Photo: Don't forget your passport.

Planning well is an integral part of getting the most out of your trip. Be it picking the right backpack, the right vaccinations or the right country, the simple decisions are often the most important.

So you're leaving on a holiday to Southeast Asia for the first time and you're sitting in front of your computer thinking: Now what do I have to get done before I leave?

There's not that much to it really -- pick up a bag, your passport a change of clothes and then just head to the airport. While that works for some, with a bit more planning and foresight, you'll be able to get a lot more out of your vacation time.

We've been travelling in and out of Asia since 1993, so here's some tips that we've gathered over time that you may find of use.

We start with some general planning advice, followed by a quiet word on the need for insurance. Then it is on to packing and how to leave without a bag weighing a ton.

From there it is on to some itinerary advice including a bunch of different trip-plans you could use as a loose framework for your own trip.

Last but not least, we review some of the gear you're most likely going to be needing, including backpacks, moneybelts and other nick nacks.

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 Be sure to have adequate insurance cover before you travel. We recommend World Nomads


Getting started

Put your hand up if you just have no idea what you're doing. No idea where to go, when to go or even how to go. Should you be travelling independently, or is an organised tour the better way to go. Where are some of our favourites? Read on.


How to plan

You know when you're going and you know when you're coming back. In between there is a big gap. How do you fill it? Here are some quick pointers.


Insurance

Please let us make this very clear. If you can't afford adequate insurance cover, you can't afford to travel. Period. Read on to find out why.


Health & safety

Despite all the thought that goes into packing, one of the most common things forgotten is common sense. Here are some pointers to keep in mind if you'd like to stay healthy during your trip.


Money & costs

So what is this trip actually going to cost you? More then the bus to the airport and the flight ticket, that's for sure. Read on for some handy budgeting tips.


Travel with kids

People travel with children? Really? Are you one of them? Are you mad?


Accommodation

When someone tells you the accommodation is a bit basic, what does that actually mean?


Food & drink

Useful for staying alive. Also delicious and occasionally sickening. Read on for the skinny.


Transport

Southeast Asia has planes, trains and automobiles. It also has ojeks, xe-oms, songtheaws and horse carts.


Volunteering & work

Volunteering and paid employment may well be a bit more complicated than back home, and, especially with volunteering, may not be as helpful as you thought.


What to pack & gear advice

Packing is like an all you can eat buffet. You may want to eat it all, but that is rarely a good idea.


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