Things to do before leaving
- Forward your mail or arrange to have it collected by family, friends or neighbours. Alternatively ask the post office to hold it.
- Put a hold on newspaper & magazine deliveries. Or have a neighbour collect it. A full mailbox especially with bank statements and credit card bills can be a treasure trove for hackers and identity thieves (and suggests easy pickings for a home burglar). Pick up forms to hold or forward mail at any post office. Also, don't broadcast your travel plans on social networking websites.
- Pay telephone, service provider accounts and bills before you go, so they will not be disconnected while you are away.
- Ensure arrangements for your pets are in place.
- Alert your credit card providers. Before you leave, let them know when, where and how long you'll be travelling. This helps fraud departments stop bogus charges if your plastic is used where you are not - and reduces the risk that your cards will be frozen due to "unusual activity" when you use them far from home.
- If you are taking your mobile/cell phone on tour contact your provider to ensure international ROAM is on or purchase a phone card to call home.
- Turn off any preset alarm clocks and all electrical appliances at the switch.
- Alert the airline if you have any special food consideration – vegetarian etc.
- Inform neighbours & neighbourhood watch groups of your holiday dates.
- Make sure your family & friends have copies of your overseas travel itinerary and hotels you will be staying at, in case they need to contact you.
- Some airlines will allow you to check-in online and select your seats before you travel. You can also register online to receive an email or mobile/cell text message if your flight is going to be delayed.
- Leave your cheque book at home. You shouldn't need it if you have credit cards. Leave your bills and private papers at home too.
Security before you go
- It is essential that you take out comprehensive travel insurance to cover all overseas medical costs for the duration of your travel. Your travel insurance should also cover any activities in which you plan to participate.
- Make copies of your passport details, insurance policy, travellers cheques, visas and credit card numbers. Carry one copy in a separate place to the originals and leave a copy with someone at home.
- Consult your doctor regarding recommended vaccinations or other health precautions for your destination(s). Check that any medication you need to take is legal in the countries you plan to visit. It is a good idea to carry a prescription from your doctor for any medicines you take with you.
- Weed out your wallet. Pickpockets love tourist destinations, so take only essential identifiers, like your driving license and just two credit cards, one to carry, another to be locked in the hotel room safe in case your wallet is pilfered. Men, keep your wallet in a buttoned breast pocket or buttoned pants pocket. Women, wear a hand-bag with wide straps and locked clasps, diagonally across the chest and don't hang it over the door when you use a public bathroom.
- Consider a temporary credit freeze. A freeze denies access to your credit history, so ID thieves can't open accounts in your name while you're away, but it doesn't stop you from using your credit card.
- Use safer ATMs. Debit cards are best left at home, but if you need cash withdrawals ATMs in bank lobbies are less vulnerable to devices that robbers use to capture your card information. Bank lobbies generally have camera surveillance.
- Be careful with hotel computers. Don't access financial data on hotel or other public computers or on public Wi-Fi networks. You never know what identity-stealing software is at work.
- Beware of "front desk" fraudsters. A late-night phone call to your room from a "clerk" saying your credit card number is needed again may be a ruse by an ID thief. Ignore the request and call the front desk yourself.
Passport & Visas
While your travel agent can give you advice it is up to you to ensure you have a valid passport and the right visas.
- Make sure your passport is valid for travel for all the countries you are visiting or transiting in.
- Many countries require your passport to be valid during and beyond the length of your stay (usually a minimum of 6 months), so check what applies to your itinerary.
- It is a good idea to carry two additional passport photos with you in case your passport is stolen or lost and you need a replacement passport while overseas.
- Depending on your nationality you may need to obtain visas for the various countries you are visiting or transiting in. It is often essential that these are obtained prior to going overseas.
Be prepared, if you are unsure about what to do talk to your Embassy.
What to Pack
There is nothing worse than realising on tour that you have left some crucial items at home, the following packing tips should help you to better prepare.
- Start by writing a packing list, be sure to check the weather forecast of the destination you are visiting and take into consideration the activities and outings you will be going on.
- When packing an item think about how many times you are going to wear it. If you are not going to wear it more than three times, don't pack it!
- Choose clothes that pack well and colour co-ordinate. For example, choose a base colour for trousers, skirts & shorts like beige or khaki and then match with a couple of highlight colours.
- Be aware of local traditions and dress codes, especially if travelling to Muslim countries.
- Accessorise, accessorise! Ladies scarves or wraps can give your limited wardrobe extra colour. They can easily be used to dress up an outfit. Also, when visiting places of worship you will need to cover your shoulders so a wrap is perfect for this situation. Also, a few pairs of inexpensive earrings are fun to bring and can also change the look of your outfit.
- Pack sunscreen and insect repellent.
- Take a few plastic zip lock bags for carrying wet items or keeping things dry.
- Check the electrical outlets and adapters needed for the places you are visiting.
- If you wear glasses, pack an extra pair or at least have a copy of your glasses prescription.
- To avoid problems when passing through customs, keep medicines in their original labeled containers. If a medication is unusual, carry a letter from your doctor attesting to your need to take it.
- If you plan to wash some items in your hotel bathroom, take a travel clothesline, sink stopper & soap. Remember micro fibers dry quicker than cotton.
- If taking a digital camera clean out your photo card memory and get a back-up one and spare battery.
- If you have any severe allergies write them out in English and translate to languages in countries you will be visiting. Write on business card size card and keep on your person. This is easy to do by using Google language tools.
What Not To Pack
Remembering what not to pack can sometimes be as important as remembering what to pack. Follow this simple rule - don't bring anything you would hate to lose. Leave at home:
- Valuable or expensive-looking jewellery.
- Irreplaceable family objects.
- All unnecessary credit cards.
- Your identity card, library card, and similar items you may routinely carry in your wallet.
Tips for packing your suitcase
- Start by putting your name, address and telephone numbers inside and outside of each piece of luggage. Use covered luggage tags to avoid casual observation of your identity or nationality.
- Lock your luggage to prevent theft and tampering.
- When packing, lay out the items you intend to take and re-evaluate your list to eliminate any unnecessary or single-use items.
- Iron everything before placing it in your suitcase as you may not always have time to iron clothes when you are on tour. Button all buttons and zip all zippers to avoid items getting caught on them.
- Pack chronologically, with items to be worn first on the top. This will make it easier to pull things out of your suitcase and save you time, handy for when you are on the go.
- Pack items tightly so that clothes do not have too much space to move around and wrinkle.
- Pack toiletries in plastic bags to avoid spillages. Individual containers with more than 100ml of liquids are not permitted to be taken in your carryon luggage in many airports. They must be placed in your checked in luggage. Check with your airline or airport for up-to-date security restrictions.
- To save room pack items in shoes (i.e. rolled socks etc).
- Always carry travel documents, medication, jewellery (only take the absolute minimum), money and travellers cheques, and other valuables in your money belt).
- Remember to pack your bag only two-thirds full to leave room for shopping and souvenirs.