THE SEASONED TRAVELLER
We want you to get the most out of your trip. For some it may be your first trip overseas or for others it may be your 20th time abroad. No matter how much or little you have travelled we have compiled some tips for you to ensure you are on your way to be the best traveller you can be.
Read all of the documentation we give you, the checklists, the country information, insurance policies and so on. Also it is a good idea to read about the country/countries you are visiting to learn about history, culture, language and must dos. We also recommend you always visit www.smarttraveller.gov.au. This site is specific for Australian passport holders and has the most up to date county specific information and travel advice. You can register your travel itinerary here in case of any unforeseen circumstances.
Have realistic expectations of where you are going, where you are staying and who you are flying with. For example, are you flying with a budget airline? If so do you need to bring extra food or amenities? Are you travelling to a third world country? Remember, we are very lucky with our standard of living in Australia so be prepared for a different way of life and remember to keep an open mind. A great quote to remember is ,
“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” ― Clifton Fadiman
If you want more information on what to “expect” from any part of your trip then please ask your consultant or get online and start reading.
WHEN THINGS GO WRONG
Earthquakes, oil spills, volcanic eruptions, lost luggage, cancelled or missed flights, losing your passport, getting mugged, theft, food poisoning, getting injured and dealing with political unrest are just a few of the things that could possibly go wrong on any trip. And while the chance of one or more of these things happening to you is slim, it’s always better to be prepared. When things go wrong we encourage you to stay calm and remember it is all part of travelling (yes, really it is) and hopefully with these tips below you will be prepared for anything.
With so many people flying daily, it’s easy to understand why things don’t always go according to plan, for example.
Airlines may frequently have to reschedule their flights, it may be by 5 minutes or it may be by 5 hours,
sometimes the flight may go via another city and sometimes the flight just may be cancelled all together. Unless you have your own aircraft and pilot unfortunately we have no control over these situations. Airlines do not makethese changes lightly, it costs time and money for all involved. Airlines will do their best to reaccommodate you and offer alternatives if needed. If this happens before you depart for your trip your consultant will be advised and work with you on alternatives. If this happens whilst you a travelling you can also get in contact with your consultant or deal with the airlines directly. Remember you should always have travel insurance that can also provide emergency assistance in these situations.
Remember the factors that may be causing these issues, natural disasters, the weather, political unrest, staffing issues, maintenance/mechanical issues (no one wants to be on an unsafe aircraft) or problems with fellow passengers.
Something you also may not know is that airlines will always overbook flights if they can.
99% of the time there are many no-shows to flights, whether it be cancellations or delays but there is also that 1% when everyone turns up. When this happens the airline will look for volunteers not to travel and be reaccommodated to another flight. Remember airlines will compensate you for this. Most airlines advise to do online check in so they know you are ready for your flight that way you are least likely to get “bumped” off the flight.
The last thing you think of when flying is theft. Be wise with your wallet and passport, thieves also travel and we have had reported cases of theft while on board. Check your belongings before you leave the aircraft and report any theft to staff immediately.
MISSING YOUR FLIGHT
There are several things to do to avoid missing a flight.
– Have a backup alarm. Whether it’s an alarm clock, an alarm on your phone, watch, computer, Ipod, or a wake-up call, make sure you have a back-up plan in place.
– Have you got the right date and time? For example if your flight is leaving at 15 minutes past midnight on the 11th June you need to be checking into the airport in the at around 10pm on the evening of the 10th June.
– Leave early enough. There are two types of people-those who leave entirely too early to make sure they never miss a flight, and those who wait until the very last minute. You never know when an accident, traffic, weather, or any other unforeseen event can delay you. Leave with plenty of time to catch your flight. If you arrive way too early, relax at an airport café or bar.
What to do if you miss your flight? What happens here largely depends on the situation. If you missed a connection because of delays by the airline, you should be all right as it is the airlines responsibility to get you to your ticketed destination. (This will only include the destinations on the same ticket)
If you miss a flight for whatever other reason, traffic, oversleeping, hangovers, etc., whether you get charged a change fee is up to the airline employee in most cases. Most airlines do give their employees the power to waive the change fee, so how you act towards the counter person will have an effect on if you pay. 9 times out of 10 you will need to pay a fee or worse lose your paid fare completely.
Lost luggage is one of the most common annoyances of air travel. Here are some tips on luggage in general and what to do if your luggage is lost
– Pack light
– Pack any important documents in your carry on. Passport, insurance , vouchers and itineraries should all be carried with you at all times.
