Most countries require you have a passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you complete your travels. If your passport has only a few months validity or only a few pages remaining, it may be wise to apply for a new one before you set off. Bear in mind that visas, plus entry and exit stamps, can be large – some even take up a whole page. If you need to apply for a new passport, make sure you do this well in advance of your travel date. In many countries you will need to show your passport when checking into hotels, buying airline tickets,changing money etc.
It is highly recommended that you make a note of your pasport details (passport number, visa number and place and date of issue of both.) Better still, take a photocopy or scan of your passport page. Keep this information separate from your passport. If you lose your passport you must report it at once to the local police and the nearest embassy or consulate of your country.
Visa requirements vary from one country to another. They also vary according to nationality. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of all visas necessary for your travels.
Some countries insist that travellers obtain their visas in their home country and can be awkward about issuing visas to those temporarily resident in other countries. You should also be aware that most visas are only valid for a limited period of time from the date of issue. If you are applying for your visa a long way in advance of your planned entry into the country, make sure that the visa will still be valid for the duration of your visit.
Be aware that whilst a few embassies and consulates will issue visas the same day or within 48 hours, it is more usual for visa applications to take several days, sometimes even weeks.
Be very cautious about applying for visas by mail - use a courier service if you cannot go in person.
Check your visa
Check your visa as soon as it has been issued – it is your responsibility to ensure that your visas are correct.Likewise if you applied for a multiple entry visa check to make sure one was issued.Be aware that possession of a visa does not guarantee you entry into a country. The final decision on whether or not youmay enter a country rests with the immigration official to whom you present your passport on arrival.
Visa services have built up good working relationships with the various embassies and consulates. They are usually able to obtain a visa more quickly than you would and are particularly useful for some of the more awkward visas. Visa service companies do charge, but you should weigh this up against the convenience and time you will save.
There are a wide variety of different ways that you can obtain or carry money overseas including credit cards, ATM cards and cash. Travellers cheques werey popular for security reasons but they are becoming more and more obsolete. Most people rely on ATM's, but you should always carry cash as well in case your card or the ATM malfunctions.
You may want to obtain a small amount of local currency prior to arrival. If you can’t obtain currency in advance, you will usually find banking services in the Arrivals Hall of the airport, port or border post, You should try to carry at least some of your money in small denominations so that you can change only the amount you will actually need. This is particularly important near the end of your holiday as it is sometimes difficult to change back surplus local currency.
Note some countries do not have ATM's accessible to visitors, in which case you should bring cash.
Currency exchange rates can be found here.
The hardest question we at Adventure Coordinators get asked is "how much money should I bring?". Simply put, the question is not something we can answer as it is largely up to your spending habits. Someone who eats two meals a day in simple restaurants or at street stalls, will spend a lot less than someone who likes to eat at hotels and drink wine. Similarly, some people may shop for expensive souvenirs, while others may not.
The quickest way to assess the amount you should bring is to bring what you would spend at home. Then bring at least $500 in emergency funds and an assortment of ATM and credit cards in case you need to draw more funds. If you wish to be more precise, this is a great website indicating cost of living around the the world.
Entrance Fees, Food
Please check the inclusions of your tour to see if we have included entrance fees, optional excursions or meals and drinks for your trip. If not, budget accordingly.
Border & Departure Taxes
Many countries impose taxes on travellers arriving and departing. These are sometimes, but not always, included in the price of your airline ticket if you are arriving or departing by air. However, if your tour involves entering or leaving countries by land or sea there will sometimes be border taxes to pay. These taxes are not included in the tour price.
In many parts of the world, tipping is an accepted way of rewarding good service. While we stress that tips are optional and should only be awarded if service indeed was good, we recommend you set some money aside for this purpose. The exact amount varies from country to country. There is an excellent blog post about how much to tip in each country here.
