Going on holiday is a much-needed break from your daily routine, and if planned properly, travelling overseas can be a real treat. Being prepared will help you get the most of your time off. Here are a few pointers to consider.
1. Visas and passports
You don’t want to arrive in a country only to be turned around at the border because you don’t have a visa. Check on the destination country’s local consulate website for this information. If you do need a visa, try to get one well in advance as there may be unexpected delays that might jeopardise your holiday. Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after your return date as this is a standard requirement for entry into a foreign country.
Spend some time researching the country you’re going to visit. Having a few things planned for when you arrive will help you familiarise yourself with the area. Check out books like Lonely Planet or Eyewitness Travel Guides before you travel, and also look online and consult public rating forums like TripAdvisor to see what other visitors are saying about where you’re travelling overseas.
3. Register your trips
Voluntarily register your international travel with your local embassy or consulate. Most countries offer this service for free online, and the entire process takes only a few minutes to complete. Not only do you receive travel advisories and important travel tips for your destination, this simple registration signs you up for timely updates and evacuations that could make a big difference to your safety in times of emergencies.
4. Travel Insurance
It’s just one of those things that you really should get. Whether it’s a scooter accident in Bali, acute Delhi-belly in India or a broken something skiing in Queenstown, needing medical attention when you’re travelling overseas can be expensive. Get a single-trip or annual travel insurance and make sure it covers what you’re going to be doing on your trip. For example, skiing requires a special level of coverage above the standard minimum. Also, some banks will provide travel insurance when you purchase your travel with a credit card, so look into this before you purchase additional travel cover.
Some countries require shots and vaccinations to enter. This could range from yellow fever to chicken pox or polio to hepatitis A and B, and everything in between. This usually applies to more exotic destinations, but you might be surprised by the requirements for the country you’re visiting. Do some research or visit a travel doctor or clinic near you.
Generally, the more remote the destination, the harder it is to obtain money or find a foreign exchange service. It’s a good idea to take some of the local currency along with you so you don’t land empty-handed. If you’re relying on debit and credit cards, understand that they can become quite expensive. Your bank might charge you an international usage fee or withdrawal fee, and they could use an unfavourable foreign exchange. Other options are to use a money transfer service that has a presence where you’re going, like Western Union, or look for travel-specific money cards like 28 Degrees or products from your bank that are cheaper than using a credit card when you travel overseas.
Pack your bags wisely. Only pack what you’re prepared to carry, and it’s worth taking a change of clothes in your hand luggage in case your main bag gets delayed or lost in transit. If your bag or case looks like every other piece of luggage you’ve seen at an airport, put a sticker or ribbon or some other identifier on it so you find it easily and no one else mistakes yours for theirs. Also, check weather forecasts and take weather-appropriate clothing when you travel overseas. And always pack your own bag, know what’s in it and don’t carry things for people you don’t know well. You don’t want to end up in jail for carrying contraband.
8. Be a good visitor
Appreciate each destination for what it offers and go with the flow. If there are local customs or rules, acknowledge and adhere to them. Stop complaining “it’s not like at home,” and you’ll have a much better experience. Remember, if you’re on a tropical island and your piña colada takes a few minutes longer than you’re used to, the barman is probably climbing a tree to get the coconut!
Don’t forget the reasons you decided to travel overseas in the first place – to experience something different, take a break from everyday life for a while, and have a good time.
You can’t plan for everything, but it’s a good idea to take a few of the above points into consideration to get the most out of travelling overseas.