By , December 27, 2010 12:40 am
Wow... if you don't think vaccinations will be a major item on your travel budget, think again.  For an around the world trip, required and recommended vaccinations are pricey and many.  We've decided to get all of the recommended shots.  Maybe it's because of all the scary things that these diseases can do to you or maybe (more likely) it's because our current health insurance through work covers most of the cost. The information provided in this blog post is specific to our trip, and is based on advice we received from our local travel clinic.  If you are seeking advice for your own trip, please seek out your local travel clinic or do some online research.  The Centers for Disease Control Website seems to have very good information http://www.cdc.gov/. Here are the vaccinations that we already have and will receive before our trip, with a cost breakdown for each one.  Note:  We chose to get our shots from the local travel clinic.  The travel clinic is more expensive than going through your doctor and a pharmacy, but along with the price comse convenience and quality advice:

Shots We Already Have:

Measles & Rubella – childhood immunizations, lasts lifetime Hepatitis B – we were both immunized in school, lasts lifetime Tetanus/Diphtheria – last booster was in June, 2010 before our Yukon River trip, good for 10 years

Shots We Need:

GRAND TOTAL:  $2015/person (before insurance) Hepatitis A Cost: $80 x 2 = $160 When to Get It: At least 6 months before trip for the first shot, a booster needs to be given 6-12 months after the initial dose. Duration: 20 years Why We Need It: Hepatitis A & B shots are recommended for all travelers.  It can be spread through contaminated food, water, and from person to person contact. Yellow Fever Cost: $155 When to Get It: At least 10 days before trip.  Also, it needs to be taken at the same time as other live vaccines or at least 28 days apart. Duration: 10 years, beginning 10 days after vaccination Why We Need It: As far as we know, Yellow Fever is the only vaccination that is required for an entry visa into the countries we will be travelling to.  It is required when you are travelling from a country with Yellow Fever risk to another country with the potential for Yellow Fever.  An International Certificate of Vaccination for Yellow Fever is required to travel to countries like Bolivia.  It is spread through the bite of an infected Aedes Aegypti mosquito which live in parts of Africa, Central America, and South America. Typhoid Cost: $80 When to Get It: Any time before trip Duration: 3 years (injection) or 7 years (oral) Why We Need It: All the person at the travel clinic told us was don't travel without it.  Apparently the oral vaccination lasts for 7 years (versus the 3 year duration of the injection), but the costs are the same. Polio Cost: $95 When to Get It: Any time before trip Duration: Lifetime Why We Need It: Polio is a devastating disease.  Although we received polio vaccinations along with our baby vaccinations, they are finding that a booster is needed.  This vaccination is recommended for travelers going to parts of Africa and India. Mumps Cost: $85 When to Get It: Not sure exactly, but because it's a live vaccine you won't be protected immediately.  Also, you need to plan to take live vaccines at the same time or over 28 days apart. Duration: lifetime Why We Need It: Most babies are immunized for measles, mumps and rubella and are later given a booster for measles and rubella.  They are now finding that the antibodies for the mumps wane and a booster is required.  The mumps isn't one of the worst illnesses to get, but can cause sterility if you get it in your childbearing years. Japanese Encephalitis Cost: $265 x 2 = $530 When to Get It: At least 5 weeks before traveling to Southeast Asia.  2 shots are required, 28 days apart.  The second dose should be given one week before travel. Duration: 3 years Why We Need It: Japanese Encephalitis is a virus transmitted by mosquitoes in most parts of Asia.  Although most people infected with it won't show symptoms, 10-25% of people with symptoms will die and 50% will have permanent neurological damage.  Not something we want to mess with! Rabies (Pre-Exposure Series) Cost: $245 x 3 = $735 When to Get It: About a month before the trip (3 shots required at 0, 7, and 21 days) Duration: Lifetime Why We Need It: If this wasn't covered by our insurance, we would probably take our chances without it.  Having said that, rabies is serious business.  If it gets to your brain stem you are basically dead.  Getting this pre-exposure series does not fully protect us against rabies.  If we didn't have it, we would need to get blood product (Rabies Immune Globin) immediately and 5 shots within 28 days of potential exposure.  With it, we would need 2 doses of rabies vaccine within 3 days of potential exposure.  So for $735 we would save ourselves the blood product and 3 shots.  