Every day globally, tens of thousands of individuals and families embark on journeys for short-term travel or to become resident overseas. For most, travel is an incident-free, fun-filled experience, however sometimes the best laid plans can be impacted by a variety of unexpected events.
By planning ahead and finding the right information, the risk of encountering difficulties while abroad can be reduced. We’ve put together these must read travel tips, in no particular order, to give you the upper hand when it comes to your expatriate journey.
1. Research the destination
Before committing to any travel or moving plans, research the country of interest thoroughly, including any bordering countries. Check which vaccinations are required, the travel warnings and advice issued by your home country about that destination, the medical services available and the climate you’ll be going into upon arrival. Being fully informed prior to confirming those flights will help with planning and mitigating the variety of risks which come with the expatriate journey.
2. Register your plans with the embassy or consulate of your home country
Many governments run online registers for their own nationals to enter their residence or travel details. This is so that an embassy or consulate in that particular country can disseminate information quickly to large groups of expatriates regarding natural disasters or significant events. If disaster occurs and services are subsequently limited, those in affected areas can be quickly identified and put at the top of the list for a wellness check.
3. Leave a copy of your travel itinerary with family
Include various contact numbers. This can be tricky if you don’t have exact dates of where you will be at a particular time, but try to be as accurate as possible. If you know which area you will be in on the 20th because you have an event that day, write it down. Give relatives points to work from, that way if you go off course and do not arrive at [x] on [y], they can seek help from relevant authorities or contact points.
4. Take out the right insurance – know what is and isn’t covered
This is often overlooked, but is one of the most important elements of any journey. At some stage, an illness, injury or other travel-related event will occur, and you will need to call upon your insurance policy or the 24 hour healthcare advice service the insurer provides. Whether it’s a small injury needing a doctor’s attention, stolen belongings or a full-scale medical emergency requiring evacuation, failing to plan is planning to fail. If you need advice on which travel or medical cover is appropriate for you, ask a professional. Global Albatross can and will explain the different types of cover available – and the service is free, so save yourself and your family time and stress, and get it sorted.
5. Save your insurer’s emergency number to your phone
If you find yourself requiring emergency care, you won’t be the one calling, so ensure family and/or friends save the number to their phones as well. This way they’ll be able to let your insurer know the situation and where you are. Also, make sure you save your broker’s number into your phone. Any good broker will ensure all the right resources are activated during a medical event, big or small, and that you receive all the benefits you are entitled to under your policy. An insurer will not automatically point those benefits out, so put your broker on your phone. Remember, brokering services are free, so use them.
6. Health systems
Another important ‘must read travel tip’ is knowing the level of medical care available in a country and whether it is accessible to expatriates through a public or private system. People who have lived or worked in the country of your choice are a good resource as their information is often based on experience.
7. Get a first aid kit
The contents of a first aid kit will vary according to the destination. It won’t need to be as comprehensive for example if travelling to Australia due to its accessible health system, as it will be for China, where facilities are lacking in many areas. Sometimes, you just can’t get to a hospital or doctor because of things beyond your control, so an up-to-date medical kit with basic supplies from plasters and pain relief to antihistamines and diarrhoea treatments may be helpful.
8. Pain relief
This can technically go under the tip for a first aid kit, but considering it is such an important topic, we gave it a section of its own. Everyone at some stage will suffer with various types of pain whilst living overseas, and we can’t stress enough how much of a lifesaver a couple of pain relievers or anti-inflammatories will be on a 8+ hour bus trip over a semi-tarsealed road.
9. Keep passports in a secure place
Having to replace a passport whilst overseas can be a time intensive as well as expensive exercise. Keeping your passport on you instead of in general luggage is a good idea. You could be on a bus travelling through remote country and all the luggage falls off a cliff face as the vehicle winds through a tight bend. It’s a much better idea to keep important documents in a money belt or a pocket that isn’t easily accessible to light-fingered thieves.
10. Store important documentation in the cloud
Make electronic copies of passports and any other important documents for storage in an electronic depository. In the event you experience an emergency or lose your belongings along with identity and medical documents, nothing will quite compare to being able to bring up copies on icloud. It could save you significant time and money in the event you have to prove your identity or provide information to a medical facility.
11. Mobile phone with international coverage
This might seem like an obvious one in our world of ever-growing technology, but it’s definitely worth a mention. Phone durability is always good, particularly when dropped on a myriad of surfaces around the globe, as well as additional battery life. A waterproof phone is even better if you might be battling the elements, but whichever way, you never know when you might need to make a call or use the camera, so keep it ready and charged.
12. Know the cultural do’s and don’ts
Familiarise yourself with the etiquette of the country in question. From not blowing your nose in public in Japan, to avoiding jaywalking in Germany, save the embarrassment and learn the protocols. You’ll fit in more easily to your surroundings and be commended for it.
13. Store money in different locations
Our last, but by no means least ‘must read travel tip’ focuses on distribution of funds. Socks, underwear bands, shoes, the lining of a backpack or bag. Make sure you have some extra cash somewhere and ensure it’s not easy to find. In the unlucky event all your belongings are lost or stolen, being able to reach into your shoe and pull out some cash for a bed and a meal until you can access more money… you will thank yourself more times than you can count.
Global Albatross is an award-winning specialist advisory focusing on international medical and travel insurance for expatriates. If you have a query regarding your current policy, we can answer it. If you are considering taking out a policy, we can provide options.
Global Albatross knows the areas of cover, the depth of policies, the inclusions and exclusions, and we know the questions to ask. We help ease the burden of travelling, relocating, living and working overseas. And our service is free. Contact us today.