A guide to making sure you get the right cover every time
Ensuring you have a safe, happy holiday is about being prepared. This guide takes you through some of useful tips regarding:
- Researching your trip
- Packing your bags
- Getting the right travel insurance
- Surviving the flight
- Staying safe overseas
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Tips for when you’re preparing to travel
Being prepared before you travel can save you a lot of time, money and heartache if something goes wrong. The following tips can help prepare you for any eventuality on your travels:
- Research the countries you are travelling to and make sure you have all the necessary vaccinations and visas.
- Take a copy of your passport and other important documents in case it’s lost or stolen. You can also leave copies with someone at home or email copies to yourself.
- Register your trip with Australian Government by visiting the Smartraveller website, as this will allow DFAT to contact your family should anything go wrong. While you’re on the website, take note of any travel warnings or advice posted there.
- Research the currency exchange rate for the countries you are visiting to ensure you will have sufficient funds.
- Take out travel insurance and check that it covers both the region you’re travelling to and activities you plan on participating in, such as skiing.
- Advise your bank or credit card provider of your intention to travel so they won’t cancel your card when they start seeing overseas transactions. You could also consider preloading a travel money card.
- Check international roaming charges and work out whether it would be cheaper to get a global SIM.
- Make sure you have the correct adaptor for charging your electronic devices overseas.
Luggage packing tips
- Pack an extra set of clothing in your carry-on bag in case your checked luggage is lost or delayed.
- Keep some cash or a credit card separately from your wallet in case your bag is stolen.
- Depending on how long you are travelling for, consider taking a carry-on bag only to avoid queuing at carousels.
- Consider the climate at your destination and pack your wardrobe accordingly. Opt for mix-and-match pieces that can be worn with other items.
- Roll clothes instead of folding as they will get less creased and will take up less room in your suitcase.
- Stuff smaller items into shoes and any corners to fully utilise the space you have.
- Shoes take up lots of room, so consider taking one formal pair and one casual pair only.
- If travelling overseas, put your liquid and gel toiletries in travel bottles that conform to customs regulations and place them in a clear, resealable plastic bag.
- Carry your medications in your carry-on bag in their original containers, along with your prescriptions.
- Rather than packing books, consider taking a lightweight ereader.
- Tie a bright ribbon or something distinctive to your bag to make it easy to identify on a carousel.
Luggage security tips
It’s important to keep your luggage as safe as possible. You can reduce the chances of having bags lost or stolen by:
- Making sure they are clearly labelled and all old tags are removed.
- Shrink wrapping your bag to deter would-be thieves.
- Using uniquely numbered cable ties, so you can tell if your bag has been tampered with.
- Not packing anything in your check-in luggage that you can’t afford to lose.
- Always packing your own bag and not carrying items for anyone you don’t know and trust.
- Never leaving your bag unattended, even for a moment.
- Taking photographs of the contents of your luggage and making an itemised list of valuables in case of loss or theft.
- Putting your destination address on the label but not your home address, as this could be used by potential burglars.
Tips for booking a hotel
As well as your airfares, it’s important to book your accommodation ahead of time, not just to get the best deals but so you’ll be guaranteed a bed when you arrive at your destination. Useful tips when booking accommodation include:
- Book well ahead to take advantage of early bird deals and specials.
- Research your accommodation options thoroughly on the Internet visiting comparison websites and reading reviews.
- Compare different dates to see how much prices vary and prepare to be flexible to make the best savings.
- Consider travelling in the off peak or shoulder season to avoid the crowds and to get the best accommodation (and travel) deals.
- If your prepaid accommodation is non-refundable, make sure your travel insurance covers you for cancellations.
- Consider how much time you will be spending in your room when deciding on the number of stars your hotel should have.
- Consider staying at new hotels, as their initial rates are often discounted.
- Opt for an accommodation-only booking and eat out for meals to save money on breakfasts and dinners.
- Always ask if there’s a room upgrade available when you arrive at a hotel, because you’ll never know if you don’t ask.
- Stay away from the mini bar.
- Look for hotels that offer a shuttle service, as this can save you a lot of money on taxis.
Air travel tips
Flying long distance is the price we pay for travel to far-flung destinations, but there are a number of ways to reduce the discomfort and mind-numbing tedium that long haul flights can entail. These include:
- Do you have frequent flyer points? Using your frequent flyer points to upgrade from economy to a seat with a little more legroom.
