Tips for first time overseas travellers
While many people dream of venturing to far flung destinations, not all of us are regular travellers and not everyone has a passport. Nothing beats the excitement of your first overseas trip but there are some pitfalls for inexperienced international travellers. These overseas travel tips will help to ensure your first overseas adventure is memorable for all the right reasons.
Purchase travel insurance
Whether it’s a missed connection, lost baggage or even an emergency medical situation, travel insurance can protect you from significant financial loss. Travellers are covered for things such as cancellation due to illness from the moment they purchase a policy. You only pay for the time you are away so lock in travel insurance as soon as possible for maximum protection.
Check visa requirements early
A visa is required to enter certain countries. Check the government website Smart Traveller for information on whether a visa is required and who to contact if you do need to obtain one. If you got your passport ages ago but never got around to using it, check it still has at least six months validity. Some countries won’t let you enter if your passport has less than six months on it.
Work out a budget (and stick to it)
Find out how much things cost at your destination, work out the currency conversion then put aside more money than you think you’ll need. While it can be tempting to live it up while you’re overseas, a hefty credit card bill is one souvenir you don’t want to bring home.
Tell your credit card provider
If your credit card provider sees foreign transactions on your account, they can freeze your card until you call to verify the transactions. Let your credit card company know the dates of your trip before you leave Australia to avoid this happening to you. Many credit card providers let you do this online while others require a phone call.
Stash some cash
If your credit card is blocked or your handbag gets stolen, it can be good to have some local currency stashed away for emergencies. Keep this in a separate location to your wallet, ideally in a safe place back at your accommodation, along with your passport and other valuables.
Include a change of clothes in your carry-on bag in case your luggage goes astray or you have an unplanned layover. While this may not happen, if it does, you’ll be glad you came prepared.
Book your first night
Even if you hate planning, it can be wise to pre-book your first night’s accommodation in advance. Arriving in a foreign country with no place to stay can be stressful, not to mention dangerous in some cases, and will usually see you paying too much.
Arrive with a plan
Work out the best, safest and most cost effective way to get from the airport to your pre-booked hotel before you leave Australia. This will help to ensure your first experience getting from A to B overseas is a good one. Knowing approximately how much the taxi should cost or if the airport train will be running at 5am will also help you avoid getting ripped off.
Making and receiving calls on your mobile phone is expensive when you’re overseas. If you would like to leave your phone switched on so friends or family can reach you in an emergency, call your service provider to activate global roaming. Switch off automatic software updates on your phone before you leave Australia though, as the bill can stretch to thousands if you forget.
Less is more
While it can be tempting to try and cram in as many countries and tourist sites as possible on your first trip overseas, this can be a mistake. Allow some free time to simply soak up the atmosphere, go exploring or check out local recommendations. It’s often these unplanned experiences which turn out to be the best part of your trip.
Disclosure: The writer went overseas for the first time when she was eighteen and hasn’t stopped travelling since.
Want more tips that save time, money and your sanity at the airport? Check out our suggestions for how to pass the time at an airport with kids, how to access airline lounges (even if you’re not a member), how to make the most of a stopover, and tips for flying a low cost airline.