Travel Resources

Before you go.

How much should I pack? What type of luggage should I take?

Everything in four bags

Everything in four bags

I think this depends on what kind of travel you’re doing. In comparison to our other TEFL friends we have a lot with us, however none of them are planning on travelling long-term like us and they all have bedrooms back with their parents. So with that in mind I don’t think we have that much at all. We left the UK with four bags between the two of us.

We have:

  • 1x Standard sized suitcase on wheels
  • 1x 30L Rucksack that doubles as our day bag
  • 1x 90L Rucksack
  • 1x Over-sized handbag that currently doubles as a laundry bag

We’ve accumulated a few things such as extra clothes and paperwork whilst we’ve been here and we’ll need to find a way to fit that in. There’s also some things that we brought that we really don’t need so that we’ll leave behind.

Ultimately as long as you have one main bag and one day bag you should be fine, whether that’s in the form of rucksacks, suitcases or whatever is up to you and perhaps how much weight you can carry on your back.

Note: You may also want to seriously consider a money belt or some other concealed way of carrying important documents and money.

Should I bring my laptop? What electronics should I pack?

Personally, I couldn’t do without my laptop. I rely on it not only for email, Skype and my blog but also for researching and planning my next adventure, for typing up lesson plans, for listening to music, watching movies and creating worksheets. I need my laptop, so for me it’s a no-brainer.

I do wish it was a smaller, lighter laptop though and maybe when I’m fabulously wealthy I’ll ascend to the lofty heights of an Apple Mac but until then my Windows 17in is dragged to school most days on my Husband’s back.

As for other electronics I have with me:

  • Jack’s laptop
  • Kindle Fire HD – Perfect for long coach journeys
  • 2x Cameras
  • 1x Old Mobile I got unlocked so I can have a local SIM
  • 2x External hard drives for backing up data and storing photos etc
  • 1x IPod
  • A travel hairdryer

I recommend you get an old mobile phone unlocked before leaving home, especially if you intend on working whilst you travel as buying a local SIM is no fuss and very handy.

I also recommend some kind of reading device, such as the Kindle, as it means you don’t need to carry loads of books with you. We actually have quite a few textbooks with us about teaching but I wish we’d brought most of them on Kindle instead as it would lighten the load of our suitcase considerably.

Selling your stuff:

It’s very freeing to be able to get rid of all the unnecessary clutter and if you’re planning something similar to what we did whereby you get rid of everything you own because you’re about to embark on a life of travel, then read on…

We started by listing the things that we DID need and things that we didn’t already own and would have to buy – travel towels for instance.

We then made a list of all our stuff room by room and marked down what we might be able to sell and what could be donated or scrapped. I won’t lie, this was an arduous process and not fun, but it kept everything organised.

I then photographed every item we intended to sell and posted individual adverts in the local newspaper, the local post office, at work and online at Gumtree and Ebay… then I waited.

Meanwhile, we were moving stuff in crates to the charity shop and in the end we had a removal van take away a lot of nick-knacks and some old furniture as we couldn’t physically move all of it without a car.

Some of our stuff sold for a decent price, some of it my parents are still trying to sell for us, but in the end we had an empty flat and the landlord was happy with what he saw and so were we.

We had just four bags (besides a few personal items that the parents are looking after long-term) that we would be living out of and it was as satisfying as popping bubble wrap.

So, I suggest you tell everyone you know that you need to get rid of everything you own and you use websites such as Ebay, Gumtree, Craigslist etc to try to get a pretty penny for some of it.

Note: We had a lot of books and I happened across a website that was willing to pay for 2nd hand books and if you had enough of them they would even collect free of charge. Ziffit.

Things to buy:

Personally we’ve found that there are a few things that we’re glad of buying specifically for our trip and some things that we already owned and I stuffed in the last bit of space we had and I’m glad we did.

  • Travel towels – they dry you and themselves quickly and are much lighter.
  • Universal adapters
  • Laptop speakers – we brought this recently and I’m so glad, we were struggling to watch TV through the laptop as the speakers on it are rubbish.
  • Pocket-sized phrasebook – not on Kindle, for those desperate and frequent moments.
  • A soft blanket – it can be surprisingly cold in Loei at winter.
  • Umbrella – keeps the rain and rabid dogs away!

Vaccines:

What vaccines should you get before embarking on a trip around the world? Should you get them at all? How much will they cost?

Personally I have the following vaccinations as they seemed the best based on the types of places we were planning on going to.

  • Hepatitis A/Typhoid
  • Hepatitis B
  • Japanese Encephalitis
  • Rabies

Also I have all of my normal childhood vaccinations. (MMR, Tetanus etc…)

Vaccines are expensive but you should see what you can get for free from the NHS first (if you’re in the UK) and then talk to a private clinic.

You should always check with a professional first but here’s a handy guide with a recommended list for each country: Vaccines

Medication:

If you take prescription medicine then bring your prescription with you and a good supply. You should check that your drug is legal to carry into your chosen destination as most countries are very strict on this issue. You should check with the country’s embassy before leaving. NHS

Also, take a look at the first aid equipment we have with us here, you can buy pre-made packs especially for travel from places like Boots.

Travel and Health Insurance:

Get some. End of.

…Ok, basically just speak to your travel agent, course provider or do a Google search and you’ll find what you’re looking for. I’m not going to pretend I know the ins and outs of insurance.

Note: If you’re a TEFL teacher there are tailor-made policies that you can get from TEFL course providers. This is how we got ours before we left the UK. Look for repatriation cover for if you become sick/injured.

What about HMRC?

If you’re going to be away for some time or even indefinitely then you’ll need to contact HMRC and possibly Student Loans as well. Each individual’s situation is different, but it’s worth doing as we were able to claim back the current tax year’s tax as we hadn’t exceeded our personal allowances before we left the UK and we wouldn’t be receiving any additional pay afterwards. HMRC

Contracts:

Everyone you currently hold a contract with will need to be informed IF you intend on no longer using their services. We had everything from internet, mobile phones, pensions and TV licences to contact. Hint: Go directly to the “I want to leave your company” option on the phone and when they begin to try and sale you a spiel tell them you’re emigrating and this cuts through it completely.

Bank accounts:

Even if you intend on never returning to the UK and you have no money or ties then you’ll probably still want to keep a UK bank account open, preferably with a sizable overdraft facility attached to it. At the very least it means you have access to emergency funds in sterling and a place for relatives to send you money, and it could be less of a headache for you if you do ever find yourself back in the UK – if only for a little while 😉

Credit Cards:

Love ‘em or hate ‘em these things are really handy – especially when booking flights and other expensive items. If you can, try to go for one that has reduced ATM fees when used abroad and possible perks such as air miles – who knows it could pay for your next little adventure.

Important documents:

This may or may not matter to you depending on what type of trip you’re embarking on, but as a TEFL teacher who intends to keep travelling slowly around the world, here’s my list of important documents:

  • Passport/Visas
  • Degree + Transcript
  • Police Check
  • TEFL Certificates
  • CV
  • Birth Certificate
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Spare Passport Photos
  • Vaccination details

What should I do with all of my post whilst I’m gone?

We use a relative’s address so that we still have a UK postal address and that way anything important doesn’t go missing.

If you’re unable to do this you could look into websites that offer to scan your post so you can view your letters online for a fee. Here and here.

(Updated: 08/01/14)

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