For most people, an overseas trip conjures up visions of white sandy beaches, sipping cocktails by the pool or exploring all those cities you’ve only seen in movies. For others, an overseas trip can be a logistical nightmare.
To take the anxiety out of planning your next international jaunt, we’ve put together a checklist of sorts. Follow the tips below to ease into holiday mode, even before the plane has pulled away from the gate.
Three months before you jet off
Three months out (we hear you exclaim)! Surely, at this stage, all you need to be thinking about are hotel bookings and flight reservations? Think again. Getting organised this far out may seem a little over-the-top. But take it from us; this is the most crucial stage in the planning process.
Passports: rescue your passport from the back of your sock drawer and check that it’s valid for the duration of your trip – most countries require more than 6 months before it expires. There is nothing worse than being stranded for weeks on end at the Venezuelan embassy awaiting a passport renewal that might never eventuate.
It is a good idea to leave a copy of your passport (and any other important documents) with a friend or family member at home. Take a copy with you as well. Keep the copy separate from the original (if you keep the original in your handbag, put the copy in your suitcase). That way if (god forbid), you get mugged it will be easier to cancel and replace your passport.
Visas: some countries will refuse you entry without a visa. If you don’t fancy being turned around at the arrivals gate, then check whether you need a visa before you leave Australia. Note that a visa does not automatically guarantee entry into any country. The final decision rests with the immigration officers at the border. So make sure you are on your best behaviour when entering any country.
Immunisations: prevention is always better than cure, so visit your GP and check whether immunisations are necessary for your destination of choice. If you are planning on trekking through jungles or venturing way off the beaten track, this is even more important. Take it from us, the only thing you want to bring back from your holiday is souvenirs.
Two weeks before you jet off
Cash: have a think about how you plan to access your hard-earned cash while you’re away. It’s never fun being caught short when you’re miles away from home. There are so many different options these days (gone are the days when travellers cheques were the only option): pre-paid foreign currency cards, debit cards, foreign currency exchange. Just be sure to check the exchange rates and any hidden fees or charges.
Travel Insurance: you may think it’s an unnecessary cost, bumping up the trip budget, but travel insurance can be a life saver. If the airline loses your bags, or if you have a skiing accident and break your leg, travel insurance could end up being a lifesaver. A small investment upfront might just save you thousands of dollars long-term. There are literally hundreds of suppliers out there, offerings thousands of policies. Just remember to check the fine print.
Seven days before you jet off
Medications: if you take prescription medication, check you have enough to cover the duration of your trip. If not, refill your prescription. It’s always a good idea to carry medication in your hand luggage, along with a photocopy of the prescription, or a letter, from your doctor.
Baggage: check your baggage allowance. Don’t pack 30kg if your allowance is 23kg. No one likes that passenger; the frazzled one dismantling their suitcase at check-in, holding up the queue. Think about the items you might need while you’re away: extra batteries for the camera, a charger for the phone, adapters for power sockets, thermal underwear for the snow, sunscreen for the beach, travel-sized toiletries. And don’t pack dangerous items in your hand luggage (knives, liquids, aerosols). You’ll only loose them at the security check.
Home: have you thought about who might be able to feed your dog and water your plants? Lock someone in and give them a run down on what you need done, show them around your house, introduce them to Spot.
Day before departure
Flight Status: check your flight departure and check-in times the day before you leave. Make sure the time of your flight hasn’t changed.
Check-in: to save time at the airport, check-in and choose your seats online. That way, all you need to do when you get to the airport is drop off your luggage.
Airport Transfers: think about how you are going to get from home to the airport. Book a taxi. Check the train timetable. Ask your sister. Make sure you have your timing right. You need to be at the airport three hours before an international flight.
Day of departure
Relax and enjoy. Have a glass of champagne for us!