Are you about to jet off on the trip of a lifetime? (I’m super jealous if you are!). Remember that a little bit of pre-planning will help ensure that your overseas holiday is smooth sailing.
It can be difficult to know where to start, and what to do, before you go overseas. Some people take a gamble and do nothing, but this can totally suck when your wallet gets stolen or you find yourself at immigration with a passport that’s about to expire.
So while some of the things below can take up some time to do, they are certainly worth it. Because you never know what will happen when you’re overseas!
1. Have at least six months on your passport
Some countries can refuse entry to you if you have less than six months left before expiry on your passport. You should check the entry guidelines of the country you’re travelling to, and make sure that your passport is up to date.
2. Work out what visas you may need
Some countries require that you apply for a visa to enter the country. Application fees may also be payable. For example, if you’re travelling to China, you probably need a visa (some people are exempt). While you can often buy these when you land at your destination, it can save time and hassle to have it organised before you go. Many countries let you buy them online.
3. Get a decent camera to document your travels
Figure out how much money you want to spend and do some research around what camera you might need – you never want anything too heavy when you are travelling! Whether it’s a good DSLR, GoPro, Polaroid Camera or even an up-to-date phone that takes good pictures, ensure you have something to document your memories.
4. Get your needles in plenty of time
If you’re backpacking through the wilds of South America or parts of Africa, then you probably need your yellow fever vaccination. Or, if you’re heading to India, you’ll need Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Diphtheria and potentially more.
Do your research (or ask your doctor) about which vaccinations you should have before you travel. And get started on this early – some vaccinations need to be given up to eight weeks before travel.
5. Read up on the places you will visit
One of the best things you can do before your trip is to read up on the countries and cities you’re going to visit. Learn about the local culture and customs, note down all the must-see places to visit, and seek out some of the hidden gems that will make your holiday that much more special.
Before our recent trip to New Zealand, I knew I wanted to explore as many beaches as I could – because of forward planning we were able to find a tonne of amazing beaches including this hot water beach below!
6. Start to learn the local lingo
How cool is it when you go somewhere and you are able to (ever-so-slightly) understand what people are saying in different languages! By learning to speak some of the local language you can get to know people you’d never otherwise have the opportunity to speak with.
When you approach someone in the streets or in a restaurant in a language that isn’t their own, you’re creating a barrier. Making even a small effort to communicate in the language of the place you’re visiting can go a long way and you’ll find many more doors open to you in result.
At the very least, try learning phrases greetings such as:
- Hello / Goodbye
- How are you?
- Thank you
- Do you speak english?
- Sorry, I don’t speak……
- Excuse me
- Where is the……
7. Prepare yourself to be open-minded about culture, people, food…
There is more to the world – and to each other – than meets the eye. I think it is super important to be open-minded to learning new things, exploring new cultures and trying new things, especially when you are in a new country.
When I first went to New York on my own, I was not prepared for the insane hustle and bustle. It took a good few days to adjust to the lifestyle, fast-paced lifestyle and especially the work culture (I was working in New York at a marketing agency last year). Initially, I was reserved and took a step back when it came time to meeting new people and exploring new places – when I opened up to it however, I was able to appreciate the city for all that it was!
8. Work out your money situation and plan a budget
Funding all those evening cocktails and guided tours will need some pre-trip saving! If you’re planning to take an ATM card, do your research and find out if any of the local banks have reciprocal relationships with your bank. Most credit cards are widely accepted, and are ideal for big ticket expenses. You might want to explore prepaid travel cards, too – these let you load a certain amount of the foreign currency onto the card before you go.
9. Copy all of your important documents
Make copies of all your travel documents:your plane tickets, accommodation, travel insurance, passport, emergency contact details and card numbers – and leave a copy with someone at home. This way, if your bag is stolen while on the New York subway, you’ve got with a starting point when trying to prove who you are.
10. Think about your calling and phone options
Plan to take your mobile phone with you on your trip? Before you go – to make sure you don’t get stung by exorbitant global roaming charges. There’s nothing worse than returning home from an amazing holiday to discover a monumental phone bill.
11. Do a practice pack
If you’re going to be away awhile, then packing your suitcase can be difficult! It’s tempting to throw in outfits for all occasions, but this can really weigh you down. The last thing you want is to be lugging a bulging suitcase around with you.
Lay out everything you think you’ll need (including toiletries, travel guides, and even include items like phone chargers) and see how they fit in your suitcase or backpack. Weigh it, and make sure it’s a weight that you can manage. Leave some room in your suitcase for shopping!
12. Let people know that you’re going to be away
If you’re an office worker, then turn on an out-of-office notification on your emails. You might want to change your mobile phone message, too – as it’s unlikely that you’ll be returning work calls while you’re away. Let your neighbour know you’ll be gone, and ask them nicely to collect your mail and put the bins away.
You should also let Smartraveller know where you’re going, in case there’s an emergency while you’re gone.
13. Sort out your travel insurance
One of the most important things to tick off your checklist is your travel insurance. Going away without it is risky business, as you could be up for some enormous medical costs if something went wrong. If you can’t afford travel insurance then you can’t afford to travel.