You have done all the research, and had everything planned and booked. As the date draws near, you eagerly looked forward for The day which you will kick start this long awaited holiday.
Everybody wanted an enjoyable holiday with sweet memories to reminisce as the years go by. However, undesirable situation can and do happen anytime, anywhere when one least expected it.
Having proper preparations before we travel makes a long way in minimizing these possible incidental cost and inconveniences.
1. Travel Insurance
Holding top spot on our list is travel insurance. Accidents happen anytime and anywhere. Travelling without a travel insurance often leads to high costs when thing goes awry. Imagine holidaying in a country with high standard of living, say Switzerland. The premium paid for travel insurance is minuscule to the high medical cost, for example. And should things go really bad where international SOS evacuation is required, it can easily cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Besides medical expenses, travel insurance also covers flight delays, baggage delays or lost among many others. We always buy our travel insurance the moment we booked our air tickets. The reason why we bought ours so early is because travel insurance covers trip cancellation. Thank God that to-date, we have only utilised our travel insurance for minor hiccups like flight delay, baggage delay and rental car collision damage excess. Finger crossed….let’s keep it minor!
Common mistake to avoid: Ensure your travel insurance starts from the day you flies off even if your flight is at 23:59. Else, insurance companies will not honour the policy as valid.
2. Ensure passport is valid
Most, if not all countries disallow entry into their country for travellers holding passport with less than 6 months’ validity. It would be a devastating experience to be turned back upon arrival (especially after a long flight) because of an oversight on a preventable mistake.
3. Make copies of all important documents
Make at least two copies of your passport, credit cards and any identity card that you intend to bring along like driving licence. If you have an International Driving Permit, make a copy of that too. These photocopies will come in handy should you lose the originals. To facilitate replacement of lost or stolen passport, a photocopy is often required by most embassies.
On top of the above documents, we also keep soft copies (in our mobile phone and cloud) of our itinerary, flight details, hotel booking information, international SOS phone number and insurance certificate.
Since these photocopies serve as a backup, keep each set in separate luggage.
4. Be medically prepared
During your research of your holiday destination, check if a flu or any specific vaccination is recommended. If so, get yourself jabbed at least 1 month ahead of your travel.
We never fail to bring common medication for flu, food poisoning, headaches, nausea plus some other medications that were specific to our needs. Depending on the country that you are visiting, the common ones may be easily available. However, do note that off-the-shelve purchases are usually not included in travel insurance coverage. Also, the medication brand that you are used to may not be available.
Common mistake to avoid: Never check-in your medication especially those that you are reliance on. After all, it is common that luggage went missing or comes in late. If the 100ml liquid cap is an issue, check with the airline on alternative.
5. Emergency numbers and be contactable
It is always good to have some helpline phone numbers on hand in case of emergency. We always keep these phone numbers with us: International SOS helpline; our travel insurance provider’s overseas helpline; credit card helpline (in case of stolen credit card); and our country’s embassy / consulate.
Prior to any overseas trip, it is advisable to inform your embassy of your travel. This way, your embassy will be able to inform you should any disaster occurred in the visiting country during your travel; and render necessary assistance, if required.
6. Familiarize yourself with local laws / customs
Check out the do and don’t of the country that you are to visit. A small harmless action that means very little or nothing in your eyes may be an offensive action in the visiting country. It’s good to follow the local customs to show respect and good mannerism to the local people.
7. Prepare your luggage
Personalise your luggage
Have you ever noticed and wondered why many air stewards and stewardesses ‘decorate’ their luggage with numerous colorful stickers in a disarray manner? Well, they are personalizing their luggage for easy identification and to avoid other travelers from mistaking the luggage as theirs.
Know what can be packed in a luggage
Our luggage may have numerous locks but they aren’t the safest place for us to pack our cash and other valuables in them. With risk of terrorism, we all know all luggage can be unlocked for security checks, with or without our knowledge.
By now, most if not all of us knew that any electronics including a seemingly harmless power bank cannot be pack into check-in luggage. For our own safety and those on board the plane, none of us wants a harrowing experience!
Take a photo of the items in your luggage
This is really helpful in your insurance claim should your luggage went missing. The truth is we have never done this unless there were expensive or unique souvenirs being packed in there.
8. How much cash can we bring?
Know the amount of cash that is allowed to be brought in and out of the visiting country. To avoid carrying large amount of cash, besides travellers’ cheques, the other best option has to be credit cards. After all, if you do rent a car for your overseas travel, you probably would have known that car rental companies only accepts credit card payment.
We normally carries at least two credit cards issued by two different banks. For any reason, should one of the credit card fails, there is the other as backup.
9. Be ready to answer questions at the immigration
The immigration officer may ask you where you are going and staying during your visit in the country. I think it’s good to carry your itinerary with you just in case you need to refer to it. The officer may also want to know if you carry enough money to spend for your whole trip. Carry some cash, traveller’s cheques and/or credit cards with you to show him. This usually works for me.
10. Medical Proof for metal insertion in your body
Different countries have different metal detector machines that works on varying level of sensitivity. If you have metal implants in your body, for example, a metal piece to support a broken leg; it is advisable for you to obtain the relevant documentation from your doctor. You may need to show this to the custom officer while clearing immigration.
The list above is not exhaustive. But, we hope that these tips will help you better equip yourself for your next dream holiday, especially if you enjoys free and easy holidays like us.