There’s no better feeling than watching a city shrink beneath you as the plane lifts off the tarmac into the great unknown. But booking a holiday doesn’t happen overnight. It requires careful research and planning.
For first-time travellers, this can feel a little daunting. With the entire world sitting at your fingertips, it can be tricky to know where to start. Angus Kidman Travel Expert at finder.com.au shares seven tips to help with planning your first overseas holiday.
Decide where to go
First-time travellers may find some countries more challenging than others (though not always!). You will need to think about language barriers, transport networks and general safety when deciding where to go.
Travel guides like Lonely Planet are a good place to start if you’re looking for some inspo. Recommended destinations for first-time travellers include Thailand or Fiji for beach bums and Portugal or Japan for the ultimate cultural experience. Canada and New Zealand are great if you want somewhere more scenic.
Time your trip
Whether you’re hitting the slopes or heading to the tropics, it’s essential to research the best time of year to visit your intended destination. Popular tourist hotspots such as Bali or Malaysia sit closer to the equator, and during the monsoon season (which is generally from November to March), you will experience torrential downpours. The European summer can be notoriously crowded, and countries like India and Dubai are plagued by soaring temperatures from April through to June. Make sure you’re being season-savvy when picking dates to ensure the best experience possible.
Sort your passport out
No matter how spontaneous you are, this is not something to leave to the last minute. A passport is your ticket to the world and you’re unable enter other countries without one. It will generally set you back around $282 for a 10-year passport. You should allow around three weeks for it to arrive once lodging the application successfully. You can also arrange for an urgent passport for an additional cost if you need it right away.
Most people take out some form of travel insurance before heading overseas. Though we don’t like to imagine things going wrong, life can sometimes throw us a curveball – even when you’re on holidays. Delayed flights, missing luggage and unexpected medical expenses can all potentially occur on holidays, and without travel insurance, you’d need to foot 100% of the costs.
When choosing the right cover, consider things like access to emergency assistance or whether you’ll be taking along expensive items like cameras or laptops. Most insurers give you the option of either basic or comprehensive cover, so make sure you understand what is and isn’t included in each and what level of cover you need | Angus Kidman, finder.com.au
Depending on the length and destination of your trip, you may need to get protection against certain diseases. The most common vaccinations include ones for cholera, hepatitis A and B, typhoid, yellow fever and malaria. Single vaccines typically cost around $45-$85 and may require one or two follow-up doses. You should aim to get vaccinated around six to eight weeks prior to your trip, but it’s best to speak with your doctor about your options. Countries which typically require vaccinations include India, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia.
Organise your travel money
When it comes to accessing money overseas, many travellers opt to use a prepaid travel card. These enable you to load funds onto a card and convert the currency prior to your trip. This means you can avoid excess conversion fees. However, not all travel cards are created equal, and it’s worth comparing across providers.
Things to consider when choosing a travel card include ATM withdrawal fees, initial load and reload fees, conversion rates and transaction fees.
Register with Smartraveller
Smartraveller is provided by the Australian government to help keep Aussie travellers aware and informed when overseas. Registering your details through the online service will ensure you can be easily contacted in the event of an emergency, such as a natural disaster, civil disturbance or family-related issue. Before jetting off, set up a Smartraveller account and log your destination, the people you’ll be travelling with and the dates you’ll be away.
By ticking these things off your pre-travel checklist, you’ll be all set to take on the world. So sit back, relax and enjoy the view.
Angus Kidman is Travel Expert at finder.com.au