Cape Town - It's no secret that exploring new places and cultures is an exhilarating experience, but planning a trip can be a mission and a half - Going through visa application admin and having to decide what to take or what to leave isn't even the half of it.
But this isn't the biggest problems travellers regularly encounter, things like not checking to make sure your passports are valid for at least six months, informing the bank that you'll be traveling to avoid getting your cards frozen, or buying tickets for events and locations in advance.
To help you with your travel planning, use the handy checklist to assist you fly.
Before You Go
- Do your homework. Knowing what to expect of your destination means you’ll have a much better chance of experiencing all it has to offer. Blogs and websites as well as social platforms offer amazing tips from traveller and locals.
- You need at least six months’ validity on your passport to enter some countries so check ahead.
- Contact your bank to make sure your ATM/credit card will work overseas. It’s also a good idea to tell bank staff you’re heading away so they don’t freeze your card due to unusual activity that will be flagged as fraudulent.
- Get a cloud-based storage account - Google Cloud, iCloud and Dropbox are examples of free cloud storage hosts - and scan all tickets, passports, driver licenses and important documents such as travel insurance policies into it. If anything gets lost or stolen you can easily access the copies.
- Leave a copy of essential documents at home or with someone you trust too – just in case.
- Ensure any vaccinations you need are up to date. Specialist travel health clinics can help with this.
- Renew all essential prescriptions and take any medication you need with you. Medication names often vary between countries.
- Pack an extra set of clothes in your carry-on bag, as airlines have been known to lose luggage. Flights are occasionally delayed as well and a spare change of clothes will come in handy when a two hour layover turns in to 24.
- Take a guide book on your destination. Lonely Planet, Frommers, Rough Guides – it doesn’t matter. With information on food, currency, customs, language, sights, accommodation and much more, a guide book is your bible - especially handy when you don’t have ready internet access.
- If you’re traveling to another time zone it helps to reschedule your bedtime by an hour or two. There are plenty of jet-lag guidelines out there so do some research on which suits you best. By selecting your normal wake-up time, the time at your destination and the time at home, you’ll know when to soak up some light and when to draw the blinds.
SEE: 16 tips for maxing and relaxing during your long-haul trip
- Don’t joke with security staff at the airport. It’ll just land you in trouble.
- Think about where to sit on the plane. Personal preference varies, of course, but an aisle seat can be a good idea, especially on long-haul flights, as it’s nice to be able to move around the plane without having to disturb people beside you. For those who can afford it, business or first class with lie-flat beds or capsules or pods will afford you a better chance of rest than cramped economy class.
- “We recommend looking at the seating options when booking your flight. Certain airlines only allow you to reserve your preferred seat if you’re part of their frequent flyer programme, others might charge an extra fee which might be worth it if you’re very tall and need to book an emergency exit space with more leg room for example”, advises Shelton.
- West is best jet-lag experts say. By travelling west you fly into a longer day and extending your day. By flying east, you’re shortening it and losing time. It’s easier to stay up later, than get to sleep when your body is not ready to rest.
SEE: Airport anger: It’s manageable and up to you
When You’re There
- Be careful what you eat and drink. It’s best to stick to bottled water in some countries and be weary of salads which may have been rinsed in the local water.
- Take your dress cues from the locals, especially in countries where public decency laws might be different from your home.
- If you’re planning a big night out, go with people you know, stick together and beware of overly-friendly strangers.
- Carry a small amount of cash in the local currency, as not every place takes credit cards, especially train and bus stations.
- Buy tickets in advance for places you know you want to see. You’ll be able to skip lines, and you might get a better deal.
- Check what festivals and other events are on in your destination; attending these is a great way to learn about different cultures and meet the locals
SEE: Budget-friendly tips: 5 perspectives you need to check out
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