Heading off for an overseas adventure in 2017? Travel is such an exciting, fulfilling experience that opens your mind, builds your character and helps you look at things in a different light. But before you get totally carried away by where you’re headed, there are some important things to get sorted, right where you are (at home). THEN, you can let the travels begin, stress free.
Do your research
I’m not much of a planner but doing my research before I go somewhere not only makes me a well informed traveler, but gets me even more excited about my upcoming trip. With potentially limited WIFI and data that will cost you one of your kidneys, it’s good to do your research before you leave. There are loads of travel bloggers and writers who have shared their knowledge on what you can expect. It also means you can get heads up about local customs and traditions you should adhere to while traveling to avoid any trouble (like being arrested…).
Get travel insurance
Insurance - yawn! But you won’t be yawning when you’re protected against any nightmarish situations like lost luggage, cancelled flights - or worse. Something as simple as getting a script can cost you far more than you bargained for but travel insurance will typically cover your medical bills if you fall ill or get into an accident. Standard travel insurance usually suffices and is sometimes also included with your credit card, depending on what type of card and account you have. My biggest tip: read your policy thoroughly and make sure it covers everything you need it to, like jewellery and camera or sporting equipment. For the good deals you can get now with travel insurance, it’s worth being responsible.
You may need to get a visa depending on the country you’re travelling to. Generally speaking, you will need a visa for travelling to most places outside of Australia. If you travel to the United States, you need to organise a visa waiver (or ESTA). Most countries have tourist visas for travellers but if you are planning on working, you might have to apply for a worker’s visa. This could be the case even if you are only working for a short period of time during your travels. Travelling to Canada? Then you have it easy because you can organise your documents online - see more information here.
Chances are that you won’t be using Australian dollars while you travel. You can get your money changed in a lot of places but can subject you to different exchange rates and fees. The best rate means you’ll be getting the best bang for your buck - literally. It can often work out cheaper to get your money changed before you leave, and be sure to double check the associated fees with taking cash out from overseas ATMs and using your credit card abroad - the fees can be astronomical! An international travel cash card is a very convenient tool but typically offers a lower exchange rate than what’s current when you load your card with more funds.
Phone and data
International roaming fees can be on par with your airline and accommodation costs - if not more! Be savvy with your mobile phone and data and your future self (and bank balance) will thank you. You can either get a travel pass with your current provider if you’re not going for that long or consider getting a local sim card for slightly longer periods. I’m with Telstra and their travel pass is an extra $10 per day on top my contract, which I keep paying for even though I’m not using the calls or data. That means it’s around $300 in addition to my monthly contract cost for one month. And any other roaming costs I happen to incur. Ouch. Vodafone has a more palpable travel pass of $5 per day on top of your regular bill. I highly recommend switching off data on your phone and connecting to WIFI wherever you possibly can - even when you have a travel pass. It’s painful, but not as painful as the international roaming fees you could face if you don’t get this part organised.
Travel is such a rewarding experience. Get the most out of your time away by getting organised before you get there. If you want more tips on traveling or being a digital nomad, get in touch - I’ll be happy to help.