Whether you are a veteran or novice travellers there are some must knows in this game, which can catch even the savviest people out on.
Working in the travel industry for over 15 years I have certainly seen my fair share of traveller and agents errors. At the time we used to call them “flight mares” where we would get that call from a client and you knew they should already have departed for their trip. You would sit there and sweat wondering why they were calling only to find out they were denied access to a country because they didn’t have a valid visa, or they arrived at their hotel in Italy and there was no reservation there…….argh!
Whether it was the travellers or agent’s error it didn’t matter we needed to find a way around it and put steps in place for this never to happen again!
So let me share with you Your Top 10 Checklist EVERY Traveller needs to know:
- Return flight booked – CHECK – At the beginning of my career before the aviation rules became what they are now, a client of mine booked all of their land through me and decided to book their flights themselves. Not long after they had left for their trip I got a phone call from Santiago Airport. My clients had arrived on a way one ticket without a valid ticket out to prove they were not staying indefinitely. Of course they weren’t but how were the Chilean authorities meant to know that!?They were about to be put on the next flight home after an arduous 15 hour journey, when they were allowed to make a phone call to me after much pleading and within minutes we were able to book them a forwarding ticket to Europe. Panic over! Lesson learnt by these adventure back packers, when travelling into a country where you don’t hold a valid visa or passport to live there you will always need to provide proof that you are leaving the country.
- Visas – CHECK – A “flight mare” where one of my colleague’s clients was flying via Vietnam to Europe. Being Australian they didn’t need a visa for Europe, however they got as far as Vietnam and were sent straight back because they didn’t have a transit visa! Fatal error here! Always make sure you have a valid visa for your transit cities as well as your destinations. Check here –you’re your travel consultant or click here http://visalink.com.au/
- Travel Vaccinations – CHECK – Three years ago I fulfilled a life long dream of trekking with the mountain gorillas in Uganda. In order to cross the border into Uganda you need to have a valid Typhoid shot documented on a travel document from a doctor. One of the girls who was on my tour didn’t have this documented and was denied entry. Devastating for her as she had come all this way. When traveling to far off places such as Arica, Middle East, Asia, South America to name a few, you need to check what vaccinations you need and keep these all recorded together. To find out what vaccinations you need visit your local travel clinic, which your GP can recommend.
- Photocopy Travel Documents – CHECK – A friend’s brother was travelling around South America on a back packing holiday and lost his passport, credit cards the works! He was left stranded with the only option to make a reverse charge call home to let his parents know and make his way to the closest Australian Embassy.After a lot of debacles he got a passport renewed and credit cards sent out, however if he would have photocopied his passport and credit cards had this on him as well as a copy left with his parents then he would have been able to cut the time by half to get everything renewed. Moral of the story here is always having a copy of your personal travel docs a copy for you and another with someone at home.
- Travel Insurance – CHECK – Working in the industry for over 15 years there are a lot of cases you come across where people haven’t taken out insurance against your recommendation. I’m sorry to say I worked in an office where one of our clients passed away whilst on a trip in Europe. Unfortunately she didn’t have travel insurance and her parents had to pay in excess of $80,000 to bring her home. This is a worse case scenario and something we don’t like to think about, however with when thinking booking your trip overseas always take out travel insurance from the time you book and make sure you are covered for what you need. The company we have used personally and professionally for ourselves and our clients is Covermore you can visit their website here – http://covermore.com/ or contact your Travel Consultant.
- Government Warnings – CHECK – There are plenty of natural disasters, civil unrest that take place around the world. As a traveller it is your responsibility to check the government website to see if where you are travelling is safe at the time. For more details visit – http://www.dfat.gov.au/
- Valid Passport – CHECK – You don’t want to get caught out here unlike hundreds of travellers every year! One of our friends was heading over to Bali to join a week long 30th birthday celebration. He was excited about the holiday, going away with friends that had been in the planning for months. On arrival in Bali going through customs, he was quickly escorted to a small room and interrogated for two hours, as he was 5 days short of having 6 months validity left on his passport! After a gruelling two hours he was now booked on the next flight back to Aus with his tail in between his legs.There are certain countries like the US, Bali, Thailand who require a minimum of 6 months validity on your passport to travel. I would be making sure as a standard that where ever you are travelling to overseas you ensure you have this amount of time on your passport.
- Cash Passport – CHECK – If you are travelling overseas and won’t to avoid being stung at ATM machines by your bank each time you make a withdrawal, or carrying around lots of cash in different currencies, then you will want to consider the cash passport option.
HOW does it work?? Well the cash passport acts as a credit card for you whilst you are away. You can use this in-store overseas, over the counter, shopping online and withdrawing cash. You can lock in your exchange rate at any time before you depart for your trip and even load up to 10 currencies! Pretty cool huh!? We think so! With the cash passport being used in 35.9 million locations this is a great option to give you piece of mind whilst you are away. For more info visit – http://www.cashpassport.com.au/ or contact your Travel Consultant.
- Phone Bills – CHECK – Gone are the days of buying calling cards and standing in a phone box in a foreign city and calling home to check in. Now with the smart phones we can access our friends and family at the touch of a button and from where ever we are in the world. This can definitely be a good thing, however we don’t want you to get stung with massive phone bills or data usage. So here is what we suggest……Before departing your home city go into the settings of your phone and turn off your data roaming. This means whilst you are overseas you can access the internet by WIFI only. Yes this means you can’t check Facebook when ever you want, however it is a holiday so take the time out and be on your holiday and check in when you are in the world of WIFI ☺ You can also buy calling cards which allows you to make calls at cheaper rates which means you can still connect with your friends and family and continue to conduct business if necessary.
- Supplier Details – CHECK – When I was travelling around Europe a few years ago I was sitting on a train going from Florence to Luca. As my train pulled into the platform I was so concerned with getting off the train and was I at the right station, that it was only once I got off that I realised I left my phone on the train….!!! I was travelling by myself and my phone was my lifeline. It had my banking details, the contact numbers of the people I was meeting, all the accommodation bookings where I was staying and of course much, much more! I now felt stranded; as I had no idea which hotel I was staying at or what to do. I decided I didn’t have time to have a melt down and instead with my limited Italian and fantastic sign language mixed with child like drawing managed to communicate what happened to the man working behind the ticket desk. I worked out I needed to wait 3 hours and come back at 5pm. So I found myself a café and made myself comfortable thinking to myself I should just write the phone off and find a new hotel. I decided to stay and at 5pm went back to the Italian man sitting behind the desk who miraculously was holding my phone. I could have kissed him!From then on I learnt to have a copy of the places I was staying, phone numbers, transfer details and anything else I would need if something went wrong to hand.
I trust you found this blog beneficial. We would love to hear from you and your experiences and of course any thoughts, feedback and questions you might have on the thread below.
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Until next time.