“I’m leaving on a jet plane don’t know I’ll be back again…”
“Vacation, all I ever wanted. Vacation, had to get away.”
Whatever your holiday anthem is, we can all agree that there’s nothing better than a good holiday. Whether you’re looking to spend a couple of days with your feet in the sand and a drink in your hands, jam in all the culture (and carbs) you can in an epic European vacation or go on an expedition to ‘parts unknown,’ there are a couple of things you need to do before you go.
There are many reasons to call your bank before you leave the country and have your credit/debit accounts sorted. Firstly there’s nothing worse than forgetting to tell your bank you were going away and having them freeze, or worse cancel, your cards the first time you use them overseas. Your bank will also be able to recommend a travel card and let you know about the exchange rate. Wondering what else to ask your bank about before you go overseas? Westpac has put together a great travel checklist.
Check out the definitive checklist of things you need to do before you travel.
1. Choose your destination
What does your dream vacation look like? When you close your eyes are you picturing yourself in a hustling bustling city, a cobblestoned town, a lantern-lit street, a white sand beach? Ask your friends for recommendations and then pick your perfect destination.
2. Check passport and visa requirements
Now you’ve settled on your dream location, you’ll need to make sure you’ll be able to get there. Go fish your passport from out of your desk drawer and check that it’s still in date. Then check how many months away from its expiry date your passport needs to be to enter your destination most countries require you to have 6 months on your passport but some may require more. Many destinations (including the United States) require travellers to have a visa. Some visas can take months to be processed so start the application process as soon as you’ve chosen your destination.
3. Compare your flights
Flights are expensive and, like any big purchase, you’ll want to do some research into the best prices, the shortest flight times or even which flights will earn you the most frequent flyer points. Check out sites like Kayak, Sky Scanner or Google Flights to find the best flight.
4. Check out SmartTraveller
SmartTraveller is a government website designed to give Australian travellers up to date information on health and safety concerns at your destination. The website will also provide you with information such as local emergency contact numbers and provide you with the contact information of the nearest Australian embassy.
5. See a doctor
There are many reasons to see a doctor before you go on an overseas trip. You want to make sure you’re physically healthy before you leave because nothing ruins a holiday like a cold. You’ll also need to check if there are any recommended vaccinations or medications you’ll need to have on hand.
6. Book accommodation
Especially if you’re planning on travelling during peak tourist season, you’ll need to book your accommodation well in advance. You might want to consider looking beyond the major hotel chains. Often staying in smaller locally run hotels or in a house or apartment you’ve found can help you get a better idea of the city and leave you feeling like a local.
7. Cancel subscriptions
Cancel or redirect deliveries coming to your house. A massive pile of untouched newspapers and catalogues is a surefire way to alert potential thieves that there is no one at home. So redirect your mail, pause your subscriptions and leave a light on to deter burglars.
8. Make sure your house is looked after
Another piece of advice on the homefront, get a housesitter. If you’re not interested in a house sitter, remember to leave a set of keys with a trusted friend or neighbour so, in case of an emergency like a triggered smoke or burglar alarm, someone is able to enter your house, check out the situation and put your mind at ease.
9. Call your bank
There are many reasons to call your band before you leave the country. Firstly there’s nothing worse than forgetting to tell your bank you were going away and having them freeze, or worse cancel, your cards the first time you use them overseas. Your bank will also be able to recommend a travel card and let you know about the exchange rate. Wondering what else to ask your bank about before you go overseas? Westpac has put together a great travel checklist.
10. Master the art of the carry on
Make no mistake, packing the perfect carry on is an art form. Travelling is exhausting so your carry on should be designed to make your life as easy as possible. Keep your electronics and liquids close at hand (and in their own ziplock bag) so you can remove them when going through checkpoints. Remember to bring a USB charging cable so you can easily charge your phone on the plane and a spare set of clothes (just in case the airline loses your luggage).
11. Bring an adaptor
So many people have gotten to the end of a long journey, tried to plug in their phone charger and come to the shattering realisation that they have forgotten to bring an adaptor. Grab an adaptor at your local electronics store before you leave to avoid having to purchase one at the last minute (at exorbitant airport prices).
12. Plan your first day
When you get off a long haul flight, it is safe to say that you are not your best self. You are exhausted, uncomfortable and completely overwhelmed but you know that if you head straight to the hotel and go to sleep your jetlag will only get worse. So the best thing to do is to plan your first day in advanced including a meal and most importantly a plan a route from the airport to your hotel so you’re not stuck haggling over a cab fare or trying to navigate a foreign public transport system on zero sleep.
13. Check the weather
This one is simple, just make sure you’re not visiting during monsoon season or taking sandals to a country in the middle of a blizzard.
14. Do your homework
Make sure you’re researching your destination before you arrive. Make sure you’re aware of public holidays. Learn how to say a few simple phrases like please, thank you and the address of your hotel in the local language. And read as much as you can about the local quirks, for example, did you know that most museums in Paris close on Monday or Tuesday and that Spanish shops shut down for siestas in the afternoon?
15. Keep calm and have fun
Remember why you went on holiday in the first place? To have fun! Things won’t always go exactly as planned but keep calm, relax and make the most of this once in a lifetime experience.