Top 10 Things to Do Before Travelling to Southeast Asia

1.    Passport/Visas
canadapassportMake coloured photocopies of your travel documents and email to yourself or a friend via email in case you ever find yourself without a passport abroad.

Some countries in Southeast Asia require Visas to be acquired beforehand, while others can be acquired or purchased upon arrival and may require you to have photographs ready.

FYI, Thailand gives most first world countries like Canada a free 30-day visa on arrival.



2.    Vaccinations

vaccineBe up-to-date with your vaccines (including tetanus). Some travel-specific vaccines include:

Vivaxim (Typhoid/Hepatitis A)

Malaria pills (Malarone/Mefloquine)

Japanese Encephalitis (JE-Vax or Ixario)

Rabies Vaccine


Hepatitis B


3.    Registering with DFAIT

globeIf you are a Canadian travelling abroad, you can register your travel information with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT).  Click here to register on DFAIT’s site.

If you are not Canadian, it is recommended you contact your national foreign affairs office to register yourself as a traveller.

By registering with the Government, your loved ones will be able to find you in case of emergencies. You can also include your travel insurance information here too.


4.    Credit Cards/ Debit Cards
cccardsIf you plan to use your credit cards or debit cards abroad, contact your financial institution to let them know.

Sometimes your cards will not work abroad unless given permission beforehand.





5.    Health Insurance

healthinsuranceAnything can happen abroad. That’s why it’s recommended that you get travellers’ insurance.

I nearly drowned white-water rafting in Thailand back in 2008 and I never bought travel insurance – I probably should have.





6.    Pay your bills before you leave

billsI found this suggestion on the internet. It gives you piece of mind knowing that all your finances are taken care of prior to leaving.

Personally, I never do this. I have found internet everywhere I’ve gone and do my banking online.






7.    Travel Gear


Credit/debit cards

Credit/debit cards work just about anywhere in the world, depending on the financial institution and their agreements. Call ahead of time so that you don’t have any transaction issues when you’re out there.

Bringing large sums of cash is not advisable; you might find yourself in a pickle if you ever get robbed. Having multiple cards hidden in different places will help. That being said, I once lost my debit card in a taxi, it was my only source of income. Luckily, the restaurant was able to contact the driver and I got my card back. This was in Bali.

Bring a Calculator

While many merchants understand English, it’s best to bring a calculator when you do not understand the price of a good.


Pack it light if you’re planning to move around a lot.

Money pouch

I have a money pouch made out of hemp which I wear around my neck.  Unlike the ones that wrap around your waist, it’s easier to pull out if you are wearing a dress, and it’s breathable.

Toilet paper

  • Bathrooms in Asia for the most part do not have toilet paper. They have little hoses or faucets which one can use to clean themselves with. It’s good to bring toilet paper with you just in case.

Hand Sanitizer/Soap

  • Bathrooms in southeast Asia sometimes don’t have soap either.
  • I don’t enjoy carrying wet soap bars in my bag, and if you don’t either, cutting the bars up into pieces and using a new piece at every destination avoids the soapy mess.


  • Unless you’re a professional photographer/graphics type of person, don’t bring your giant camera(s). It can be tiresome to lug around and it makes you look like a tourist with big bucks, meaning people will milk you for whatever you got.


  • We are going around monsoon season, so there is bound to be some rain. SE Asia in general is really hot, I usually bring shorts, capris, t-shirts, dresses, and skirts. And of course, lots of underwear, bring the cotton stuff – not the lace, I can’t imagine thongs and fancy undies being that comfortable in 30 degrees celcius.
  • Don’t forget your swimsuit.

Hair Straightener

  • I like my hair to look nice in my travel photos. So I have two straighteners (one for North America one for Asia). Since I am from North America, both of mine plug into 120V.
  • My fancy digital Croc straightener does not/will not work even with the adapter. I know this because I tried it in Iceland and it fried and died.
  • I have a non-digital/simple straightener which I bought off EBay eons ago and work fine when use with the adapter abroad.

 A Good Book

  • To keep you entertained. If you don’t like your book you can always exchange at a book exchange in the major tourist areas.

An Electronic Device

  • It is not necessary to bring an electronic to Asia since here are numerous internet cafes and are cheap to use. However, I plan to take my netbook since I intend on writing along the way.
  • If you feel you need to bring your iPad, iPhone or laptop, just remember to be cautious. I once left my iPhone at a jewellery store in Delhi, India; I got it back along with a lecture on taking care of my valuables from the store owner.
  • Naturally to plug in your computer, you should buy yourself an adapter to power/charge your computer, electronic or hair straightener.


8.    Accommodations


Some people like to book ahead of time, others like to show up.

It’s probably best to book ahead of time if it is high season, but it is tougher to bargain that way.
However, if you have a layover, I recommend booking ahead of time.




9.    Getting the time off


Southeast Asia is a big place. I recommend staying at least a month out there if you want to see and experience the country.

It is a long way to go to only travel for a couple of weeks. Make it worth your while, bank your vacation days or take a month off, if you can.




10. Communication


Let your loved ones know how they can reach you. Give them your email and or phone number.

Skype is a great tool. You can use it for free as long as you’re calling another computer.