Are you a student planning your first trip overseas? Here are some fundamentals you’d need to help you get everything in order for your first travel adventure, before moving on to more helpful travel planning hacks.
1. This is probably the most important document check you’ll need. Check a few months in advance that you have a valid passport with at least six months’ before the stated date of expiry, and any required visas. And, another tip that seasoned travellers always stick by – make a copy of, or scan your passport and email it to yourself, or keep a copy on your phone’s photo album. You can also leave a copy with family, or keep a copy in your wallet. This simple habit will save you hours of hassle in case it gets lost or soiled!
2. Prior to leaving your home country, you will want to read the Consular Information Sheets and/or any travel advisory and warnings that have been published, concerning the the destinations you plan to visit. To be extra safe, you might want to invest some time doing a little research on any weather changes, natural disasters or major catastrophes in the destinations which may put a dampener on your travel. It’s also prudent to keep a notebook of important information, emergency phone numbers, hospitals, maps, and anything other information that are would be useful if emergencies crop up. This is especially important as you may not have stable data/wifi connection at your destination.
3. Register your trip details with the embassy, either online or upon arrival. Inform your family members and friends of your travel and leave copies of your itinerary, passport data page and visas with them, so that you can be easily contacted in case of an emergency. If you are travelling with friends, write down the contact details of your friends and their families. If you are on an exchange or host programme, always keep them well-informed of your plans and whereabouts.
4. Some countries have regulations on the type of immunisations visitors are required to take, so ensure that your immunisations are current for the country you are visiting. Remember to purchase travel insurance for the required dates of travel that will cover flight delays and emergency medical needs (including medical evacuation) while you are overseas. And perhaps an extra day, in case of flight delays.
5. Acquaint yourself with the laws and customs of the countries you are visiting. This simple preparation will keep you out of jail! Remember that as long as you are in another country, you are held subject to local laws and legislations, and a plea of ignorance will not exempt you from legal punishment.
6. Always be on guard, do not leave your luggage unattended in public areas and never accept packages from strangers. Drug syndicates have clever modes of operation and will take advantage of young, inexperienced travelers. Avoid being the target of such predators by travelling light and keeping watch.
7. Do not become a target for pickpockets by carrying or wearing luxury items (bags, shoes, wallets) and expensive jewellery, or carrying large sums of cash with you. Dress casually and do your best not to attract unnecessary attention.
8. If you need to visit a money exchange, deal only with authorised agents. Unlicensed money changers may violate local laws, or charge exorbitant rates. You might want to consider using debit cards, as opposed to credit cards.
If you’ve ticked off all the items on the student travel planning checklist above, now all that’s left is for you to do is to pack your bags, and enjoy yourselves!