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World Travel Guide

Travel Advice

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Travel Advice & Warnings

Passports & Visas

A valid passport is required for all international travel. Most countries require that passports must have at least 6 months validity from the date of departure of your holiday destination. Complete the emergency contact section in your passport (use a pencil as you may want to update it during the life of the passport). Carry additional copies of your passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Check to see if you require visas for the country or countries you are visiting or transiting. Be aware, however, that a visa does not guarantee entry. Most countries require an entry visa. Many countries provide a short-stay tourist visa on arrival. Ensure you apply for visas several weeks before departure. Sometimes a multiple entry visa is required.

Before departing home check whether you are regarded as a national of the country you intend to visit. Research whether holding dual nationality has any implications for your travel.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance is highly recommended for all international travel unless the trip is short in duration and you are not traveling far from home (eg driving across a border into another country). Travel insurance is usually compulsory for travellers on a tour. Many tour companies will want to sight evidence of your travel insurance policy and record the policy number at the beginning of a tour. Travel insurance should cover accidents, medical expenses, including pre-existing medical conditions, emergency repatriation, personal liability and any activities, including adventure sports, in which you plan to participate. Cover for cancellation, curtailment, loss of luggage and personal effects is recommended. It is recommended to notify your tour operator of any pre-existing medical conditions at the time of booking.

Health

Travel Health Advice & Warnings

Check with health professionals for information on recommended vaccinations or other precautions and find out about overseas laws on travelling with medicines. Take copies of medicine prescriptions with you.

If travelling overseas for a long period, visit your doctor and dentist for a check-up. If you require prescription medication while travelling, discuss this with your doctor and arrange an appropriate supply. It is advisable to take a letter from your doctor detailing the contents of tablets or other medicine you'll be carrying with you. Keep the letter and a copy of the doctor's prescription with the medication. If you suffer from asthma try asthma home remedies.

Take a Medical Kit and include items such as aspirins, antacids, antiseptic, eye-drops, band-aids, bandages, 30+ sunscreen, insect repellent, small scissors, tweezers.

If you have an existing medical problem it best to seek medical treatment before you leave home. If you have an allergy to alcohol try to avoid alcohol or seek treatment.

Visit your hairdresser a few days before you leave to save yourself having to get a haircut on your holiday. Or if you are going on a longer vacation you could learn how to cut your own hair or at least learn some hair cutting techniques that will keep you looking good while on the go.

Research Your Destination

The more you know about your travel destination will make your holiday more interesting and rewarding. Research your destination before you arrive to ensure your travel time is used for maximum benefit and not wasted on finding out information that you should already know. If you have to ask strangers for help it makes you look like an easy target for criminals. It is better to know about your destination than rely on strangers who may well take advantage of you. Know what you are doing and never be (or look) lost.

Accommodation should be booked in advance to ensure you have more time to enjoy your destination without wasting time looking for accommodation (esp. if your arrival is late in the evening or you are travelling alone). Last minute hotel booking can be more expensive.

Read the government travel advisories that provide information on the safety and security situation of most overseas destinations and cover a range of practical issues like visa requirements, health and medical issues, local laws and cultural differences. You can even subscribe to receive free, automatic email notification each time the travel advice for your destination is updated.

Hotels

Check-in and check-out times vary from hotel to hotel but generally check-in is mid afternoon (2pm onwards) and check-out is before 10am. If your flight arrives in the morning you will not be able to check into your hotel room on arrival. Leave your luggage at the hotel and go sightseeing or shopping.

If your flight leaves late afternoon or at night ask the hotel if you can keep the room until afternoon (many hotels will do this if the hotel is not fully booked) otherwise check out and store your luggage with the hotel until you are ready to depart for the airport. Spend the time sightseeing, shopping or relaxing (at the pool).

If traveling alone it is better to book a double room as there is usually no difference between a single room and double room rate except the single room will be smaller.

When two single people are travelling it is better deal to find a hotel room than to get 2 hostel beds as you will have more privacy and security for the same or less money.

Before departing your hotel room make a final check of the room (including draws and cupboards) to ensure that nothing is left behind. There is no guarantee that forgotten items will be returned to you.

Valuables

Do not take valuables on holidays. If you take new items (such as cameras, watches) out of the country register them with customs (at the airport) before you leave. This will eliminate customs trying to charge you customs and import duties on those goods on your return.

Make copies of your passport details, insurance policy, travellers' cheques, visas and credit card numbers. Carry one copy in a separate place to the originals and leave a copy with someone at home.

Scan your passport (front page & visa pages), airline ticket, credit card, drivers license and any other important documents and save as an email attachment to your email address so you can download copies from anywhere, if required.

Do not carry valuables or important documents in your suitcase. Never leave luggage unattended anywhere. Luggage left unattended can be confiscated by authorities. Label valuables (such as cameras, handbags etc) with your name, address & phone number. If lost there is a better chance of them being returned.

Overseas Purchases & Electrical Appliances Ensure TVs, videos and CDs are on the correct format/protocol. Ensure electrical equipment is the correct voltage. Check for an international warranty.

Culture and Customs

During your travels you will encounter new customs and different lifestyles. Appreciate the differences as the process of discovery and understanding fill the senses and are one of the many joys of traveling.

