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HAVE QUESTIONS?


Then you're in the right place

SCROLL DOWN

HAVE QUESTIONS?


Then you're in the right place

Venturing into the unknown is scary. As time passes and my travels continue, you'd think it would get easier, but I still get anxious. So, for the more inexperienced travelers out there, I want to take some time to answer a few common questions. Just click on the index item you're wondering about, zoom down, and start reading!


FAQs Index

1. Vaccinations 💉

2. PRACTICALITIES 💁

3. What To Pack 🎒


And if you still have questions after reading all of this, I'd encourage you to shoot me a message and ask! I'll do my best to give you a timely response. 

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Vaccinations


What you need & what you don't.

Vaccinations


What you need & what you don't.

Which vaccinations you are going to need is a function of where you are going to be going. For information on what vaccinations are recommended for people traveling to your destination, check out the CDC’s website: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/lis


VACCINATIONS YOU PROBABLY ALREADY HAVE:

If you were born in America (or most of the rest of the western world probably) you should have received some vaccinations at birth. These would be as follows:

1. Hepatitis B

2. Polio

3. MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella)

4. Tetanus (probably—ask your doctor)


VACCINATIONS YOU’LL PROBABLY WANT:

1. Typhoid

2. Hepatitis A

3. Flu (Yes, they have the Flu everywhere)


MALARIA, YELLOW FEVER + OTHER OBSCURE VACCINATIONS

When I received my first major round of vaccinations, I was anticipating being in Africa within the year, so I also got the Yellow Fever shot. This shot is known to cause people some issues in the first 48 hours but all that I experienced was some achiness and a general malaise for a couple days.

When I traveled through the Bay of Bengal (Dhaka Calcutta) I was taking preventative Malaria pills. The dosage was 1 per week, and this medicine is often associated with intense nausea and even night terrors. I never experienced any of these symptoms though. I have a friend that got Malaria in Calcutta, but once I was actually there the locals of both Dhaka and Calcutta swore that it had been eradicated. I didn’t know who to believe, but preventative malaria pills are a vaccine often skipped among travelers. If you do happen to catch something, just make sure you find a doctor ASAP.

Other vaccinations that people commonly get include Rabies, Japanese Encephalitis, and Meningitis. These shots are pretty exotic though and often very expensive. You should talk to your doctor. There are clinics set up specifically to provide people with the right vaccinations before they traveled. Being an Ohio native, I used this one: http://www.travelhealthservices.net/index.html


OTHER HEALTH CONCERNS:

 

 

Dengue Fever

Dengue Fever is a nasty mosquito-borne illness found in just about every tropical destination you’d every want to visit. There is no vaccine or medicine for it, so all you can really do is try to avoid getting bitten. This means that you need to be vigilant about wearing bug spray, or better yet, wearing long sleeves and long pants, even if it’s really hot and humid, which it almost certainly will be.

If you contract Dengue Fever, like some friends of mine have, woe to you. It’s not going to kill you, but expect a fever worse than you ever thought possible. You’ll also have severe pains all over your body, a skin rash, and might even bleed out of your gums. That will last for a day or so, and all you can do is ride it out. Take pain killers, drink fluids, rest. If you don’t start to feel better after 24 hours then get your ass to a doctor ASAP!

 

 

Food Poisoning & Worms

All the vaccinations in the world won’t protect you from things like food poisoning and worms. You should be very careful when you first get to a place. Your immune system will take some time to adjust to your new environment so in the mean time stay away from iffy things like street food.

Or don’t. A couple of my friends ate fried fish from a street vendor in India right next to the Ganges River (which, if you didn’t know, is like the dirtiest river that has ever existed and presumably where the fish had been caught) and were fine. They said it was disgusting though and potentially a very poor choice. Swim at your own risk.

In my experience, it is pretty easy to tell what food is going to be okay and what food is a risk. Just don’t eat anywhere that you don’t also see locals eating. They know their way around better then you can ever hope to.

When I was abroad, I followed this advice, and while I got food poisoning very few times, I did have worms at one point [READ THE ARTICLE], and it was not fun. The symptoms were subtle but draining. It was an easy fix though. It literally only requires 1 big pill. If you are spending extensive periods of time traveling, you should be taking this pill once every 6 months just in case. You can buy it over the counter in most developing-world pharmacies.

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Practicalities


And a pep talk.

Practicalities


And a pep talk.

TRAVELING IS EXPENSIVe

HOW Will I Ever Be Able To AFFORD IT?

