By Gary Corbett
FINALLY after much research you have tracked down an organised cycle tour that is just perfect for you and have made the booking.
What now? While to seasoned travellers it may sound ridiculously obvious, don’t do what far too many people have done in the past and forget to organise your passports, visas and vaccinations.
No matter where you travel overseas you will need a passport. While the rules and waiting times to receive your new passport are different from country to country, one fact remains constant no matter what country you are a citizen of – no passport, no travel.
In general terms visa entry requirements vary by country and citizenship, so it is important to contact the embassy or consulate of your destination country to get detailed entry requirements for citizens from your home country.
With all visa applications it is important to allow enough time to receive your all-important documentation. Wait times obviously vary from country to country, but if you allow at least three months before the due date to leave on your long awaited bike tour, you cannot go too far wrong.
Regular travellers make a point of photocopying their passport and visas and then keep the copies in a separate place in case the originals are lost or stolen.
It is also a good idea to scan your passport and visas and to email them to yourself in case you lose or have the originals stolen. It is then just a simple case of logging into your email server to access your all-important documentation in the event of an emergency.
Often pre-organised visas are not required for short visits to many countries and are issued on arrival at the airport, but the smart thing to do is to check the situation with the country where you plan to travel to ensure there are no last minute dramas.
Just remember that the authorities in the country where you plan to cycle don’t care less that you are on your dream cycling vacation, have been planning the trip for ages and have spent a bucket load of your hard-earned cash booking the trip.
The reality of the situation is that all they want to see is a valid visa. If you don’t have a visa it either means you will be barred from entering the country – meaning your trip will be over before it starts – or you will have to pay exorbitant fees to organise a late visa, neither being an attractive option.Find out more.
Vaccinations and Health Checks
Travelling abroad can expose you to a variety of health risks that are often uncommon in your native country – from the trivial to the deadly serious.
If you take treatment for a health problem, then you need to take a supply of your medicine with you on your cycle tour, even if you only use it intermittently.
Be aware that often things such as asthma puffers, skin creams for eczema, many pharmaceutical items and even sunscreen are not always readily available overseas – especially in third world countries. Also, if your problem or its treatment is unusual or can cause sudden incapacity, you should carry information about this.
If you have only recently recovered from a major illness, you should also get a medical clearance before starting your cycle tour. No matter what type of physical activity you plan to do, it is wise to have a complete medical fitness check before you leave home.
It is better to have a health problem diagnosed before you leave, rather than be in the middle of a cycle tour in a foreign country thousands of kilometres from home when the problem surfaces.
If you are travelling to counties other than the United Kingdom and mainland Europe, north America or Australia, vaccinations are usually recommended. To find out the recommendations for the countries you are visiting, check out the website for the national health organisation in your country of origin.
Your specific need for vaccinations will depend on:
- Where you stay
- How long you will be away for
- What activities you will be doing
- If you are in good health and are travelling for only a few days or weeks to a western country for a bike tour and the itinerary sees you eating familiar meals and staying in good class accommodation, then your risks of most infections will be very small.
However if your stay is longer, or you may be living, eating or travelling in places with poor hygiene or sanitation, or you are not sure what the conditions will be like, then you are strongly recommended to have a broad range of vaccinations.
In particular anyone travelling to most parts of Asia, Africa and South and Central America should go to see their doctor for a check-up prior to their trip.
Many countries will require specific vaccinations. Your doctor will be able to advise you as to what vaccinations you will need.
Travel Insurance is an essential part of any trip and helps to cover you when things go wrong.
Travel insurance protects you in the case of lost or stolen luggage and personal effects; accident or illness, trip cancellation or personal liability.
Probably the most important reason to take out travel insurance is to ensure you are covered for medical treatment.
Although your national health scheme may cover your medical expenses at home, once you head overseas, you are (normally) no longer covered. Medical expenses can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars and you may be refused treatment if you are not insured. For more useful advice – click here.
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