Health & Medical
It is your responsibility to ensure that you obtain any vaccinations, precautionary or preventative medicines for the countries you are visiting – or any which may be required by your home country upon your return. To find out which, if any, vaccinations are mandatory or recommended for your destination contact your local doctor, Immunisation Centre or Medical Centre for up-to-date information. If you need to arrange vaccinations or a supply of preventative medicine (e.g. Malaria tablets), you should contact your doctor at least two months before you depart. Some inoculations require more than one visit and can take several weeks to administer
You should be issued with an International Certificate of Vaccination for each vaccination. Always carry these with you on your travels; they could provide essential information for doctors in the event that you fall ill whilst travelling.
In deserts, in the tropics and at high altitude, your body can lose a lot of water. Dehydration also occurs when you are suffering from diarrhoea. The best way to avoid dehydration is to drink plenty of fluids.In most countries you can obtain “rehydration salts” or “electrolyte solution”. Although these do not tastegreat, they restore the salts lost by your body. You can also make your own rehydration mixture by adding 4 tablespoons of sugar and ½ a teaspoon of salt to one litre of clean water.
This condition can affect you at altitudes of 3000 metres and higher. Drugs are available to treat the effects of altitude sickness and you should refer to your doctor for more details.
Malaria is common in many parts of Africa, Asia and South America. As malaria is carried by mosquitoes, avoid being bitten. Mosquitoes mostly bite at dusk and dawn so one of the best ways to minimise the chance of being bitten is to wear long trousers, long sleeves and socks at these times. You should take a good insect repellent and apply it liberally. Repellents with a high concentration of DEET (at least 35%) are generally considered the most effective.
Additional, and highly recommended protection is in the form of tablets. Contact a travel health professional to ensure you get the pills appropriate for the area you are visiting. There are many different strains of malaria and a large number of them are drug-resistant, especially in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. It may be necessary for you to take a combination of tablets for the region you are visiting. No malaria tablets guarantee complete protection. Consult with a medical travel specialist.
Sunstroke / Heatstroke
It is easy to underestimate the strength of the sun – particularly when you are busy sightseeing. Until youhave become acclimatised you should try not to overdo it and if you go out during the hotter parts of the day,cover up and wear a hat (preferably wide-brimmed).Use a sun cream or sun block that is appropriate for your skin type and reapply often. Drink plenty of fluids –far more than you would normally do at home.
Existing Medical Conditions
If you are taking any form of medication, please make sure that you bring with you an adequate supply to last the duration of your holiday. You might not be able to obtain suitable medication in the countries you are visiting.
A change in diet is one of the most common causes of travellers diarrhoea. You can reduce the likelihood of suffering diarrhoea if you treat food and drink with caution – at least in the early stages of your travels. In almost every country it is possible to buy bottled water or you can purify or filter tap water. Beware of ice in drinks and make sure you wash your hands frequently. If you are unfortunate enough to suffer a bout of “Delhi Belly” you should be careful not to become dehydrated. In general we do not recommend the use of anti-diarrhoea pills as in most cases they do not cure the problem, they merely put it on hold. However, there are of course situations where ‘blocking up’ may be desirable, for instance if you are embarking on a long bus ride. Diarrhoea which lasts for longer than 48-72 hours, shows signs of blood or mucus or which is concurrent with other symptoms, such as a headache or high temperature, should always be taken seriously. Seek medical advice.
Personal Medical Kits
It is up to you to bring along a personal supply of basic medical items like plasters, aspirin, insect repellent etc. In areas of limited or suspect medical facilities, some travellers also like to take their own emergency medical kit containing needles, syringes and other items which can be used by the local medical staff in case of accident or illness.
It is a condition of joining our tours that travellers are fully insured for any medical expenses they might incur while travelling. We recommend a comprehensive travel insurance policy that covers repatriation and evacuation in case of a medical emergency, cancellation and curtailment as well as baggage and valuables. Make sure your policy specifically covers adventure activities.
