Once a holiday is booked in and happening, the countdown to the grand escape begins. You build up the promise of relaxed days, beautiful food and sight-seeing in your mind, only to have your idyllic illusion shattered once you arrive at your chosen destination because you haven’t planned any further ahead than airfares and accommodation.
As they say, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. These are the seven steps you should take before jetting off on any holiday.
Step One: Check that your current passport is in date, and you have at least six months validity from the time you will be entering your chosen country. Many countries have laws requiring passports to have this excess time for you to be granted entry.
Step Two: Spend some time checking the Australian Smart Traveller website recommendations for visa, entry and exit requirements for your chosen destination and follow the supplied links out to the relevant local embassy website to double and triple check your information. While you’re there, log your trip with Smart Traveller so your details and location are readily available to the Australian government in case of a natural disaster. Nothing puts a dampener on a holiday quicker than not being allowed through passport checks because your forgot to pre-purchase a visa.
Step Three: Find out what the local currency is at your destination, and then check how readily available access to ATMs will be there. While EFTPOS and credits cards are largely accepted worldwide, there are still many places where cash is preferred, or is even the only method of payment accepted. Before you leave, ensure you have some cash in the currency you need already exchanged and in your pocket should you need it upon arrival, for things like a bottle of water, taxis or a map.
Step Four: Research what language is spoken at your holiday location and download an app to familiarise yourself with the language before you go. While you can stumble through many places with broken english and hand gestures, sometimes being able to recognise the foreign word for hello, goodbye, please, thank you, exit, toilet or train can be a lifesaver.
Step Five: Dedicate some time to researching the local customs, traditions, religions, rules and laws for the location you are travelling to. In particular, pay attention to religious sight-seeing locations you might be planning to visit, as specific clothing or behaviour may be requested. Tipping is also commonly expected in many countries, so double check what the usual expectation is and plan accordingly. This will help you avoid any awkward situations with locals.
Step Six: Scan all of your important documents and email them to yourself so they can be accessed while you are overseas. Send a copy of the documents to a trusted friend or relative so they can help you out should anything go wrong. Ensure you include copies of your passport, driver’s licence, any visas for the countries you’re travelling to, your travel insurance policy, flight itineraries and hotel contact details.
Step Seven: For peace of mind while you away, pick up a wireless camera from your local electronics store with a feed that can be remotely accessed via an app on your phone. This way you can set the camera up at a vantage point to cover a particular room or entrance point while you are away, and you can check in on the feed whenever you’re within range of a wifi connection. While you’re at it, take a photo of your oven and any other appliances that tend to niggle at the back of your mind when you’re away. This way you know for certain your turned everything off!
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