All we need for 9 months (ish) travel around the world packed into two small(ish) rucksacks.. Including wetsuits, snorkels/masks and fins!


We got engaged!

So, a couple of days ago when we went to one of our favourite restaurants in London, I asked Stef to marry me, and she said yes!

But we’ll have to wait until we get back from our trip, as all our family and friends keep telling us..


Some pages restricted to registered users only – please register!

Because of the amount of spam and the level of detailed information we’re leaving here, I decided to restrict access to some pages only to registered users. If you register you will be able to see additional pages in the top menu, including:
– How to contact us
– Route and Itinerary
– Photo Gallery
– Photo Map

Please register using the “Register” link in the “Meta” menu on the left hand side bar. Registration is painless and fast and you will be able to log in straight away. If we get unknown people registering then I will lock it so we must approve any new registrations.

Now we’re homeless!

We moved out of our apartment today in preparation for our trip and will be of no fixed abode for the next 10 months! It’s my last day at work tomorrow and Stef’s last day on Thursday, so make that homeless and unemployed! Woohoo!!

BMW 320i Convertible for Sale! – selling car for travel funds

27,687 miles, 2 Door Hardtop Convertible, Sparkling Metallic Graphite, Petrol, Manual, Auto Start/Stop, Park Distance Control, Xenon Headlamps, Cruise Control, BMW Prof Radio/CD with Aux Input for mp3/iPhone, Auto Air-Con, Anthracite Fluid Cloth, 17″ Radial Spoke Alloy Wheels, Multi-function Sport Steering Wheel, Isofix child seat system, Alarm, Electrically adjustable front seats with driver memory, Steering wheel rake adjustment, Headlamp washer system, Folding rear seats, Electric door mirrors. FSH, MOT until April 25th 2012, Taxed until end Feb 2012. Low mileage, great condition, 170bhp with 41.5mpg (combined) and priced to sell quickly as I’m leaving soon to travel around the world for a year.

Backpacker Travel Insurance – including Mountaineering and Scuba Diving?!

It’s proving quite a challenge to get hold of extended stay/backpacker travel insurance which includes good coverage for the two most risky activities we will be doing on our trip – high altitude trekking (likely classified as mountaineering if we make it to the top of Island Peak at 6,189m) and scuba diving.

Scuba diving presents a particular dilemma, as you can often get this as a bolt-on to many travel insurance policies (as we have currently on our annual multi-trip) – but is this really sufficient for us in the very remote locations we’ll be diving such as Raja Ampat and Vanuatu? From reading up about scuba insurance, it seems like the one insurance accepted internationally by all dive evacuation and medical facilities without question is Divers Alert Network (DAN) – so it seems important to include a DAN policy card in our wallets. If something happens, you just don’t want anyone questioning the validity of the insurance or having to check with the insurance company before sending the helicopter or letting you in the hyperbaric chamber!

This goes for mountaineering cover as well. I read stories about people who had been evacuated in Nepal with acute mountain sickness – and it’s clear that a helicopter would not take off from Kathmandu unless they were certain you had valid insurance.

Furthermore, I can’t find any backpacker policies that cover trekking/mountaineering above 6000m. One of the only options for this is the British Mountaineering Council, who offer a good range of insurance products for mountaineering – under their definitions we would only need the Trek level even for Island Peak – but an extended stay policy for 10 months is very expensive (900 GBP+ for two of us). And why would we want to pay for this level of coverage for the whole 10 months when we will only be doing high altitude trekking for 3 weeks?

The only other option I can find is for “top-up” insurance for specific activities for a short duration – for example I am currently looking at DareDirect. It’s not cheap – 3 weeks insurance for 2 of us for Mountaineering level (includes many other activities too) will cost 310 GBP. But this plus a normal backpacker insurance policy still works out cheap than taking out a BMC policy for the full 10 months.

So, the current plan will be 3 policies:

  • A normal backpacker insurance policy – currently looking at InsureFor – exclude the cancellation cover to save money on this – it’s not worth it as it’s only valid before departure of our first flight. Non-diving medical/accident would be covered under this policy – and it also covers us for common activities like the lower altitude trekking (e.g. Inca Trail, Macchu Picchu etc), snorkelling, and has sufficient baggage/personal belongings cover to replace most of our stuff in the event of “total theft”
  • DAN Sport Diver Silver policy – only for dive accident evacuation and medical cover
  • Top-up mountaineering cover – just for Nepal – includes search and rescue
In total it looks like this will cost around 750 GBP for both of us. It’ll be a bit more if we decide to include skiing/winter sports – but I expect that we won’t have the budget for those activities anyway. This all sounds pretty expensive, but given the length of time we’ll be on the road (at constant risk of thefts) and the potentially fatal consequences of not getting treatment for an incident of AMS or DCS at the earliest possible time, it’s an important investment to make!

OneWorld Explorer LONE4 RTW Ticket Itinerary

Here is the itinerary we booked under the OneWorld Explorer Ticket (LONE4):

London to Bangkok : 
Bangkok to Tokyo : 
Tokyo to Hong Kong : 
Hong Kong to Kathmandu : 
Kathmandu to Hong Kong : 
Hong Kong to Cairns : 
Cairns to Brisbane : 
Brisbane to Adelaide : 
Adelaide to Sydney : 
Sydney to Auckland : 
Auckland to Santiago : 
Santiago to Easter Island 
Easter Island to Lima :
Lima to Quito :
Quito to Buenos Aires : 
Buenos Aires to London :

Additionally we will need to book separate flights for the following:

  • Singapore – Manado – Sorong return
  • Singapore – Siem Reap one-way
  • Siem Reap – Hanoi one-way
  • Hanoi-Bangkok one-way
  • Kathmandu-Lukla return (to be included in a trek package)
  • Kathmandu-Paro return (to be included in a tour package)
  • Hong Kong – Manila return plus internal flights to Coron or El Nido and Boracay
  • Auckland – Vanuatu – Fiji – Cook Islands – Tahiti – Auckland (I think we will probably do this with single tickets. It’s annoying we couldn’t cover any of it with the LONE4) – by far the most expensive extra flights we are going to have to buy
  • Internal flights in French Polynesia (Rurutu, Bora Bora)
  • Quito – Galapagos return
  • Buenos Aires – Rio return

Still so much planning work to do!