Safety & Security
Peace of mind
By choosing to travel with Adventure Coordinators you can have peace of mind, Your safety and wellbeing is our prime concern. Over the years we have built up a network of local destination management offices, enabling us to maintain constant ‘ground-level’ contact with events in each of our destinations, and to ensure that every aspect of your holiday runs as smoothly as possible.
If you have not done much travelling before, a few simple guidelines may be useful:
• Enjoy your time in a new environment – don’t worry yourself sick.
• Conversely, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security.
• The best advice is simply to take at least the same precautions you would when travelling around your home country.
Although it can be traumatic and distressing to lose personal belongings, remember that almost everything can be replaced.
We suggest you leave all non-essential jewellery and valuables at home. Those you do bring are your responsibility. Either keep items like cash, travellers cheques, tickets, passports etc. on your person in a hidden money belt or stored in the hotel safe.
Type of bags
For ease of use, the best type of bag to bring is a backpack or a sports bag, preferably with some sort of shoulder strap. This type of bag tends to be less bulky and easier to handle than rigid suitcases. In addition to your main bag, we also recommend that you bring:
• A smaller daypack for items such as: camera, water, sun cream, hat.
• A money belt or waist pouch for your travel documents and money.
• If you are trekking, and your trek starts and ends in the same place, consider leaving a bag with a clean set of clothing there. You will be happy to have them when all your clothes are being washed!
Note that each airline has their own restrictions and you should check those on each airline's website. Domestic flights have tighter restirctions than international carriers, so pack accordingly. Furthermore, on local charter flights like the ones that take you from a domestic airport to a safari camp, you can bring even less, often no more than 12 kgs/26 lbs per person IN TOTAL. It is often possible to store excess luggage at the airport from where your flight to the camp leaves, but a fee is sometimes payable for this. We stress you should keep your luggage to a minimum. Remember most places will offer laundry facilities
What to Bring
The first thing to remember when you are packing for your trip is that your airline baggage allowance is almost certainly going to be no more than 20 kilos. The next thing to remember is that, apart from a few occasions when hotel porters will take your bags from the hotel to a vehicle – or vica versa – you will have to carry your own luggage. Don’t pack more than you can comfortably carry. On some tours there may be specific weight and size restrictions for luggage due to weight limits for porters or the size of storage areas in vehicles / trains.
When packing, consider leaving some room for souvenirs you may pick up on your trip.
Photography & electricity
Special Permits & Import
At some historical sites there is a charge for taking your camera ‘on site’ and others prohibit cameras altogether. Often flash photography is prohibited (even if you have bought a permit). Rules for video cameras are usually more restrictive than for still cameras. Video cameras must be declared to customs on arrival into many countries and special permits are often necessary for use at historical sites
Most people will love having their picture taken. You should, however, be respectful of people’s privacy and cultural differences. Pleas ask first and if somebody objects to having their picture taken you should always abide by their wishes.
It is advisable to keep your camera and lenses in a bag or case that will protect them from dust and water.
Don’t forget to take out adequate insurance for your camera equipment – if your camera is a good one, it is unlikely that your standard travel insurance will cover its value. Specific camera insurance is often prohibitively expensive so a more viable option is to make sure that it (and any other valuables) are covered under your home contents insurance policy.
Please do not take photographs of (or near) any military installations, military personnel or airports as you could get yourself into serious trouble.
While in some countries internet cafés offer downloading and CD-burning services for digital photos, in many countries these services are no longer available. We suggest you bring enough memory cards with you. If you are saving photos in full format, one photo will take up about 10Mb of space on your card. Remember that it is better to bring too much memory than too little.
Converters & Adapters
Countries around the world differ in the type of plugs and voltage they use. Check your device to see if you need to bring a voltage converter. Check this site to see what plugs and voltage are used in your destination.
As most, if not all, of your transport and accommodation arrangements will be taken care of during the course of your tour, we recommend that you choose a guidebook with a good historical content such as a Footprint Guide. If you are spending time travelling on your own before or after your tour, you may wish to bring along a guidebook that also has more practical information on accommodation, eating out, transportation etc. For this purpose we recommend a Rough Guide or Lonely Planet.
