honor until the site was updated, the new price was $860 for a year. The other company we were looking at was World Nomads. They came recommended by several travel books and have policies specifically designed for backpackers. Their policies include Emergency Medical, Trip Interruption, Trip Cancellation, Luggage and Personal Effects among other things. With the Luggage and Personal Effects we are covered for loss, theft or damage of our stuff. It's $440/person for 6 months and then can be extended up to another 6 months.
Turns out we missed the boat on the PC Financial old price so we decided to go with World Nomads. With this policy all our electronics are covered in case anything happens to them!