Booking a OneWorld Explorer RTW Ticket in the UK

After much planning, we finally booked and paid for our RTW tickets and parted with 6,388 GBP (10,200 USD)! For a 42,450 mile trip with 15 stopovers for 2 people this is pretty good value – works out at around 11.7 cents per mile – not as cheap per mile as many deep discounted single fares, but a great deal given the flexibility we should get from this ticket regarding date changes and the ability to complete the trip during a 12 month period.

Here are our experiences and advice for trying to book this in the UK, in case this helps anyone else out there on a similar mission:

  • Don’t get committed to a specific routing until you’re absolutely sure that the necessary seats are available on the required routes on or around your planned dates for each leg. We ran into issues that Japan Airlines hadn’t released their L-class inventory from 1st April onwards yet (and from reading online, it looks like this wouldn’t have happened until Jan or Feb) and so we couldn’t get seats on those flights any time after March – so we ended up re-jigging our itinerary to go to Japan earlier.
  • Whilst the rules say that you only have to book your first international leg on a specific date and the rest can be open-jawed, I couldn’t find anyway to actually buy the ticket like this. The online booking tool requires a seat reserved on every flight leg, and speaking to BA on the phone, they needed all reservations too.
  • Travel agencies are unlikely to be particularly helpful, as they rarely get involved in booking these sorts of tickets and lack the expertise regarding the complex rules. STA Travel in Reading said that they might book one of these a year and they don’t have any more useful tools than what is already available to the customer directly with the OneWorld Explorer online booking tool. So they couldn’t book itineraries with the extra 75GBP legs per continent (not exceeding 16 for the whole trip) either – which was the main reason I couldn’t continue to book the ticket with the online tool.
  • I started by trying to book via American Airlines – because we will be flying under AA frequent flyer program and also because I had read that they have a dedicated round the world desk (suggesting competence at doing this). The lady there seemed to know what she was talking about, but unfortunately AA cannot book your OneWorld Explorer ticket out of the UK unless you have an international AA segment in the itinerary. So we had to call BA.
  • The OneWorld Explorer online booking tool doesn’t necessarily let you book everything and pay without speaking to an airline anyway. The outcome after you hit the “Book Now” button is actually to hold your reservation for 96 hours until you call your local OneWorld airline to pay. I’m not sure if this is true for every itinerary (the guy at BA said “it looks like the itinerary was too long to be ticketed online”).
  • BA weren’t very helpful. When we ran into the Japan Airlines inventory problem, they refused to acknowledge that it was an inventory-release problem or that it may become available at some point in the future (it took me some online research to figure this out) and they couldn’t help with any suggestions on how to work around the problem. Basically all they are good at is taking a fully finalized/reserved itinerary booked through the online tool and running your credit card against it. After some frustrating calls with them I decided to ditch doing extra legs in South America in return for sacrificing legs in Australia(which was why I couldn’t book with the online tool). So I only worked within what the online booking tool could do, got everything finalized and reserved, then let BA take my money over the phone.
  • If you’re planning a really long trip, flight schedules may not even be available 10 or 11 months out. So the last 3 legs of our trip couldn’t be booked on the dates we want.. and of course as noone will book this ticket open-jawed, you have to work around this problem by booking them on dates much earlier – then in a few months we can move the flights back to the correct dates again (free of charge, the whole purpose of a RTW ticket is to have this flexibility).
  • It’s a really good idea to be a member of a OneWorld Frequent Flyer program as you will cover a lot of miles, but don’t expect to get full earning on every other OneWorld carrier. OneWorld explorers are booked into L-class which doesn’t earn miles with some airlines. Try to find the best FF programme for the airlines you are flying – I chose AA as I started using them this year and they have better earning on some airlines such as Qantas (50% vs 25%) and LAN (100% vs 25%) than our wonderful local airline, BA. These links are useful for checking this out:
  • Taxes and Fees: – just by way of example for anyone wondering, for our trip the base fare was 2131 GBP – and the taxes and fees came out at 1063 GBP for the 16 legs.
    • As a side note, this is exactly the same base fare as the 29,000 mile version of the OneWorld Global Explorer ticket – but our ticket is taking us 42,250 miles.

Overall, I’m satisfied right now with the RTW product we’ve purchased (but time will tell) – it’s good value for what we want to do and gets us to most of the places we want to go. But beware that due to the inventory availability issues and the seeming impossibility to book this ticket open-jawed, it is actually less flexible than it first seems. Expect to spend many hours with the online booking tool going over many iterations to finally get a valid and bookable itinerary if you want to get the most out of this ticket – and compromises will need to be made. In the end we were only able to stick with this product because we had planned and budgeted for extra flights to get to certain destinations (e.g. in the south pacific where the covered with the explorer ticket is not good anymore) and we were able to be flexible about which destinations we will cover with those additional flights (for example, we will now do a round trip from Hong Kong to Manila separately, and we will buy our Galapagos tickets separately from Quito. I haven’t calculated what our final total air mileage will be yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it approaches 60,000 miles.