As well as guidebooks there are some terrific travelogues, historical accounts and historical fiction. Many of these make excellent reading at any time but are even more fascinating if you happen to be travelling through the country in question. Most good book shops have a section dedicated to travel writing.
Books or e-readers?
The choice is often yours, although some books are not available in electronic format.
If you do decide to bring an e-reader, be sure you bring chargers, converters and adapters with you
Staying in touch
If someone wishes to contact you whilst you are on tour, the best method is for them to contact your booking agent, who can then pass on a message. If your booking agent is closed and someone needs to make contact with you urgently, they should telephone our regional office in the area in which you are travelling.These contact details are shown on your tour documents. We recommend that you leave a copy of your trip itinerary and details of your booking agent with someone at home.
We do not recommend that you ask friends and relatives to contact you by phoning tour hotels. Receptions are often manned by non-English speaking staff and it is highly unlikely that the person answering the phone would be able to locate you
Most of the countries in which we operate have hotels with WiFi. Internet cafés or other email access facilities are becoming more and more rare. Some email providers may be blocked in your destination.
One of the great attractions of adventure travel is to take a break from modern lifestyles. We therefore ask that, as a courtesy to other travellers, you switch off the ring tone on your mobile phones and only use it when absolutely necessary. If you can bear to, considering leaving your phone at home.
Not all social media sites are accessible in each country, particularly those countries with totalitarian regimes.
Although we want you to consider the environment, the last thing we want to do is to subject you to endless rules and regulations. Therefore we try very hard to maintain the balance between your enjoyment of our trips and continued conservation and respect for the local environment. Our travellers guidelines are not meant as rigid instructions but rather as suggestions to make your holiday more enjoyable – for everybody.
• HAGGLING – While it is customary and fun to haggle, remember that the stallholder / shopkeeper has to make a living. Be firm but always polite, don’t offer a price that you are not willing to pay and once you have agreed a price – stick to it.
• LOCAL PRODUCE – Try to buy local produce, clothing and souvenirs etc.
• SOUVENIRS & ARTIFACTS –Use common sense when buying souvenirs. Many animals, plants and animal products are protected but non-restricted goods can also cause damage. Leave things such as shells and coral where they are.
• WATER – Use sparingly. Consider bringing your own water bottle & purification drops. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.
• ENERGY – Turn down or off heating or air-con when it’s not really necessary. Switch off lights when you leave a room.
• BATTERIES – Consider using rechargeable batteries and dispose of empty ones at home.
• GENERAL – Use guidebooks to familiarise yourself with the culture, language and customs of your destination.
• BEGGING – Try to avoid giving out money, sweets and pens to children as it encourages them to beg – it is far better to interact with games or drawings etc.
Of course giving money to a person in real need is always an option. Perhaps avoid giving to people who aggressively target travellers but instead give to those who quietly sit on a street corner, or to organizations who look after the poor.
• PHOTOGRAPHS – Always ask permission and respect the person’s decision.
• DRESS – Respect dress codes in public areas and especially at religious sites where it may be customary to cover your head or remove your shoes. In some of our destinations it is advisable to wear clothes that cover shoulders and knees.
• RELIGION – Some religions and customs may seem strange, complicated and at times unfathomable but to local people they are important so be respectful.
• ANIMAL CRUELTY – You might see examples of animal cruelty, for example snake charmers. Please do not take photos of this as it encourages the activity. Avoid riding elephants.
• CARBON OFFSETS – Air travel is a major contributor to climate change. By investing in offsets you contribute to energy efficiency programmes around the globe. This ensures that the same amount of carbon your flights produce is prevented from entering the atmosphere in the first place.
• GETTING AROUND – Avoid taxis when you can. Walk or take public transport instead.
• LITTER – The obvious one – use rubbish bins or take it with you.
