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Episode 172: Shots and Trots

The cost of vaccinations and visas with Mak & G
Episode 172: Shots and Trots


In this episode, I look at the hidden costs of traveling to a developing country, the vaccinations you need to get, and why some visas are so expensive.


Traveling to developing countries can seem cheap but when you add up vaccinations, visas, and medicines it can end up costing you a lot more than you first thought.


In this episode, I look at some of the hidden costs of traveling, how much vaccinations really cost, and why some visas are more expensive than others…


“If you add my health consultation, shots not counting the ones I already had that most Americans would have to get, I’m already $600 in the hole and I haven’t left the States yet.” – Ben Jones

Time Stamps:

00:40 – What makes Bangladesh special.

01:10 – How much traveling to developing countries costs.

01:35 – How many vaccinations you need to go to Bangladesh.

02:45 – How long vaccinations last.

03:31 – How much vaccinations cost.

04:22 – Protection you need to take to prevent/deal with diarrhea.

05:30 – What a visa is and how much it costs.

07:45 – The history of Bangladesh.




Passport Health


Connect with Ben Jones:


Happy davy after Halloween.  I hope you had a safe and wonderful time.  Wow, it’s been several weeks since the last podcast. Insanity is the only way to explain it.  Our schedule has been really challenging lately. It took a couple of weeks to plan my international trip, then a couple of weeks on the trip, and then a couple more trying to catch up. At least I finally got the chance to travel halfway around the world… literally to see the great team that I work with in Bangladesh.  They’ve been able to produce over 300 educational videos, 175 podcasts, and a multitude of other educational financial content for EduCounting and Money with Mak & G.

If you remember, the second-longest winning streak of any contestant on Jeopardy was brought down by the question “The only nation in the world whose name in English ends in an “H”. It’s also one of the 10 most populous.”

Welcome to Bangladesh.  And I got to see it first hand….

We talk about money, right?  First off, travel is expensive, and it can more so when traveling to a developing country.  Have you ever wanted to travel to Europe? See the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the other Big Ben in London?  Well, it’s a bit different from that.  You have to watch the water, the food, where you walk, what you do, and more. 

So, let’s start by pulling out the old “Yellow Card”.  If you weren’t aware of exactly what that is, it’s literally a card that’s yellow and has printing on it for your vaccinations.  Most of you know I’ve traveled to over 30 countries for work, plus at least another 20 countries for fun.  So, my Yellow Card is over 25 years old.  Wow, that seems like a lifetime ago.  Ok, so, how many vaccinations could be required to go to a place like Bangladesh? If I read it off the CDC website it: 

  1. Routine older vaccinations most of us have had like:
    1. Chickenpox
    2. Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis or the shot is known as D-Tap
    3. Flu
    4. Measles-Mumps-Rubella or the shot is known as MMR
    5. Polio
    6. Shingles
  2. Newer shots like Covid-19

Then some extra shots like

  1. Cholera
  2. Hepatitis A
  3. Hepatitis B
  4. Japanese Encephalitis
  5. Malaria
  6. Rabies
  7. Typhoid
  8. AND….Yellow Fever

That is insane right?  The old shots, I got a while ago as a kid, right? D-TAP, MMR, Polio, etc. Many of the extras were over 25 years ago.  And, several lost a lifetime. I even found out that Yellow Fever was originally only good for 10 years when I got the shot in ‘96.  I needed an update.  But, I guess they found out it’s really good for your ENTIRE life.  YEAH!!

Ok, I didn’t go cheap and went to a company near me, I think it’s called Passport health.  They are experts on vaccinations and for a consultation charge of $90 they’ll run through your itinerary and figure out what you’re missing.  Seriously, I did this back in 1996 when I did my Heps, and update. There were 10 shots, moving between arms, and some hurt like a Son of a Gun.  Yep, The Hepatitis A vaccination takes 2 shots, Hep B takes 3, then malaria, Typhoid, Ipol, etc.  Anyway, I needed a D-Tap update and a Typhoid booster.  Ouch, not for the pain, as they were super simple, and Typhoid was over several days, and was a pill. I’m saying ouch because the total for the consultation and the vaccinations were $450.  I know I could’ve done it cheaper, but time and expertise were non-negotiable.  If you plan and work with your doctor, he can order the vaccinations you need and make sure to take care of you.  I didn’t have that luxury because I was strapped for time.

