Qantas, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade - there are countless companies who provide great checklists for customers to ensure everything is in order before travelling overseas.
We’ve picked out some of the best to help you and your future customers be best-prepared …
- Three to six months before the trip -
Passports - not only will you need one, but for most places you will be required to have at least six months’ left before expiry when you enter a country. Remember, ordering a new passport takes time - even if you pay for the express option.
Visas - Visa requirements for Australian and other passport holders are always changing. While some places will issue you a visa on arrival, others will most definitely not let you into the country without one (plus you will be out of pocket).
Keep the home fires burning (think pets, plants and bills) - we’re assuming you’ve remembered to take holidays from work, book your tickets and told your mum where you’re off to. But of course pets won’t feed themselves while you’re overseas (plus your plants might get really thirsty). Now is the time to call in that favour from a neighbour or friend or take advantage of a pet hotel or housesitter. Also make arrangement for bills, etc. before you go so you don’t come back to a house with no power.
Immunisation and fitness - It’s time to call on your GP or travel doctor to see if you have/or will need further immunisations and medication for your trip. Of course, you will have different needs for different places - a handy place to start is the IATA Travel Centre. We’ve added fitness here for those who are off on an adventure holiday, like hiking in Nepal, and may want to put in a few extra sessions at the gym or on the bike to reach a better level of fitness for a more enjoyable experience.
Top tip: As a travel agent, you are expected to get your clients all ready for their big trip - why not provide a check list to your clients as an extra service!
- One month before the trip -
Travel insurance and medication - All Australians are recommended to get travel insurance before heading overseas. There’s a range of options available from insurance providers, through travel agents and the rest. If you require special medication it’s a good time to bulk-up now just in case there’s an unexpected shortage.
Travel needs - Of course you can save the shopping until you’re on holiday, but it does pay to get practical things before you go. For example if you’re hiking, buy hiking boots and wear them in before you go and find a specialised hiking first aid kit. It’s also time to check everything still fits or if you need to go shopping for a new winter jacket. Give yourself time to shop around (or order online) for items like adaptors, travel locks, etc. to get the best price.
Banks and phones - Best let your bank know you’re heading overseas before they cut you off when you’ve got just 20 baht to your name in downtown Bangkok. Most banks allow you to do this online now. Also, check out charges and settings for your phone if you plan to use it overseas. Even if you want to use it for the net it pays to know to turn off data roaming, which could cost you thousands by mistake. Plus, it will need to be unlocked if you want to use a local sim card.
- One to two weeks before the trip -
Cash - How are you planning to pay for what you need overseas? If you haven’t already, now is the time to exchange your money, add cash to your travel card and take a look at exchange rates so you will have an indication of the amount of money you’re spending overseas. Always have a back-up like a credit card.
Packing and baggage allowance - What are you taking with you? Time to plan and see if it fits. Sure your overseas flight allows for 32 kilograms, but what about your domestic flights in an overseas country? Careful not to fall into a trap of excess baggage. Same applies for carry-on - now is the time to check limits for all domestic and overseas flights (and don’t forget those clear bags for liquids). Hot tip - pack to suit your travel with the smallest luggage allowance for check-in and carry-on. Or pre-pay for additional luggage online for a discounted rate.
- 24 hours before the trip -
Check your flight status and print your tickets - You don’t want to rock up to the airport to discover there’s a three-hour delay. You also don’t want to arrive in a country with proof you’re not leaving by your specified date.
Double-check your packing, especially carry-on - Got your passport, visa and travel money? Frequent flyer card, cash and credit cards, travel insurance info, reservations, contacts and addresses (do you know the number to dial in an emergency in the country you’re going to?), other tickets and emergency contact details? Have you sent a copy of all of this to a loved one?
Get clever with carry-on - Remember comfy clothes, entertainment and refreshers! It doesn’t happen often, but check-in luggage can get lost. Make sure you can survive with what’s in your carry-on for a few days.
Check-in online - most services allow you to check-in up to 24-hours beforehand. Check with your service provider when you need to be at the airport to check-in luggage and make it through customs
Arrive on time - no matter whether you’re checking in on online or at the airport - adhere to the airline’s recommendation for when you need to be there before departure. No one wants to stress about missing their flight.
Oh and don’t forget to turn off ovens and lights and drop off the pets!
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