Travel Preparation & Checklist

A wonderful experience for a first time traveler overseas. I planned this trip about 3 to 4 months in advance and it did not come without difficulty coordinating travel for 3 individuals and the itinerary for about 2 weeks of separation from Chicago. 


This trip was everything I had and hadn’t expected. Firstly, prior to our departure there was much preparation involved. A list of vaccination shots that are required to be taken (Hepatitis A, Tetanu, Diphtheria, Malaria pills, Tuberculosis) and we also decided to take our Flu shot, which was my first time. I’ve included a link above to one of the best sites you could reference and one that I heavily relied on to determine which vaccinations to take.

Next, where to take your vaccination? If you see a regular doctor, you can ask, however not all doctors may have the vaccinations available to give which means you may need to find an alternative.

First, I don’t recommend in Chicago at least going to the Travel Clinic. Why? Because they are super expensive and greatly over-priced and you may end up taking unnecessary vaccinations you don’t need. So finding a doctor who is very familiar with patients who travel overseas and can properly research to determine what you need to take is key.

Second, double-check your insurance. Because, depending on the vaccination they may not cover and you will have to pay out of pocket. I believe when calling the travel clinics downtown most of them only accepted cash, and no insurance could be applied. Hence why we researched heavily to find inexpensive vaccination cost. Luckily we found them to be at CVS, Target and Walgreens. You can call them or go to their website to determine which locations are providing the vaccination you need and the charge. They can do them the say day which is less painful then needing to make an appointment to see a doctor, but we had to do both.

I also recommend visiting the CDC to learn if there are any outbreaks you need to be aware of which could change the type of vaccination(s) you need.

Carry-On & Luggage Packing Checklist

Defining a packing list is very crucial, and utilizing the help of a travel coordinator who is familiar with the country. Since Madagascar was having a bubonic plague scare it was important we have all the needed shots to protect us.

Africa Travel Packing List
Africa Travel Packing List

Next, I consulted with Crooked Compass to coordinate much of the travel to Madagascar and Egypt but not the other two destinations. In conjunction we purchased hiking and travel books for Madagascar for the best recommendations on what to do. The others I simply relied on YouTube videos, co-workers or other travel sources from online blogs.

Since I figured we may not have a chance of visiting Africa due to cost and vacation time, I created a trip of essentially country hopping to ensure we covered some of the best places based on recommendations across travel sites, forums and other sources. Most of my travel was covered by United Explorer Miles, and I recommend doing the same otherwise for 3 people it’s a costly trip.

Visiting each country proved to be a learning experience as we had tour guides for each country except Dubai. Witnessing the extreme poverty to fancy riches – I appreciated each culture. Their customs, terrain, the mannerism of citizens, architecture and their history.

Pt. 2 to come…

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