This is a travel preparation checklist for anyone planning a trip abroad. The advice is mostly for South Africans but can be applied to other nationalities.
Things to do before you go on a trip:
Research entry requirements, visas and passports
• check the entry requirements of the country you’re traveling to. Here’s a list of countries we can visit visa-free, countries where we can get a visa on arrival and countries where we need to apply for a visa before leaving South Africa.
• make sure you’ve got correct visas for the country you’re visiting and that your passport is valid.
• fill in the emergency contact details in your passport. This will help government officials to contact next of kin if you have an accident.
• for some countries your passport must be valid for 6 months after the date you travel. Check the requirements for passport validity before going.
• find out where your nearest South African embassy or consulate will be, in case you need to contact them in an emergency.
• Tell you family and friends where you’re going and leave them your contact details, copy of your passport, insurance policy details, accommodation reservation references and a copy of your itinerary. Store them securely online. I make use of google sheets and documents and share with my parents before every trip.
• Bring copies of your passport. If your passport gets stolen or lost you want to be sure that you can still get back into the country, or be able to prove your citizenship.
• store useful numbers on your phone such as the local police and the nearest South African embassy or consulate
• ensure you have access to funds to cover emergencies and unexpected delays. Take more than one means of payment with you (cash, debit card, credit card).
• Contact your bank and inform them about your trip.
• invest in a good travel guide to help you plan your trip and consider using online travel forums for more detail about your destination. Research and download apps that are popular and will help you in the country where you are visiting.
Suggested Reading: Best Apps for travel in Ireland
• check with your service provider to make sure your phone works abroad. Consider leaving your phone’s IMEI number with a friend or family member, to help block or locate the phone if there’s a problem
• Share your live location with a friend or family member through WhatsApp so they can know about your whereabouts at all times
• if you’re going to be driving abroad, make sure your licence is current and valid and be aware of the driving laws in the country you are visiting
• if you’re travelling with children who are unaccompanied by one or both parents, check our guidance on permissions that you might need to get and check the policy of your airline or transport provider
• Bring a charger adapter. Countries have different size plugs and voltage. So if you want to use your iPod, make sure you can charge it. A power strip can be a way to cheat and charge multiple devices off of one adapter
• get travel insurance and make sure it covers you for any activities you are likely to do, including extreme or water sports.
• At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC)
• If required, contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad
• Take enough medical supplies for the duration of your visit and any unexpected delays
• The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the South Africa can be different in other countries. For further information, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
When you’re abroad
• think about what you are doing at all times and trust your instincts. Don’t take risks that you wouldn’t in South Africa.
• don’t openly display valuables such as mobile phones or digital cameras and consider using a padlock on suitcases or backpacks.
• find out how to minimise your risk from terrorism and what to do if there’s a terrorist attack
• find out about local customs and dress, behave accordingly and obey local laws. There may be serious penalties for breaking a law that might seem trivial at home.
• be careful when taking photographs, videos or using binoculars. These activities may be misunderstood by local authorities, especially near military installations.