Booked our Minnesota Pre-Trip Visit

Flying out 25th Nov, back to London on 20th Dec. We’ll need to take a short intra-pre-trip expedition somewhere outside on the US during this time because of tax residency rules.. Just need to figure out where.. Needs to be cheap and warm!!

Ditching Delhi

The visa application is too complicated and bureaucratic, especially as one of us is American living in UK and the other British. Jusy can’t be bothered with it! So we’ll go straight to Nepal and miss out India altogether.

Visas and Travel Risks

It’s important to check what Visa’s are required well in advance, as some such as for China and Vietnam need to be obtained before leaving the UK. It’s also essential to check travel advice and safety information for the various destinations – below is my analysis of both.

I was also interested to know more objectively how dangerous each country is to tourists, so I included the fatality data from the Foreign Office website and used it to calculate a percentage fatality rate based on total number of British tourists to each country – to get a “danger of death” figure. Some of you might think that’s a bit morbid, but I think it’s sensible to highlight which destinations we need to be most careful in. Philippines stands out as statistically  the most dangerous, followed closely by Thailand – so we will need to read more about the dangers closer to the time and be ready to avoid them! (not that we intend to be paranoid tourists, I just call this risk management).


Entry Requirements

Specific Advice



British passport holders arriving by air may enter Thailandfor 30 days without obtaining a visa in advance of arrival. However, those arriving at overland crossings will only be given visa free entry valid for 15 days. If you plan to stay inThailand for longer than the time endorsed on arrival, or you intend to work, you must obtain an extension of stay or a valid visa.

We advise against all travel to the Preah Vihear (Khaoi Pra Viharn in Thai) temple area and the Ta Krabey/Ta Moan temple area located on the Thai-Cambodian border due to the presence of troops in the area and recent outbreaks of fighting. Remain alert to the local situation when travelling in other border regions and at land crossings betweenThailandandCambodia. See Safety and Security – Local Travel – Cambodian border.

847,198 British nationals visitedThailandin 2010 (Source: Thai Immigration). 2,159 British nationals required consular assistance inThailandbetween 1 January and 31 December 2010, including for the following types of incident: 340 deaths; 217 hospitalisations; 228 arrests for a variety of offences. We issued 697 British nationals with Emergency Travel Documents as replacements for lost or stolen passports.

We advise against all but essential travel to the provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla on the Thai-Malaysia border. See Safety and Security – Political Situation.
It is not uncommon for demonstrations to take place inThailand. Over the last few months political demonstrations have been taking place in Bangkok at Democracy Monument (near Khao San Road) around the 10th and 19th of every month. You should avoid these demonstrations and any other protests.

 If you are a U.S.citizen tourist staying for fewer than 30 days, you do not require a visa, but your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your entry into Thailand. You may be asked to show an onward/return ticket. If you enter Thailandby air without a visa, you are allowed to stay in Thailandfor 30 days per visit. If you enter Thailandby land without a visa, you are allowed to stay in Thailandfor 15 days per visit. In either case, if you have entered Thailand without a visa, you cannot remain in Thailand for more than 90 days during any six-month period, counting from the date of first entry

Following the national elections on 3 July the Thai Electoral Commission has until 2 August 2011 to confirm the election result. Although the elections took place without serious incident there remains some risk that political developments could lead to instability in the medium term. We advise you to keep up to date with our travel advice, monitor the local media, stay in touch with your travel company if you have one and avoid demonstrations. Safety and Security – Political Situation.
Since 7 November 2010, there has been fighting between armed groups on the Burmese side of the Thai/Burma border. The land border crossing at Mae Sot is closed. Check local media for the latest information, and exercise extreme caution if you intend to travel to this region.
Following the death of Her Royal Highness Princess Bejaratana on 27 July 2011,Thailandis in a period of national mourning.ThaiPalaceprotocol requires that public social events should be low key and restrained. Anyone planning to visit theRoyalPalacefor a sightseeing tour should wear dark colours or black.
By law, you must carry your passport with you at all times inThailand. Tourists have been arrested because they were unable to produce their passport. See: Local Laws and Customs. Fatality Rate: 0.04%
There is a high threat of terrorism inThailand. Bomb and grenade attacks have been indiscriminate, including in places visited by expatriates and foreign travellers. Sporadic attacks continue inBangkok(there were reports of a grenade explosion at a PAD rally inBangkokon 31 May) and Chiang Mai. Exercise caution, especially in the cities ofBangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Khon Kaen, Ubon Ratchathani and Udon Thani. See: Safety and Security – Terrorism. Hospitalisation rate: 0.025%


British nationals do not need a visa to enterMalaysiaas a visitor.  You will normally be given permission to stay for three months on arrival.

There are indications that both criminal and terrorist groups are planning violent acts against foreign tourists in easternSabah. Of particular concern are resorts located in isolated parts of easternSabahincluding Semporna and the islands of Mabul and Sipadan. This includes transportation routes to and from island resorts. Terrorist groups and criminal gangs have been responsible for acts of piracy and kidnappings of foreign tourists in easternSabahin the past. Travellers should exercise caution if travelling in these areas. Around 435,500 British nationals visitMalaysiaeach year . 97 British nationals required consular assistance inMalaysiain the period 01 April 2010 – 31 March 2011 for the following types of incident; 34 deaths; 17 hospitalisations; and eight arrests, for a variety of offences. During this period assistance was also requested with regard to lost or stolen passports (142 cases).

