Whether you are headed overseas for a few weeks or a few months – maybe you don’t even have an end date in mind – the travel preparations can seem quite overwhelming at times.
Resist the urge to feel alarmed: the planning stage should be almost as exciting as the travel itself! Just be sure that your preparations include more than bars to visit and sights to see. Here are the essentials you should take care of before you leave, so that your trip is a smooth one.
1. Valid Passport.
This is an absolute must if you are traveling outside of your home country, and should be the first thing you look into when planning a trip.
Most countries will require that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your departure, so be sure that you do not need to make a renewal. It is possible to get a last-minute, rush passport but this typically costs significantly more – and you should be saving all the money you have to spend while traveling, not paying for a lack of foresight!
2. Travel Insurance.
You will need medical, travel and content insurance for the duration of your trip, and depending on what means of transport you plan to use in your destination country, you may need to look into rental car insurance as well.
The price you pay for this peace of mind will be worth it, even if you do not have any claims to submit at the end of your travels. You do not want your entire holiday to be ruined because of a delayed flight that you do not have any cover for. Make sure to shop around the Internet to find the best rate and coverage for your needs.
3. Language Skills.
If you are traveling somewhere where you do not speak the native language, invest in a phrase book and take the time to learn a few basics.
Hello, thank you, goodbye, excuse-me: making an effort will endear you to the locals and mean they are more likely to help you out in a sticky situation. It will also make asking where to find some things – i.e the nearest car service – a lot easier and faster. Even if you are afraid of “butchering the language”, showing you’ve at least taken the effort to try will make all the difference.
Before you fly, ask around your friends and family to see if anyone has contacts in your travel destination.
There’s nothing quite like exploring a city with the help of a local or someone who has been there before. Guidebooks are helpful, but they cannot give you the authentic experience or insider knowledge of someone who has had more than a few weeks to truly explore.
In order to truly appreciate a place, you need to dig beneath the surface and look beyond the typical tourist attractions – so make sure you have someone who can help you do this.
If you can’t find anyone, then those language skills or customs you have taken the time to learn will help you establish local contacts upon your arrival.
5. Don’t Forget your Home.
Make sure to plan for what you are leaving behind, as well as where you are going: do you need to find someone to housesit or take over the rental lease for you? Do you have pets that will need feeding?
Before you get too far ahead in your planning, organise friends to take on these responsibilities for you. This will ensure you don’t stumble into any unfortunate problems a few weeks before you are due to leave.
Traveling overseas is one of the most exciting experiences you can have: meeting new people, experiencing a new way of life, and discovering more about yourself on the journey. Just make sure you’ve taken the time to prepare the necessary basics, and you will be able to enjoy a stress-free trip. Have fun!