Having just been away internationally recently myself, I started to write down a few notes as I went through the motions of getting myself sorted out so I could share them with you.
I’ll start with mobile phones… because haven’t they really become the most important device in your life over the years! The technology behind travelling with a mobile phone has really come ahead and still changing, it’s about knowing what’s available and choosing what is right for you.
Those who have been travelling a while will already be familiar with picking up sim cards while you are travelling and taking advantage of the local rates available which are usually very competitive. This option still exists in most places and airports are a convenient spot to pick these up and get dialled into your new number, rates to consider and how to reload credit etc.
A new’ish option available along these lines are now the e-sim…so same process but no physical sim card to change over. TripSim by Syd is the option I recommend to clients to consider if they are comfortable with this process and their website is amazing at explaining the packages and rates available with instructions for activation. Check out tripsim.com.au if this sounds like you! Does this new e-sim technology see the end of the traditional sim card samba for globetrotters – I’m not sure!
The technology offered by our phone providers here in Australia has also come along and I must say if you value convenience over price than this is perhaps for you. I recently used Telstras International Day Pass on my last trip and it was just such a relief to not have to worry about swapping sim cards, dodgy networks or how I used my phone for that matter, it was really business as usual! Optus have similar plans upon a quick google but I can’t speak of theirs from my own experience, I’m sure it would be similar. Advice on this in a nutshell– see what your provider offers and of course if its available where you are going, consider the overall cost to you for the trip duration and make a decision from there!
One option I never recommend is taking your phone and just linking into free wifi where available, particularly in public spaces. With so much of our personal info on phones, banking apps etc – the security risk is quite high. I’d recommend pre-purchasing a data pack from a reputable supplier over this option any day of the week.
In thinking about phone security, consider that antivirus protection is also now available for mobile phones as it is your computer. It’s likely your current provider has a phone option so I would recommend checking that out too.
My personal phone travel tip; I am one of those tragics who keeps phones when upgrading (in fact I still have my very first iphone!). I take one when I travel so in the event I lose my phone, I have another at hand to get a sim into and quickly get on with things. If you don’t have a spare, consider taking a cheap unlocked phone if budget permits.
Now money, there are some good tips to be shared from common client questions too!
Never ever carry substantial amounts of cash around with you, ever. Not only can it be an issue/raise suspicion at border crossings, but my general advice is to not have more cash on you at any point than you are insured to lose. I exchange a couple of hundred AUD over at the airport to the destination currency and that see’s you through in most cases to an atm on the other side. If you need to pay for a visa on arrival, I think its best to have the cash on you in the event there is an issue with electronic payments on the day. Travelling to USA, remember small notes for tipping on arrival! You can order cash at post offices and banks if you like to get sorted out well in advance, just ask about the fees first.
What about bank cards versus travel cards? There are really pro’s and con’s for both and again it’s about choosing what’s right for you. My overarching advice is to always have at least two separate sources of money while you are travelling for obvious reasons.
I like the Travelex product as far as currency cards go, they have a great range of available currencies, a good app to use while away but most importantly – they have offices all over the world in the event you need to visit one, you will be able to be assisted. This is perhaps the biggest pro when considering this product to a bank or otherwise issued card like some airlines now offer also. How do you get a replacement card if you lose one?Jurys out for me! If you don’t live near a Travelex store to visit personally, you need to order these online and get mailed out, so don’t leave this option till the last minute!
While I have used travel cards, I’ve also travelled to countries where the currency required wasn’t available at the time for this sort of set up.This trip for me was India, so I travelled with two separate bank accounts and cards and withdrew cash every couple of days to limit the atm fees. It’s wise to check with your bank what the international fees are so you can keep that in mind when planning transactions (as of course I am not your financial advisor, they are!).One of these bank cards I kept with my passport and the other on me in person while I travelled.
But please, don’t forget to notify your bank you will be travelling! They generally ask where to and for how long – most of the big banks will allow you to complete this via your banking app, avoiding attending the branch. Forgetting to do this could mean your accounts are frozen on first use which is time consuming to rectify while travelling.
My best travel tip remains taking a good quality power board with you to charge/use multiple devices at once (just not on a cruise ship!) I have noticed that many big name hotels are converting all power points to international but handy to have for those that don’t. I have one attached to an international converter and it’s all I’ve travelled with, anywhere.
My last thought to share with you I haven’t already mentioned, particularly with so many traveling for the first time since lockdowns is this… having some anxieties around airports and getting started on your trip is SO normal! I have seen an increase of this over the last year or so, in occurrence and severity, but please know this.. don’t be afraid to talk to someone, particularly your travel agent if you have a great relationship with them! With prior knowledge of how you are feeling, more attention can be given to assist you feeling fully equipped to deal with that check in and airport for a smoother experience on the day. All of these beeping machines, scanners and screens to stare into till you get a green tick CAN be overwhelming – I get it! It’s always best to chat to your GP about your feelings if you think they may cause an issue for you and they can steer you in the right direction for you as there are many ways they can help. Preparation is the best strategy! If you cant get into yourGP, phone services such as Lifeline can assist.
Some nerves are always going to be there going through such important process such as border control and security and it great to think about these in advance to know what you’re doing and know what’s expected of you. Reach out to all those knowledgeable, experienced and supportive people around you in advance of the day is my best advice!
Safe travels everyone- hope this helps!