There are lots of crazy ways to make money and travel at the same time. But for those of us that are not part of the 0.1% of E*TRADE users that can actually make a living on it, not a computer coding wiz kid that can work from anywhere in the world with internet, not already a seasoned sailor that can easily get jobs working on world-traveling yachts, and not thrilled by the prospect of living in a tiny room on the bottom floor of a cruise ship full of your own vomit – don’t worry! There is are alternatives.

 

 

Work The Travel Rewards System

You've probably heard of "travel hackers" who work the travel rewards system to get tons of free flights and hotel accommodations. It might feel sketchy, complicated, or out of reach, but I can assure you that it is none of those things. In fact, there are concrete steps you can take, literally right this second, to get your first free flight! I'd recommend that you start by simply signing up for a travel credit card to earn you points. Personally, my preference the Venture Card from Capital One because, unlike other rewards cards, this will let you retroactively eliminate the cost of tickets that you buy with the points that you earn. You can sign up for one of those right HERE.

If you spend more than $3,000 in your first 3 months, you get 40,000 free miles. That will get you just about anywhere, so call your parents and your friends (assuming that you trust them with your money) and ask them if you can make any big purchases for them and then have them pay you back so you can pay off your bill. You'll be flying somewhere cool in no time! 

However, the ability to get free flights is all well and good, but it doesn't solve the bigger problem: the need for financial sustainability abroad. For that, I have one big piece of advice for you. Are ready for it? 

 

 

Teach English! 

That is the way I am doing it at least. The only real qualification to teaching is basically that you speak English. So if you have managed to read this far, I think you’re good to go. Most jobs will require you to be TEFL/TOEFL/CELTA certified (although it is not uncommon for not even that to be required). These are courses that basically verify that you speak English and teach you a little bit about teaching. Don’t worry, it is all pretty easy. They do however cost some money – no getting around that one – but keep your eyes open for Groupons and other deals. They can make the course much cheaper.

There are well-paying teaching jobs all over the world that fit into all sorts of time frames. Whether your gap is months or years, you can find lots of awesome opportunities with just a little digging.

I did my course here: http://www.bridgetefl.com/

I have had friends that did courses here: http://www.languagecorps.com/

And there are lots of other courses and organizations out there that can help you. Just do a little research on getting your TEFL.

Also, if you are going to a country with a culture that is drastically different from your own, teaching English is definitely the best way to start to understand that culture. As you get to know your students and their families, you will probably end up learning more than they do.


WHAT ARE THE START-UP COSTS TO Teaching Abroad?

This will vary depending on where you go. If you are in North America, the biggest financial hurdle is getting your plane ticket out. Buying plane tickets in North American is ridiculously expensive compared to the rest of the world. Once you have made it out of America/Canada, travel costs are going decrease A LOT.

I taught in Hanoi, Vietnam. Hanoi is definitely the most expensive city in Vietnam but it is still ridiculously cheap by Western standards. One of my best friends here showed up with 300 USD to his name and made a life here as a teacher. He also was a native French speaker (with a thick accent) with no university degree or teaching certification. So it can be done. But I can’t say I recommend it.

Realistically, here’s what your "leaving budget" should include: 

  1. Your plane ticket (if you employer won’t cover that cost for you)
  2. 4 months of rent on par with the cost of living in the city you are moving to
    1. Some countries, like Vietnam, do rent in 3 month installments
    2. You will need to pay a deposit as well (+ 1 more month)
  3. Enough money to get you through your first month until your first paycheck

These costs vary depending on where you go. You will need to do some research to budget appropriately. Remember that it's always, ALWAYS best to over-budget. 


BUT I HAVE STUDENT LOANS TO PAY OFF!

What if I told you that it will actually be easier to pay off your debts from abroad than at home? If you want to begin to pay off this debt immediately and also travel then you should teach in Asia or the Middle East somewhere. That is where your salary will be the highest.

South Korea is known for being just about the best place in the world to teach. They will pay for your plane ticket there and back, give you a nice apartment free of charge for the duration of your contract, provide you with health insurance, paid vacation days and on top of all this give you competitive salary that will basically all end up being profit because you will have so little over-head.

The Middle East is often even more profitable but also require a much higher level of qualification to teach. If you are qualified though, you’ll be making bank.

All that said, most student loan programs have an income-based repayment option that you can apply for. This will enable you to pay off your debt as a percentage of your monthly income instead of a fixed nominal amount every month. If you are working “under the table” (which is common in the developing world), depending on how you work things out with the IRS (taxes), you could potentially be paying nothing until you come home and get a “real job.” I have had many friends who fell into this category.


