Planning a big trip to Asia can be exciting but also overwhelming. Follow these travel planning tips for keeping your sanity -- you are going to need it when you hit the ground in a one of Asia's frenetic cities!
Schedule an Appointment with a Travel Clinic
Waiting until the last minute to see a travel doctor may mean that you cannot finish a series of vaccinations before your trip to Asia. Becoming fully immunized against hepatitis B -- one of the required vaccinations for Asia travel -- requires three injections spaced over a seven month period. You can read more about vaccinations on the World Health Organization website.
- See recommended travel vaccinations for Asia.
Get Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is a must for any trip to Asia. Most plans are far cheaper than health insurance or paying at the hospital if you become sick or injured.
- Learn all about budget travel insurance for Asia.
Check the Weather
Heavy seasonal rains and stifling humidity in parts of Asia can make for a dreary trip. Much of Southeast Asia has only two distinct seasons: hot and dry or hot and wet. While prices may be lower during the monsoon season, many businesses close and outdoor activities become impossible due to heavy rains.
Check Festival Dates
Nothing is more frustrating than missing a big festival by only a day or two, then hearing how great it was from other travelers. Accommodation fills up and prices jump during big events such as Chinese New Year; either arrive early enough to join the madness or avoid the area until the festival winds down.
Definitely schedule your trip to Asia around these events:
Consider your Budget
Not all destinations in Asia are priced equally. A single week in Japan may cost as much as a month in cheaper destinations such as India or Indonesia. If your budget is tight, consider altering your itinerary to allow for exciting activities -- such as scuba diving -- in cheaper countries.
Contact Your Banks
Call your banks and credit card companies to let them know that you will be traveling in Asia. Otherwise, they may deactivate your card as a fraud protection measure when they see new charges in Asia pop up!
Leaving home with a full suitcase or backpack is just a bad idea. Your luggage will inevitably grow as you purchase souvenirs and gifts to bring home. Consider purchasing toiletries and other necessities once you arrive -- many items are cheaper in Asia anyway!
Apply for Visas
A visa is a stamp or sticker placed in your passport that allows entry into a particular country. Each country maintains their own strict requirements for entry; some may even change the rules on a whim. While many countries in Asia allow you to get stamped in upon arrival in the airport, China and several other countries require that Americans arrive with a visa in advance.
Arriving with a visa in advance can help you avoid long lines and bureaucracy in the airport. You can obtain a visa by mailing your passport to a consulate for approval. Do not wait until the last minute; getting a visa can take weeks to process!
Register with the State Department
Recent events are proof that natural disasters and political turmoil can pop up unexpectedly. Once you have a loose idea of your itinerary, let the U.S. State Department know where you are going in case you need to be evacuated.