- Are you travelling for business? If you are travelling on business, using the time without interruptions to get some serious work done.
- Feel like a movie marathon? Watching several movies back to back (this can eat up quite a few hours).
- Can you sleep on the plane? Sleeping can also pass many hours (some people take a sleeping pill before boarding for this reason).
- Have you got your travel accessories? Bringing a neck pillow, eye mask, earplugs and noise-cancelling headphones and using them, especially on a long-haul flight.
- Did you bring a book? Reading can make the time fly, especially if it is an absorbing read.
- Did you get the window seat? Opt for a window seat if you can, as an aisle seat can mean getting up constantly for those who don’t.
- Have you had enough water? Drinking plenty of water and stretching your legs regularly to reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis or blood clots.
- Can you get an exit row seat? Asking for an exit row seat for extra legroom, but remember to dress warmly as these rows are generally colder.
Travel safety tips
Overseas travel can be relatively safe, as long as you take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your belongings. Ways to do this can include:
- Never leave your bags unattended or with someone you don’t know.
- Carry your money and valuables in a money belt or internal pocket of your clothing.
- Don’t flash money or expensive equipment around.
- Don’t attempt high risk sports or activities that you haven’t tried at home or don’t feel confident about doing. Make sure you always use qualified, licensed instructors and operators if you do.
- Know the road rules and obey them when driving or riding in a foreign country.
- Don’t use your credit card at Internet cafes or anywhere that doesn’t bear a Visa Safe sign.
- Don’t hitchhike and try not to travel at night in unfamiliar areas.
- Don’t fight back if you are mugged, as parting with a watch or some cash is better than being injured or worse.
- Lock all doors when driving your rental vehicle, particularly at night.
- When possible, choose hotels and accommodation with swipe card room access rather than keys.
- Beware of scams such as thieves posing as police, tour guides or taxi drivers.
Travel insurance tips
Having adequate travel insurance is an important part of protecting yourself when travelling overseas. While your level of cover will depend on where you are travelling and what you are doing, your policy should include the three main areas of cover:
- Overseas medical and hospital treatment including emergency evacuation and repatriation
- Trip cancellations and delays
- Lost, stolen or damaged luggage and personal belongings
Other tips when purchasing travel insurance include:
- Purchase online rather than through a travel agent or airline to avoid the hefty commissions they charge
- Always read the product disclosure statement (PDS) carefully so you know what is covered and what isn’t
- Consider whether you are travelling to a country with a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia, which may mean you won’t need the highest level of health cover
- If you plan to make more than one trip in a year, consider annual multi trip cover, which can work out cheaper than single trip cover
Tips for comparing travel insurance
Things to bear in mind when comparing travel insurance policies include:
- Use travel insurance comparison sites to get an idea of what’s available and what cover will cost you.
- Look for insurers who cover any activities you plan on participating in on your holiday.
- Check benefit limits and excesses payable, as these can influence the cost of your policy.
- Check whether the policy covers the excess payable if you plan to hire a rental car.
- If you have a pre-existing medical condition, make sure the policy will cover you (even if you have to pay an additional premium).
- Check the insurer to make sure they have a strong industry rating and claims history.
- While price should not be the first consideration, make sure the policy offers good value for money.
- Look for insurers with a 24/7 overseas emergency assistance provider.
- Look for insurers who allow you to tailor your policy by removing those covers you don’t want and adding those you do.
Tips for claiming
The main tips for ensuring a successful travel insurance claim are:
- Report any incident within 24 hours and notify your insurer as soon as possible (usually within 30 days of returning from your trip).
- Get a police report if a crime is involved and include it with your claim form (in English) along with any other required documentation such as receipts or doctor’s reports.
- If a transport carrier is responsible for your loss, report the loss to them as soon as possible and obtain a property irregularity report.
- Cooperate fully with your insurer with regard to any requests they may make for further documentation or medical examinations.
Compare your travel insurance online and get the right policy
Having a safe, affordable and stress-free holiday involves ticking all the boxes and being ready for anything. And it’s well worth the effort, because once you’ve done the legwork, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy your trip, knowing you’re fully prepared and covered against any eventuality.