BUT I DON’T SPEAK ANY OTHER LANGUAGES. 

It’ll be okay. If you are rational person, this will of course serve as some deterrent, as it probably should, but it doesn’t really matter in the end. First of all, it is actually shocking how widely spoken English is at this point. But secondly, even if you do not end up in a place where English is commonly spoken, nut up and get out of your bubble! This could be a great opportunity to learn a new language. Immersion is a great way to learn languages so after a few months of putting in some effort, I think you will surprise yourself. There are a lot of amazing things that come with getting to know a new culture and a new language, but if nothing else, it will be a great addition to your resume when you go try to get a “real job.”

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What To Pack


And what to leave behind.

What To Pack


And what to leave behind.

Okay so your ticket is booked. Your flight leaves tomorrow. It’s time to pack your bag. What should you bring with you? Every traveler has a slightly different answer to this question, but here’s what I normally pack


THE ESSENTIALS

2. BACK-UP IDS

YOU ALSO CAN'T COME HOME WITHOUT A PASSPORT. Having back-up IDs on hand to give hotels and police officers instead of my passport has given me some serious peace of mind. The fewer people get their hands your passport besides you the better. Seriously dude, if you lose your passport it’s all over. Back-up IDs are handy because they help you keep your passport safe. 

1. Passport

I feel like this should go without saying, but some people don't know this. YOU CAN'T GO ABROAD WITHOUT A PASSPORT! If you don't have a passport yet, you can get one through your local post office. Here's a link to the official USPS Passport website to get the ball rolling for you. Remember to get your hair looking just right—you'll have that same passport photo for 10 years. 

3. CREDIT CARD

It's great if you have a travel credit card. The more you charge to this card, the closer you are to your next free flight. Personally, I use the Venture Card from Capital One. At any rate, having your debit card is good, but I've found credit cards to be a much less-often declined form of payment. At this point, they are my go-to when I'm abroad. Just don't forget to notify your bank that you'll be traveling. If you don't, they'll think that somebody is trying to steal your identity and lock your card. 

4. BACK UP CREDIT CARD

The chances that every obscure foreign vendor you encounter will take your card is virtually zero. Hedge your risks and bring more than 1 card. When I lived in Madrid, I once got my card locked and I had to survive for about a week on the 25 EUR in change that I had in my pocket at the time. Meanwhile, my bank struggled to unlock my account while my mom held the her phone up to Skype and I yelled through a series of speakers in order to communicate. It was retarded.  


RAIN GEAR

1. RAIN COAT

Just a basic, breathable rain coat will be fine. You don't have to ball out and get some $200 rain coat. And don’t stress about what raincoat to buy. For all the “breathability” they claim, they are all pretty close to being the same.

3. DRY SACK

This is a must-have for all your electronics—but, honestly, a plastic bag also works if you're in a pinch. Buying an actual dry sack gives me some piece of mind though. Those things are impregnable, and they de-clutter the inside of your pack. 

2. PONCHO

This is a must-have if your trip is going to include any time spent on a motorbike (like many of mine have). Ponchos aren't the most glamorous things, but they really can't beat the price and function. Here's one for just $0.02...

4. WATERPROOF PACK COVER

This one sort of felt like overkill when I got it, but the time came that it saved my ASS! It might not be a great purchase for a ritzy trip to Europe, but if you're planning on getting off the beaten path at all, buy one of these. They're pretty cheap.  


BACKPACKS

1. The enormous ‘backpacker’ backpack

Mine is from REI. Honestly, a normal suit case also works in many situations. It really just depends on the logistics of your trip. If you're going to be "backpacking," you should already know it. These giant packs are empowering when you're roughing it and moving fast from place to place. But if you're going to be rent a car (like we did in Iceland), don't bother. But if you're going to be taking trains, planes, or buses, you'll be glad you have this. It won't be cheap, but it's a one-time purchase. I'd recommend 65 gallons. Here's a link to the pack that I have. It's orange. 

2. A smaller backpack

It has to fits inside your big backpack. That is the only criteria here. But if you can’t fit it, you should still bring it. You need to be able to head out for a day trip without dragging all of your worldly possessions behind you. In order to make sure that this small pack will fit inside your big backpack, make sure that it has no wire frame. You should be able to crumple it into a ball and shove it in some tiny pocket for a few days if need be. #flexibility


ELECTRONICS

This is just my “basics”. Usually I’ll make a big zip-lock bag full of the wires, cords, plugs, etc. to keep them all dry and in one place. Anyway, this is my checklist when it coms to packing. I've included links to every item, even the ones that you probably already have. 

