Are you ready for your big trip? I know you’re excited to go, but have you actually thought of everything? Here is some important information on how to prepare for international travel, especially vital if it’s your first time going away. This article will help you get organised so you don’t overlook anything. I’ve been travelling internationally for decades and am happy to share some of the things I’ve learnt along the way.
DOs and DON'Ts of International Travel
1. Do check that you have at least 6 months validity on your passport.
2. Do consult your Doctor about travel vaccinations required for your destination/s and make sure you are all up to date. Also ask about any medication you should take with you, such as Malaria tablets. Ensure you do this about a month prior to leaving. You can check this website for details.
3. Always check your country’s government health department for international travel advice regarding vaccinations, pre-flight testing, quarantine and other travel requirements. In Australia, the Smartraveller website is a valuable resource. Most countries have a similar site to refer to.
4. Make sure you have various money options available to you, such as credit cards, a pre-paid travel card, and some cash to convert. Have a small amount of cash already converted for when you arrive.
5. Do ensure you have a Mastercard or Visa credit card with no foreign currency conversion fees, and advise your credit card company that you are going overseas.
6. Do check what Entry Visas are required, if any, for the country you are travelling to, from the relevant embassy, consulate or your travel agent before going. Or you can use the form below. Allow a month to organise Visas.
7. If you are planning to go ‘off the grid’, inform your embassy or Dept. of Foreign Affairs.
8. Do take copies of passport and travel documents and leave them with next of kin or close friend.
9. Do take out travel insurance if your credit card doesn’t include it.
10. Do get an International Driving Permit if you plan to drive overseas and take your normal licence with you as well.
11. Maintain good hygiene practices, to avoid getting ill. Carry and use sanitary hand gel for when proper hand washing isn’t possible. Always have a face mask with you and wear it when flying and on public transport, and in crowded situations.
12. Females may want to bring feminine hygiene products from home, as certain items are not always readily available in some places, or can be very expensive.
1. Don’t pack anything valuable in your check-in luggage.
2. Don’t take liquids, aerosols, hazardous items in your carry-on bag (check with your airline for the full list of banned items).
3. Many countries don’t allow you to carry more than $10,000 in cash, or the equivalent, in or out of the country, without declaring it by completing the necessary Customs/Border Security form. In Australia the form required is the ‘Cross-Border Movement – Physical Currency form’, downloadable before hand. Make sure you have a good reason for taking a large cash amount with you in case you are questioned by security. Check the laws of the specific countries you are travelling to and from, on the relevant government websites, including stopover countries, as they may have different laws.
Don’t pack large cash amounts in your check-in luggage and don’t wear it on your body. Carry it in your locked hand luggage and don’t leave it out of your sight. A money belt can be worn after you go through security.
4. Don’t carry prohibited goods into or out of a country without checking the government website first and getting the necessary written permission. Some goods are absolutely not permitted.
5. Don’t leave your mobile phone switched to data roaming for international travel. Check with your phone carrier about plans on offer for the country/ies you are visiting. Or, consider changing the sim card in your phone to a local sim card when you arrive at your destination, for cheap internet usage and calls. (Note: you will be given a new number to use whilst in that country and you will need a new sim card in each country.)
6. Don’t drink tap water before checking with the local authority that it’s ok. Your hotel or airbnb will be able to advise you also. If the water isn’t safe for drinking, don’t eat salads or brush teeth with tap water either. Use sealed bottled water only, which your accommodation often provides.
7. Don’t disrespect local customs in the country you are visiting – inform yourself of the proper etiquette in various situations, such as dress code at religious sites, removing shoes before entering certain places, abstaining from public displays of affection in some countries, etc.
8. Don’t drink alcohol in public, smoke or use drugs other than prescription medicine, without informing yourself of the laws in the country first. It’s a good idea to have a letter from your doctor about medicine you are taking.
5 Things to organise at home before departure
There are 5 important things to take care of at home before departing that people often forget:
Turn off appliances and electricity switches, lock doors & windows, set alarm (if you have one), put away outdoor items, lock garage.
Leave cars/bikes locked away if possible. Car-sitting is an option.
3. Mail & Deliveries
Have your mail stopped and held for you at your local post office, or redirected. Alternatively, have someone collect it. Suspend any regular deliveries.
Have someone take care of your rubbish bins for you if they need putting out for collection.
Have the garden tended to if you’re going to be away for an extended period of time.
You may want to set a timer for a light or TV to come on in your home so as to appear someone is staying there.
Another option is to have a house-sitter/friend/relative to look after the above things for you while you’re away.
8. Rent out your home
Alternatively, you may even wish to consider advertising your home on Airbnb, or a similar site, and rent it out while you’re away. This is becoming a very popular arrangement to help people fund their travels.