Bon Voyage!

A wise man once said, preparation is the key of success. I’m not saying that good preparation will give you a flawless trip because life is full of surprises. However, by having everything on set, you will have less drama during your journey.

Before going abroad, please ensure your passport is still valid, which means that you still have more than six months before passport expiry date or your passport still has enough empty pages for stamps/visas. For Indonesian, you don’t need to bring National Identification Card (KTP) while traveling overseas. However, it’s a must to bring KTP when you travel within the country. It is mandatory to show your KTP before boarding to airplane/train.

If I only have one word to describe challenge in traveling around the world, that will be “Visa”. As Indonesian passport holder, we can only travel to 69 countries without visa (as of 2 July 2019). Compared to Singapore and Japan which offer access to 189 countries, we are nothing, we don’t have a powerful passport. Indonesia is still categorized as third world country or even poor country. Even so, it doesn’t stop us to keep dreaming exploring the world. We are Indonesian, we don’t easily give up 🙂

Despite the fact that your country has powerful passport, always ensure visa regulation in your destination country, call its embassy if necessary. Assuming you are required to apply visa, better to start the process at least 2 months prior departure date. Visa application process has never been easy, especially when you have to do the interview. Currently, some countries come up with e-visa process. Go directly to their website, fill in some forms, attach some supporting documents, and they will grant you visa. There are also countries with visa on arrival. Once you arrive, go to immigration center and buy the visa. If you happen to have valid US, Schengen, or Australia visas/permanent resident cards, some countries will allow you to enter without additional visa. Do some research.

Each country has different regulation about documents required for visa application process, but most of them will ask for identification document (passport, recent photo, family card, national identification card), financial statement (they want to see whether you are afford to pay this trip and won’t be homeless or illegal immigrant in their countries), letter of employment (they want to know if you have a job and will return to your country after the trip) or proof of business income and tax if you are self-employed,  itinerary (flight ticket, hotel booking confirmation), and travel insurance. Furthermore, some countries want you to show vaccination card as well. Common vaccines required: Meningitis, flu, yellow fever, and typhoid.

One thing to remember, not all visa will be approved. It’s all up to embassy to decide. No matter how rich you are, if they don’t want to give you visa, then you will not get any. Hence you must prepare for the worst. Travel agents can help you to book the flight ticket without payment and will help on hotel booking confirmation. They have feature where you can select lodge with free cancellation and pay at property. To avoid more money loss, better to book any tour/activities after visa is secured.

Many people think insurance is wasting their money since they have to pay for something that may not happen. By definition, travel insurance is intended to cover losses occurred while traveling. Risks covered such as medical, trip interruption (cancellation, delay), accident, baggage issue (lost, stolen, or damage), and up to hijacking. “If you can’t afford travel insurance, then you can’t afford to travel”Nevertheless, travel insurance is not an option, it is mandatory. I have few examples for this:

  • My friend took her son to Singapore for weekend holiday. She did not buy any travel insurance. It’s just for weekend, she said. At check in counter before they flew back to home country, her son was having seizure. Airport officer took him to nearby hospital. He needs to stay overnight before flying back home. The medical charge was around 3000 SGD.
  • My Australian friend went to Brazil and got robbed. He has lost his passport and everything in his backpack. Since he always buy travel insurance, he can buy things needed until he came back home and also money to process new passport.
  • In May 2014, Etihad airline misplaced my luggage somewhere in Abu Dhabi airport during transit from Kuala Lumpur to Amman. Things were getting complicated since I need to enter Jerusalem on that day and UAE doesn’t have diplomatic relationship with Israel. My bag finally arrived in Tel Aviv airport using Royal Jordanian airline. It costs me 100 USD to take taxi from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. Delayed baggage is covered by travel insurance. While waiting for your bag, you can buy any essential need.

For millennial and generation Z, internet access is primary need. While in restaurant, I often heard that they want to know WiFi password before ask for the menu. To get fully access of communication and internet, I used to buy local sim card when traveling overseas. However, some countries have expensive phone/internet rate. In this situation, I will depend on public WiFi or enjoy the trip and get in touch with the world after I come back to lodge. Luckily, travel WiFi modem is now booming. There are plenty of providers who offer affordable internet package. Each modem usually can be used up to 5 devices. Hence, if we travel in group, we can save money by sharing the cost.

We all know that world’s currency is USD. Most local banks have money changer to convert our money to USD. What if we go to country with non-USD as its currency?

  • Go to money changer, ask if they have the currency. In Indonesia, besides USD dan EURO, usually they have certain currencies, such as Australian dollar, Singapore dollar, Thailand baht, etc.
  • If money changer doesn’t have the currency, you have two options: convert your money to USD then change it to local currency when you arrive in that country. The disadvantage is you will get less money in that currency since you need to convert twice. Another option is withdraw money from ATM when you arrive in that country. Yes, you will need to pay the fee, but sometimes it equals to conversion fee.
  • You can use cashless method and pay everything with card (debit/credit). Usually it will be applicable in “first world countries” where you can pay with card even for a hotdog in food stall. Inform your bank card to unlock your card prior leaving the country, especially if you travel to a country with high fraud crime.

Is everything set now? Are you ready to go? Next question should be: what should I bring? how many clothes should I pack?

Know yourself and you can easily prepare what you will need for traveling.

    • Do you prefer backpack or luggage? My neurologist banned me to bring any backpack more than 5 kg. The last time I went for 2 months trip to South America and carrying backpack, I end up with Hernia Nucleus Pulposus in my neck and shoulder. I took 2 months physical therapy and my shoulder can’t come back to normal ever since.
    • Know the weather. Ensure you bring clothes that match with the local temperature.
  • Understand the activity. If you plan to have snorkeling or playing around the beach, don’t forget to bring swim suit.
  • Check facilities in your accommodation. Do they provide towel, linen? Do they have laundry machine or hair dryer? Hints: I always bring sarong in case of emergency 🙂
    • Be independent. Never be someone who proudly claim that they are light traveler but always depends on others by borrowing their friends’ stuff.
  • Always put clothes in your carry-on baggage, just in case the checked-in luggage doesn’t arrive with you.
  • Essential thing that sometimes forgotten: travel plug adapter.  

Just remember “less is more, you never use everything you pack”

So now all your bags are packs and ready to go. Happy traveling, enjoy your trip, don’t forget to spread the kindness and embrace new experiences.


*ditulis untuk teman-teman Sekolah Alam Rumbai, thank you for the inspiration*

One thought on “Bon Voyage!

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