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Sort out all your travel vax and medication
Realistically if you need any travel vaccinations for your trip, they should really have been done (or at least started) by now! Two weeks before you leave is the opportune time to double and triple check you have everything you need. If you’re on any antibiotics or other long-term medication such as insulin, make sure they’re easily accessible at your destination country. If not, see if it’s possible to stockpile before you leave but always make sure it’s not illegal where you’re going (hi Dubai!). Contraceptive pills are a bit of a grey area in some parts of the world – whereas they may not necessarily be legal for local people, visitors can normally get away with it – but when in doubt, avoid. Two weeks pre-departure may also be when you need to start taking a course of anti-malarials, if you’re going to a malaria-exposed country.
Tell your bank you’re leaving on a jet plane and don’t know when you’ll be back again
One of the worst things to happen when you’re on an extended trip (other than the obvious, such as getting kidnapped, murdered or robbed) is your bank cancelling your card. It’s only happened to me once, and luckily I had a back-up account just in case, but you should always always always let your bank know you’re leaving the country! A lot of accounts nowadays boast “worldwide usage” but to be frank they might just be lying to you. It only takes 5 minutes to pop in-branch and let the nice lady know you’re going away, and will save you an infinite amount of stress and worry!
Buy travel insurance
Purchasing travel insurance is something you should never leave until the last minute! Two weeks pre-departure is the perfect time to shop around commit, because a lot insurances have a 14-day cooling off period. Make sure you get the right kind of insurance and, most importantly, that you have the right coverage. See this post for a more in-depth explanation of what to consider when purchasing insurance.
Print out all of your tickets and other useful documents
Trust me when I say that preparing all of your tickets, insurance documents and passport copies is not something you want to leave until the night before. Hours before a transatlantic flight to begin the holiday of a lifetime is the perfect moment for your printer to run out of ink, your computer to get a virus or a tree to fall on the electricity line. For peace of mind, make sure you print everything out, get copies and put them all together in a safe place a week or so before your trip starts. That way you know at the back of your mind that that’s one important thing taken care of. Make sure you give a copy of everything to a person you trust, too! In my case I always email a copy of my insurance documents, my passport and all my flight tickets to both my stepdad and a close friend, just in case.
Exchange your money!
Airport bureau de exchange do not give the greatest exchange rates. They say they do, but like with the banks in point 2, they’re probably lying to you. Exchange some of your cash at the post office or one of those pop-up holiday shops that keep appearing mid-Spring well in advance; it doesn’t have to be a particularly large amount, just enough for emergencies or to get you from the airport to your first night’s accommodation. My first two countries are Sri Lanka and India, both of which use closed currencies, so I can’t buy any Rupees before entering the country. Instead, I’ve bought a small amount of US Dollars to exchange on arrival (because everybody knows dollars win, no matter what the country). Dollars are always a good idea.
Finish up your shopping
If you’re anything like me, there’ll be a list of relatively important things you need to buy that you just keep putting off until it’s almost too late. For me those things are a worldwide plug adaptor, camera batteries and sun cream: three things which you can pretty much buy anywhere in the world, but each are things you’ll likely need before actually getting there. Getting straight off of a plane in an exotic country can be a bit of a shock to your skin (especially coming from rainy old Wales), and so I would always recommend apply protective sunscreen to your face and other exposed body parts before leaving the airport, just in case. You never know how long you could be wandering around in the blazing hot sun looking for a taxi! Make sure all the important things on your packing list are done and dusted a good few days/weeks before you set off. You don’t want to be making a mad dash to the supermarket the night before!
Annoy everybody you come into contact with
Whenever anybody in work mentions what shift they’re doing on whatever day, I will always pipe up with “Oh, I’ll be in India then” or “Oh, I’ll be on a beach then”. It annoys them, but they humour me because it’s a way to build up excitement about what’s to come. Two weeks is when the official countdown begins so let the whole world and his wife know about your plans!!