- Ensure that you have adequate Travel Insurance – if you are a Discovery member you get free travel insurance.
- Take your own medical kit with ie. to include plasters, Dettol, headache tablets, flu medication, Vit C, Imodium (for upset stomachs), Valoid (nausea) as well as any chronic medication (high blood pressure, ashma etc).
- Do research on the country you are visiting and know the Do’s and Do Not’s especially when travelling to the East.
- Make sure that your passport has not expired and is valid for at least 6 months.
- Give yourself enough time to apply for a visa for the country that you are travelling to.
- Get an international drivers licence if you intend renting a car when travelling internationally.
Security & Health
- Check-in with your doctor and insurance carrier. Double check and make sure that you have all of the proper vaccinations and that you have renewed all essential prescriptions. Also, ask you medical insurance provider if your policy applies overseas for emergencies. If it doesn’t, and you want to add extra coverage
- Bring copies of your passport. If your passport gets stolen or lost you want to be sure that you can still get back into the country, or be able to prove your citizenship.
- Leave a copy of your passport. For extra backup, leave a copy of your passport at home or with someone you trust. Consider making an electronic copy you can store in your email account as well.
- Look up the monetary conversion before you go. Finding out that one Danish Krone is equal to just 19 cents … bad surprise. Make sure you do your math before you travel to get a sense of where the conversion rate is at.
- Make sure your credit card will work in the country you’re visiting. European banks have switched almost completely to the more secure chip-and-PIN technology, and fewer businesses abroad are accepting the outdated magnetic-strip cards.
- Go to a bank or ATM in the country you’re visiting. The conversion centres in the airport or around the city tend to be huge rip-offs. You won’t get charged as many fees at the ATM or the bank, and the conversion will be exact.
- Always have local cash. Not every place takes credit cards. Especially important places like trains or buses. Call your bank or credit card provider. Sometimes banks think that fraud may be occurring if transactions are suddenly happening in Bali when you’re from Cape Town, and they will turn off your card as a security measure.
- Buy tickets now for places you know you want to visit or see. By buying in advance you’ll be able to skip more lines, and find more deals targeted toward you.
- Get guidebooks. Guidebooks usually include maps, keywords or phrases, and give you enough detail on certain sites that you won’t need to purchase the pamphlet at the venue. And download apps before you travel. Avoid downloading charges from your wireless carrier and get your apps before you leave.
- Research events going on while you’re there. This will help you make sure that you’re not missing the best events going on in the city — fun things like festivals, ceremonies and natural events. Also be sure to research as a few national dishes to try. You don’t want to leave the country without experiencing what it’s known for.
- Learn basic phrases in the native language of your destination ie. “hello”, “goodbye” or “where’s the toilet”.
- Take free walking tours which will give you orientation and background of the city you are visiting.
- Get city attraction cards if you are going to visit museums and other attractions. A city pass will save you money on admission (plus most provide free public transport).
- Bring a charger adapter. Countries have different size plugs and voltage. So if you want to use your iPod, make sure you can charge it. A power strip can be a way to cheat and charge multiple devices off of one adapter.
- Activate your phone’s global capabilities. There’s usually a charge for doing this, but it is much less than the roaming charges you’ll get if you don’t.
Luggage & Packing
- Pack an extra set of clothes in your carry-on bag. Don’t be one of those travellers decked out in J’adore Paris apparel because the airline lost your luggage and you have nothing else to wear.
- To check a bag or not to check bag. Each airline has its own set of guidelines as to how many bags can be checked or carried on for free. Make sure to look up what your airline’s rules are to avoid any incremental fees. And, if you are connecting during your trip, know the luggage rules/fees for those airlines as well — especially for regional or low-cost carriers.
- Bring snacks. Traveling abroad is fun, but eating in a foreign country can sometimes become a task. Bring small snacks that will tide you over until you find that perfect restaurant or food cart.
- Shop at the local markets and grocery stores as eating out can be expensive and these shops will have pre made salads, sandwiches, fruit and veg for meals on the go.
- Expect challenges when travelling. Travelling is like life and has some hiccups along the way, but this makes it interesting, memorable and is part of the experience.