The Little General Tips for Overseas Travel (Planning).

Posted: 07/02/2012 in General Travel Advice
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  • Travel forums such as the lonely planet, world nomads, travellers point and virtual tourist are a great way of finding out what the everyday person thought of where they went as well as getting loads of tips and advice. On some of these websites they provide you with the opportunity to ask locals questions about where you’re going such as safe areas to stay in, good local nightspots, places to eat and sights worth seeing.
  • When looking for accommodation I search using a hotel or hostel booking website that lists thousands of accommodations. Then I always use trip advisor to read independent reviews from people who have stayed in the places I’m looking at. Many reviews include photos. Keep in mind that some people are completely unrealistic about what is and is not acceptable accommodation. If you pay for one star you should not expect four star! There are also reviews for attractions and restaurants.
  • While web based flight agencies often quote cheap airfares, places like flight centre will actually match the quote and they do all the work for you including organising visas and providing invaluable advice.
  • Don’t limit yourself to tours. A lot of countries now offer a hop-on-hop-off way of exploring. Generally a bus will pass through a town every second day and you notify them (online) in advance if you require a seat. That way you decide how long you’ll stay in one place. There are also rail passes available or the option of flying between countries (obviously this depends on your budget).
  • If you’re booked on a tour or going to a special function plan to arrive a day earlier in case there are delays in your flight.
  • Research the weather of the places you plan on visiting. It would be so disappointing to book your trip and arrive only to find it’s the rainy season, monsoon weather or a grey winter.
  • Consider travelling when there are beautiful seasonal changes ie: March/April in Japan to see the cherry blossom, early spring in South Africa or Western Australia for the vast display of wildflowers, autumn in Switzerland to see the magnificent array of colour on the deciduous trees etc…
  • Don’t plan your trip around only the cities. There is much to see in the country and in small towns.
  • When planning your itinerary:
    • Use a travel book and the internet to do your research but also talk to people who have been there before because they will know what is worth seeing and what isn’t. Just make sure you ask them why they didn’t like something because it might not apply to you.
    • Allow some flexibility (unless you’re on a really tight schedule).
    • Be logical in your planning – avoid backtracking – and be realistic. There is no point in adding destinations to your list that you will barely see just so you can say you’ve been there. Aside from giving you a lengthy detour, it adds expense and cuts down on time you will spend in another place.
    • Consider flying in to one country and out of another rather than doing a round trip.
    • For longer trips, plan for rest periods. I can’t emphasize enough how important this is. Constant sight-seeing is tiring and a half or full day of lounging in a café or a park can make a huge difference.
    • Don’t overload yourself on cathedrals and museums inEurope. Believe me you will get sick of them if you do too many!
    • Look beyond the frequented sights for something a little different ie: a bike ride tour of a countryside, day boat trips, hiking, night time walking tours, markets etc…
    • Find out what days and times tourist sites are open (most places close for one day of the week).
    • Write out your itinerary list using excel (makes it easier to work out a budget). You will be ready when you arrive with estimated budget and know you have back up sights to see in case of unexpected hindrances like weather, public holidays and unplanned closure of sight-seeing places.
    • Look for tourist cards (ie:Londonpass) that offer entry into a certain number of tourist sites at a discounted price.
    • Don’t be afraid to use public transport to get around. Just remember where you need to get off at the end of your day.
  • Research festivals and celebrations that might be occurring at your destination. There is nothing as exciting as taking part in a community or national celebration in another country.
  • With this is mind, if there are festivals occurring at the time you plan on visiting be sure to book your accommodation in advance or you might be sleeping on the street. ie: Most cheap accommodation inMunichis well and truly booked out come Oktoberfest.
  • Be aware of laws, cultural differences and customs in the countries you plan on visiting. Not only is it wise to respect another’s culture in some places you could be arrested for blatantly ignoring cultural traditions. Just because you are a visitor there does not mean you will be let off lightly. This can be as simple as not taking photos of law or military officers and their buildings.
  • If you plan on driving overseas your own licence may not be enough. Make sure you get an international drivers licence before you leave.
  • Know the emergency number of the country you are visiting, you never know when you might need it.
  • If you plan on undertaking any activities such as sky diving, white water rafting, scuba diving, riding a moped etc… make sure your travel insurance covers you for this (many don’t).

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