US: To enterMalaysia, your passport must be valid for at least six months. You do not need a visa to enterMalaysiaif you are coming for business or tourism for short-term stays of 90 days or less

Foreign nationals have been kidnapped in the past inEast Malaysiaand we believe that this threat remains. Boats travelling to and from offshore islands and dive sites are possible targets. If you wish to visit resorts on, and islands off,Eastern Sabah, you should exercise caution. Fatality Rate: 0.0078%
Malaysia is a multicultural but predominantly Muslim country, and as such you should respect local social conventions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultural or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas. For more general information see our Travelling During Ramadan page. Hospitalisation rate: 0.0039%


UK: You do not normally need a visa to enterSingaporefor up to 30 days stay for tourism, business discussions or social visits

The offences of “outrage of modesty” (molestation) can result in a fine, jail or corporal punishment (the rattan cane). Travellers are advised to avoid any action that could be interpreted as molestation. Scams involving false claims of molest are thought to exist. Around 450,000 British tourists visitSingaporeevery year. 89 British nationals required consular assistance inSingaporein the period 01 April 2009 – 31 March 2010 for the following types of incident: 10 deaths; 18 hospitalisations; and 21 arrests. During this period assistance was also requested with regard to lost or stolen passports (127 cases).

ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: You do not need a visa for tourist or business visits of up to 90 days.

There is a risk from Dengue fever inSingapore. You should take normal precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes. Fatality Rate: 0.0022%


UK: Visas forCambodiacan be obtained on arrival (payment of US dollars only). Two passport photographs are required. A business visa costs US $25 for one month and can be renewed indefinitely. A tourist visa costs US $20 for one month and can be extended for only one extra month. The Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs operates an electronic visa (“e-Visa”) facility for tourist visas only. The e-Visa costs US $20. The e-Visa can only be used at the main entry crossings with the immigration IT system.

We advise against all travel to the Preah Vihear (Khaoi Pra Viharn in Thai) temple area and the Ta Krabey/Ta Moan temple area located on the Thai-Cambodian border due to the presence of troops in the area and recent outbreaks of fighting. Remain alert to the local situation when travelling in other border regions, particularly at Ou Smach and at land crossings between the two countries.

103,000 British nationals visitedCambodiain 2010. 194 British nationals required consular assistance inCambodiain the period  April 2010 –  March 2011 for the following types of incidents: 11 deaths; 24 hospitalisations; and 20 arrests, for a variety of offences.
US: You will need a valid passport and a Cambodian visa to travel toCambodia. Tourist and business visas are valid for one month beginning with the date of entry intoCambodia. Fataility Rate: 0.01%


UK- A visa is required for Vietnam. Ensure that you obtain the correct visa for the purpose and destination of your travel. We are aware that some travel agencies are able to arrange legitimate visas-on-arrival. Vietnamese visas are usually valid for only one entry. If you plan to leaveVietnam and re-enter from another country make sure you obtain a visa allowing multiple entries.

The tropical cyclone season runs from May to November, affecting the eastern coastal regions. Around 80,000 British tourists visitVietnamevery year. 219 British nationals required consular assistance in Vietnam in the period 01 April 2010 – 31 March 2011, for the following types of incident; deaths (10 cases); hospitalisations (20 cases). During this period assistance was also requested with regard to lost or stolen passports (97 cases).

US:  In order to enter Vietnam, you will need a valid passport with at least six months validity remaining and a Vietnamese visa, a visa exemption document, or a written approval letter for a visa upon arrival. You may obtain a visa or a visa exemption document from a Vietnamese embassy or consulate prior to traveling to Vietnam. To obtain a written approval letter to enter, you must contact a travel agency prior to departure.U.S. citizens have reported unscrupulous travel agencies taking advantage of travelers and charging extremely high fees upon landing.

  Fatality Rate: 0.0125%


UK: British nationals may enter thePhilippineswithout a visa for an initial period of 21 days, while a tourist visa from the nearest Philippine Embassy will allow an initial 59 day stay.

We advise against all travel to south-west Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago because of ongoing terrorist and insurgent activity. We advise against all but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao for the same reason. There are also ongoing clashes b

Over 95,000 British tourists visited thePhilippinesin 2010 (Source: Philippines Ministry of Tourism).  Most visits are trouble-free. 143 British nationals required consular assistance in thePhilippinesin the period 1 April 2009 – 31 March 2010 for the following types of incident: 62 deaths; 22 hospitalisations; and 17 arrests, for a variety of offences.

There is a high threat from terrorism throughout thePhilippines. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. Such places could include, but are not limited to, airports, shopping malls, places of worship etc.

U.S.citizens may enter thePhilippineswithout a visa for tourism purposes upon presentation of theirU.S.passport, valid for at least six months after the date of entry into thePhilippines, and a return ticket to theUnited Statesor an onward ticket to another country. Upon arrival, immigration authorities will annotate the traveler’s passport with an entry visa valid for 21 days. If the traveler plans to stay longer than 21 days, he/she must apply for an extension at the Philippine Bureau of Immigration

There is a threat from kidnapping in thePhilippines, particularly in the southernPhilippines. Kidnapping could occur anywhere, including on coastal and island resorts and dive boats and sites in theSulu Sea. On 12 July twoUScitizens and a Philippine national were kidnapped from a resort on theislandofTictabonnear the southern port city ofZamboanga.
The European Commission announced an operating ban on all air carriers certified in thePhilippinesfrom 1 April 2010. This follows an audit of thePhilippinescarried out by ICAO in October 2009. The EU ban has been imposed because the Philippine regulatory authority is unable to verify that these airlines comply with international safety standards. More information can be obtained on the following website: We recommend that you avoid flying with Philippine-certified airlines subject to the EU operating ban Fatality Rate: 0.065%


British nationals require visas to enter mainland China, but not Hong Kong or Macao. Visas must be obtained prior to arrival, including for Hainan Island.

