Preparation is key
When preparing to travel whether it be for a weekend, a couple of weeks or an extended time abroad you will always need to prepare for your trip in some way. The following checklist I have written is to help you get yourself sorted when you are going abroad for an extended time. Please note, this checklist is based on my own personal travels and how I have organised and prepared myself to hopefully ensure I have a successful and enjoyable trip. And so far, so good. So let’s get this checklist started and let the countdown to your own travels begin.
6-8 months before departure
A passport is an essential item when travelling abroad. It identifies you and is required so you can enter and leave other countries of the world. Your passport is extremely important to your existence while travelling and it is imperative you keep it with you at all times (or know where it is). Passports are a valuable commodity and if yours falls in to the wrong hands it could be sold for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Many countries will require you to have at least 6 months left on your passport before they will issue a visa. This is in case you are injured or become sick and have to extend your stay in that country, so check the expiry date of your passport to ensure you have enough time left on it to complete the travels you want to do.
2-4 months before departure
Apply for visa/s
Originally the term ‘visa’ comes from a Latin word for ‘see’. And basically means the officials of that country have seen your passport and decided it is alright for you to enter their country. However, a visa stamped in your passport is only a recommendation to allow you in. You still need to arrive and gain clearance from Immigration officials. Ensure you have all the appropriate visas for the countries you are visiting before you leave home as they are not always easy to apply for once you are travelling. I would find out whether or not you can apply for a visa from overseas or whether it must be applied for in your home country.
Book your air plane ticket
Depending on where you are travelling to you may need to travel by plane. Therefore, you will need to book your air plane ticket. Unfortunately, air travel can make up a large portion of our travel costs so here are my tips on finding the right airfare.
- The earlier you can book an airfare the cheaper it usually is, often around 4-10 before you travel is a good time.
- When possible, travel on a Tuesday, Wednesday or a Saturday.
- Select less popular times to travel like early in the morning or overnight because flight are often not full at these times and usually cheaper.
- Consider being flexible on your travel dates and travel in the low season for the region you are heading to. Flights are usually cheaper during this time.
- If possible, be flexible on your travel dates
It is a good idea to shop around for the best airfare that suits you and your budget. I use the Skyscanner website on a regular basis to compare and book my flights. I suggest you use an incognito window to search on the internet for airline tickets as this can help to avoid a rising price with each search you make due to cookies telling the airline of your interest in their flights. Yes, that’s right, tricky aren’t they! I once searched for an airfare and thought it a great price, I kept the price in my head then a few days later did the same search and the airfare had gone up by $50.
As I said, shop around for the best airfare by visiting physical and on-line travel agencies as well as searching airfare comparison websites such as Skyscanner.
Depending on where you are travelling to, you may need vaccinations so see your doctor for advice. The last thing you want to do is catch some bug.
Medical and dental check up
A good idea is to have a medical and dental check up before you travel as you don’t want to be sick or need a tooth attended to in a foreign country. It can prove to be very costly. If you can prevent something from occurring all the better.
1-2 months before departure
Purchase travel insurance
People often forget how important travel Insurance can be and often have the attitude ‘nothing will happen to me’. Well you never know when and/or if anything will happen. Accidents and mishaps do happen and it is best to be prepared. I highly recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance, they have looked after me a number of times. I haven’t always gone with them but mostly I do. Click on the link following to get a quote.
Once you receive a travel insurance quote, read it, yes I know how laborious that can be however, you need to be aware of what the travel insurance covers you for and more importantly, what it doesn’t cover you for. This could just save you a lot of money and heartache in the long run.
There are plenty of types of accommodation around the world which you will soon find out. Pre-booking accommodation is always a good idea as after a long (or short) flight, train or bus trip it is always nice to not have to worry about finding somewhere to stay. So pre-booking is highly recommended.
There are lots of accommodation websites and apps for booking accommodation. If you are looking for something cheap and don’t mind sharing then a bed in a hostel will do. The HostelWorld booking site is fabulous for finding out what hostels are available and what services they provide. If a hostel isn’t your style and you prefer a little more comfort and privacy then check out the accommodation booking sites of Airbnb, CouchSurfing and Booking.com. Click on the links below to begin your accommodation search.
it is not always necessary to pre-book your travel as you can always book ‘on the road’ cause once you are on the road you will discover many smaller tour operators and local transport that can be used. However, it is nice to know what is out there. One advantage to pre-booking is that you won’t have to budget for your travel on the road.
There are lots of transport options available as you travel the world. These include, but are not limited to, bus and train passes such as the Eurail Pass, flights, ferries, tours that include your travel, accommodation and most meals such as those with Contiki and Trafalgar. There are also local tours such as with BigBusTours which allow you to hop-on and off in a particular city – great if you are short of time. You might even want to rent a car so you can go where you want, when you want. Do a bit of research and then get going.
Month leading up to your trip
Sort your affairs
Who’s doing your tax return while you are away? Who is going to pay your bills? etc. You may wish to sign a power of attorney give a trusted family member or friend access to your affairs so they can attend to matters on your behalf (if required) while you are away. Many of us bank electronically through websites and apps so it is a good idea to set up your account so you can access it while you are away. Ensure you use a trusted and secure wi-fi because you access any accounts.
Make a will
Making a will might sounds a bit morbid but having one should ensure your wishes are complied with in case anything happens.
Obtain your International Driver’s Licence
Even though you may not be considering driving while you are away, it is wise to obtain an International Driver’s Licence so you can rent that vehicle if you so wish.
Update CV and obtain necessary references
If you are planning to work during your travels update your CV and take copies of necessary qualifications and references with you. Maybe take them electronically to save space in your luggage.
Arrange care for pets
Give notice to your landlord
1-2 weeks leading up to your trip
Farewell family and friends
Purchase, pack and label your luggage
If you need to purchase some luggage check out my suggestions on how to choose your luggage here. See my packing list for useful items to take. I have travelled for a long time and I never leave home without certain items including a travel adapter, packing cubes, electronic device bag, travel wallet and one of the newest items to my collection, my powerbank charger. Check out The Travel Gear Store for very useful travel items.
Cancel milk, papers, utilities and any other subscriptions
Organise email address and join social media
You probably already have an email address and are on social media, but if you don’t, it is a great idea to have them. Not only to keep in contact with family and friends at home but also for those new people you are about to meet
Leave a copy of itinerary and important papers
Leaving a copy of your itinerary and important papers like travel insurance, credit card details, etc. is a good idea in case any electronic copies happen to be misplayed or stolen.
Take a pen to fill out landing card
Organise some local cash
Organise some local cash for transport from the airport and for your initial few days.
Ready, Set, Go – Travel, A pre-planning guide
Do you want to be prepared for your travels and be able to hit the ground running? Then get yourself a copy of Ready, Set, Get-Travel now.
Sharyn McCullum has travelled most of her life thanks to her dad who worked at Sydney Airport. In her 20’s she left Australia and spent 4 years on a working holiday in London before working and travelling in other countries. She currently calls Melbourne home.