This could be the difference between being evacuated home after being scratched by a monkey and continuing our trip (because not every country will have the blood product readily available).  Then again, it may not matter as many of the countries without blood product are also without rabies vaccine. Meningitis (Group A, C, Y, W-135) Cost: $175 When to Get It: A few weeks before traveling to Africa (protection can take a few weeks to develop) Duration: 3-5 years Why We Need It: This is another nasty brain disease.  It is recommended for travel in Africa, particularly in what is deemed the “meningitis belt” – a band across the center of Africa from Senegal to Ethiopia.  It is spread by person-to-person contact, so it is more highly recommended if you are young, single, volunteering in schools, etc.  Like rabies, we are choosing to get this vaccine mostly because our insurance covers it. Whooping Cough Cost: about $70 When to Get It: Any time before trip (I think) Malaria There is no vaccination for malaria, but if you know where you're going you can pre-plan when to take anti-malarial oral medication.  There are weekly anti-malarial pills and daily ones (which cost 66 cents each).  The daily ones need to be taken two days before entering a region with malaria, the duration of your visit, and for 28 days after.  We're not sure exactly what our travel path is yet, so it is difficult to make a plan for the anti-malarial pills we will need.  We've heard from a few sources that it will be cheaper to buy them when we get to our destination, rather than stock up in Canada.
By , December 21, 2010 6:41 pm
Here's something every traveling Canadian should be aware of.  http://www.voyage.gc.ca.  As you can probably guess by the address, this website is run by the Government of Canada. Here's a breakdown of a few of the resources it offers: Registration of Canadians Abroad - We offer a registration service for all Canadians traveling or living abroad. This service is provided so that we can contact and assist you in an emergency in a foreign country, such as a natural disaster or civil unrest, or inform you of a family emergency at home. Travel Reports & Warnings - Travel Reports offer information on safety and security, local laws and customs, entry requirements, health conditions and other important travel issues. Directory of Canadian Government Offices Abroad - This directory contains website and contact information for Canadian government offices abroad. These offices provide a variety of services to Canadians, including consular services. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - a detailed section answering a lot of travel related questions.  Everything from what to do during an emergency to filing your income tax and voting while abroad.
By , December 16, 2010 6:00 pm
We've spent a fair amount of time scouring the internet looking for medical insurance that will fit our needs as world travelers. We looked for insurance that fulfilled our requirements as follow:
  1. Canadian travelers were eligible for coverage
  2. Medical expenses are covered globally without the requirement to re-book or register each new destination country
  3. Affordable
  4. Long terms 1 year or greater away from home
  5. Term can be extended or renewed while on the road
We were surprised at how few options we were able to find meeting the above requirements.  In particular, there were very few plans that would cover us for a single trip away from home equal to or longer than 1 year. Here's what we did find.  If you know of others that we should consider, please tell us about them. International Medical Group (IMG) - Global Medical Insurance.  This is the cheapest option of the two.  There are several plan levels allowing you to customize your coverage.  You also set your insurance deductible allowing you to further reduce the cost of your chosen insurance plan.  The basic silver package provides $5,000,000 in lifetime medical benefits, and $50,000 for emergency evacuation.  This is just medical insurance, no additional trip cancellation, lost baggage, or theft insurance is included. World Nomads - These guys have plenty of recommendations from travelers who have used their product.  They are also recommended by Lonely Planet.  There is only a single plan available with no deductible.  The plan provides a similar $5,000,000 in medical coverage, and a whopping $500,000 for emergency evacuation.  In addition, this plan provides additional insurance for trip cancellation, lost baggage, and theft. We haven't decided which plan we are going to choose for our trip yet, when we do we'll let you know.  Your comments on theses and other options are greatly appreciated and will help us make our decision.
By , December 10, 2010 7:00 pm
This is a list of websites that offer low cost volunteer opportunities.  For us, the point of volunteering is to help offset costs such as food and lodging.  The thought that we will be giving our time to people who need it, is a nice bonus too.  Please leave a comment if you have any suggestions that should be included in this list.

