T-minus 8 hours before we take off and I just finished packing, after re-packing my luggage about 20 times (since last week). So much for getting a head start!
This is going to be my longest flight to date and the first time I'm visiting Asia. I'm excited, nervous, and paranoid at the same time, although the paranoia only started after my parents kept telling me stories about people getting kidnapped and/or getting really sick from the food they've eaten while in Asia. Anyone else's parents like to scare the shit out of you before you travel?
Despite planning the trip since February and having over 8 months to plan, I still ended up fucking up and want to make sure you don't make the same mistake.
Here are a few things you shouldn't do before that trip out of the country:
1. Try to book all the flights yourself - unless you're an expert traveller: If you're flying to multiple countries (for the first time), it is probably a lot less stressful and easier if you book through a travel agency. I spent the first 4 to 5 months trying to plan the entire trip myself, tracking flights and figuring out time frames of when we land and where we can transfer within the airport. Needless to say, if I had went ahead and booked all the flights myself, I probably would've had a complete meltdown and fucked up because of time zones. Spend a little more and use an agent.
- For flight deals, try SkyScanner, Trivago, and TravelPirates.
- For housing deals, try HotelTonight, Hotels.com, and Air B&B
2. Underestimate the weather: I did my research and knew that October is known to be monsoon season for most Asian countries. However, I also read some where that it wasn't a huge deal and that rain was going to be light towards the end of the month.
What I didn't do until about a week ago, is actually look up the weather in the cities we were traveling to. In result, I had to re-think what I was going to wear and bring. This meant rethinking what I was going to wear on the trip and re-strategizing how to pack. Basically, I ended up spending more time and energy than needed if I had knew ahead of time what to truly expect (weather wise). Common sense, but it totally slipped my mind - so do your research throughly!
3. Forget about the visa: Yep, the one thing that fucked me over this last weekend was realizing that I needed a visa for Vietnam. I remember looking it up at the beginning of the year but I think I assumed that the travel agency would also tell us if we needed one, but they didn't.
We were notified about the required visa last Friday and from Saturday morning to now, we were able to get a rushed visa (which wasn't cheap). You are required to have a visa to board the plane to Vietnam and from what we've heard, there's been plenty of cases of people missing their flights because they didn't have the visa. I'm thankful for my amazing friends who travel so often for helping me out with this situation over the weekend!
If you're in need of a visa to Vietnam, here are the suggested websites I got from my friends:
- Visa Vietnam
- Go Vietnam Visa (I used this one with the Airport Speed Up Service option)
- Vietnam Visa
4. Not notify anyone that you're leaving: If you're planning to use our credit card and phone overseas, make sure to tell them. I spent a couple of hours last week calling up my credit card companies, banks, and phone carrier to let them know I'll be traveling. Last thing you want is your card frozen while you're half way across the world or getting surprise charges on your next phone bill.
Heads up, if you're under T-mobile, Vietnam is not a covered country under any of their plans and it's about $5/minute for talk. Also, if you have a Chase account, apparently Thailand OR Vietnam is on their high fraud risk list (they wouldn't tell me which one), so they cannot make a notation on your account that you're traveling. That doesn't mean you can't use your card, but it'll be a bit of a hassle. They'll be alerting you and you'll most likely have to call to confirm purchases during your trip. Depending on the account you also have with Chase, it's a 3% finance fee for ATM withdrawals and purchase (I think). Double check before you go.
5. Stress: honestly, I was so stressed out from a month ago to today about the entire trip. Everyone told me not to and to enjoy the trip but I'm a planner so naturally, when things aren't organized, I freak. We literally booked our Thailand hotel last week and that's probably the latest I've ever waited to book a place! As hard as it is, really try NOT to stress because it just makes you freak out and in the end, everything will always work out. Shout out to Phoenix for always telling me to "breathe" and sending me "you got this" texts - and KSOLE for being the great BF he is and always asking what I needed help with <3
A few ways to relax during the planning of your trip:
- Get a massage cause yes, you deserve one
- Burn sage/candles/incenses because certain smells do help relax you - or use a lavender room spray
- Meditate (Headspace is a good one)
- Go out with the girls! Have a blast and don't think about the trip at all the entire night (yep, I dare you)
Alright, time to double check everything and chill out before heading to the airport. Make sure to follow along on Instagram for all the fun we're going to have on our trip!