In the madness and excitement of organising some time away, it’s easy to overlook some important and savvy travel tips. While we cannot guarantee you will have an incident free trip when following these tips, they could mean the difference between a memorable getaway and one you want to forget.
- Carry a laminated and certified copy of your passport with you – If you’ve ever seen the movie The Terminal with Tom Hanks, it’s quite a scary thought to have no country to go home to. If you lose your passport, you at least want to be sure that you can get back home and prove your citizenship. It’s also a good idea so you have proof of identity with you (i.e. when you’re going out in the evening) so you can safely lock away your passport.
- Leave a copy of your passport with someone at home and uploaded to your email – If worse comes to worse, it’s good to know that you at least have some form of identification uploaded electronically which you can access.
- Know the visa and entry requirements – A passport may not be enough for where you’re going. Make sure you read up on the visa and entry requirements before you travel.
- Health and travel insurance – If you have health insurance (medical aid), see if you are covered for international travel. If not, then speak to a travel agent about travel insurance.
- Drinking water – A cold beer is a welcome sight, but sometimes you need a glass of water. Just because water comes out of a tap doesn’t necessarily mean its drinkable (even in some of the world’s most modern cities). Understand what the water situation is and whether it’s suitable to drink.
- Vaccinations – Some countries may require you to be vaccinated before travelling to them. Make sure you are aware of what vaccinations you require before travelling.
- Look up the monetary conversion before you go – You’ve been pinching those pennies and skipping a few meals for some spending money and you’ve finally arrived at your destination. To your horror, the meal you’ve just ordered is three times the price compared to last week. Don’t get caught short and be aware of the exchange rate.
- Make sure that your credit card will work in the country you’re visiting – It’s nice to have a credit card handy for those added expenses, but make sure it will work in the countries you’re travelling to.
- Use an ATM instead of a foreign exchange desk – You won’t be charged as many fees at the ATM or a local bank. Foreign exchange desks at the airport can be a rip off, but the convenience of them makes them desirable.
- Carry cash on you – Not every place will take credit cards, especially the far corners of a country where there’s nothing but you and the natural wilderness.
- Let your bank know where you are going – Your bank suddenly sees transactions in Uganda when they know you live in South Africa which is a red flag for them, so they suspend your cards and account. Avoid this frustration by giving your bank a call and letting them know where you are going.
- Check entry and exit fees – There may be hidden fees at departure and arrival points, make sure you have the necessary loot to get in and out.
Luggage and Packing
Packing can either turn into a last minute nightmare or something you do well ahead of time. Be smart about your packing to avoid frustration down the line. For a more comprehensive blog on packing smart click here.
- Pack an extra set of clothes in your carry on – After watching the luggage conveyer make a 10th rotation, you’ve realised that your bag may not have been on the flight with you. It’s a good idea to have an extra set of clothes on you in case your bag doesn’t meet you at your destination.
- Cover for your luggage – Some airlines will include cover for your luggage in the price of your ticket. It may be included in your travel insurance too. It’s not a bad idea to have it and it will save you a lot of headaches down the line.
- Be informed about your destination – Choosing where to travel to shouldn’t be a case of drawing a raffle ticket and jumping on a plane. Although travelling Russian roulette sounds cool, it’s important to be informed about where you are travelling to.
- Be street wise when you travel – You’re an unfamiliar face in an unfamiliar country, of course you’re going to stick out. Don’t let fraudsters take advantage of this. Keep your wits about you so you come home with good memories rather than empty pockets.
- Don’t leave your bag(s) unattended – You may have heard a similar announcement over the airport PA system, (*ding, ding, ding*) “Passengers are reminded not to leave any luggage unattended. Unattended luggage may…” blah, blah, blah. Yes, I’ve heard it before. No matter how many times you’ve heard this, it only takes a couple of seconds for your bag to disappear. A piece of advice is to pack light, that way you don’t have as many bags to look out for.
- Carry your valuables on you – Naturally your passport should take priority over your travel pillow… at least I’d hope so. That being said, it’s best to keep your passport and other valuables on you. Carry your valuables on you, and when you don’t need them, make sure they are locked up somewhere safe.
- Know the procedure and price for getting a taxi – Find out the best way to get a taxi and what the price is. Drivers may fleece you and charge you more than necessary. If this does happen, let it be a learning curve so you don’t get caught again.
- Use a metred and clearly marked cab – Playing ‘guess the cab’ is a dangerous game and something that should be avoided. Use a metered and clearly marked cab to avoid unpleasant surprises.
- Stick to the travel times – The days of headcounts by teachers on school tours are over. If your bus or plane leaves at a specified time, stick to it.