Pre-departure check list

You’ve booked your flights, packed your gear, and made sure that you have enough space on your camera’s memory card to document your trip! But before you get too carried away make sure you have everything on my pre-departure check list – the last thing you want to happen is arriving at the airport and realising you’ve forgotten something important.

EIGHT WEEKS OUT

VACCINES

Yup, you should be thinking about this at least two months before departure. Ensure that you have the required vaccines for wherever you’re heading, and that you have enough time for a full course of vaccinations if required.

INSURANCE

Ideally you’d have purchased travel insurance when you bought your tickets. If you haven’t: buy it now. If you already have a policy: double-check it will cover you for your intended activities – some policies exclude motorbike riding or scuba diving. Now is the time to call your insurance broker and alter your policy if needed.

ONE WEEK OUT

BACK UP YOUR DOCUMENTS

You should scan copies of your passport, insurance documents, itinerary, doctor’s letters (for any prescription medication you may be taking with you) and any required visas. Print out two copies and store them separately in your luggage. Email the scans through to yourself and a close friend or family member. This means they know the vital details in case you become sick or injured, and can send the copies through to you if you lose everything.

HEAD TO YOUR BANK

About a week before departure you’ll want to head to your bank and sort out two things – first, buy some foreign currency if you haven’t already. (Note that depending on where you’re from and where you’re going it may take a while to get less common currencies in.)

You also want to inform them that you’re heading overseas and will be using your credit cardsthere. If you suddenly get lots of charges to your card in SE Asia or Eastern Europe your bank may suspect your card details have been stolen and then lock down your card. You don’t want to spend part of your trip trying to unlock a credit card from the other side of the world.

REGISTER WITH YOUR FOREIGN MINISTRY

It’s always good to register with your Government before heading overseas, that way if things go wrong while you’re away (riots, coups, natural disasters) it’s easier for them to locate you and offer any assistance necessary. If you’re a Kiwi head to Safetravel.govt.nz to register online (you can also print out hard copies and register at MFAT in Wellington or at your nearest New Zealand diplomatic mission if you’re overseas).

COUCHSURFING REQUESTS

If you’re planning to couchsurf as soon as you arrive in your destination, fire some requests out five to seven days before you plan to arrive. It gives hosts enough time to respond to your request, and you enough time to book a hostel in case no one has a couch on offer.

72 HOURS OUT

CONFIRM YOUR BOOKINGS

Airlines are good at screwing things up – all it takes is one plane requiring unscheduled maintenance to throw multiple flights into chaos. It is vital that you confirm your flight bookings with the airline 72 hours before you’re scheduled to fly out. It means you can be aware of any expected delays, and gives you time to reschedule if they’ve accidentally bumped you off the flight.

START YOUR ANTIMALARIAL MEDICATION

(If you’re going to malarial country) you should have picked up some anti-malarial medication from your doctor when you had your vaccines. If you’ve been prescribed doxycycline – one of the most common anti malarial drugs – you should start taking this two-three days before you leave. Most important of all: follow your doctor’s advice.

24 HOURS OUT

ONLINE CHECK-IN

Lots of airlines now offer online check-in 24 hours before the flight departs. If you have access to a printer it allows you to check-in, print a boarding pass, and generally save hassle at the airport – especially if you have little time between connecting flights. Also make sure you check your final boarding times to ensure you aren’t left off the plane.

MAKE SURE YOU’RE PACKED

Don’t leave this until the morning of your trip. Make sure that you’re all packed and ready to go with 24 hours until your flight. It takes away some of the pre-travel stress, and if you’re anything like me, it gives you the chance to remember the things you’ve forgotten to pack before you leave. It also gives you a chance to make sure your toiletries meet aviation security requirements.

AS YOU LEAVE FOR THE AIRPORT

HAVE YOU GOT EVERYTHING?

Make sure you have your itinerary, boarding pass, passport, and luggage. It sounds obvious, but the number of people who turn up at the airport without these things would amaze you. By double checking you have these things you won’t have to go through the cost and the hassle of rescheduling your flights.

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