An important element when planning your holiday is to ensure you have the right information – most importantly it’s current and valid.
www.smartraveller.gov.au for Australians Travelling Abroad.
Most Government websites are constantly updated and are crucial when deciding where to go and what’s happening around the globe. These advisories have been implemented to assist and guide you through the processes, regulations and governing requirements to streamline your travel plans. Check with your local travel agent for any further information for your plans as the wholesalers they use will advise accordingly about the destination. Smart Traveller has an app – down load it and think of it as your best travelling companion.
Best to find an agent who understands international airfares and how interline agreements work for you in securing better deals. You may be missing out on additional flights which may be included on a long-haul international ticket. Some cities are common-rated – meaning the fares cost the same if you include a stopover(s) along the way – for instance within Europe. Much better than buying two or more separate tickets – many airlines include the same baggage allowances if travelling through on the same journey without a stopover.
Protect your “smart” credit card from identity theft. Credit cards with embedded smart chips are designed to be read by RFID readers – therefore be read by thieves who have a reader. So your ID information (card number, name and expiry date) are vulnerable. KORJO has a patented embedded RFID Shielding Substrate which prevents RFID theft and sell for about A$6.95.
Don’t forget to check the expiry dates on your cards.
Lock all possible openings, have all tags attached including the airline’s own you are travelling with – make it distinguishable with a coloured ribbon. When you are at the airport trying to find your bag in a sea of black this will make all the difference. Straps around luggage seem to go missing, mainly due to baggage carrousels snagging them.
Luggage allowances with different airlines may vary.
Example: If travelling through on the same day and on the same ticket, the connecting airline will usually allow the same weight or piece system all the way through to the final destination – mainly without a stopover en route. Check with your travel agent or airline to be sure rather than be caught at check in to find you’ll be paying excess charges.
If airline tickets are issued separately – a prime example is going from an international flight to a domestic flight, (especially if there is no interline agreement between the carriers) you may find yourself paying exorbitant fees when rechecking in.
Even on international services, some passengers tend to book separate tickets online with different airlines believing their luggage will go through to the final destination. Generally, you will have to collect the luggage at the transit point, then clear customs and recheck in. If you do this, the minimum connecting time should be more than ample – and really depends on the intermediate point as to how long you should allow yourself. For instance, if your flight is delayed it can cause you to miss the onward flight of an airline which may not have an interline baggage agreement. Payment for no-show penalty is not uncommon, or lose the value of the ticket for the onward flight and purchase a new one – a very expensive exercise. Best to ring the airline you are connecting onto and give them your incoming flight details – as well as your contact details for any schedule changes which may occur.
Take some old clothes with you and at the end of your trip when it’s time to do some serious shopping; discard these ‘has beens’ to make room for your new purchases. Give them away to the needy and you’re set.
Make sure your passport is up to date and won’t expire during the period you are travelling. It must have six months validity by the time of your return date to Australia. While you’re at it, purchase a document holder where you can store your passport and not easily replaced documents. Electronic tickets and copies of any itineraries can be scanned as well – so if lost, you can print them off again.
Many countries require clear pages for entry, however South Africa require at least two clear pages within your passport and is a requirement before allowing entry. Minors now travelling to South Africa require to have their birth certificates shown upon arrival as well. Check with the local governing bodies for entry requirements.
Check the smartraveller.gov.au website for any warnings or cautions of your destination. It’s important to be aware of what to expect, or if there is any civil unrest in the area or natural disasters imminent. You can never be too prepared or informed.
Can’t afford it? Then you can’t afford to travel!
Purchase it immediately after paying your deposit(s) or fully paid air tickets/tours/cruises so you are covered right up to departure time and include the last day of travel of which you arrive home – not the last date of departure (due to time differences) as you may arrive home a day later. Check your itinerary.
Read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) of the policy you wish to purchase as every company is different with their products and coverage in the event of a claim. Ensure what is being offered is the right policy for you, any travelling companions and valuables. Non disclosure of a pre-existing condition may be not be claimable in the event of a mishap.
Health and Vaccinations
Any vaccinations you require for the destination you are going to need to be up to date, and can be obtained from your Doctor – if not, contact Travelvax in Australia. The World Health Organisation issues an International Certificate of Vaccination (small yellow booklet) whereby your vaccinations are recorded. Without this when re-entering Australia, you may be stopped at Immigration if you didn’t take out the necessary vaccinations; dependent on the country you’ve just been to, in particular Africa, Central and South America.
Make sure any scripts you have are up to date and take enough of your prescribed medication for the whole duration. This includes general precautions like anti-nausea or antibiotics. For all your updated health enquiries before travelling check out the Travelvax website www.travelvax.com.au or call in Australia 1300 360 164.
For updated World Health Organisation’s advice click on the link http://www.who.int/ith/en/
Technology has evolved, however turning on global roaming can be very expensive, so either purchase prepaid or unlock your phone so you can buy a sim card from the country you are visiting.
Ring your bank to notify them which countries you will be travelling to and when will you be returning as you might have your cards blocked for security once used outside your country. You may find yourself at Western Union looking for a family member to transfer funds to you.
Ensure your debit and credit cards are up to date and obtain a traveller’s card for the destinations you are travelling to. You can transfer money from your bank account to your travel cards to avoid high ATM fees. The bulk of my money stays in a separate account and I syphon funds into my debit account as I need to use it, this ensures only small amounts are at risk.
Regarding long stays, look for hotels which have a safety box – if staying overnight and only in transit – not too much of a worry then if you’re not going out.
Scan and email important documents to yourself, family and friends. Also, make two photocopies – one to keep in your document holder and one to keep in your suitcase. Make a copy of your insurance policy’s emergency contact list and keep safe, along with any booking confirmations.
Confirm Flights and Special Requests.
Very important – Ensure you give a contact phone number and email address to your travel agent or airline so they may contact you directly for any schedule changes. It’s much easier for the airline to do this, rather than have a multitude of passengers show up at the airport when the plane is not operational.
Confirm your flights eight hours before you leave and make sure you have registered any special requests at least 48 hours beforehand so the airline can make timely provisions – particularly if passengers are elderly and require assistance with walking long distances. Unaccompanied children must have documents filled out as soon as a booking has been made with an airline. Any change of guardian for collection of the child must be notified immediately to the airline in writing. Otherwise they will not release the child and suitable identification must be provided at the final destination. Some airlines charge a fee for such services and check with them of any costs involved.
Upon Arrival at your Destination
Check the best possible mode of transportation to access your accommodation prior to leaving. Look for hotels which are near airports, train or bus stations and are well located in the area you wish to visit. Usually hotels provide relevant information of ‘how to find the hotel’ with maps included. Always have your hotel’s booking reference, phone and address handy when you arrive if you’re unsure and need to call. Ascertain wether it’s best to take a train, tram or bus. If taking a taxi check to see the company’s phone details are listed on the vehicle or check with the local tourism body which is usually located inside the arrival’s hall of reputable providers.