Taking off overseas can be an overwhelming experience whether you are going for a couple of weeks, months or indefinitely. Often we are so busy or excited trying to organise our trip that it's easy to forget to prepare the obvious things. We've put together a list for you to make sure you have everything you can imagine ready before you take off.
This should be an obvious one, but you may be surprised at how many people forget their passport or realise it has expired on the day of their trip. The Australian Passport Office needs at least ten days from receiving all your documentation to administer a new one so it's best to check yours well in advance. Also, in some countries they require you to have six months validity remaining on your passport beyond the period you are intending to stay and you will be refused entry if you don't. Check directly with the appropriate government agencies of the country you are heading to well before your travel dates.
It is important to ensure you have an entry visa organised if your destination requires it. All countries have government websites with information regarding whether you require one to enter and will point you in the right direction to apply for one if need be. In most cases you can do it online. Be aware that in most countries you will also have to pay a fee for it as well.
The Australian Smartraveller website advises "Travel insurance is as essential as your passport, regardless of your travel destination. If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel". It's imperative you organise your travel insurance before you leave Australia. Go to comparison sites such as www.compareinsurance.com.au orwww.comparethemarket.com.au to choose the best cover for you and that covers the activities you'll be doing whilst you're travelling. For instance, if you plan on going on an adventure holiday make sure your travel insurance covers the activities you will be doing. Get informed to choose the right cover.
Check what vaccinations are required for the country you are travelling to well in advance as some may be needed to be done months before your trip. Research the required vaccinations and speak to your local GP to ensure you are protected for your trip.
Before you go you should always check the Smartraveller website to ensure that your intended country is safe and to register your travel plans. This is important because being registered means that you will be contactable if you find yourself in an emergency situation; whether it's a natural disaster, civil disturbance or family emergency. The link is http://smartraveller.gov.au/
Make sure you have cash ready in the correct currency of your destination before you travel so you don't get stuck on the other side of the world not being able to pay your cab to your hotel on arrival for instance. It's ideal to keep an eye on exchange rates in advance, in order to swap your money at the best time. If you are going to use your credit card contact your bank or credit card provider to see what the fees are on international transactions as these can be very expensive.
Bring a hard copy of your itinerary for your hotels or hostels, connecting flights or other means of transport. Keep the contact numbers for each place you'll be staying and keep it handy at all times. Also it's a good idea to keep a hard copy of a map of the place you are staying so you're not stuck relying on technology if something was to happen.
It's highly recommended that you learn some key phrases in the local language. Not only will the locals appreciate your effort, it can go a long way in being able to help you out of some tricky situations. We suggest you learn at the minimum "hello, goodbye, thank you, I am lost, I need your help" and keep a little language book with you wherever you travel.
Do not underestimate the value of a good camera whilst you're travelling. You will definitely appreciate being able to take good quality images to share with your friends and family. Make sure your travel insurance provider covers your camera as well.
If it's only a short holiday make sure you have a friend keep an eye on your house, any pets are looked after, your mail taken inside and anything else that is specific to you. Unfortunately empty houses can be targets for unsavoury people so ensure you have someone check on it every couple of days just to be on the safe side.