– Make sure you have anything else of value including your credit/debit cards and cash on you or in your carry on. Leave all extremely valuable items at home.
– Pack one extra outfit in your carry on. If you have the room, at least a pair of underwear and socks in your bag. If going from a hot to cold climate or vice versa, make sure you have the appropriate clothing in your carry on
– Take an inventory, either written or mental (or take a picture), of your checked bag. If the airline loses your bag, they’re going to want to know what’s in it, specifically. Just another reason to pack light.
If you do arrive in your destination without seeing your bag what are your options?
– Remain as calm as humanly possible.
– Don’t leave the airport. Go to the airline’s counter where you will be asked to submit a report and file a claim immediately. They may be able to find it quickly and easily (and have it delivered to your hotel) so just another reason to remain calm and be polite. Airlines may also give you essential amenities such as toiletries.
– Be persistent. You don’t have to be rude when doing this, but if you’re not receiving the service you desire, then speak up and use all avenues you can think of
– Try to recoup your fees. As stupid as it may sound, not all airlines have to refund your baggage fees even if they lose it. This is frustrating, so make sure you know what the rules are regarding your airline.
If your luggage is stolen or severely damaged while travelling ensure you get a police report or a written statement from a hotel or transport provider. Taking photos of your damaged luggage is also a good idea. You may need to contact your travel insurance provider to check procedure on claiming for new luggage and belongings. It is a good idea to check your luggage while you are still in the baggage claim area.
If your passport is lost or stolen, contact the nearest Australian embassy or consulate immediately – this is when a photocopy of your passport details and visas can make a big difference in obtaining a replacement passport quickly. Remember you are not the first one to lose your passport or have it stolen.
It may be time consuming, and it will be frustrating, but you will get a new one
If your money, or credit cards are lost or stolen, phone your bank immediately to cancel the cards and notify the bank or financial institution.
Our personal favourite….. If you have pre-arranged transfers whether it be by private car or shuttle bus it may be distressing when they don’t turn up. This is a rare occurrence but in some countries the service levels may not be what we are used to, so be patient. Remember some countries standard of a “private car” may be just a very basic car with a driver that may only speak the local language.
You should always have an emergency contact number on your travel vouchers.
A common reason why people can’t find their transfer include passengers getting through customs quicker than expected meaning the driver is not there waiting for you. He may not be far away so it is best to stay in the arrivals hall and not wander off to other areas. ( another reason is mainly because some drivers are just unreliable!!)
If you have kids, remember you may need your own child restraints or pre arrange them.
You may have high expectations of your hotel from all those glossy professional photos you see on the internet or travel brochures but what happens when your expectations are not met?
Remember the following,
– You get what you pay for.
– Rooms in the UK & Europe are usually very small in size and in older buildings
– If you want a room with a view you normally have to pay a premium for this
– There is always a bad room in every hotel. If you are not happy with your room then please return to reception immediately and ask to be reaccommodated. If the hotel is full it makes this much harder so be sure to ask if it’s possible to change rooms the following day. It is too late for us to try and help you once you return to Australia so we strongly recommend a calm polite conversation with the hotels front office staff and management.
– Remember to use the hotel safe for all of your valuable items.
– Hotels, like airlines can also overbook their property. Hotels will always try to reaccommodate you to similar or superior accommodation.
– It is always a good idea to take the hotels business card or brochure with you when you head out each day incase you get lost or need to show a taxi driver in another language.
MEDICAL & INJURIES
From a mild cold or “Bali belly” to a broken limb, nearly every traveller gets sick or injured at some point. Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid, but you can take several steps to minimize the chances of getting sick or hurt on a trip.
– Have comprehensive travel insurance that covers you for all medical expenses including cash in hospital and emergency evacuation.
– Wash your hands often when flying and taking public transport, and avoid touching your face with dirty hands.
– Be smart in your activities. Tourists get injured every year doing stupid things, typically involving alcohol. On the same note, if you’ve never driven a motorbike or scooter before, please don’t start while you are on holidays.
– If you are participating in extreme activities ensure your insurance covers this.
– Take care with street food. Of course you’ll want to sample the local food, but opt for street stalls where you can see the food being cooked in front of you, and drink bottled water when recommended.
– If your illness or injury is minor, head to a nearby pharmacy first. Many pharmacies around the world sell over the counter antibiotics and medicine that could cure you without having to see a doctor or hospital.
– If necessary, go to the doctor/hospital. Don’t put it off just because you think it will cost too much, even if you didn’t purchase supplementary travel insurance. All travel insurance policies are different so you must know what yours does and doesn’t cover before you leave Australia.
