Flying soon? 7 tips from recent travellers for a stress-free trip
5 Aussies give their tips for international travel right now.
With international travel back on the cards, Australians are wasting no time jetting out of here.
But you only need to hear about the major passport delays to know that travelling right now isn't how it used to be (sorry to sound like a broken record).
Sure, restrictions have been rolled back with many nations no longer requiring quarantine, but we are not "back to normal" yet.
So what should you expect from your upcoming trip? And how can you be best prepared for international travel?
Meet our travellers:
1. Sort your entry documents ahead of time
On top of renewing your passport at least 8 weeks before your trip, make sure you're across any new visas or entry passes required for your destination.
James Edwards who flew to Thailand in early June was stressed in the lead-up to his trip. Thankfully, the process for travelling was extremely smooth.
"Just make sure you sort your Thai Pass out ahead of time. And if you want to stay more than 1 month, organise the 2-month tourist visa ahead of time. Otherwise, Aussies can just arrive at the airport and get a visa waiver for 30 days," said James.
The same applies if you're headed to Singapore, says Scoot country manager Kirsty Lucas who flew to the island nation in April.
The UK, New Zealand and Bali don't require any visas or passes if you're travelling as a tourist. From 1 July, travellers will no longer need to obtain a Thai Pass either.
Despite being in the digital age, it's a good idea to print a copy of all your documents, including your international vaccination certificate, booking confirmations, visas and ID. Some airlines and security checks require these in physical form.
2. Check if there are any COVID-testing requirements
Depending on your destination, you might still be required to produce a negative test before and after your flight.
Checking Smartraveller or the official government websites in the lead-up to your trip are 2 of the best ways you can stay on top of the current international travel requirements.
Singapore, the UK, Bali and Thailand have scrapped pre-flight testing. However, New Zealand still requires it – as well as tests on arrival.
"I had to do a supervised RAT within 48 hours or a PCR," said Glynn who travelled to Auckland at the end of May.
After you arrive in New Zealand, you'll be given rapid antigen tests at the airport to test on days 0/1, 5 and 8. You are required to self-report your results. "This is through an online survey. They email you asking for the results, but it seems like an honour system since it wasn't enforced," said Glynn.
3. Get your international vaccination certificate early
New Zealand, Thailand, Bali, Singapore and the UK all require proof of vaccination to enter.
Unfortunately, your Australian certificate isn't your magic key to get you across the border. You'll need an international certificate.
You can get this through the Medicare app. Go to "proof of vaccinations", click "request an international certificate" and follow the prompts.
The process is simple but we don't recommend you leave this to the last minute. The app has a tendency to be glitchy as Taylor Blackburn who went to Bali in April, found out.
"Usually, you can request an international certificate without much fuss, but my wife and I were getting an error message and had to physically go into a Medicare centre to get this sorted out," said Taylor.
In some countries, the certificate needs to be verified. For example, in Thailand, you must upload it as part of your Thai Pass application.
In Bali, you must download the PeduliLindungi app and upload your certificate into it to show at the airport.
4. Get COVID-19 travel insurance
Thailand and Bali had previously required proof of COVID-19 medical insurance before you could enter.
In Thailand, it has to cover at least US$10,000 in medical treatments. Note that from 1 July, the Thai government is removing this requirement.
In Bali, your insurance had to cover COVID-19 treatment and medical evacuation, but this requirement was revoked as of June 16, 2022.
Getting into Bali, you had to make sure you had travel cover with COVID-19 inclusions, which the bargain basement policies did not.”
Even if travel insurance isn't mandatory (it's not for New Zealand, the UK or Singapore), it's still good to have – particularly for international travel.
"I feel more at ease having travel insurance mainly because if I had to isolate due to getting COVID-19, my prepaid accommodation and travel would be reimbursed," said Francesca Guerrera who flew to London for the summer.
5. Pre-book and organise your itinerary
Structuring your trip will help you know if you need to prepare any documents to enter attractions or venues.
It can also save you money due to any rising on-ground costs.
"I booked my hotel through Booking.com, which offered airport transport as well. I looked it up online and the Booking.com price was actually way cheaper than what I would have paid on the ground," said James.
"That being said, I'm aware it's taking money away from the local tour retailers, so I've made sure to alternate between booking online versus on the ground, as the locals need all the economic help they can get".
6. Pack some masks
Yes, masks are still mandatory on most airlines and routes.
However, on the ground, it really depends on where you are. In the UK, Francesca noticed a distinct lack of mask wearing.
"It shocked me actually. I would have thought people would wear masks on public transport but I've seen no one wear them here, even the elderly," she says.
Glynn had a similar experience in New Zealand, noting that he didn't have to wear a mask on public transport and there were no signs to remind people of masks, capacity limits or social distancing.
In Asian countries, mask-wearing is quite commonplace.
For example, in Japan masks are expected at the airport and in both indoor and outdoor settings.
"The majority of Japanese people will be wearing masks indoors and outdoors, so if locals seem to be wearing masks it's best to follow suit. Having a mask handy so you don't end up without is a good idea," says head of marketing at Skyscanner Japan Masahiro Yamazaki.
Both Singapore and Thailand require masks indoors. If an outdoor setting is poorly ventilated, they may be required there, too.
Bali requires masks at the airport and at select attractions and circumstances. For example, they were required at an outdoor buffet when Taylor went. However, from his experience, this wasn't enforced.
7. Don't forget your Digital Passenger Declaration
It's easy to forget in the excitement of leaving the country to look into any requirements to return home.
The big one is your Digital Passenger Declaration, which you can start 7 days prior to your flight but has to be submitted before you hop on the plane back to Australia.
"I wasn't aware of it and had to scramble to do it the day before I left Auckland," admits Glynn. "I only found out about it because I was travelling with a group and the others were doing it."
Another thing to be aware of is that this form is quite lengthy. It requires a proof of vaccination, including all your vaccination dates, and while you can do it at the airport it's much easier to complete on a larger screen.
This will become obsolate from 6 July.
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