6 Things To-Do Before You Go – A List for Cautious Travellers


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When you’re going on a trip there are certain things that you should do before you set off.  Here’s our guide to 6 things to do before you go on an extended trip.   We assume of course you’ve packed all the essentials (but did you Pack these Things? ) and you’ve booked your flights.  These are the things less thought of.

1.  Get the RIGHT Travel Insurance

No surprises here. Yawn, I hear you say.  But, wait, hear me out.  Get travel insurance, but be aware that MOST policies and companies will only allow you to take out a policy BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME.  There are only a handful of insurance companies that will allow you to take out a policy once you have left your home country or allow you to extend your policy once you’re away from homeOR renew it while you’re away.  We recommend World Nomads > Get an insurance quote NOW.  READ THE SMALL PRINT.

Make sure the travel insurance covers ALL your activities.   If you’re going to trek “at altitude”, then make sure that your company covers you at that altitude.  Or if they don’t, that you can extend the package that you have to somehow cover it.

Check out our Guide to Travel Research – and find some incredible resources that will help you plan your next trip.

Most travel insurance companies will also only cover you for a short period of time.  That number of companies decreases as the length of your trip increases.  If you’re going away for an extended time, say a year or more, make sure your policy either covers you for the whole trip, or that you can extend it while  travelling.

You can buy, extend and claim online, even after you’ve left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from over 150 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.

 2.  Sign up for Foreign Travel Advice

A department in your home government will provide advice for foreign travel.  In the UK that’s the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the FCO.  If their policy about a certain country or area changes, then you’ll get notified automatically by email.  Check out their advice.

FCO_Travel_Advice

You’ll probably be the first to know if trouble breaks out around you, but the FCO are pretty good at letting you know if there’s anything else to be aware of and somewhere you should NOT be going to.

The USA and Australian alternatives are

  • USA – the State Department > here.
  • Australia – the Smart Traveller > here.

Are these updates over the top?  Do you think government officials worry too much?  Maybe, these updates err on the side of caution, but you should have them for two reasons. (and I’ll use the FCO as an example).

  1. If the FCO says that you shouldn’t be traveling in that area and you are, then you’re unlikely to get consular support, because British Embassy staff won’t be there either.  So if you lose your passport, get robbed or end up in a lot of trouble, then, sunshine, you’re on your own.
  2. If the FCO says that you shouldn’t be there, then your travel insurance is also likely to be voided.  So, you may end up with no recompense for stolen or lost items, no assistance – financial or otherwise – in getting home.

3.  Know the Entry Requirements

You hopefully will by know have figured out if you need a visa for the country that you’re visiting.   If you’re not able to get a visa on arrival, then you’ll have applied for, obtained and have your visa sitting waiting in your passport.  However, there’s more to entry requirements than visas.

In some countries you’re going to need proof of an onward flight.  As a British citizen you can’t even BOARD a flight to Indonesia without showing the check in folks evidence of your onward flight.  In other countries you need to know where you’re staying to complete the landing card.  Do yourself a favour and check:

  1. Do you need evidence of an onward/return flight? (find out how to get Proof of Onward Travel and what your options are)
  2. What about knowing where you’re staying the first night? Have you got the address of that hostel/hotel/AirBnb?

Unless you’re 100% certain that your phone/tablet/laptop will have battery life left in it when you land, be sure to take a printed copy of it.  I ALWAYS assume that I won’t have an internet connection and will need a local copy.  Screenshot is your BEST friend.

Landing Card for UK

Where do you find all of this?  Start with your government’s travel advice (see 2.  above.).  Then head over to the consulate of the country that you’re visiting.  Stop.  Do it electronically, there’s no need to go physically!.  If all else fails, try travel forums on Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor, or whichever forum floats your boat.

4.  Know the Rules about Hand Luggage

The rules about liquids and stuff are different in different countries.  Yeah, yeah, I know you know that.  BUT, seriously, they are REALLY different in some places.  So check if you’re flying from countries and airports that you’ve not used either previously or for sometime.  The USA and the UK are generally – but not always the most stringent about rules, but we did find some strange rules.

security allowances hand luggage

Weird things we found on hand luggage rules

  • In India you can carry as much water as you want – like two litre bottles, but no plastic nail files.
  • In the Philippines you can’t carry on a three way adapter with attached extension cord.  That’s apparently, in case you strangle someone.  Your belt and shoe laces and bag handles and bra straps are fine.
  • In all airports you can take empty water bottles with you and fill them with filtered water on the other side of security.  Apart from London Stansted where there are no water fountains, or taps with cold water.  And Darwin International which does the same.  In both these places you need to buy extortionately expensive bottled water.

Be sure to check out our guide to buying the best filter water bottles

5. Know Where You’re Going

As in, know where you’re going when you get out of the airport.  There’s nothing that says “mug me” like a fresh off the plane tourist looking lost.  And that doesn’t just mean someone physically causing you harm, it means opening yourself up to being financially ripped off.

So know which bus you’re getting, how to get to the stop and how much the bus is supposed to cost.  If you’re getting a taxi then know where the official stop is, how you’re supposed to pay for the taxi – i.e. is it metered, or do you need to agree a price before you get in.  Also know how much your particular journey is likely to cost.  How?  Forums, Travel Guides, Social Media are your best friends.  If you prefer to sort out your airport transfer BEFORE you leave home, then take a look at HOPPA – which often provides a discount for booking ahead.



 

 

 

6.  Take Cash

As in, take local currency with you.  Or, at least know where the Cash Machine/ATM at the airport is located.  If you’re like us, you’ll be catching a local bus from the airport, or getting a taxi and I probably don’t want to flash my credit card around for that.  So I take cash.  And, especially at the beginning of a trip, I’m too cautious to rely on the ATM working  I honestly would be worrying for the entire flight about the ATM not working.  So if I’m flying into a new region, I’ll generally take some currency with me if that’s at all possible.  Alternatively, carry a few spare US Dollars – everyone accepts them!

 

Useful Resources

 

 

 

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About Sarah Carter

Sarah Carter is an avid reader, writer and traveller. She loves hiking, sailing, skiing and exploring the world through food. She left a successful career in IT security and compliance in both the UK and US to travel the world with husband and partner in adventure, Nigel.


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2 thoughts on “6 Things To-Do Before You Go – A List for Cautious Travellers

  • Marilyn

    Great tips Sarah but the one I sometimes fall foul of is getting local currency – at least in useable denominations. A lot of UK suppliers only want to stock bigger notes. I once had this going to Croatia just after it reopened after the war, – my notes were not popular and it took a while to get started!
    As I flew into Preveza when it was still mostly military too, options were limited to change anything at the airport. Do you have any tips about helpful currency suppliers?

  • ASocialNomad Post author

    The only way that we’ve been able to deal with this is to find someone leaving the country (usually at the last hostel we stay at in the previous country) and do a little swap… but that’s hard when you fly in! Or buy something at the airport, airport shops are usually more reliable at having change than taxi drivers 😉