What do we need to do before going on trip ?
I bet that is what you ask yourself before going on a long trip, well probably not…There are several thoughts running through your head when you’re planning your holiday, none of which seem important at the time, all that matters is getting away form work and the mundane everyday life and spending your time sipping cocktails on the beach or adventuring through a jungle!
I have created a great list of pre-travel tips and the things that I usually organise before going on holiday. Hopefully it can help to make sure your holiday is all it can be!
1. Call your bank and let them know where your going and for how long, let them know that you will be using your cards and find out the phone number to report lost or stolen cars overseas. Remember to always contact the lost or stolen hotline as soon as you notice your card is missing, this will save you a lot of hassle (and money) in the future. Keep in mind that if you loose your card or it is stolen and you need to contact Visa for an emergency replacement card or cash advance, you can be charged around $300AUD (These charges may be claimed on your travel insurance). That can put a real damper on your holiday plans as you may not be able to get the funds back from your Travel Insurance til you are back home. In the same call you can arrange to pick up some foreign currency, if you like. It is usually better to get foreign currency while you are in that country as are you able to get better rates (tip: try not to change cash over at the airport as some may not have the best rate)
2. I can be obsessive and paranoid when it comes to money when we travel. Whenever we have gone overseas, I always make sure we have 2 x debit cards a 1x credit card and cash once we get there. When withdrawing cash I usually withdraw the most I can eg 20,000 Baht in Thailand and put 90% of it in the safe and go shopping or use the remainder for food. This is also a good way to keep fees down (more detail about credit cards and ATM fees see your banks fees and charges). But we don’t usually take our credit cards when we are out. There is no huge reason to be paranoid but people do get mugged all over the world so it doesn’t hurt to be prepared (sometimes I am little over prepared).
3. Try to have an emergency bank account that is not attached to a card eg an online saver. That way if you spend more then you have in your holiday account or an emergency pops up or you loose your wallet etc, you will have funds. Make sure that you are strict with this account and that you are aware this is for emergencies only, not just because you went a little crazy with the shopping!.
4. Get travel insurance, I can’t stress how important travel insurance is. You may think you don’t need it, “it won’t happen to me”. Accidents can happen to anyone anywhere that’s why they are called accidents. They aren’t called “on purposes”. Now for the confusing choices… which travel insurance to pick? We usually use “Cover-more” probably because we were sucked into their ads on TV, but they do have good cover. It is YOUR responsibility to fill in the online or over the phone form correctly and truthfully. It is also your responsibility to read the PDS (Product Disclosure Statement) provided by the insurance company. It would be pretty awful to have paid for Travel insurance to find that it does not cover for a motorbike accident where you were silly and didn’t wear your helmet. Travel smart, don’t loose your common sense just because you’re in another country.
5. Vaccines are very important! Some travel insurance will not cover you if you have not had your shots and to be honest, would you rather go have the shots/tablets and enjoy your holiday or pick up a nasty bug while on holiday and have it ruin the whole thing? Some as just boosters and some you need to take 3-6 months before you go away so make sure once you have decided to travel, give your doctor a call and find out what jabs you need. It will vary form place to place. Please be smart, get jabbed!
6. If you have a family like ours, they tend to worry about where we will be and when. There is nothing wrong with this, I think it’s actually really sweet. Before we leave, we usually print out an “itinerary” of where we are staying and the contact phone numbers as well as if we have booked any tours. While our plans may change, we always stay in contact and let our family know where we are. I’m sure the worst feeling for your family would be, where is my son/daughter in a natural disaster or civil unrest or any type of emergency. Doesn’t hurt to let Mum or Dad know where you are, they are after all your parents!
7. Related to the above, Make sure to register on “Smartraveller” (Australian residents) it takes 2 mins to register .If there is an emergency in the country you will be travelling to or in eg a natural disaster or civil unrest, they will be able to contact you and get you to safety or advise you where to go to be safe. This is also a great website to check out if you’re planning a holiday. This website will tell you where you need to exercise caution or where you should change your travel plans or do not travel at all.
8. Make sure your Passport is valid and up to date! Make sure it has your correct name (if you have been married and never got around to changing it). The worst feeling would be being sent home from the airport because your passport is expired and you have already paid for your flights or accommodation. I’m not sure if travel insurance companies cover forgetfulness.
9. This is one that never really crossed my mind until I travelled to Bangkok (Thailand the 2nd time) (add link in here). For some countries you may require a visa to enter the Country. “Australian tourists travelling to Thailand through one of the international airports on an Australian passport may currently enter Thailand for up to 30 days without obtaining a visa in advance. This is referred to as a “visa exemption”. Australian tourists travelling overland into Thailand through a border crossing may enter Thailand for up to 15 days without obtaining a visa in advance. A visa is required for longer stays or for travellers intending to work or to travel for other than tourism purposes in Thailand.”
Overstaying your visa is a serious offence and can lead to very large fines or being detained for long periods or even arrested. The current fine is 500 Baht per day up to a max of 20,000 baht. “If you cannot afford to pay the overstay fine you may be arrested, taken to court, charged with a visa offence, and required to serve a lengthy prison sentence in lieu of the fine. Travellers who have overstayed their visas may be imprisoned, deported and placed on an immigration blacklist to prevent them from returning to Thailand.”
10. It is best to find out the laws/ faux pas/ local customs of the country you are travelling. For example in Thailand, touching someone’s on the top of their head, showing the soles of your feet or pointing to something with your feet can cause great offence. Something to note would be, if your money flies out of your hands do not step on the notes to catch them, you will be stepping on the kings face. In Thailand, to say anything bad towards the King or royal family is against the law. “Lengthy prison terms up to 15 years can be imposed for insulting the monarchy or defacing images of the monarch and his family. This includes destroying bank notes bearing the King’s image.” The list can go on but just remember that while you are in another country, it doesn’t mean that you can do whatever you want, they have similar laws to where you are from. If you do get in any trouble with the law, it is best to contact your countries Consulate or Embassy for assistance.
DONT forget your bills! They don’t go on holiday just because you do
Check the weather of the destination you are going – is it snowy and winter or monsoon weather or 40+ (Celsius) degrees
A few extra little tips –
1. Learn a few words of that language eg Hello, thank you, goodbye, not too much chilli.
2. If you want culture and want to try the local cuisine, stay away from restaurants that have large boards out the front showing the food they serve, look for places where locals are eating, the food is likely to be fresher and tastier!
3. If you’re staying at a hostel find out if anyone wants to do join in for dinner. Ask everyone to collect one thing to put towards a dish from the local market. Make sure to set some rules, no rats! Just ask Wandering Earl.