Everything You Need To Know Before Your First Overseas Trip
Nothing beats the excitement of your first overseas trip but there’s plenty you should be aware of before you set off. Some of them can ruin your holiday before you leave the airport (if you haven’t got the right visa, you won’t be going anywhere!).
From getting around without getting ripped off to turning off automatic updates on your mobile phone, these first-timer’s overseas travel tips will help set you up for a stress free holiday.
Purchase travel insurance (yes, you really do need it)
If you’re debating the benefits of paying for something you might not even use vs spending that money on having fun, stop right there! Travel insurance is not something you can afford to travel without. Whether it’s a missed connection, lost baggage or an emergency medical situation, travel insurance protects you from significant financial loss. Even if it’s your first overseas trip.
You are covered from the moment you purchase a policy but only pay for the time you’re away. Lock in your insurance as soon as possible for maximum protection and to get maximum value from your policy.
Also, don’t indulge in what insurers call “risky behaviours” while you’re on holiday. Even if you’ve got a top policy, you won’t be covered if you get injured do something stupid like jumping off a balcony into the hotel pool.
Check visa requirements
In addition to your passport, a visa can be required to enter certain countries. Check smartraveller.gov.au for information on whether you need a visa and who to contact if you do. While friends and family can be a great source of travel advice, don’t rely on them for this important information. Visa requirements may have changed since they last travelled to where you are going.
Work out a budget (and stick to it)
Find out how much things cost at your destination, work out the currency conversion then put aside more money than you think you’ll need. While it can be tempting to live it up on holiday, a hefty credit card bill is one souvenir you don’t want to bring home.
This could be a matter of figuring out your daily spend limit – and sticking to it. This could be higher or lower depending on your destination, so do your research!
Include a change of clothes in your carry-on in case your luggage gets lost or you have an unplanned layover. While this may not happen, if it does, you’ll be glad you’re prepared.
Take some local currency with you
There is no need to pre-purchase all your foreign currency before you leave Australia as you can withdraw money easily at overseas ATMs. However, trying to find one at a foreign airport and working out conversion rates after a long international flight isn’t much fun, and you might need to pay for a taxi or transfer with cash. Buy a small amount of your destination’s local currency before you leave home for a hassle-free arrival.
Tell the bank about your trip
If a bank notices foreign transactions on your accounts, they can freeze your card until you call to verify the charges are legitimate. Give your credit card provider and bank and a heads up about your holiday before you head overseas to avoid this happening to you.
Stash some cash
It is always good to have some local currency stashed away for emergencies. Keep this in a safe place back at your accommodation or in your luggage, along with your passport and other valuables.
Book your first night
Even if you hate planning, it’s smart to pre-book your first night’s accommodation in advance. Arriving in a foreign country with no place to stay can be stressful, not to mention dangerous in some cases, and will usually see you paying too much.
Arrive with a plan
Work out the best, safest and most cost effective way to get from the airport to your pre-booked hostel, hotel or Airbnb before you leave Australia. This will help to ensure your first experience getting from A to B overseas is a good one.
Knowing approximately how much the taxi should cost or if the airport train will be running at 5am will also help you avoid getting ripped off.
Making and receiving calls on your mobile phone is expensive when you’re overseas. If you want to leave your phone switched on so friends or family can reach you in an emergency, call your service provider to activate global roaming. Switch off automatic software updates on your phone before you leave though, as the bill can stretch to thousands if you forget.
Also figure out how you will use your phone overseas before you leave Australia. Will you switch off data and use wi-fi? Is it your primary camera? Do you need it for maps? Think about all these things before you go, and maybe pack a rechargeable battery pack to make sure you have battery when you need it.
Less is more
While it can be tempting to cram in as many countries and tourist sites as possible on your first overseas trip, this can be a mistake. Allow some free time to simply soak up the atmosphere, go exploring or check out local recommendations.
It’s often these unplanned experiences which turn out to be the best part of an overseas holiday.
(Lead image: Willian Justen de Vasconcellos / Unsplash)