The Travel Essentials: Visas, Travel Insurances, Jabs

It seems peculiar to me that I class myself as a veteran backpacker now as I still feel young at heart, but I have a 12 year old blog, a backpack full of memories and passports full of stamps. The back catalogue on this website alone surpasses 3,100 articles not to mention my other sites and guest articles across the internet. It means I travelled a lot, though it is not something I really ever think about, until it comes up in conversation.
How to Get a Belarus Visa in Warsaw, Poland

The Travel Essentials: Visas, Travel Insurances, Jabs

I don’t often dwell on all those places I have been and it’s damn hard to remember every village, town, city and remote location I was in. I recently tried to concoct or compile a list of every significant settlement or place I had been. My original list had me cracking settlement 800 in Agra, India (2015) and smashing settlement 900 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (2018). But when I counted properly, I found I was mistaken and that I had missed many places. I had to add in places I visited and it is now well over 1,100 ‘significant places’. In ‘significant places’, I count villages, towns, cities, capitals of Micronations, UNESCO sites and important landmarks/national parks/mountains etc. if I deem them separate and important enough to make the list. If I only counted inhabited settlements that are standalone, it would mean the following places are omitted from my list:
– Neko Harbour, Antarctica
– Auschwitz, Poland
– Machu Picchu, Peru
– Wrythe, Austenasia
– Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia
But I felt I had to include them all. To get to all these places, apart from my belongings (passport, clothes, money etc.) I also needed this hat-trick – Visas, Travel Insurances, Jabs
5 Things You Can't Do in Saudi Arabia

The Travel Essentials: Visas, Travel Insurances, Jabs

1. Visas

I love and hate visas. I just love getting them and crossing a border into a new country and getting a new passport stamp. For the same reason I despise countries like Belgium and the Netherlands who not only lost their currencies, but their borders. Which country am I in again?

Success – my visa for Bangladesh

My most difficult visas so far were for Bangladesh, Algeria, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia and Suriname. I got them all in the end after a few refusals, but it was a relief. Embassy staff love to be assholes, the staff at the Algerian Embassy in London were the most corrupt, stealing money from me and even keeping my passport for over a month. The Mongolian Embassy in Warszawa had a very rude lady working there, and the Bangladesh plus Myanmar embassies in Hong Kong were a nightmare to deal with, kept asking for more documents. And I’ll never forget my Suriname visa struggle of 2011 in Caracas, Venezuela…
Jonny Blair getting a Suriname visa

Elation the moment I was confirmed my Suriname Visa in the Embassy in Caracas at the third time of asking!

2. Insurance

When you book trips, some ask if you have insurance, many require it – especially North Korea, Antarctica, Iraq etc. You should have yourself covered with travel insurance. If you have left your home country without insurance though, don’t fear – you can get what is known as ‘ already abroad travel insurance ‘. This is a great way to suddenly get the travel insurance at the drop of a hat when travelling, having forgotten or decided not to get it at the start. It usually works out cheaper to sort your own insurance rather than buy any deal with the tour you book – so get it booked in advance. Some countries insist on it – Belarus for example demands you show it on arrival at Minsk Airport, and my backpacking Afghanistan tour of 2016 wouldn’t have been possible without the insurance. Many visa applications also require (it’s mandatory) a travel insurance certificate. If you don’t have it in some cases, you can’t do that tour or go to that country, so be prepared.

Insurance document needed for Russian Visa


Believe it or not, I hate jabs and I hate needles. Despite having tattoos and every vaccination possible as a global tourist, I don’t like getting jabs. I got my Yellow Fever Certificate in Australia and most of the others, including hepatitis were done in the United Kingdom many years back. Malaria infested countries are strict about them and most of Africa demands Yellow Fever certificate. If you are not sure, don’t check the internet – go to the doctor in your own country. Tell the doctor where you are going and ask him or her for the correct advice and if necessary get your jabs.
yellow fever certificate - travel essential

My Yellow Fever Certificate – also known as International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis Against Yellow Fever

Finally, as always, take no risks and safe travels!

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