You don’t need Cholera, Encephalitis, Malaria, Typhoid, or Yellow Fever in France. So, those are costs you don’t have for going to Western Europe.

Oh, yes, and there’s always the EXTRA medicine.  You need to protect yourself. And, in some places, they call it Montezuma’s revenge, the runs, the trots, tourists flux, dysentery, or others.  Yep, it’s that unformed stool or poop. Hey, in developing countries, those who are a bit more refined, we call it travelers’ diarrhea.  So, a little Cipro, Imodium, and packs of rehydration are ALWAYS a necessity.  You really DO NOT want to be stuck in a hot hotel room, feeling like you want to die, making 25 trips an hour to the bathroom, and burning your undies as well as all the wonderful smells that go along with that epic experience. You do it once, and you’ll NEVER want to do it again. 

So, you need to add a few more dollars.  Passport Health added $30 for a convenient pack, with a valid prescription of Cipro which kills what’s in your tummy. It’s the real deal.  Just pray it doesn’t happen if you’re not prepared or you’ll be spending that extra money on toilet paper and possibly changing your tickets home if you can’t make the 20-hour flight back to the US.

Before going anywhere, you should look to find out any other requirements.  For me, I had to also get a visa to go to Bangladesh.   A visa is simply “official permission to visit a foreign country”.  I think it’s a way to charge someone to be allowed into the country. It happens a lot. Sometimes, I’ve found you simply have an entrance fee. 

Once again, as Americans, it’s not necessary for most places in Western Europe for simple tourism.  Longer stays, like when I was a student in France, required a “Student Visa”.  But, what I’ve found in the past is that Americans get the benefit of being treated slightly differently.  It’s not always good, and it’s not always bad.  But, in my experience, when money is involved and you’re American, they all would like to see a few more George Washingtons in their hands.  Ok, let me give you an example…

I’ve seen countries charge Americans a bit more than citizens of other countries when paying an entry fee or getting a visa.  Not always, but it did happen a pretty good amount of time.  It’s been a while, but let’s take Bangladesh because it’s fresh in my mind.  The cost in US Dollars for an American to enter Bangladesh, no matter whether it’s single or multi-entry is $160.  

But, if you look at all the other countries, and I mean ALL of them on the Bangladesh Embassy website…..guess what.  We’re #1.  That’s not a good thing.  It means, we get to pay the most expensive fee.  Australia and New Zealand are next at $150 and then, just eyeballing the rest, it probably averages around $30 with many countries not being charged a single penny.  

That’s pretty weird, huh?  If you add my health consultation, shots (not counting the ones I already had, that most Americans would have to get) I’m already over $600 and I haven’t even left the states yet.  And, now the mental cost of potentially getting Traveler’s Diarrhea.  Yeah!! Bring the extra wet wipes.

So, I started to wonder what this trip would be like.  I’ve heard stories about India which is the closest any of my friends had visited in that part of the world that might be similar to Bangladesh.  I then asked myself what I would find, and what about the differences related to money?  Bangladesh is a developing country so it has to be vastly different from many of the other countries I visited in my past.

Ok, time for some background and comparisons.  If you do a quick search on the internet and ask for “Facts on Bangladesh“, it gave me some interesting tidbits:

  1. It was once East Pakistan
  2. It has the longest female-led Government
  3. The capital, Dhaka is the most densely populated city on Earth
  4. Traffic is Insane
  5. It’s the world’s least livable city
  6. There are a lot of Bangladeshis who live OUTSIDE of the country

Ok, these are some crazy facts, and I definitely want to highlight the money aspects of some of these items, so why don’t you come back next week I’ll give you a bit more background before I take off on my trip.  I find money in different countries particularly fascinating and helped me to understand my own country better from a cultural and financial perspective. Plus, many times it made me really appreciate what I have. Then, I’ll give you some insights on the things I saw and witnessed when I was there.  Until next time, thanks for being here, and I’ll see you next time for some more money with Mak & G.  Bye!!

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