“It seemed like a good idea at the time,” is a cliché phrase no traveller wants to utter. It signifies that you loosened your morals or the safety rules you promised to stick to. It’s the opening phrase of a travel story that quickly descends into sickness, broken bones or lost money.
Experience, they say, is the best teacher. And one of the best ways to stay out of trouble is to learn from the mistakes others have made.
In no particular order, here are some of the frustrating mistakes Aussie travellers have made.
1. Getting travel insurance too late or saying “she’ll be right!” and not getting any
You won’t be cheering about saving a hundred dollars by skipping travel insurance if you get sick or injured overseas. One Fast Cover traveller needed $23,000 worth of medical treatment after tripping down some stairs in Bali and breaking her foot. Getting a few stitches in the United States can cost hundreds.
Also, remember that cover for cancellation usually starts as soon as your travel insurance policy is issued. If you don’t get travel insurance early, you take the risk of having something happen which forces you to cancel your trip (such as getting sick or injured) and not being able to claim for lost deposits.
2. The invalid, valid passport
Many travellers go to the airport with a passport that expires in five months. Sounds perfectly fine unless you are going to Malaysia, Dubai, Fiji, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Samoa or Thailand among other destinations. For these destinations your passport must be valid for at least six months on entry.
Getting turned away at the boarding gates is devastating. Plan in advance. You can Google passport and visa requirements.
3. Eating glistening street food in the afternoon and having a refreshing local drink
It’s hot, you’re hungry and meat on a stick is cooking right in front of you. What kind of meat? No one knows. But you’re overseas and should try it right? It could be a delicious and satisfying snack. It could also be a nightmare a few hours later. Especially if you’re in a country where your stomach can’t handle the local tap water and you wash down your meal with a drink containing local ice cubes.
To give you some idea of how common this mistake is, about 50 per cent of travellers have reported some kind of stomach trouble while in Bali. Drinking tap water, using local ice cubes and eating foods rinsed in the water are the most common ways of getting a stomach bug. Remember to take out travel insurance before going overseas just in case you do have an unexpected medical emergency!
4. Booking that really cheap, early morning flight
The 6.30am flight might cost a lot less than the one at midday, but that doesn’t matter if you miss the flight. In an independent survey commissioned by Fast Cover it was found that 13% of Australian travellers have missed a flight! Have you ever tried to get refunds for a flight you’ve missed? It can be a nightmare. Especially if you booked through a third party website.
Apparently, Australians were second behind the US when it came to missing flights. Throughout 2014, Australians missed 3,059 flights. What a waste of cash!
5. Saving cash on a flight through a third party seller
One word. Fees. You don’t want to have to pay an exorbitant fee to a website to change your details. The website might be offering a cheaper flight by $90, but if a problem will cost hundreds to correct it might not be worth it. Just think of the potential fees you’re dodging and it’ll feel like a huge win.
6. A quick Google search
You might as well drop your money like breadcrumbs while travelling if you enable data roaming. Opening a standard web page uses about half a megabyte of data. A two minute YouTube video is about a megabyte. Burning through $100 in downloads takes very little time.
7. Putting your passport somewhere ‘safe’
Safe places for passports include a closed compartment in your bag, a lockable safe or in a money belt on your person. Putting your passport on a nearby shelf in your room, in a jacket pocket or giving it to a friend to hold is not a great idea. Remember travel insurance can provide you with cover for a lost or stolen passport, but may not cover you if you leave it unattended. According to Allianz Global Assistance, Australians are some of the worst offenders when it comes to losing their passports. In the past year 375 people needed their passport replaced while travelling. A survey commissioned by Fast Cover also found that 7% of Australians needed to seek consular assistance.
8. Planning to get medications and pharmacy items on arrival
Ever mimed to a Vietnamese store owner you needed a razor? It’s an awkward experience to say the least. Now imagine having to mime medications for diarrhoea, condoms, the pill or even aspirin. If you don’t know the lingo, it can be difficult. Phrase books can be your best friend in these situations. You can also contact your travel insurance emergency assistance to help you get seen by a doctor.
9. Landing at the wrong airport
Milan has two airports. If you fly into Malpensa and your next flight is from Linate, you might have a problem. It takes 90 minutes to get between the two airports.
Similarly London Luton is not in London at all. It is 50km north of London in the county Bedfordshire. Frankfurt Hahn X airport is 100km from Frankfurt and Paris-Vatry is about 150 km away from Paris. So double check your flight plans!
10. Pack it all!
Yes you will look amazing in a new outfit every day on the road. But you’ll probably pay an eye-watering charge for extra baggage. Best to avoid it, or you’ll have to wear all your clothes on the plane.
11. Packing your short shorts
Temples, mosques even some fancy restaurants are not going to let you in wearing your short shorts. In various countries the dress code is different and it is a sign of respect to wear the appropriate clothing.
There’s no better time to start planning for your trip than right now! Once you’ve got your transport and accommodation sorted, you can start searching for the right travel insurance policy at Fast Cover. You can also find more handy travel tips and tricks in Fast Cover’s Travel Suitcase!