The mere thought of your next holiday can keep you going when the work days are long and the sunshine in short supply. When you’ve been planning it for months – browsing Instagram for inspiration and scouring TripAdvisor reviews – the last thing you need is for some unforeseen curve-ball to put a downer on your fun. Here’re 10 ways to make sure your trip is stress free and bliss maxed.
1. Be passport and visa ready
If you have an Australian passport you can enter many countries visa-free or obtain a visa easily on arrival. However, some countries require visitors to obtain a visa in advance or require you have at least six months validity left on your passport or a certain number of blank pages in it. Australians can check requirements using Visa Quick Check or consult the relevant foreign embassy.
2. Clear customs
Check out local customs regulations to make sure you’re not accidentally carrying contraband that could land you in hot water. In Indonesia, some Australian prescription medications, such as those containing codeine, sleeping pills and ADHD medications, are considered illegal narcotics. Carry medications in their original packaging along with your prescription and take a letter from your GP if you’re in any doubt.
3. Law and order
There are the obvious laws we all know not to break and then there are those that can get us into trouble unwittingly overseas. Do your homework to find out what local laws you must observe. Italy’s Florence introduced a law banning people from eating on streets in its historic centre in an effort to combat tourist congestion and litter. Fines can be as stiff as €500 (AUD $810).
4. Cultural awareness
When travelling to another country it’s important to be aware of behaviours that could be considered culturally offensive. For example, in Thailand you should never point your feet toward a Buddhist statue and pointing your feet at people in general can be seen as a sign of disrespect. Pack clothes that will allow you to dress respectfully at houses of worship or other religious sites and be aware that historically and culturally significant sites may have restrictions around dress, footwear, eating and visitation.
5. Be covered from go to whoa
There’s nothing like having your bag stolen or getting sick overseas to hamper holiday fun. Travel insurance will cover you for many unforeseen events, such as theft, accidents or medical emergencies. Just be sure to take out a policy as soon as you book so that you are also covered for trip cancellation. Events such as a natural disaster, a death in your family, or a medical emergency can be legitimate reasons to claim non-refundable costs such as flights or deposits.
6. Licence to drive
Thinking about riding a scooter in Bali? Did you know that if you don’t have a valid motorcycle licence in Australia then you won’t be covered under your travel insurance should you have an accident? Be sure to check out what exclusions apply as certain extreme activities and sports may not be covered under your policy.
7. Stamp your food passport
One of the great joys of travelling is trying the local cuisine. Create a go-to list using websites and apps such as Eatigo, The Fork or Zomato or check out apps that can connect you with locals for truly authentic experiences such as nights out, food tours or even dining in someone’s home. Try Withlocals or Eatwith for starters.
8. Don’t get lost in translation
Sure, you may not have time to learn Hindi before your trip to Mumbai, but it’s easy and courteous to learn a handful of local words and phrases. Besides the obvious niceties, phrases such as ‘Where’s the bathroom?’ ‘How much does it cost?’ or ‘I don’t eat meat’ can save you a lot of headaches. Download a translation app such as iTranslate or Google Translate for language help on the go.
9. Be scam savvy
Whether it’s being pick-pocketed or having your ATM card skimmed, falling prey to a travel scam could really play havoc with your holiday plans. Check smartraveller.gov.au for updates about current scams operating in different countries and how best to avoid them.
10. Take the right tech
There’s nothing more frustrating than getting to your destination only to find your phone is dead and you’ve forgotten your charger. You also don’t want to damage valuable tech by plugging it into an outlet with incompatible voltage. Check World Standards for plugs, sockets and voltage information and consider buying a universal adaptor.
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