In many parts ofChina, the wet season occurs between April and November. Severe rainstorms can cause flooding and mudslides. In June 2011, severe rainstorms caused flooding and mudslides in the provinces ofSichuan,Guizhou,Hunan,JiangxiandAnhui. Areas ofZhejiangandHubeiprovinces around theYangtseRiverare particularly badly affected. Typhoons can also occur along the southern and eastern coasts during this time. You should monitor weather reports if travelling in affected areas and follow the advice of local authorities if instructed to evacuate.

Over 575,000 British nationals visitedChinain 2010. 478 British nationals required consular assistance inChinain the period 1 April 2010 – 31 March 2011 for the following types of incident: 24 deaths; 35 hospitalisations; and 23 arrests, for a variety of offences.

You need a visa and a passport with at least six months remaining validity to enterChina. If you do not have a valid passport and the appropriate Chinese visa, you will not be allowed to enterChinaand will be fined and subject to immediate deportation.U.S.citizens traveling toChinamay apply for up to a one-year multiple-entry visa. Check yourU.S.passport before applying for a visa to make sure that it has one year or more validity remaining; otherwise, you may be issued a visa for less than the time you request. A multiple-entry visa is essential if you plan to re-enterChina, especially if you plan to visit either Hong Kong orMacau.

Travel to the Tibet Autonomous Region is currently restricted. You should not attempt to travel toTibetwithout the appropriate permits.
Chinais subject to earthquakes. An earthquake inSichuanProvinceon 12 May 2008 measured 7.9 on the Richter scale. Many people were killed, injured or left homeless. Further major earthquakes have occurred inQinghaiprovince (westernChina) in 2011 andYunnanProvince(south westernChina) in 2011.  Coastal regions may experience tsunamis following major earthquakes. In the aftermath of a natural disaster, follow the advice of local authorities. Try to make contact with your nearest British Embassy or Consulate-General to confirm your safety.
You must register your place of residence with the local Public Security Bureau within 24 hours of arrival. If you stay in a hotel, registration is done on your behalf as part of the check-in process. Fatality Rate: 0.0042%

Many regions, such asTibetand other remote areas, require special permits for tourist travel. Using local travel agents is typically the easiest way to secure the appropriate permit. Permits usually cost around RMB 100, are single-entry and are valid for at most three months.

All foreign nationals over the age of 16 must carry their passport at all times. Police may carry out random checks, especially at times of increased security e.g. around major sporting or political events.  


UK: Visas are required for travel toNepal. Visas are available on arrival atTribhuvanInternationalAirportand at certain land borders. You may pay in pounds at the airport, and should bring two passport-sized photos. If you wish to stay for more than 60 days you can extend your visa up to 30 days by applying to the Nepalese Department of Immigration

The political situation inNepalis changeable. There are frequent bandhs (shutdowns), rallies and demonstrations, which can be violent and cause widespread disruption. If you are travelling inNepal, you should remain vigilant, avoid demonstrations, and stay in close touch with your tour operator. 78 British nationals required consular assistance inNepalin the period 01 April 2010 – 31 March 2011 for the following types of incident; 7 deaths; 8 hospitalisations; and 7 arrests, for a variety of offences.

A passport and visa are required. Travelers may obtain visas prior to travel or purchase fifteen-day multiple-entry visas ($25), one-month multiple-entry visas ($40), or three-month multiple-entry visas ($100) upon arrival atTribhuvanInternationalAirportinKathmandu

Cases of cholera have been reported inKathmanduand seasonal outbreaks across the country are common during the Monsoon (June to September). Japanese encephalitis is known to occur inNepal. about 40000 british visitors per annum
There have been several recent airline accidents inNepal. Travellers can check an airline’s safety standards through the International Civil Aviation Organisation Fatality Rate: 0.0175%


UK: You will need a passport and visa to enter and exit Bhutan. Foreigners (apart from Indian nationals) may enter or depart the country only through certain towns such as Phuntsoling, Samdrup Jongkhar and Gelephug (by road) or Paro (by air). All visas are approved from Thimphu and are only issued to tourists booked with a local licensed tour operator, directly or through a foreign travel agent. Applications for tourist visas are submitted by the tour operator

Travel toBhutanshould be arranged well in advance. You must arrange any visit toBhutanthrough an authorised travel agent. Those travelling independently on British passports are not permitted to enterBhutan. In 2010 there were no major cases of a British national requiring consular assistance inBhutan.

US: You will need a passport and visa to enter and exitBhutan. All visas are approved fromThimphuand are only issued to tourists booked with a local licensed tour operator, directly or through a foreign travel agent.

Personal computers, cellular telephones, cameras, or any other electronic device must be registered with Bhutanese customs upon arrival. These items will also be checked upon departure. Fatality Rate: 0%


British nationals wishing to visitJapanfor three months or less for business, tourism or family purposes etc (but not to work for a local employer) may do so without a visa.

We advise against all but essential travel to those areas in north-eastJapanmost affected by the 11 March earthquake and tsunami. This includes those coastal areas of Iwate, Miyagi andFukushimaprefectures which suffered extensive damage. These areas continue to experience disruptions to residential, business and transport infrastructure. There is also a continuing risk of aftershocks. If your travel is essential, you should consult local contacts before travelling. 184,045 British nationals visited Japan in 2010.136 British nationals required consular assistance in Japan in this period for the following types of incident: deaths (15 cases), hospitalisations (7 cases), child abduction and custody related issues (7 cases), and arrests, for a variety of offences (51 cases).

 You must have a valid passport and an onward/return ticket for tourist/business “visa free” stays of up to 90 days.

