The BIG tips for overseas travel!

Posted: 08/01/2012 in General Travel Advice
Tags: , , ,

Travelling overseas is a lot of fun but it can be stressful as well, particularly if you are unprepared. Below I have listed some tips that are relevant no matter where you’re going or for how long. This list comprises of things I’ve done or wish I had and things I’ve found invaluable along the way.


  • Immunisations: Don’t risk catching one of the many preventable nasty illnesses or diseases. As soon as you decide to travel, either see your GP or go to a travel clinic to check what immunisations you might need. Some require time to work and some need boosters so don’t leave it until the last minute.
  • Small first aid kit: This should include a bandage, bandaids, betadine, scissors, tweezers, tape, a few dressing pads & gauze swabs, sterile saline saline water tubes, safety pins, gloves,  and alcohol swabs. If traveling to a third world country I would include a supply of sterile needles and syringes as some hospitals have very limited and unsterile stock.
  • Basic medication kit: This should include simple analgesics like paracetamol and ibuprofen, anti-nausea medication, antacids, itch relief cream, a broad spectrum anti-biotic for severe travellers diarrhoea and gastro stop (and this should only be used if you are about to take a long flight or drive and don’t want to inconvenience of diarrhoea. Taking it at any other time only means the virus or bacteria sits in your gut, it doesn’t cure it and the diarrhoea will come back. The best way to deal with gastro is with sips of water, sips of electrolyte drink, buscopan for abdominal spasms and time). Some of these medications are prescription only so you will need to see your GP. And be sure to find out exactly when you should take them.
  • GP letter: Ask your GP to write a letter listing all the medications you are on and will be taking with you as some countries are very strict about what you can and can’t bring over their boarder. For example it is illegal to carry codeine based products such as panadeine in Greece without a prescription. Make a photocopy and keep it separate from the original.
  • Antibacterial hand lotion: You will be glad you have it, trust me.


  • Photocopies: Make a photocopy of your passport, credit cards, tickets and travel insurance. Keep one lot in your checked baggage and one lot in your carry on baggage. If any of these are lost or stolen it will be much easier to sort out if you have copies.
  • Itinerary. Make sure someone has a copy of your itinerary. If you don’t have concrete plans at least give them a rough guide.
  • Embassy: Carry a list of the locations and phone numbers of your countries embassy in every destination you intend on travelling too. You don’t want to be hunting it down when needed in a hurry.
  • Smart traveller: For Australians, register your details and itinerary with smart traveller. If there is a natural disaster or your family looses contact with you the Australian government will have records of your whereabouts and find it easier to contact you. They also send out regular updates on safety and security in the countries you are planning to travel to.


  • Cash Passport: The Travelex cash passport (ATM or visa) is an ideal card for travel if you are going to one of their listed countries. This card allows you to add money in your currency which will be converted to the foreign currency of your destination and remain fixed at that rate. In other words the money you have loaded on your card will not fluctuate with the market. More details can be found at
  • No fees credit card: I use the 28 degrees MasterCard (Australia). There are no international transaction fees, no currency conversion fees, no cash advance fees and no bank fees. It is the perfect travel credit card!
  • Traveller’s checks: I have never used traveller’s checks so I can’t comment on those.
  • Budget: While it helps to have an overall budget it is even better to work out roughly how much you intend on spending each day. If you know the sights, attractions and accommodation you will be seeing and staying in, you will be able to save enough and therefore less likely to have to use the credit card.


  • The to-do list: Write out a list of everything you need to do in preparation for your trip and another list of everything you need to do on the day you leave. This second list can even include the simplest things related to leaving your house. The less you have to try and remember the less stressed you will have wondering if there is anything you have forgotten.    
  • Passport: Most countries require your passport to have at least more than six months left before it expires. Be sure to check this before you go.
  • Visas: Be sure to check which countries require visas and give yourself enough time to organise them. Some consulates require you to post your passport and give up to 2 weeks or more for its return plus visa.  
  • Research: Research the places you are going to. Don’t just assume you can turn up and figure it out when you get there. If your are staying for a while this is possible but if travelling from destination to destination for short periods of time it helps to know what you want to see and plan your days.


  • Packing: How much you take will depend on how long you’re travelling for, but most first time travellers make the mistake of packing too much. Remember you have to lug your suitcase or backpack around and some accommodations don’t have lifts. Lay out everything you think you’ll need and then halve it. No one will care if you wear the same clothes day after day as it is likely they will be too.
  • Baggage collection: When you’re standing at the luggage carousel a lot of bags look the same.  Tie an identifiable ribbon around your handle to help you quickly identify your luggage.
  • Label: Always label your luggage


  • Where: This is very dependent on where you’re travelling to and for how long. Those on short trips needn’t really worry. Most hotels offer laundry services at a cost, campsites and hostels will generally have a laundry room where you can do it yourself for a few coins but in some areas hand washing is your only option.
  • Detergent: Don’t bother taking detergent; you can pretty much buy it anywhere. If you need to hand wash and can’t find detergent use your soap or shampoo. Better still wash light clothes and underwear in the shower. It sounds crazy but by doing this you’re guaranteed of having something clean each day. Travel clotheslines can be bought at travel shops and generally consist of thick elastic that twists and acts as a peg. This can be tied to chairs and beds in rooms by which small items hung from it.  
  • Laundry bag: Take a laundry bag to keep your dirty clothes separate from your clean ones.


  • A plane kit: This is handy for while you are on the plane but also if you have a stopover, because you will be unable to access you’re checked in baggage. This should include basics like toothpaste/brush, panadol, lip balm, deodorant, hand cream (although many airlines have this in their toilets), a clean pair of underwear & tee shirt or skivy (nothing worse than finding your luggage hasn’t arrived at your destination). Remember for all liquids, no more than 100ml.
  • Travel insurance: I am an ED nurse and I cannot believe the amount of overseas visitors that present to our department without travel insurance and end up with a huge bill even if they were only there for a few hours. It’s simply not worth the risk. Aside from that it covers you for so much more than health. TAKE IT OUT!!!

A little bit of preparation makes a holiday so much more relaxing, particularly on the long trips. Bon voyage…

  1. […] The BIG tips for overseas travel! ( Be Sociable, Share! Tweet […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s