Travel update: 3.5 months until departure – getting stuff in the mail!!

Trip-relevant stuff is starting arrive in the mail! The days until departure date are passing quickly, so time is starting to run out to get any required documentation in order. We have finally decided that January 10th-20th as a target range to purchase our one-way flights to Hanoi, Vietnam! The goal is to do this ASAP – just waiting for my new 10 year passport to arrive in the mail

P.S. Sorry for a wordy, picture-lite post. xo

SO, as someone who is planning to leave the country, what are the basics that you will need?

You aren’t going anywhere without your international passport…

If you’re planning on leaving your native country in 2014, you are going to need an international passport. Make this one of the first things you do, not the last!! Although it’s possible to rush this process, this is not something you want to leave until the last minute. This is especially true during the holiday seasons, when a higher number of people are traveling abroad.

The Canadian Passport Application looks big, but don’t despair! Half of the pages are instructional, and bulk everything out. The most complicated part of the application might be finding an individual that fits your requirements for a guarantor who lives close enough to sign it.

Passport photos also have to fit within a specific set of guidelines. The easiest way to ensure your passport photos will pass inspection is to get someone else to do them for you! I chose Shopper’s Drugmart, but the Post Office, Black’s Photography and any other photography shop are also good options.

When submitting the application, I opted for the safe route, and paid the extra $20 to have someone at the Post Office review my application to ensure it would be accepted the first time. This turned out to be a good thing, because my photos were denied at the Post Office and I had to go back and get new ones. Better to find out before I had sent it away, than having to wait for it to come back and send it out again.

That being said, I am still anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new passport in the mail! Should be sometime next week or the week after… you will definitely be hearing about it when it gets here! Looking forward to getting some stamps in there.

A first-time traveler concern? Maybe, but for me funds and access to those funds is a top priority…

My travel American Express arrived in the mail 3 days ago! Cash is good and necessary, but you will still need a credit card or bank card to access and withdraw it. A credit card with a reasonable credit limit is also going to be useful in case you need to purchase multiple international flights, or who knows what else.

Unfortunately, your student Visa with a $1000 credit limit isn’t the best option, although it might do in a pinch. These cards don’t having the benefit of earning you any rewards points or travel vouchers. You might as well take advantage of these offers.

Reward cards often come pre-loaded with bonus points and have the ability to earn points on purchases like tickets, restaurants and fuel. Points can be exchanged for travel vouchers, gift cards, or other promotional products. Other benefits can include travel insurance, a wide variety of member discounts and access to travel agency services.

It makes sense to get your hands on a travel rewards credit card if you are planning major travel – just don’t miss the payments! The interest rates can and do jump noticeably. It is possible to set up automatic payments so this doesn’t become an issue when you’re on the road.

I originally thought I was out of luck in this particular department! I applied for a credit card through my bank way back in May or June, and was denied. I’m not going to go into major details about that – but I was NOT impressed. However, I do believe that things happen for a reason or in being in the right place at the right time. On an unplanned trip to the bank one day, the teller mentioned that I had been pre-approved for a $5000 travel rewards card. I’m taking it as a sign that I am doing the right thing by traveling and exploring the world around me.

Where are you traveling? Acquiring a Vietnamese Travel Visa…

Depending on where you are traveling and your nationality, you may have to apply for a travel visa before leaving your home country. Again, depending on the particular circumstances, you may qualify for a visa on arrival at the airport. Because we are planning on spending time in Vietnam, we need to acquire approval to enter the country before we leave Canada. This can be done in one of two ways

  • Pre-approved 30-day visa from the Vietnamese Embassy before we leave
  • Pre-issues visa letter of entry from the Vietnamese Embassy, to be stamped and finalized upon entry at a Vietnamese international airport

We are choosing the first option, because we have enough time to do so, and it seems like the more thorough way to get our visas. The downsides being that it costs more to get the visa in Canada, and having to send our passports physically to the Embassy. However, they are supposed to be very fast, guaranteeing processing within 5 business days!

Flights – making the trip real

The purchasing of flights is both important and exciting! Having never left the country before on a trip such as this one, purchasing the first flight is the major clincher for me. With a flight purchased, there can be no doubt that the trip is happening and that I am not dreaming. Honestly, until we are leaving I think the whole thing is going to seem a bit surreal. Part of me feels guilty for being 24 years old and jetting off into the sunset to dive, take pictures and see the world. My mom would be proud – I am sounding more like a hippy every day.

Flight prices also seem to increase in the last couple months before they depart, so purchasing earlier might mean finding a better deal. Now just waiting for the passport to get here! More on these developments as they develop.

Gear – the last thing you and I need to be worrying about.

If you are a planner like I am, and just starting to plan your trip, gear should probably be the last thing you need to be worried about. We are leaving in January, so I would like to start picking up a couple of things from the summer on clearance – including a pack.

This packing list is my favorite that I have come across so far. It is succinct and reflects pretty much what I was thinking I should have in my pack. You want to travel as light as possible for a number of reasons. Keep an eye out for a more detailed on packing and travel gear as I actually start to pull things together.

So this is how things stand right now in trip and travel preparations! Thanks for reading 🙂

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