Don’t get involved. You’re in a foreign country where you aren’t familiar with everyday customs and the depth of the political situation. You don’t want to put yourself in a situation where you can get injured or worse. If the situation is gaining momentum contact your embassy to see what they are doing to get their citizens out of the country. Sometimes you are just going to have to wait it out. If you feel as though you are in real danger, consider going straight to your embassy. Your travel insurance provider may also be able to assist you
CRIME & SCAMS ( taken from Smarttraveller)
Be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that may appear harsh by Australian standards, apply to you. Some countries impose tough penalties including corporal punishment, life imprisonment and the death penalty. Age, health concerns or ignorance are not valid excuses. The Australian Government cannot get you out of jail. If you’re arrested overseas, you have the right to contact the Australian Government, but consular assistance cannot override local law. Please refer to www.smarttraveller.gov.au for more information.
Sexual assault overseas
Sexual assault is a traumatic experience for anyone, particularly when travelling overseas and away from home. It can also be a distressing experience for families and friends. Assaults can happen to both men and women when travelling overseas, and in most cases, the perpetrator is a stranger
Tips to avoid becoming a victim of sexual assault
Be aware of your surroundings and if you feel uncomfortable, leave.
Avoid walking alone or through poorly lit areas at night.
Do not leave your drink unattended in public spaces.
Don’t take drugs or drink to excess as this can increase your vulnerability.
If any doors or windows to your accommodation are broken, do not enter. Instead contact the police.
Avoid going into back rooms of shops where you cannot see the street.
When travelling overseas, be cautious of unsolicited invitations from strangers.
Be aware that women travelling alone can attract unwelcome attention.
In some countries, conservative standards of dress and behaviour can apply. It may be advisable to avoid wearing revealing clothing.
If attacked, scream to draw attention if possible.
Taxi Scams are common in some countries. Be sure to know if you need to pre-negotiate a fare or if taxi is run on a meter. Always ask before getting into the taxi. Prior research into this will be worthwhile.
When using a taxi from an airport to your hotel it has been known in some countries for the driver to take you to a hotel other than yours. The intention is to convince you to stay there and probably try and sell you something you may be left feeling very angry having to make your own way to your correct hotel.
Timeshare scams are very common all over the world, while they may not be scams as such there is always sales personal offering you deals , prizes, rewards for listening or buying into time share property. If you are interested in time share we recommend you seek professional advice in Australia.
Being pickpocketed ,mugged or robbed can happen anywhere in the world but you can take several steps to deter potential thieves
– Yes, money belts are uncomfortable and annoying at times, but they can also save you, wear one when in big crowds in tourist areas.
– Don’t be flashy. Wearing a big camera around your neck or a nice ring, watch, or other jewellery is just asking for trouble.
– Try not to stand out as a tourist (easier said than done in most counties)
– Ladies, by carrying your purses and handbags you are risking them being snatched. If you must carry a bag or purse, make sure you have it secure at all times. Opt for something that goes across your body, put money in multiple interior pockets, keep the purse zipped at all times, and carry it on the arm away from the street (to deter anyone on a scooter from doing a drive-by snatching).
– While on buses and trains, keep your valuables on you and never put them underneath or overheard areas of the bus. Always have your laptop, cameras, passports, money, and credit cards on you at all times.
– Know where you’re going. There are dangerous areas in nearly every city. Know them and avoid them. If you turn a corner and don’t have a good feeling, turn around. Trust your instincts!
There are several steps to take in the unfortunate case that you do get mugged. Assuming you are safe, please report it to the local police as soon as possible, The Police may not care or do anything but insist on a report.
– Comprehensive Travel Insurance is the most important thing you need when travelling, if you cannot afford travel insurance you cannot afford to travel!
– Smarttraveller.gov.au is still the best place to read about all countries and you can register your travels with the government so you can be found in an emergency.
– Always leave an emergency contact with your travel agent and travelling companions.
– Always carry two pieces of Identification.
– It’s always a good idea to carry extra passport photos for any countries that may require a visa on arrival
– Always have emergency cash, preferably in USD, and store it in something like an almost empty vitamin container
– If you don’t have a motorcycle licence here in Australia – don’t think about getting on one overseas – please ask us for more information on this
– Take care with extreme sports or dodgy tour operators. Is it safe?
In summary, travelling opens you up to ways of life and crime we are not exposed to here in Australia.
Whilst nothing in the above advice may ever happen to you it doesn’t hurt to know what can actually go wrong whilst travelling.
Remember to try and stay calm and keep an open mind.