The ultimate big trip checklist

While travelling is one of life’s greatest pleasures, the organisational nitty-gritty before you jet off into the sunset is not. Airport departure lounges are for sipping champagne and praying for a miracle upgrade to First Class – not worrying if your travel insurance policy is out of date. Get on top of your travel admin with this checklist that will help you get your travel essentials in order before you get on the plane.

Passport = freedom

Getting your first passport is a rite of passage. Just like a driver’s license, it’s a symbolic key to freedom, fun and the pursuit of good times. Hot tip: you’ll live with your passport photo for the next decade so make sure you’re looking good on the day you get your photo taken, otherwise you’ll be fending off mugshot jokes for the next ten years. If you already have a passport, check the expiry date. Most countries require you to have six months’ worth of validity on your passport to allow entry. Time flies pretty quickly, so best to renew your passport if it’s edging towards its expiry date.

Be a smart traveller

Logging your travel plans on the Australian Government’s Smart Traveller website will help out your family and friends in the event there’s a natural disaster while you’re away. Government agencies use this data to locate Australian citizens quickly when they need to and it only takes a few minutes to fill out online. If not for yourself, do it for your parents!

Redirect it

Whether you’re going away on a two-week jaunt to Vietnam or six-month odyssey around Europe, getting your mail redirected to a friend or held at your local Australia Post shop is a good way to ensure your mail is safe. With things like bank statements, car registration, electoral information and more delivered to your home address regularly, plenty of sensitive personal information is contained within your mail. It’s for this reason that mail is best not left out for long periods of time, because coming home to a case of identity theft or stolen mail will only add to the already painful post-holiday blues.

See your GP

While a visit to the doctor’s waiting room isn’t high on the list of most people’s favourite things to do, seeing your doctor before you head off is a wise idea. Look past the disinfectant smell and the pile of magazines from 1981 in the waiting room and think of your visit to the doctor as an essential part of your trip. If you’re travelling to a developing country, you may need vaccinations. If you take medication, you’ll need to ensure you have enough to last the trip (and having a doctor’s note explaining your needs isn’t a bad idea either).

If you value it, insure it!

Travelling without insurance is a bit like playing Russian Roulette – you might get away with a few rolls of the dice but ultimately you’ll end up getting caught at some stage and by then it will be too late. When something as simple as a broken leg can end up costing tens of thousands of dollars to treat in countries like the USA, leaving home without travel insurance is a very risky move indeed. If you like pulling risky moves, then consider heading to Vegas. Otherwise, think about how awful it would feel to be in hospital, then add how awful it will feel having your savings cleaned out for the privilege.

Load up

Because carrying large amounts of cash around in a bum bag is one of the biggest ways to get yourself robbed (not to mention laughed at), it’s best to have a few different options to access your hard earned travel funds while overseas. Loading some of your money onto a cash card before leaving is a smart way to keep your cash safe and minimise notoriously hefty fees associated with accessing your bank account at ATMs overseas.

The golden ticket

Don’t leave getting your visas to the last minute! Many countries require a few weeks to turn around visa approval and some countries will even make you line up at an embassy or visa office, just like in the good old days. So once you know which countries you want to visit, make securing visas for your travel a priority on your list of things to do before you get to have fun!

Don’t bank on it

Inform your bank about your dates of travel and countries you’re planning on visiting. Many banks allow you to do this online if you have an online account. This simple bit of information could save you from having your bank account frozen. Many banks use technology to stop credit card fraud, so if you live in suburban Brisbane and all of a sudden you’re using your credit card in a market in Marrakech, your bank could stop the transaction and freeze your account (not a good thing when you’ve got shopping to do, food to buy and hotels to pay for). So keep your bank up-to-date with your travel plans and you can shop away to your heart’s content.

Sort your SIM

Using your Australian mobile phone carrier while travelling overseas can be a one-way ticket to financial ruin if you’re not careful. All you have to do is accidentally agree to one software update or send a few messages with images while not connected to Wi-Fi and you’ll end up coming home to a bill that will make your eyes water. Think ahead and purchase an international SIM card for your phone before you leave. Your future self will thank you for it.

Get ‘appy

Downloading all your favourite travel apps onto your phone before you go away means you can avoid expensive data downloads and roaming charges while overseas. Whether you need the Spotify app to access your holiday tunes, the Airbnb app to find a crash pad to stay in, the Adioso app to access one of the best flight comparators going around or the Postcards app to stoke the flames of envy with your mates back at home, download them all onto your phone before you leave home, so once you arrive you’ll be ready to roll, and scroll.