Thursday, March 10, 2011

vaccinations and visas...

(Oooooh alliteration! I promise my writing will get better as time progresses)

There are many things to consider when deciding to travel internationally. I believed that I had a well thought-out plan of action for this whole adventure, but the more I think about it and talk to experienced travellers, the more I realize how complicated and expensive this could be.

Visas - I have a rough idea of the places I want to travel to, but it's not 100% set in stone. I may want to stay in a specific country longer than anticipated if I fall in love with the area, and I may decide not to fly to a country I originally planned on going to.

A google search led me to this website:, which is helpful at showing which counties require Visas, but the pricetags are more expensive due to the service fees... For example, a Vietnam visa was $70 (+$45 service fee) on the website listed above, yet this website: says the fee is $25 (+$20 service fee) if obtained in the airport. Seems like some countries allow you to skip getting a Visa at an embassy and instead, get it when you arrive at the airport.

Some countries I have been considering visiting include: Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea, Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Greece, Czech Republic, Russia, Spain, Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, and Peru...

Vaccinations - I'll need my vaccinations while traveling to third-world countries lest I risk the chance of getting some awful stomach virus that will leave me hurling for days on end in a hot and humid country. That would be a definite downer...

My medical insurance coverage ends at the end of March, and I will be left scrambling to figure out how to obtain my own insurance. You don't realize how much this stuff costs when you are working full time and your employer pays a good chunk of the premium. HR gave me a price list of COBRA insurance rates and I knew I wasn't going to continue with my employer's coverage. Obama's Health Reform allows young adults under age 26 to be added on their parents' employer plans, but what happens when I lose my job? Is it a "qualifying event," thus allowing me to enroll in my parents' plan even though the enrollment period has already ended?

I did a little research on what type of coverage I have until the end of March and it turns out that some of the basic immunizations and boosters are 100% covered, including Hepatitis A and B, MMR, influenza, DTP. I'm going to attempt to get all of these in the next few weeks, although the Hepatitis B booster requires a series of 3 shots in a 4 month period. I don't know how or if this will affect my travel plans...

The exotic vaccines for typhoid, japanese encephalitis, yellow fever, and every other disease on the Center For Disease Control website ( are 0% covered under my plan. Womp womp. I called around different doctors and they said that the prices for these vaccines range from $60-$150 each. Anyone know of a good clinic in Orange County or Los Angeles that offers discounted (and high quality) travel vaccines?

Curious about what Japanese Encephalitis was, I came across this picture and description:
Japanese Encephalitis - a disease caused by the mosquito-borne Japanese encephalitis virus. Symptoms include: Fever, headache and malaise, vomiting, neck rigidity, cachexia, hemiparesis, emotional lability, convulsions, mental retardation, coma, and swelling of the testicles! I don't even know what half of these symptoms mean, but all I know is I don't want it...

Only two more things to consider when traveling.


  1. If you visit Vietnam. I believe the going rate right now for Visa's is $40. I have a good travel agent who will do it for you if you book with her. Nha Trang is beautiful and Saigon is a cool experience. I have never gotten vaccinated. I took the risk. Before certain meals its best to eat yogurt to kill bacteria. =) But yes I recommend vaccination although I've never had issues. I've been back to Asia 4 times. Enjoy if you go. =)

  2. Czech Republic! I want to go. Let me know when you are headed towards that direction. I may want to go.

  3. @Vivian thanks for the info! $40 doesn't seem like too much to spend to visit Vietnam.

    @Ivy Let's plan to meet in Prague sometime this summer!