Recently I travelled from Sydney to Chicago. Many things happened on this trip that with a little forethought I could have avoided. As such, here are my 5 tips to consider when you are travelling overseas!
Check your passport
This might sound basic but I ran around trying to update my passport to my married name. Finding someone who knew me for long enough and was either enrolled to vote or had an Australian passport was harder than I expected. Once I finally found someone I still had my first application rejected then when I was doing the second application I needed more paperwork, so more running around. Then the lady working there told me legally I was allowed to travel on my current passport, as long as I took my marriage certificate too. That would have been nice to know beforehand!
Check what the requirements are properly so you don’t end up running around like me unnecessarily.
Get the best card
I already knew my bank didn’t charge much for overseas transactions so I wasn’t worried. I found out when I got back I could have saved myself a bit if I had gone with a different bank. Check which banks have the best exchange rates, lowest fees and are the most accessible. There are different cards such as credit cards, debit cards, prepaid travel cards and your regular atm card. The fees can be as much as $5 per transaction and the currency conversion rate varies as well as the commission your bank will charge, so check it all carefully.
Notify your bank
When I traveled in 2005 to the USA my bank at the time did not care that all of a sudden I was spending a few thousand in another country. This time my credit card was frozen instantly. When I went to check out, my credit card would not process, despite me knowing the money was there. After a few calls it was sorted and thankfully the hotel were very accommodating. So make sure you tell your bank where you are going so they don’t freeze your funds!
I have traveled once before without insurance when I was young and naïve. Thankfully nothing happened, but we came close. Luggage was sent to the wrong city (Seattle instead of Honolulu) among other things. With insurance it would have been replaced. Without insurance we would have lost over $1,000 worth of stuff. Also if we had gotten sick in the USA it can cost you tens of thousands of dollars for something basic, hundreds of thousands for something serious. Don’t risk it, but before you pay for it, check with your credit card as some offer free travel insurance.
Freshen up after getting off the plane
This one is pure vanity on my part. It had been 26 hours between when I left my house and when I arrived at the hotel for the conference, so I was definitely not looking my best. My make up was smudged, my skin decided it hated me on the flight and I got maybe 1 hour sleep. As I stepped out of the taxi and went to head inside the hotel I ran into a bunch of bloggers and did not make a good first impression. Take a small freshen up kit and use it before leaving the airport or even the plane.