We advise against all travel to within a 60km radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility with the exception of transit through the area via the Tohoku Expressway and the Tohoku Shinkansen Railway. The Tokyo Metropolitan area and Narita airport lie outside this zone. Fatality Rate: 0.0082%


Visas are required forUKnationals enteringIndonesia. Following changes implemented from 26 January 2010, British citizens visitingIndonesiaare able to buy a 30 day visa upon arrival at a cost of US $ 25. Visas of this kind can be extended once for a maximum of 30 days by applying to Immigration offices withinIndonesia. Seven day visas are no longer available.

Following the 15 April suicide bombing attack on a mosque in the West Java town ofCirebon, which left 26 people wounded we believe further attacks may be planned on other locations in Java, includingSemarang,SurabayaandSuraKarta(Solo). Attacks may target Indonesia Government and law enforcement interests or more public places, including places of worship. Around 150,000 British nationals visitIndonesiaevery year
There is a high threat from terrorism throughoutIndonesia. Terrorist groups continue to plan attacks and have the capacity and intent to carry out these attacks at any time and anywhere in the country. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. Attacks may also target Indonesia Government and law enforcement interests. Terrorist attacks inJakartaon 17 July 2009 and inBaliin October 2005 and October 2002 killed and injured a number of British nationals.

67 British nationals required consular assistance inIndonesiain the period 01 April 2009 – 31 March -2010 for the following types of incident: 24 deaths; 10 hospitalisations; and seven arrests, for a variety of offences

You are required to have a visa to enterIndonesia, obtained either beforehand or, in limited circumstances, on arrival. Tourist passport holders traveling for private purposes may apply for a 30-day visitor visa on arrival at the airports in Jakarta, Bali, Surabaya, Banda Aceh, Medan, Padang, Pekanbaru, Manado, Biak, Ambon, Balikpapan, Pontianak, Kupang, Batam, and South Sumatra.

You should be particularly vigilant during holiday periods such as Easter and Christmas, which can be a time of heightened tensions inIndonesia.
You should exercise caution when travelling to Aceh,CentralSulawesiProvince(especially Palu, Poso and Tentena),MalukuProvince(especially Ambon) andPapuaProvince. On 1 August 2011 four people were killed and a number of others seriously injured in a shooting attack on a public bus in Abepura district, not far from Jayapura city in Papua province. Fatality Rate: 0.016%
With the exception of Garuda Airlines, Mandala Airlines (not currently operating), Airfast and Ekspres Transportasi Antarbenua (operating as PremiAir), Metro Batavia and Indonesia Air Asia, all other Indonesian passenger airlines are refused permission to operate services to the EU becauseIndonesiais unable to ensure that these airlines meet international safety standards. We advise you to avoid flying with Indonesian passenger airlines subject to the EU operating ban.  

Indonesiasits along a volatile seismic strip called the ‘Ring of Fire’. Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur regularly and tsunamis are possible.  

Outbreaks of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) inIndonesiahave led to over 100 reported human fatalities.  


Visas are required for all travel to Australia. British citizens can obtain the following types of electronic visitor visa:
an eVisitor visa direct from the Department of Immigration & Citizenship. There is no visa application charge or service fee for this;
an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) via their travel agent or airline. There is no visa application charge, but a service fee of A$20 applies
Take extra health precautions if travelling in theNorthern Territory, parts ofWestern Australia, parts ofSouth Australiaand parts ofQueensland. There have been a number of deaths and serious illnesses from Murray Valley Encephalitis in several States/Territories in 2011. Pertussis (whooping cough) is a large and growing problem acrossAustralia.  There have been several cases of hendra virus inQueenslandandNew South Walesin 2011 Over 664,000 British nationals visitAustraliaevery year.Most visits toAustraliaare trouble-free. 378 British nationals required consular assistance inAustraliain the period 01 April 2010 – 31 March 2011 for the following types of incident: 89 deaths; 39 hospitalisations; and 125 arrests

US: You must have a validU.S.passport to enterAustraliaand enter with an Australian visa or, if eligible, through the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). The ETA is an electronic label-free visa and allows tourists and business travelers a stay of up to three months.

Recent months have seen heavy rain and flooding throughoutAustralia. Queenslandsuffered the worst floods, with an area the size ofFranceandGermanyinundated, three-quarters ofQueenslanddeclared a disaster zone, 200,000 people affected, and a number of deaths across the State. Fatality rate: 0.013%

New Zealand

British passport holders can enterNew Zealandas a visitor for up to six months on arrival without a visa, provided they can satisfy an Immigration Officer that they meet the requirements of the Rules.

A volcanic ash cloud which originated inChileon 4 June is still causing occasional disruption to air travel to/fromNew Zealand. Check with your airline before going to the airport. Around 288,100 British nationals visitNew Zealandeach year. 115 British nationals required consular assistance inNew Zealandin the period 1 April 2009 – 31 March 2010 for the following types of incident: 21 deaths; 11 hospitalisations; and 26 arrests

If you are aU.S.citizen, you are eligible for a visa waiver and do not need a visa for tourist stays of three months or less.

  Fatality rate: 0.007%


UK: Entry visas are not required for visits of up to four months.

A military coup took place inFijiin December 2006. Travellers should exercise caution and are advised to monitor the local situation for developments. You should avoid all political rallies and avoid openly discussing political issues. Almost 25,000 British nationals visitFijievery year.13 British nationals required consular assistance inFijiin the period 01 April 2009 – 31 March 2010 for the following types of incident; two deaths; one hospitalisation; and one arrest.

US: You do not need a visa if you are a tourist staying less than four months.

You should be aware that there has been an increase in the number of typhoid cases in the Bua Province of Fiji. As of 09 May 2011 a two week public health emergency is in place for the province in an effort to control this increase. fatality rate = 0.008%


British passport holders visitingVanuatudo not require a visa and are normally given permission to enter and remain in the country for up to 30 days on arrival, provided that they are in possession of an onward or return ticket.

