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How much thought do you put into planning your trip before you travel?
Or are you the person that plans well in advance, watches the fare deals, monitors the prices of accommodation and knows in advance when your passport expires and if you require a visa or vaccinations or not?
Do you consider security, safety and health requirements when you travel?
Let us look at some of the top 5 risks of traveling and how to mitigate these.
Risk #1 – Legal Requirements
- Your documentation is not up to date e.g. passport is due to expire within 6-months which can result in refusal to board your airline or enter a country by sea or land. Place a note in your diary for at least 9-months prior to your passport expiring, this will allow sufficient time to organize your new passport.
- Visas not applied for which can result in a refusal to enter the country – check each countries visa requirements. If you apply for a visa online ensure that it is the official government department, there are many private companies offering visa services which look very much like the official government department. How can you tell? The fees will be much higher.
- Onward flight tickets – proof of onward travel, one way tickets are not accepted by airlines on check in and countries on arrival which can result in refusal to board the airline and you may need to purchase a very expensive ticket before you can check in. There are websites available that you can rent a ticket for a small fee for 24 hours e.g. Fly Onward and Best Onward Ticket.
- Ensure that you have copies of your passports and visas either in an online account or actual photocopies. For Australians, note, if you have your passports stolen whilst traveling overseas the Australian authorities require original birth certificates, not copies, to process the new applications. Ensure that someone at home has access to the originals.
Risk #2 – Health
- Traveling without travel insurance – ‘if you can’t afford travel insurance you can’t afford to travel’. Ensure you take a printed copy of your policy with you and emergency contact numbers for the Insurance company.
- If you have to claim for a medical ensure that you have receipts, also take photocopies of the claim and receipts when lodging.
- Vaccination records not up to date – be sure to check with your doctor that you are covered for the countries you plan to visit. Ensure that your travel medical document is completed and date stamped when vaccinations are administered. Take a copy of the document and leave it behind with your original birth and marriage certificates.
- Incorrect vaccinations for the country you are visiting, for example, Yellow Fever is required when traveling into some countries from another i.e. Costa Rica from Panama. Rules are changing all the time, check regularly before traveling with the appropriate government departments.
- Medication you require is illegal in the country that you are visiting. A visit to your G.P. will assist in this – there could be a generic brand available.
- Not sufficient supplies of medication to cover your holiday duration. It can be difficult to replace medication overseas, a visit to your G.P. prior to traveling is essential to ensure you have enough to travel with.
- No letter from your Doctor in regards to the medication and dosage that you take. Ensure you visit your G.P. and ask him/her to write you a letter explaining what the tablets are, what they are issued for and your actual dosage and keep this in your hand luggage.
- Hearing aids – ensure that you have a supply of batteries.
- Mobility issues at airport. On booking your flights request wheelchair assistance.
- Emotional support dogs without correct documentation – a visit to your Vet to obtain these documents well in advance of traveling is required. Ensure that you keep checking government departments of the country that you are travelling to, to keep up to date with their regulations.
- If you are traveling with children ensure that you have medicine that is suitable for their age group. It can be difficult to obtain medicine suitable for children abroad, take sufficient supplies when you travel.
Risk #3 – Personal Safety & Security
- The country you are visiting is classified as ‘high risk’ and what it means to you as the traveler. Regular checks with your travel department of your government will keep you informed. Sign up for their travel alerts.
- Carry an old wallet in your back pocket with an expired credit card and USD10 currency or equivalent of local currency, if you are pick pocketed at least the thief feels that they have got something.
- Traveling overland at night especially on buses, ensure that you belongings are close to you and not on the floor or overhead lockers, with a secure lock that cannot be opened.
- Take care when walking around cities late at night/early morning, it is best to avoid this at all times.
- Arriving into bus stations late at night/early morning in a new country – ask your accommodation to arrange a taxi to meet you at the bus station at your arrival time to take you direct to your accommodation.
- Carrying or wearing expensive jewellery, carrying large amounts of cash or cameras/technology. Why not leave your expensive jewellery at home and wear costume jewellery when you travel. Instead of carrying large amounts of cash consider travel cards, credit cards and debit cards and just have enough small cash for incidentals. Cameras and technology should be securely carried, there are now available slash proof bags that will assist in keeping these items safe.
- The use of unauthorized Taxi companies. Some countries have authorized Taxi stands when arriving at the airport, where you purchase a ticket for the region you are traveling to e.g. Mexico. Ask you accommodation in advance which taxi company to use, the estimated cost and if they have a taxi service available.
- Ensure your hotel is located in a safe area of the city and safety and fire regulations are adhered to.
- If your hotel has a personal safe and it requires a credit card to open and close, use an expired credit card not an active one as the safe can be a skimmers opportunity.
- If your hotel calls stating there is an issue with your credit card, do not give details over the phone head down to reception to sort out the issue
- Sign up for your country’s government Safe Travel Advice e.g. Australians, British, Americans.
- Pack appropriate clothes and foot wear for the destination that you are traveling to.
- Ensure you have adequate supplies of sunscreen, painkillers, hydration tablets etc. Always carry with you antibacterial wipes.
- Check whether the tap water is drinkable or not.
- If you are traveling with infants check whether you can purchase baby milk products and baby food where you are traveling, if not take your supply with you. Take a supply of sterilization tablets for bottles.
Risk #4 – Communication
- Ensure that you have left with family and friends your full itinerary, hotel addresses and contact details, cruise ship and tour details etc.
- Check with your telephone provider that they have mobile roaming in the countries that you are visiting, particularly check the Pre and Post paid. We found they are different coverage.
- Compile a list of the countries emergency numbers
- Make sure you have a way to communicate with friends, family, banks and embassy when traveling. Skype and Skype credit, Viber, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger.
- Make sure you have the international number for banks etc. rather than the 1-800. Look for country code and direct number.
Risk #5 – Money
- Advise your banks and credit card providers that you will be traveling to certain countries prior to leaving the country
- Take photocopies of your cards front and back and leave with family and friends, keep a digital copy on your smart devices
- If you are traveling with currency or credit cards ensure that each member has their own and that they are kept in a safe place whilst traveling e.g. money belt
- Ensure you have contact details for credit card providers in times of theft or loss.
- When using external ATMs, ensure that there is a video security camera is aimed at the ATM machine, also check the machine for any loose parts, particularly where you insert the credit card, simply pull hard on any part of the machine that is proud, this will determine if a skimming device has been self adhesive attached.
- Do not use external ATMs at night unless you can see a camera.
- Ensure that you can take currency out of country’s ATM using your credit or travel cash card e.g. Cuba
- Ensure that you have a small amount of local currency available on arrival.
- Do not take out large amounts of cash with you during the day, use a body money belt when traveling.
- Check online (even when overseas) your balance on credit, debit and travel money cards to ensure that you have not been compromised with invalid charges.
- Make sure you have two different types of currency cards should one be compromised you can continue traveling using the other companies card.
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Jane & Duncan are Baby Boomers continuously traveling the world on the equivalent of the couple Australian Age Pension. They have downsized from a six-bedroom house, closed the nest and created To Travel Too, a leading Baby Boomer travel, lifestyle blog that inspires travel and provides first-hand travel planning tips and advice.