World Wide

  • WWOOF organisations link people who want to volunteer on organic farms or smallholdings with people who are looking for volunteer help.
  • WWOOF Independents. We list all WWOOF hosts in countries that do not have a national WWOOF organization.
  • True Travellers Society - The aim of our organization is to connect people to no or minimal fee meaningful travel and volunteer travel opportunities around the globe. We have created a central location where this information can be shared for free.
  • Independent Volunteer - The difference between us and other websites is that we only list projects and organizations that charge low or no fees (other than reasonable food and accommodation costs).
  • Ecoteer is a unique volunteer opportunities agency - offering a directory of cheap volunteer work opportunities, volunteer jobs abroad and working holidays.
  • Omprakash - connect with our Partners to find an appropriate opportunity, share resources and advice with past and current Volunteers, and apply for Volunteer Grants to help defray travel costs.
  • The Working Traveller - An online magazine with information on volunteering and working abroad
  • The Jobs Abroad Bulletin - Affiliated with the Working Traveller above, contains postings for organizations looking for employees and volunteers.
  • CUSO-VSO They send Canadians and Americans abroad to work on collaborative development projects in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. Mostly longer term placements.
  • World Wide Helpers gives volunteers & organisations the power to share, connect and make a difference.
  • Free Volunteering Working under the philosophy that “your time is a sufficient contribution; additional financial donations should not be mandatory,” this site includes a database of free and low-cost opportunities.

South America & Central America

  • Quetzaltrekkers – a non profit, volunteer-run trekking organization that operates in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala and Leon, Nicaragua.  100% off all proceeds are used to support local schools for low income families.
  • Sonati. A non-profit organization dedicated to providing free environmental education and activities in Nicaragua. They run a hostel and treks where all the profits go to environmental education. Sonati is located in both Esteli and Leon Nicaragua.
  • Volunteer South America. This site lists the free and low-cost volunteer opportunities in South & Central America. The site is designed for backpackers /independent travelers looking for a real volunteer experience abroad, without paying any middle-man or agency fees.
  • Entre Mundos is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) which supports and helps local community NGOs in Guatemala.  They have a free searchable volunteer database.
By , December 7, 2010 7:13 pm
This blog has been on our to-do list for a long time.  Since March 1st, 2010 to be precise.  That was the day Ashley and I decided that we were going to travel the world.  That was a big step for us.  One could argue that we had wanted to travel the world since our first week long trip to Cuba together in 2005, but this was different.  No longer are we wanting to travel the world, now we were going to travel the world. In the beginning, we thought our trip would be very similar to the stories you hear over and over again from those fortunate youths who've made the journey before us.  We'd ask work for a year long leave of absence, go to all the must see sights, sleep in hostels and fly from one country to the next every odd week.  At the end of the year, we would return home broke, and resume work as if we had never left.  Or in the case that we were not granted a leave of absence from work, start looking for employment. Things have changed a bit since the beginning of March.  We've decided that we want to experience the world, not just see it.  So, we are going to take a bit more time on our journey.  We'll stay with locals where possible, and try our best to get jobs or work as volunteers along the way.  Of course living and working in a country for an extended period of time will give us a good experience of what it is really like to live in each place we visit, but it's also going to take a lot more time.  At this point, we've more or less thrown the 1 year artificial time frame out the window. So, how long will we be gone?  I don't know.  We'll keep at it until one of two things happen.  Either we get sick of it, or we can't afford to continue (money, health, family issues, etc.).  It may take a year, it may take 5 years, or it may take the rest of our lives.  Mutually we've decided to start off in the more affordable countries, namely avoiding the USA, Canada, and the UK.  We are, after all, trying to stretch out our savings as far as they will go.  We've got our sights set on South and Central America right now, and that's enough of a plan for us. We've got a lot of work to do before we start on our journey.  The go date, by the way, is tentatively set for July 2011.  This is our to-do list as it was in March.  Unfortunately, we haven't managed to cross very many items off of it yet.  Good thing this blog counts.
  1. Sell our house
  2. Sell our car
  3. Sell everything that we can't take with us
  4. Store or giveaway everything else
  5. Renew Ashley's Passport
  6. Purchase a travel laptop
  7. Get vaccinated against whatever we can
  8. Build a website
  9. Ask work for a leave of absence, or resign
  10. Plan our first port-o-call and get required visas, entry permits, and preferably find a job

We'll try to write a few blog entries as we hit these things on the head, and a few more each time we think of something else that should have been on the list to begin with. Now's a good time to test out the blog, so please leave us a comment.  We look forward to reading what you have to say.  If you have any advice, or want to help us out by purchasing our house or other stuff, let us know.