In this age of discount airlines and never-ending travel deals, the idea of a trip of lifetime may seem a little novel, but it’s still the dream of thousands of people. Nowadays though, you don’t have to wait until retirement to head off into the sunset.
If you’re thinking of organising a trip that takes you from one end of the world to the other, it’s best to plan ahead before you get up and go. After all, when you’re lazing back on a sun-drenched beach in Tahiti, the last thing you want to worry about is whether you paid your credit card bill before you left home. (You may get a nasty surprise at the hotel reception and a declined card.)
Here are some handy travel tips and timely reminders.
When it’s fall and winter in the northern hemisphere, it’s the complete opposite in the southern hemisphere – spring and summer. If you’re planning to spend time in different zones, you’ll need to pack different weights of clothing and footwear.
There are strict new security measures and luggage requirements both carry on and checked luggage with global airlines. Check your local sites for specific advice and understand what you can take on board and check in. Many previously “innocent” items are now prohibited.
To lock…or not
If you’re flying to the US, there are new procedures in place for your carry on and checked luggage. If your bag is locked, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) may open it and screen the contents. TSA is not liable for damage caused to locked bags, but you can prevent this by using a TSA-recognized locking mechanism. These “special” locks can be opened by TSA using tools provided by participating industry members and can be bought at popular retail outlets.
Check your house and contents insurance
If you’re travelling for several weeks, get a house sitter or someone to check on your property regularly. Some home insurance policies may not be valid if your property is left unoccupied. I found hsbc home and contents cover that gives you 60 days coverage if you go away. Take a look for yourself.
You can’t get far without money, so organise some traveller’s cheques and local currency. You could take a Cash Passport plastic card with you as a handy alternative to cheques. It gives access to local currency from any Visa-linked ATM overseas. You load it up with a deposit in one of four popular currencies: US dollars, Euros, Sterling or Aussie dollars.
Credit cards are widely accepted in most places, but make sure you have paid your bill before you leave home and top up the balance with additional funds. Put your card bill on direct debit to your savings or cheque account so the balance is paid off each month.
ATMs are not everywhere
While ATM cards are widely accepted around the world, not all ATM cards may work overseas. If you are going off the beaten track, there’s every chance you won’t find a handy ATM in a shopping mall as you trek to marvel at those thousand year-old temple ruins. Take some local cash for small purchases, meals and taxi fares.
If you have a long wait, miss a connection or arrive in the middle of the night at your destination, carry high-protein snacks or granola bars to keep up your energy levels. It might be hours before your next meal. An ipod is also a good companion to have in between flights. Just plug in and chill out.
Travel insurance for peace of mind
What if something went wrong and you needed to be airlifted home? That would make a dent in your savings. No one likes to think about something going wrong, annual travel insurance offers some sort of security. Searching online, I came across hsbc travel insurance cover that you can use for both a single trip or on an annual basis. The great advantage is it offers a 24 hour multi lingual service, medical referral and travel emergency help. You don’t want to be stuck in pain with no one understanding your screams!
Make copies of your documents and plans
It’s a smart idea to make copies of your passport details, insurance policy, travellers’ cheques, visas and credit card numbers. Carry one copy separately from the originals and leave a copy with someone at home.
There’s a big world out there. Bon voyage.