• WATER – If it is necessary to wash in streams, avoid detergents and other chemicals and use biodegradable, ecofriendly soaps instead. The water you are washing in may be someone else’s drinking water further down stream.
• TOILETS – If there are no toilets available, make sure you are at least 30 metres away from water sources, bury waste in the dark organic layer of the soil and take any toilet tissue with you in a ziplock bag. Dispose of it in an approproate place like a campfire.
• HIKES – Leave nothing but footprints, stay on the trail and avoid taking shortcuts as these lead to erosion.
• WILDLIFE & NATURE – Avoid disturbing wildlife and stay the distance. Try not to disturb their habitat.Take care not to touch coral reefs and do not feed animals or fish. Admire flowers but please don’t pick them.
• SUNSCREEN – Sunscreens can harm the environment, especially coral reefs. Look for products without any form of microplastic sphere or beads, any nanoparticles like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, oxybenzone, octinoxate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, octocrylene, para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), parabens and triclosan. Mountain Equipment Coop has lots of nature-friendly sunscreens.
On your return
Share all the great things you learned about your destination and responsible travel with your family, friends and colleagues. Suggest improvements where needed. Be an ambassador for responsible travel!
En-Route & On Arrival
Send us your flight details
Many of our tours include an arrival transfer. In order to be able to meet you at the airport, we need to be informed of your flight arrival details well in advance. Please ensure that we have the following information at least one month prior to your arrival:
• Nationality and passport number
• Copy or your airline tickets
If we do not have this information we cannot meet you.
If an arrival transfer is included, after clearing Customs and Immigration please look for our representative who will be carrying a sign with your name on it. In one or two countries they may actually be waiting for you BEFORE you reach customs. If you do not see our representative immediately, do not worry, he/she is probably attending to other clients and will be with you as soon as possible.
What if I am not met?
If you have not made contact with our representative 30 minutes after clearing Immigration & Customs, we advise you contact our local office. Please refer to your tour documentation for contact details.If you cannot reach our local office, please make your own way and keep your taxi receipt.
Left & Lost Luggage
If you discover upon arrival that your luggage is missing, or has arrived incomplete, you should report this immediately to the information desk in the baggage hall. The staff will be able to tell you what the procedures are for reclaiming your luggage and be able to explain when you should expect your luggage.
If you experience any problems in dealing with airport / airline officials our local office will be happy to assist you. However please remember that lost luggage is a matter between you and the airline /airport authority and the recovery of your luggage is your own responsibility and at your own expense.
A Word about Taxi Drivers
You may have heard stories of the ‘perils’ of hiring a taxi in an unfamiliar city. A common tale is of taxi drivers telling newly arrived travellers that their hotel is closed down, full or no good and that they know of another / better hotel they can take you to instead. Pay no attention and simply insist on being taken to the hotel that is listed as your tour Meeting Point.
Avoid being overcharged by either insisting that the driver switch on the meter or agree a set fare at the start of the journey. If a driver will not agree to either you should find an alternative taxi. If you have any problems once you reach the hotel, go to the reception desk and ask them to help you. In the interest of comfort and safety it is always best to travel in the rear seat of a taxi. This will not be considered rude by the taxi driver. If the driver insists that you should sit in the front, we recommend you locate an alternative taxi.
Arriving at Your Hotel
Upon arrival at your hotel please report to the reception and the staff will show you to your room. If your transfer driver has not informed you already how your tour will proceed from here, there will be a package waiting for you at the hotel reception.
In some countries you may be required to deposit your passport at reception. This is a perfectly normal practice and nothing to be concerned about – just make sure that you retrieve it before you check out of the hotel. Please note: The official check-in time for most hotels around the world is around midday. If you reach the hotel earlier than this, you may have to wait for a room to become available. If you are arriving late at night or in the early hours of the morning and you wish to go straight to your room you will need to book an extra night’s hotel.
Please make sure you do not leave anything behind at any point on the tour or at the end of your holiday. Unfortunately we are NOT in a position to forward any luggage – or other belongings – you may leave behind.