Vanuatulies on the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’ and regularly experiences seismic and volcanic activity, with over 2,000 seismic events reported each year.MountYasuron theislandofTannais experiencing ‘very high level of activity’. We advise you do not visit the area.  

US: You don’t need a visa for stays up to 30 days, but you can apply for an extension of stay of up to 120 days.

On June 1 2011, increasing activity at theMountYasurvolcano, led theVanuatuauthorities to raise the Volcanic Alert Level hazard rating to Level 3. Access to the volcano is currently closed and visitors are prohibited from entering within a 500 metre zone surrounding the volcano.  

Cook Islands (NZ)

A bona-fide visitor (any person who enters the Cook Islands solely for recreation or vacation/holiday), does not require an entry permit, provided he/she possesses proof of onward passage (booked and paid) for stays of not more than 31 days.


French Polynesia

French Polynesia is an Overseas Collective (Collectivité d’Outre-Mer) ofFrance. If you are a British Citizen or British Subject with Right of Abode in theUK, you will not need a visa to enterFrench Polynesia.

Tropical storms including cyclones can occur between the months of November and April. See Natural Disasters. Many hundreds of British tourists visitFrench Polynesiaeach year. Most visits are trouble-free. We are not aware of any British nationals who required consular assistance inFrench Polynesiain 2009.

US: Visas are not required for stays of up to 90 days.



If you are a British passport holder visitingChilefor less than 90 days, you do not require a visa.

A chain of volcanoes erupted in southernChile(Puyehue and the Los Lagos region), about 500 miles south ofSantiago, on 4 June. The volcanoes continue to be active, although at a slower rate, and the ash still has the potential to disrupt both internal air travel inChileand international flights. In 2009, 57,000 British passport holders arrived inChile, though we believe this figure includes multiple arrivals of individual travellers.

U.S.citizens enteringChilemust have a valid passport.U.S.citizens traveling toChilefor recreation, tourism, business, or academic conferences do not need to obtain a visa prior to their arrival toChile. A Tourist Card will be issued for a stay of up to 90 days upon payment of a reciprocity fee, currently US$140.

  129 British nationals required consular assistance inChileduring 2010 (this figure comprised: lost or stolen passports (86); hospitalization, arrest/detention, birth/death registration, other assistance (43).


British visitors toPerudo not require a visa to travel if the purpose of the visit is tourism. Upon arrival, you are normally given permission to stay for up to a maximum of 180 days

Recent protests in the Puno area, including Juliaca, Ayaviri and Azangaro, and in Huancavelica have been violent. There have been deaths in Puno and Huancavelica, and the border withBoliviahas remained closed for weeks. Roads have been blocked in some other towns in southernPeru, including Huancayo and between Pisco and Paracas.

Around 54,000 British tourists visit Peruevery year. Most visits are trouble free.
50 British nationals required consular assistance inPeru in the period 01 April 2009 – 31 March 2010 for the following types of incident: five deaths; seven hospitalisations; and 23 arrests, mostly for drugs related offences.

Street demonstrations and protests are commonplace inPeru. Some recent protests have been violent – people have been killed and injured and buildings burned. You should avoid any area in which large crowds are gathering to protest.

If you are travelling to Cusco and plan to visitMachu Picchu, make sure you obtain your entry ticket toMachu Picchuruins in advance, as only 2,500 visitors are allowed entry every day.

US:  A valid passport is required to enter and departPeru. Tourists must also provide evidence of return or onward travel.

British nationals should take account of the serious risks involved in flying over the Nazca Lines. On 2 October 2010 a light aeroplane crashed at the Lines killing all six people on board, four of them British nationals.  There have been a number of fatal accidents and emergencies at Nazca over many years, including three fatal accidents since 2008. Past accident investigations have shown that necessary aircraft safety and maintenance standards were not being implemented.

There is a particular risk of robberies by bogus taxi drivers, especially to and from the airports and bus terminals. Wherever possible you should use reputable radio taxi companies. fatality rate: 0.009%


All foreign nationals are allowed to visitEcuadorwithout a visa. On arrival in the country, the immigration police will normally allow holders of British passports to remain inEcuadorfor up to 90 days.

We advise against all travel to the areas immediately borderingColombiain Carchi province (except the town ofTulcan) and the town ofSan Lorenzolocated in the north of theprovinceofEsmeraldas.

Around 23,100 British nationals visitedEcuadorin 2010. 21 British nationals required consular assistance in Ecuador in the period of 01 April 2010 – 3 March 2011 for the following types of incident; one death; two accidents, one assault, four hospitalisations; and two arrests.

We advise against attempting to climb the “Reventador” volcano due to renewed volcanic activity.

US: If you are traveling on a regular passport for tourism or business, you will not need a visa for a stay of 90 days or fewer per 12-month period.

Over twenty people have died from alcohol poisoning acrossEcuador. Most of the cases were reported in the southernprovinceofLos Rios. The Ecuadorian Police are working on identifying the exact source. The health authorities have put a restriction on buying alcohol that does not have a proper and visible health warning. British nationals are advised to buy alcohol only from reliable suppliers.

A state of emergency remains in place inQuitoto ensure the protection of the National Assembly andGovernmentPalace.  

British nationals are advised to continue to exercise caution, to avoid any gatherings and to always carry a form of identity. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. Large crowds should be avoided. Foreigners participating in political demonstrations or protests of any kind may be subject to arrest and deportation under Ecuadorean law. Fatality Rate: 0.004%


British nationals can normally enterBrazilwithout a visa as tourists, up to 90 days.

