International Travel 101
“Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” Dwight D. Eisenhower
In the lead up to your overseas travel its easy to get caught up in the excitement of it all and focus only on all the awesome things you are planning on seeing and doing. But a few well spent minutes of preparation can save hours of headaches and expense during or after your trip.
So before your next overseas adventure, follow our preparation checklist for hassle free travel:
- Register – register your travel and contact details online at smart.traveller.gov.au This is a free government service run by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to make it easier to contact you in the event of an emergency. You can also subscribe to receive free email notifications regarding any country updates for your destination.
- Cover – protect yourself by taking out a travel insurance policy that covers you for not only where you want to go but what you are planning on doing. The more adventurous the travel, the higher the risk of a potential incident so ensure you are covered not just for the standard medical expenses, theft, damage and interruption to flight plans but for all activities, pre-existing conditions and medical evacuations. Without insurance, you will be personally liable for any medical and associated costs incurred in the event of an emergency so this is not an area to overlook to save a few dollars. If you can’t afford travel insurance, you cant afford to travel.
- Research – know your destination. The entry and exit requirements, current events, health issues, customs, traditions and local laws…just because something is legal in one country doesn’t mean it is legal in another. Smart.traveller.gov.au and reputable guide books and travel websites are the best sources.
- Medical – check with your doctor or travel clinic to find out if any vaccinations or health checks are required for your destination. Remember to allow ample time before departure (4-6 weeks) as some vaccines require more than one dose or a longer period to take effect than others. If you are travelling with any medications you can find a full list of requirements at humanservices.gov.au
- Money – find out the local currency and the availability of ATM’s and Eftpos machines. If using credit or debit cards, check with your bank they will work in country and make sure to register your travel to avoid any potential card blocks. If accepted in country, travel cards can be a good option for avoiding international banking fees and charges.
- Communications – if you plan on using your phone and internet while overseas, contact your service provider to discuss global roaming options. Most will have flat fee top up plans to avoid hefty per use charges. If you plan on doing substantial in country communications a local SIM may be a better option. Online apps such as Messenger and Viber are also great options to communicate with loved ones if you have internet access and want to avoid additional telecommunication costs.
- Safety – Always pack and secure your own bags and protect yourself against loss or theft by carrying minimal pieces of luggage. With multiple bags you become easy prey for bag snatchers and pickpockets. Carry or store your money, cards and passport in separate locations so if one is lost or stolen you maintain a secondary source of money and identification.
It’s easy to consider the planning phase overkill and cut corners but getting caught out unexpectedly is a situation no one wants to find themselves in. The better prepared you are the safer and more enjoyable your travel will be…. the best trips are the ones where all your preparation seemed unnecessary.