1. LAPTOP + CHARGER

This is an obvious one. Some people travel without their laptops, but I've never understood that. I'm a digital nomad in the information age. I need my damn laptop. That's why have things like dry sacks to keep it safe (see above). I'm sure you already have a laptop, but for the sake of uniformity, here's a link...

3. MOPHIE

Okay, this one isn't so obvious. If you didn't know, Mophie makes protective battery packs for your phone so that you leave your house with 200% or more in phone charge. They aren't cheap, but you can choose from a few different tiers of pricing, depending on function. I can't recommend anything more highly than I do the Mophie. Once you get it, you'll never be able to go back. It will pretty much make your phone immortal, which solves millions of problems, let me tell you! 

5. Headphones

Last, buy certainly not least, are the headphones. I would have killed myself on that one 14 hour flight from Chicago to Hong Kong if I hadn't had music and podcasts at my disposal. So this is another obvious one, but here's a link anyway... 

2. SMART PHONE

Again, this one should be obvious. Who the hell goes anywhere without their phones anymore? I use the iPhone (which is why many of these links go to Apple Products), but Android is fine too. As long as you have device fitting this description in your hand at all times, the world is your oyster... 

3. POWER ADAPTER

It's inconvenient, but outlets are different pretty much everywhere you go. This is one that never ceases to be an issue. Even for me. I feel like I'm always buying some shitty power adapter from a sketchy little shack outside whatever obscure airport I'm flying into or out of. Life would be some much easier if I just bought a good one and actually kept track of it. Learn from my mistakes people! Here's a link so that you can do exactly that. Buy it now, and you can thank me later. 

6. Pre-Loaded Maps 

Did you know that the Google Maps app will let you save maps to your phone so that you can get around a foreign city without needing data? That's a game changer! HERE are some instructions for you, and a link to the app is below... 


CAMERAS

GoPro (Hero 4 Silver)

I’m figuring this photography thing out as I go so the list of tools I employ is continuously growing and changing. These 2 cameras take up a ridiculous amount of space in my bag as it is, but so far I’d say it has been worth it.


MEDICAL SUPPLIES

  • A variety pack of band aids (for all your scrapes and cuts)

  • Neosporin (since getting an infection is all too easy on the road)

  • Valium (to help with those all night bus rides through bumpy nowhere)

  • Contact Solution (for all your eye rinsing needs)

Something bad is bound to happen to you. Don’t try to beat the odds. I’ve heard some horror stories that could have been avoided with the list above. These are also all things that I’ve needed somewhere along the way so learn from my mistakes and go to the pharmacy before you head out. I do my best to keep all of this on hand when I travel.

P.S. You can almost always get through security with a giant jug of contact solution in the developing world. So don’t worry about having anything confiscated.


CLOTHES

Since every destination has a unique set of challenges, I can’t give you a magic, all-encompassing list of clothes to bring. Not if you want to pack light that is. But I can give you some advice…

Here's A Few Tips... 

1. Be realistic about how many changes of clothes you really need

Despite what the Internet would have you believe, travel is not glamorous. It’s a dirty, sweaty, smelly, disgusting death march sometimes. You aren’t going to look your best, so just admit that to yourself now, and get used to the idea of wearing the same outfit for multiple days.

Roll your clothes—don't fold them

Roll your clothes up like little spring rolls.

It saves SO MUCH SPACE AND TIME!

Try it. You’ll never go back to folding again.

    3. Layers are the key to adaptability

    If you are anticipating traveling through more than one type of climate, don’t pack your winter coat. Pack a few light sweaters. If you find yourself going through a stretch of cold weather, put them all on at the same time and top them off with your not-so-breathable, wind resistant raincoat. It will keep you surprisingly warm. Having said that though, maybe don’t do Bali and Everest in the same trip. 

    4. Don't stress! You can buy clothes anywhere in the world

    Anywhere you can go in this world, people need the same things. And one of them is almost certainly clothes. If you find yourself in need of something you’ve forgotten to pack, it’s going to be okay. Just head over to the nearest market and you’ll find something for what is probably a cheaper price than you would have paid back home. 


    A NOTE FOR THE LADIES…

    You and I have different needs. For information about how to attend to your lady needs on the road… I can offer you no help. Sorry. But Leah from Fulfilling Fernweh published a great article full of female-specific packing tips that you (ladies) should definitely check out!