17 Feb 2009 by Olga Brighton
The information in this section contains an essential list of what you must do before and while you are travelling, and what to do if something goes wrong. We have also included traveller and backpacker advice.
Make sure your passport is valid before travelling, and that it has at least 6 months validity left. If you require a new passport, or want to renew an expiring or lost passport, go to your local post office and pick up 1 of 2 forms. Form A is for first time applications; Form R is used to renew a passport which has expired, or to replace one which has been lost or stolen. Issuing of passports can take from two weeks to a month, depending on the time of year that you apply and costs £42. If you are in a real hurry, you can take your passport application into the passport office personally. This will cost you a £10 handling fee. Take a photocopy of your passport and leave it at home with a responsible person.
Some countries require you to have been issued your visa before you travel, while others are happy to give them out as you go along. Visas are generally quite quick to obtain, either being issued immediately or within a week - but some countries can take a bit longer, so make sure you leave plenty of time. Most can be obtained by post, but some may need you actually go to the embassy or consulate of the other country. Check out the UK Foreign Office site to see if you require a visa for the destination you are travelling to.
"If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel!" The most important thing, travel insurance, should cover you for is medical expenses, as this is what will cost the most if you aren't covered. Globelink Travel Insurance offers affordable policies for anyone 89 years of age or under. Make sure you take your travel insurance policy number with you, as well as the emergency medical assistance telephone number. Leave a copy at home with a responsible person.
Lock windows and doors, cancel any newspapers or milk deliveries for the time you are away. Make sure when turning appliances off, you don't unplug the fridge! Take off all unnecessary jewellry as you may be a target for thieves, and you will also appear 'rich' if visiting poorer parts of the world.
Best to take a combination of cash and travellers cheques, if it is going to be easy to access cashpoints. Make sure you take a credit card that is accepted worldwide, and take with you a copy of the telephone numbers if you need to cancel your credit cards.
Read also: Your Money and Travel Insurance
Check with your network to ensure you have global roaming so you can keep in touch while you are away. Text messages are a cheap and effective way of letting those at home know you are safe and enjoying yourself.
If you plan on travelling for an extended period of time, appoint a Power of Attorney (parents, sibling, etc.) to look after your affairs whilst away. They can then transfer money, look after your bills and take care of anything for you if need be.
Always ensure your passport, cash and valuables are with you at all times. Never pack these items in the baggage you are checking in. It's a good idea to wear a money belt if doing a lot of sightseeing in major tourist areas as you will always know where your valuables are.
Get a good guidebook and make sure you know what is expected of you whilst abroad. As an example, if visiting the Vatican, women must cover their legs and shoulders.
If you are staying at a reputable hotel, leave your valuables locked in the safe, along with your airline/transport tickets.
In the event of any loss or theft, make sure you report it to the local police and you obtain a copy of the report. This is necessary to make an insurance claim. Make sure that you take a copy of the form before you send it to the Insurance Claims office.
If something happens to you or your possessions and you are covered under one of Globelink insurance policies, check out our how to make a claim section. Backpacker insurance is a must for those of you taking off overseas for any period of time.