Levels of crime and violence are high, particularly in major cities. You should be particularly vigilant before and during the festive and Carnival periods. Instances of bank card fraud are common. Around 167,000 British nationals visitedBrazilin 2008. In the period 01 April 2010 – 31 March 2011 British nationals were assisted for the following types of incident: 18 deaths; 13 hospitalisations; and 13 arrests.

 Brazil requires U.S. citizens to carry a valid U.S. passport and a visa when traveling to Brazil for any purpose. You must obtain your Brazilian visa in advance from the Brazilian Embassy or consulate nearest to your place of residence. There are no “airport visas” and immigration authorities will refuse entry toBrazil to anyone not possessing a valid visa. – online application plus consulate visit to pick up visa –  112 GBP “reciprocity fee”!!

  Fatality rate: 0.01%


Staying connected affordably – International and Local SIMs

In order to stay connected with family and friends, keep this blog updated and the usual email/facebook requirements, we’ll be taking unlocked phones and a couple of international travel SIMs, plus buying local pre-pay SIMs in countries where we’ll be staying long enough to justify it. So we can post an update from Everest Base Camp or make an international phone call from the Phillipines for no not much more than it would cost us in the UK.

But which international SIM is best for the countries we are visiting? In which countries is it worthwhile buying a local SIM? I feel a spreadsheet coming on! Click the image below for the full analysis.. we already have a GeoSIM (very useful for a local US number attached to a UK SIM) – but it looks like we’ll also want to get a OneSimCard too.

Probably we’ll keep the OneSimCard in one of the phones so people can call us – in many countries we can answer the call for free, and it’ll cost the caller only as a normal local call.

Some people may say that staying connected is missing the opportunity to totally unplug and experience life disconnected – perhaps, and each to their own. There will be some places where we will be totally disconnected for weeks at a time (e.g. Indonesia diving boat, mountains of Nepal,  and perhaps some South Pacific Islands) – but we can always have the phones switched off and in our bags if we want. I’m sure our families and friends will appreciate the occasional update so they know we are still alive, and it’s good to know that the option to make a call is there most of the time – for safety reasons as well.



Choosing a RTW ticket

There’s a wide choice of round-the-world tickets available, from just 3 or 4 stops on a single airline (available from around 700GBP) to 16-stop tickets of 39,000 miles or more on the major global airline alliances.

The main considerations for choosing our ticket were:

  • Cost! – obviously a big factor, for a big RTW trip the air ticket is usually the biggest single investment
  • Destination coverage – we need good coverage in SE Asia, South Pacific andSouth America

Given that we are planning on a mammoth 9-month trip of a lifetime, the choice was always between the major airline alliance tickets. The leading alliance tickets that cover our main destination areas are:

  • StarAllianceRound the World Fare
    • The biggest airline alliance – 28 airlines, covering over 162 countries and 975 destinations
    • Mileage based fare – 29,000, 34,000 and 39,000 mile versions – max 15 stops
    • Backtracking (allowed but not over oceans) and surface sectors count against the mileage total.
    • Great inMicronesiaand the South Pacific. South & Central America good sinceBrazil’s TAM joined Star Alliance.
    • Cost: Around 3,200 GBP plus taxes for 39,000 mile ticket
  • OneWorld Explorer
    • Based on the number of continents visited (from three to six) and has no maximum mileage limit, max 16 segments
    • Routings that require backtracking are more easily accommodated as the extra mileage incurred from doing that doesn’t cost extra. This is important for us because we want to visit places in an inefficient order so that we get the right season for each location (i.e. dry season in SE Asia, spring time inNepalandChina)
    • Has a great online booking tool to experiment with different itineraries (spent lots of time doing this!)
    • Critically, this ticket gives access to bothEaster Islandand Galapagos, for which we would otherwise have to budget another 700-1000GBP for if booked separately and are must-haves on our itinerary
    • Cost: 4-continent 2,131 GBP plus taxes (around 3200 GBP incl taxes)
    • There is also a mileage-based OneWorld Global Explorer, up to 39,000 miles. This allows access to a few extra airlines (useful in south pacific). However a 4-continent OneWorld Explorer is nearly 1000 GBP cheaper than the 39,000 mile Global Explorer fares, and I found that I was hitting at least this mileage on a 4-continent ticket anyway (currently it looks like 42,000 miles).
  • SkyTeam Around the World
    • Mileage-based ticket up to 39,000 miles, 16 stops max
    • Coverage in South America, South Pacific andAustraliais not good
    • Cost: Around 3,450 GBP plus taxes for 39,000 mile ticket
    • The poor coverage and high cost of this ticket rules this one out. Stef will soon be lamenting the loss of her Delta Gold Medallion Status. Last chance for us to enjoy the free lounge and exist row seats next month!

Decision: the combination of OneWorld Explorer being at least 1000GBP cheaper than other tickets for a long (39-42k mile) itinerary with access toEaster Islandand Galapagos included, makes this ticket choice a no-brainer. Extra flights will be needed to cover South Pacific islands, Indonesia, and perhaps within China– but there isn’t any ticket that could get us to everywhere we want to go – and this is the closest, best value option available to us.

We will book the ticket in the next couple of weeks and I’ll post again with some more info.

WordPress for iPhone

A critical issue for a world travel blog is how to keep it updated from all the farflung corners of the world. Posting from a mobile phone when both on and offline is therefore essential. So I just installed wordpress iOS app on my iPhone, and I’m now making my first post from it. Now I’m ready to make a post from Everest base camp (apparently you can get 3G connectivity there now!).

For any offline posts (when internet connectivity is not possible), i’ll plan to make use of the post-by-email capability, storing the posts in my outbox until we next find an internet connection.