When it comes to travelling, you can never be too prepared in my opinion. I like to be super organised, hence will often start my research and planning weeks or even months in advance! (What can I say, I’m eager with anticipation!)
Regular travellers will probably have their pre-travel routine down pat, but for the rest of us mere mortals who aren’t lucky enough to travel that often, you might feel a little overwhelmed at all the things you need to organise. And if it’s your first time travelling overseas, you might literally have no idea where to start. Never fear, as I’ve put together a comprehensive pre-travel checklist just for you…..
First of all, this is assuming that you’ve already locked in your travel dates and booked flights etc.
ASAP After booking flights
- Buy Travel insurance- If you haven’t already purchased this along with your flights do it now. My advice would be to get a decent level of cover which basically covers you for any emergency. This is one area where you do not want to be cheap! I usually just go with Covermore through the travel agent but have also used 1Cover.
- Book accommodation- I know some people like to leave this to a bit later on, but I would recommend organising this as soon as you have a solid itinerary, especially if you’re travelling during a busy season. Once you’ve booked accommodation it is much easier to start planning around this.
- Double check your passport- Usually when you book flights you will need to provide your passport details, but make sure at this point that your passport has at least 6 months validity remaining from the date of travel.
- Check Visa requirements– Make sure that you’re aware early on if you need to organise Visas as this could take a few weeks.
- Request special meals/Seat preferences etc.- If you haven’t already done this, don’t forget to let your travel agent know about dietary requirements for your flights. (TIP- If you order Vegetarian/Vegan meals, you will get served first!) Also, for many international flights you can choose your seats at the time of booking. You might be able to do this yourself through your airline website once you have a booking code to use.
4-6 Weeks out
- Purchase train fares/domestic flights etc- If you’re taking any long trips during your stay e.g.travelling between countries in Europe, you’ll probably want to pre-book your larger journeys. This might not always be necessary, but if you like to be very prepared and have set dates you need to travel on, I would organise this at least a few weeks before you go. There may be exceptions, such as Japan, where you cannot actually pre-book specific train journeys, but you can purchase a JR Rail Pass.
- Research your destination- This is perhaps my favourite part of organising a trip. I could spend weeks just sitting at my computer researching activities, restaurants and tours etc that I want to include in my trip. Also check out the prices of attractions you want to visit to help with your budgeting. I would recommend that you draw up a chart which breaks down your trip into days, listing your base location for each day. From here, you can plan out a rough itinerary to help you maximise your time. Even if you don’t like to be planned to a tee, it will really help if you at least have a rough idea of the activities you’d like to include and what is possible to do in a day. This is assuming that you’re travelling somewhere to sightsee, not just lying on a beach (although that would be nice too!)
- Check the laws/rules of your destination– Different from checking visa requirements, this may apply to things such as driving laws or what you’re allowed to bring into the country. For example, Japan has strict laws on bringing medication into the country. If you wish to bring in certain medicines, you’ll need to apply for a Yakkan Shoumei, basically a imported medicine permit, which takes a few weeks to organise.
- Go through your travel money options- Whether this be getting a travel money card, or just using your debit card to withdraw cash. You probably want to research this a few weeks out from your trip.Travel money cards can give you peace of mind, by allowing you pre-load your card with multiple currencies so you know exactly how much you have to spend. I have both a Qantas Cash card and a Velocity Global Wallet card, which both work in this way. I have used neither facility however, as I have found that the Citibank Plus debit card works fantastically well for withdrawing your money overseas, with no withdrawal fees. Many others also recommend the 28 Degrees MasterCard for travel. If applying for either of these options, I would allow a few weeks to process.
- Get Vaccinations– If you’re travelling to a destination that requires you to have certain compulsory vaccinations. Check here
- Start learning the language of your destination– If you start practicing some useful phrases now, you will feel much more relaxed a few days before your trip. Don’t assume that everyone will speak English!
1-2 weeks out
- Organise house/pet sitters if you need to
- Start planning your packing list (article on this coming soon!)
- Register your travel plans with Smart traveller
- Start to have a look at the weather forecast for your destination to help with your packing. I like Accuweather
- Pre-order currency if you intend to take any cash, as this will usually be a cheaper rate than at the airport.
- Transfer money to your currency card/debit card. Have a couple of options, so you have back up if one gets lost or stolen.
- Make bookings for restaurants/ activities that might sell out. This includes dining at popular/fancy restaurants, pre-purchasing theme park tickets or tickets to other attractions.
A few days before
- Wash clothing that you intend to pack
- Start Packing! (TIP- Make a list of everything you need to take)
- Activate international roaming if you’re going to be using your phone overseas. Consider buying a travel pack through your phone provider for better value.
- Confirm any hotel reservations directly with the hotel. There would be nothing worse than arriving at your destination to find that they have no record of your booking. Always check before you leave home!
- Organise how you will get to and from the airport, both at home and your destination.
- Charge camera batteries etc.
- Download apps that you might need- translators, language guides, travel guides etc. ‘We chat’ is great for keeping connected with family.
- Save useful destinations into google maps, such as hotels, sights your will be visiting etc. Also, save offline maps of areas that you will be likely to frequent. Find out how here
Day of your trip
- Make copies of all of your important documents- keep a digital copy on your phone and paper copies somewhere in your luggage. Leave a couple of copies with your family at home, as well as an itinerary, so they know roughly where you are in case of an emergency.
- Set up a voicemail message and email auto reply to let people know you’re on holiday.
- Finish all your packing and have a few hours to relax before you leave for the airport.
I hope that this gives you an idea of the many things that go into organising an overseas trips. I find that making lists is very useful, as it gives you something to physically cross off the list, once the task is completed. You may not feel compelled to be this organised, but it will make your life a hell of a lot easier if you’re well prepared.
Stay tuned for upcoming articles on packing guides, airport style and more.
Have you booked your next holiday yet? Where do you want to go?