It’s time to ‘GO’!
It’s that time of year when everyone is feeling the pull of packing a bag and taking off somewhere; Paris? The Caribbean? Thailand? Bali? Whether you’re seeking a cultural escape, an island getaway or simply visiting family, it always pays to be prepared: nobody wants to have to cut that dream vacay short so read on for our top travel tips for this summer.
First things first
So you’ve chosen your international destination and found the flight deal that suits your bank balance. Your finger is poised on the buy button but hold tight, my friend. Why not open up an extra tab on your internet browser and do a quick Google search on required visas for your locale of choice. Australians are generally welcome around the globe, even if only so others can delight in the dulcet tones of our accent, but it pays to make sure you know exactly what you’re up against when it comes to the process you’ll need to go through to travel to a specific place.
If you’re planning an extended holiday (lucky you!), get familiar with the number of days you’re allowed in a particular place or continent – becoming ‘unlawful’ for an accidental overstay can have serious consequences. Once you know you meet the criteria, click away and secure your spot on that jet plane!
Better safe than sorry when it comes to travel insurance: one of those little things you may question whether you need when it comes to shelling out some cash before your trip but believe us when we say it will be the best thing you ever bought should you get injured or lose something. From last minute cancellations to stolen or lost luggage to the worst case scenario of a medical emergency, making sure your travel insurance is, not only sorted, but good (check exactly what it covers/the excess and use a comparison website to find the best deal) is essential.
In the bag
It’s officially time to get excited once you start packing your bags - but it needs a lot more consideration than just filling them with the usual t-shirts and swimwear. What activities are you going to do? What cultural expectations are there? Going somewhere with temples to explore? Check online if any body parts need to be covered and with what. You may need shoes for a particular walking experience or you may be arriving in the wet season. Don’t forget your flight too. Packing some little essentials for the long haul flights can get your holiday off to a great start; Good quality headphones; check. Your favourite read; check. Season 2 of ‘The Good Place’ downloaded to iPad; double check.
It’s time to get your personal survival travel kit together. The importance of this kit really can’t be underestimated and when you’re in a situation where you need to call upon it, it will become worth more than gold to you. Always pack sunscreen & sunglasses, of course, we assume you’re headed somewhere warm but even if not, there’s always reflection from snow or water to deal with. If you’re headed somewhere tropical, find yourself the best repellent you can and it may also be worth checking up on potential shots from your GP well before you leave or anti-malaria medication. We also recommend packing a few painkillers, plasters – just in case you get blisters from all the extra walking, and last but certainly not least, make sure to include some BIOlyte should something upset your tummy. It doesn’t matter where you ‘go’ on holiday, nobody wants to be stuck taking loo holiday selfies. BIOLyte reduces vomiting & diarrhoea and also boosts your immunity.
On average people drink more alcohol, get more sun and do more activities on holiday, all of which conspire to dehydrate you. But be careful where you get your water from. Many Asian & South American countries do not have drinking water on tap meaning holiday makers should be cautious and organised. Always make sure you’ve got a bottle of water with you, especially if you don’t know how long you’ll be out. Do some research on the water situation on the country you're visiting. If it’s a high risk area, avoid having ice in drinks or salads (which are washed in tap water) to avoid getting the dreaded gastro.
Don’t let customs get your holiday off to a bad start. For many, it can be source of anxiety, whereas for others, it’s just annoying to forget what is, and isn’t, allowed through. With a few tips you can make sure it’s as painless and possible.
- Keep your phone in your pocket when you enter, most places are a definite no on its use while you’re in the vicinity.
- Have all available information about your trip with you: this includes a printed flight itinerary, just in case. You’ll need your passport ready to go, any visa information you have organised, an address of where you’re staying in the country and be ready to tell the customs official exactly why and how long you’re there and for what purpose.
- Keep your flight ticket, it’s rare that you’ll need this but with some countries, it’s a must for being granted entry.
- Take note of the signs which communicate what can pass through customs. Australia has very strict rules on items being brought back into the country like wood, food & even dirty shoes.
If you’ve never visited a particular place before, it’s best to use caution in a general sense. Rely on your hotel or Airbnb host to help you out with safe ways to get around (i.e. reputable tour companies, a particular taxi company to use) and whether they use a meter versus how much you should barter for a ride. Ensure you have an idea of exactly where you’re headed and only go there at times when it’s safe to do so and with another person if this is the safer option. Make it a point to know the local laws, there may be something you need to wear to cover your body (there are certain tattoos not allowed to be exposed in particular countries) or something you’re not allowed in the country (i.e. chewing gum is not allowed in Singapore), so again make Google your friend and know what you’re up against ahead of time.
The same goes for scams common to that particular place. Pickpockets exist in most countries, so you can try a number of bags and body wallets designed for this. You may even want to try carrying a fake wallet, with a few local notes in and a few old decoy cards in it, that you can easily give up if you have the ill-fortune to be mugged. If you’re concerned about safety, stay under the radar. Keep your valuables in the hotel safe and don’t show any bling or designer labels.
The bigger picture
Now that we’ve dealt with all the heavy stuff, it’s time for a few lighter suggestions. This is the most important: have fun! Make sure you put that smart phone camera away for a while and give yourself the mind space to simply soak up the experience and culture around you. Find a beautiful spot wherever you happen to be to just sit and notice all the sights and sounds around you, even if it’s just for a few minutes - you’ll be so glad you did.
Don’t worry about the diet: take the opportunity to taste all the food you can and say yes to that cocktail at sunset. You’ll find that being a tourist requires a lot more energy than your regular work life so don’t be afraid to indulge a little.