It’s not just a wish list on your IG anymore, it’s reality! International borders are opening again and if you’re itching to embark on an amazing adventure, there’s no better time than now!
According to research from Savvy, two thirds of Australians feel confident about borders reopening. But having gone so long without travel, it’s understandable if you’re feeling a little rusty.
To get you back in the saddle we’ve put together a huge checklist so you can rest assured you have a smooth and worry-free experience.
Travel Checklist for Your Next International Holiday
Research Your Destination
Do your homework before you go – what are local customs? What times are better in terms of what’s open, what’s safe, and what’s busy? Will it be crowded?
These are questions you should be asking in your research.
YouTube can be your friend – especially when it comes to local knowledge (especially if you want to avoid traps and scams!) You can also consult our great site or Lonely Planet guides if you prefer books.
But also research safety.
Whether you’re a solo female traveler, an LGBTQI couple, or you’re traveling with health issues, not all countries’ attitudes towards certain types of travellers are enlightened – and you need to take this into account when travelling.
Check the SmartTraveller site for travel warnings and advice when doing your research. You also need to see whether you need vaccinations (not just for COVID-19!) as a condition of entry.
Passports and Visas
Is your passport up to date? If not, renew it as soon as possible.
Most countries require passports to have at least 6 months validity for yout o be eligable to enter the country. And right now there is a backlog on passport applications, so it’s best to not leave this until the last minute.
If your passport is within three years of expiry, you may be eligible for a discount on renewal. At this stage, you should also see if you need special tourist visas to enter your chosen countries and apply for them ASAP.
The Money Situation
Though it’s tempting and cool to have wads of foreign currency around, we recommend you take minimal cash and use pre-loaded currency cards instead.
Using credit or debit cards can cost a lot in terms of currency conversions and international transfer fees (usually between 1-3% per transaction), though can also see you earn travel rewards depending on the card, so weigh this option carefully.
The bigger question is, how are you paying for the trip?
Many of us have been saving our travel cash over the past 2 years, having not had the ability to travel during COVID. But there are also other options.
Will you need to research competitive fixed rate personal loans? Travel loans are a popular way to finance your trip without breaking the bank. A fixed rate loan from a broker means you are protected from rate rises.
If taking this route we always recommend you borrow responsibly, and only ever within your means.
Accommodation and Transport
Before you go it’s important to sort your accommodation and transport. While there’s a certain level of romance attached to the idea of rocking up spontaneously and throwing caution to the wind, everyone is traveling at the same time now that borders have reopened, so you don’t want to be caught without a booking.
Will you need special cards or passes? Does it make it cheaper? Is hiring a car viable? A hire car may reduce your anxiety, for example.
If possible, print out your booking confirmations so you can present it to the front desk upon arrival, whether that’s the hotel or hire car. This can prevent confusion.
If you take pharmacist-only or prescription medication, you may need to carry it with you in the original packaging and have a doctor’s certificate proving you need the medication.
Some countries may insist on a certificate from the government if your medication contains controlled substances. In any case, you should call the local consulate or embassy to make sure.
Get independent travel insurance before you go – make sure it covers medical, transport, and other accidents.
Your credit card may offer insurance, but in a limited form. So, ensure full coverage by getting a premium from a dedicated provider.
Worth noting that it is *really* important to read the fine print and understand what the policy will cover you for. Some things to consider in the current situation:
Questions to ask your insurer
➤ Does your policy cover you if you travel to a country with a COVID travel ban in place? If there is a travel ban in place when you buy the policy, it’s likely it won’t cover you, so you need to check in detail. Typically, if the ban is added after you purchased your policy then you are covered.
These considerations were always in place for cases of war and terrorism whereby if you would travel to a place at war regular insurance policies wouldn’t cover you, but now apply to most countries because travel bans are in place across.
➤ Does your policy cover you if you need to self isolate or quarantine while NOT symptomatic, meaning, if you are not sick? Many policies will only cover your medical expenses, but if you are not sick your policy may not cover you for the associated costs of hotel / isolation, testing, etc.
➤ Does your policy cover you in case you need to cancel a trip because you got COVID and can’t board the plane? Typically, this is included under “cancel for any reason” type of coverage and is extra and in current times, may be quite expensive.
Getting Your Documents Sorted
Before you go, make sure your essential documents are accessible in hard copy and on your phone.
Carrying your passport in a special pouch with a document holder can make this easier. Be sure to look for one with RFID blocking. Unsure of what to bring to the airport? Here’s an exit checklist courtesy of the Guardian.
Long-haul trips can take it out of you and having your luggage on point will make things SO much easier on the road. We’ve put together a checklist of post-pandemic travel essentials here.
Following this checklist will make sure you have the trip of a lifetime!