Smart travel tips: 10 things to do before you travel

Excluding the mandatory essentials of booking flights and accommodation and even if you’re only travelling overseas for a short period of time there are a number of easy to forget items it’s important to cross off before hopping on a plane.

Prevent stress with these smart travel tips. Here are 10 things to do before you travel.

1. Check your Passport

It seems a no brainer, but the number of stories you hear of people turning up to fly with an expired passport makes this a mandatory item in this list. There needs to be enough space in your passport for new stamps, it can’t be damaged and should be valid for at least 6 months beyond your journey.

Make sure you take copies of your passport and carry them with you, and make use of modern technology by either scanning or taking a photo of the relevant pages and store them in your emails or on your phone in case your passport is lost or stolen.

2. Find out whether you need a visa

I’m lucky to hold both a New Zealand, and a British Passport which means I can travel to most places without a visa, however I don’t want to get myself in the situation where the one time I don’t check I get caught out.

If you’re using a travel agent they should be able to tell you what you’ll need, otherwise there are tools online where you enter your citizenship and destination to learn whether you require a tourist visa for your travels.

3. Buy Travel Insurance

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you’ll know that I needed to make two travel insurance claims following my trip to Europe this year. Cover-More Travel Insurance made it all quick, easy and simple as well as providing amazing customer service.

They have this handy claims checklist, and if you need to claim whilst on your travels, their online claims portal enables you to lodge your claim while travelling. There’s no need to wait until you get home to lodge your claim, and you can check the progress of your claim via the online portal.

smart travel tips

4. Research Entry and Departure taxes

While most countries bury their entry / departure taxes in the cost of your ticket, regardless of whether you’re required to hold a tourist visa or not, there are some countries which may require you to pay a tax at airport. Sometimes this is even payable in advance.

5. Ensure you’re vaccinated and have any medication you require

Remaining safe and healthy throughout your trip is important, so make an appointment with a travel health specialist around eight weeks before you travel to understand what you need to be protected against.
You should also check you have sufficient prescription medication for the duration of your trip Remember to carry a copy of your prescription just encase you get asked some questions about the little white pills in your carry on.

6. Phone and internet

The horror stories of people coming home to find steep roaming and data bills from their telco’s are diminishing, but you should still do a bit of research before you travel so you know whether you can rely on WiFi for internet access, need to purchase a local SIM card,are happy to roam using your home plan or choose to use an international SIM card. It’s important to understand the costs, hassles and benefits associated with each for your intended usage.

7. Purchase (or borrow) any required adaptors

I was astounded to learn that there are currently 15 different types of power sockets around the world! Pretty much everyone travels with at least a mobile phone so it’s important to know the plug type and voltage required and buy an adaptor to suit. Carrying a power pack with you can also be a lifesaver when you’re phone dies and you have nowhere to charge it.

Voltages also vary so you might require a converter to either increase or decrease the voltage for small appliances as adaptors don’t do this.

things to do before you travel overseas

8. Check for Travel Warnings and Register your plans

With many recent natural disasters such as Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, as well as the devastating Mexican earthquake and imminent volcanic eruption in Bali – it’s important to check for travel warnings. I kept myself updated by checking out the general mass media, as well as Travel Alerts on Cover-More’s website.

Before leaving New Zealander’s should make sure to register on the Safe Travel website for your country destination.

9. Tell your bank you’re travelling

If you’re intending on using your cards overseas, notify your bank of where you’re heading to and when so they don’t suspect fraud or that your card has been stolen and block them. You can do it by calling them, popping into a branch or sending them a message in your online banking account.

10. Get foreign cash (and know what the conversion rate should be)

I find it’s always helpful to carry at least a small amount of the local currency with you incase you need to pay for something soon after getting off the plane and are unable to use a card. When you get your cash note down what the conversion rate should be so you know what a good (or bad) rate looks like.

How many of these 10 things do you usually do before you travel? Anything you’d add to the list of smart travel tips?

This post was written in collaboration with Cover-More Travel Insurance.


  1. Ha
    November 20, 2017 / 7:42 am

    Such a nice post! I forgot to tell my bank once, and my credit card got locked 🙁 Adaptors are super important too, and I forgot about them… Wish I read this post sooner <3

      November 23, 2017 / 9:00 pm

      Oh no! Banking issues overseas are so stressful and awful! I had issues in London a few months ago withdrawing money – my balance was debited but the cash never came out and I had to wait 10 hours for the bank to open and phoning them cost a packet too with roaming. Hope you can be better prepared in the future 🙂

  2. November 19, 2017 / 9:29 pm

    Yes yes yes, especially on entry and exit taxes! The worst thing is to be at the airport having spent all your cash and then having to pay more ATM fees just so you can leave.

      November 23, 2017 / 9:01 pm

      Agh yes I know what you mean Rowena! And you get hit with ALL the charges and end up with random foreign cash you have no need for!

  3. November 18, 2017 / 10:36 pm

    Such a good list of tips, thanks for sharing! Some seem obvious but it’s surprising how many times you just don’t think about it! Like the time my mum showed up at the airport with an expired passport, we had to postpone the flight to the day after and she had to get an emergency renewal. Was pretty stressful!

      November 23, 2017 / 9:02 pm

      Oh your poor Mum! That sounds like such a stressful situation Greta! I hope the airline was understanding?

  4. Jacqueline
    November 18, 2017 / 7:40 pm

    Thanks for these tips! They are all great and so essential before going on any trip! The visa requirements are so important, otherwise you might not be able to enter the country and are sent back home immediately!

      November 18, 2017 / 9:06 pm

      Absolutely! You’d hope that would never happen to anyone – what a nightmare.

  5. November 18, 2017 / 5:24 pm

    These are all such great tips! I laughed out loud when reading #1. My sister grabbed an expired passport on one trip and fortunately the plane was delayed so there was time for the 2-hour drive to go home and get her proper one!

      November 18, 2017 / 9:03 pm

      Oh WOW Sherri your sister was so lucky!! My Uncle did something similar when he was flying overseas to meet his partner who was in Australia for work. Expensive mistake by itself but it also meant she did lots of extra shopping as she was by herself in Melbourne for several days haha

  6. November 18, 2017 / 4:14 pm

    There are so many good trips in here! I would also say holding your mail, washing clothes beforehand, making copies of your documents and sending them to your e-mail inbox and backing up your computer if you are taking it are important too. And, do not leave everything for the last minute!

      November 18, 2017 / 9:05 pm

      Thanks Ruth! Man I am never that organised to think about what happens to my mail or ensure the clothes I need are washed… note to self for next time!