Monday, March 26, 2012

Steps to organising an overseas trip



So you've decided to explore the planet - but its your first time, your on a tight budget, and you don't know where to start? The steps below may help you out!

Step 1 - GET A PASSPORT!
Head down to your local post office and grab an application form. You might need to apply for a full birth certificate and a few other things so make sure you give yourself enough time to get everything organised. 

Step 2 - CHOOSE A COUNTRY/COUNTRIES
List all the places you really really want to visit. This should give you an idea of how you will need to commute, and you can determine how much money you will need. Plan the trip you want and do research on places you want to go. 

Step 3 - BARTER FOR A CHEAP AIRFARE
I use either Student Flights or STA Travel. Their mottos are both that if you can find a cheaper price elsewhere, they will beat it. So I'm cheeky and usually will get a quote with one, then send it to the other again and again, until they have gone as low as they can - or till they get pissed off at me. I managed to get a one way to Vancouver for $870 which included a $20 Youth I.D. card... and the original quote was about $980. Make sure you check out these guys before you settle on a price with your local travel agent. Just to give you a comparison, I couldn't get a quote under $1,200 for a one way to Vancouver through a my local travel agents, and I did the rounds. 
When I book flights, I generally stick to this rule: International flights I will book through an agent/company. Domestic I will book by myself.

Step 4 - DECIDE YOUR TRAVEL INSURER
Don't necessarily just go with whoever your travel agent quotes you with. They are travel agents, not insurance agents!! Shop around, find a policy that suits your needs and covers you for what sort of activities you want to do. Make sure you google reviews of the particular insurers you are looking at - this will give you a good insight to whether it is worth your time and money. If you have private health look into getting travel insurance through them. I use World Nomads travel insurance. Mainly because I like to keep my trip unplanned and World Nomads allows me to extend my policy online. 

Step 4 - DO YOU NEED A VISA?
Make sure you find out if you will need a visa to enter all the countries on your list. If you are planning to work you will most likely need a work visa 

Step 5 - WORK & PLAY OR JUST PLAY?
Decide whether you would prefer a working holiday or not. If you don't have much money, being able to earn money overseas is a great way to keep your funds ticking along. Also, it doesn't have to be money that you receive for your hard work. Working for free accommodation and a free meal is just as good as earning money in some cases. It may only be painting a fence, or helping with some gardening or farm work - and you get to experience the local culture. To suss out free accommodation and free meals, check out www.helpx.net - You can sort through listings in hundreds of countries and choose the host that suits you. 

Step 6 - VACCINATIONS
Ring your local doctors to find out what immunisations you will need before you jet off. 

Step 7 - TO TOUR OR NOT TO TOUR
Thinking of a Contiki/Topdeck type tour? You can get last minute deals while you are overseas and save a few hundred dollars - or if you want to do a specific tour make sure you get in early as they sell out very quickly! They are a great way to begin travelling, and allow you to get a feel of living and travelling in a foreign country.

Step 8 - FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU NEED TO BUY
So everything is booked in and paid for, now make a list of what you will need to buy before you go. Travel bags, clothes, lonely travel books, travel accessories etc etc. 

Step 9 - SAVE SAVE SAVE!
It is really easy to monitor your savings with a simple spreadsheet in excel. If you are on a really tight budget, tracking what you spend can really help with saving money.

Step 10 - LANGUAGE BARRIERS
If you are going to a foreign country, I highly recommend studying up on as much of the language as you can. You need to know how to communicate, especially if you are travelling by yourself. I've heard of fellow travellers taking up language courses. I just download free language learning software at www.byki.com. It has been a fantastic resource for me.

Step 11 - ORDER SOME CURRENCY
Make sure you order a few hundred dollars worth of foreign cash from the post office before you fly out of Australia. Give the post office at least 2 weeks to get it in for you. Don't forget about possibly ordering a little cash for the stopover too. For example, I was flying to Italy so I ordered in about $300 EU. I had a short stopover in Kuala Lumpur after a 7 hour flight, but I neglected to get any Malaysian ringgit out to buy some food and things. So possibly think about this factor, as you really don't want to be using your plastic card all the time. 

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