Tourists are often seen as easy targets because they are passing through, are unfamiliar with the surroundings and have valuables in their possession (luggage, money etc). Many businesses will charge tourists extra just because they think they can and they frequently get away with it.

Simple things like eating inside a restaurant in Europe can cost less than outside on the sidewalk. Many local tours are over priced because they think you have no alternative but pay the price. Shops at airports are overpriced as they have the monopoly.

Some Asian countries charge tourists more than locals and its legal. It will be openly displayed on signs with the foreigner price and local price.

Friendliness and tolerance of other cultures is essential for your enjoyment of the adventure. Everybody who travels abroad is a goodwill ambassador for your home country. Remember that foreign countries are different to home and even with the best planning sometimes things need to change at the last minute but its all part of the adventure.

Language

English is usually spoken fluently among the business community. To ensure that local people understand you, it is a good idea to speak in short sentences, use standard English and avoid slang or colloquial expressions.

Air Travel

Airport Arrival If connecting with another flight ensure there is plenty of time to transfer from one flight to another. Airlines have minimum connecting times to allow for the transfer of baggage between flights. Flights are often late arriving which can make you miss your connection or cause your baggage to miss your flight. You will save yourself, worry, stress and expense if you allow plenty of time for every flight.

City Maps are free for visitors at many airports in the arrival area.

Airport Transit Exercise before the next flight by exploring the terminal. This will help you sleep on the aircraft. If there is time take a sleep in the terminal.

Airport Departure Arrive at the airport 2 hours before domestic flights and 3 hours for international flights. This allows plenty of time to check in baggage, present your passport and ticket, obtain seat allocation and boarding passes and pass through immigration and security to the departure lounge. Remember there can be delays and long queues to work through. No sharp objects are allowed in hand luggage during flights. These objects must be packed in your checked baggage otherwise security personnel will confiscate them.

Aircraft Travel Wear comfortable, loose clothing and try not to take off your shoes as feet swell and you could have difficulty putting your shoes on again. Before boarding the flight, walk around the terminal to exercise limbs and get your blood circulating. Go to the toilet just before boarding to eliminate the need on short flights.

On long flights, when possible, walk up and down the aisle to stretch your limbs and get blood circulating. Drink water to avoid dehydration. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and carbonated drinks. Moisturiser for your face and eye drops can help to avoid dryness and red eyes on your arrival.

To adjust to a new time zone, after take-off, adjust your watch to the time zone of your destination. If you arrive at your destination in the morning or afternoon, try to keep awake until evening to enable your body to adjust to the new time zone. If your flight is arriving in the morning it is recommended to try to sleep on the flight.

Ear pressure can be relieved by swallowing, chewing, yawning or hold your nose and blow (gently at first then gradually increase the pressure).

Baggage Airlines can be strict about the size and weight of checked baggage and carry-on luggage. Check with your airline, travel agent or a travel goods store. Generally, airlines and coach companies do not handle any item exceeding weight 27Kg (60lb).

Luggage must be lockable and keep the keys on your person at all times. If you are travelling to the USA, make sure you familiarise yourself with their specific airline baggage lock requirements. Information is available from the United States Department of Homeland Security's website.

Attach a baggage tag with your name, address and phone number to the outside of your baggage. It is recommended to label the inside of you luggage with your name, address and phone number. Always keep essential medicine in your hand luggage.

What to wear Try to take as little as possible. Travel light. Sportswear is good during the day. Some religious sites and palaces require visitors to be fully covered. Wrinkle-resistant, easy care cotton/polyester clothing is preferable for travel. If your holiday includes a cruise you may need more formal evening wear such as a suit. Pack enough socks and underwear to avoid frequent laundry. A folding umbrella, sunscreen and sunglasses. Layered clothing is the best way to combat changing climates. Take a jacket for evenings or cooler climates. Take a plastic bag for storing dirty laundry.

Hand Luggage Keep your toiletries and medicines in your hand luggage. Take a change of clothes (at least underwear) in your hand luggage in case your checked baggage becomes delayed or lost during air transport. If you baggage is delayed, it is the airlines responsibility to ensure the baggage is delivered to you en route.

Toiletries & Medicines Basicstoothbrush, toothpaste, comb, hairbrush, soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, razor, shave foam, tissues, anti-bacterial wipes, ladys necessities, travel alarm clock (most mobile phones have one). Carry toiletries in plastic bags in case of leak. Small sizes of toiletries are best to reduce luggage bulk and weight.

Basic medicines to take include : Aspirin/Paracetamol, Eye drops, throat lozenges, anti-diarrhea tablets, band-aids, small scissors, anti-septic cream.

Other useful itemsmending kit (some hotels provide these), small torch, earplugs for sleeping, manicure set, disposable raincoat, shoe cleaning kit. Depending where you are staying many hotels provide soap, shampoo, conditioner, shoe shine, mending kit etc.

Money

An ATM (automatic teller machine) card and credit card is essential. Ensure your card is activated before traveling and will be valid at least 30 days after the completion of your holiday. Some travellers still like traveler's cheques but these can be lost or not accepted by some merchants. Before departure purchase some foreign currency for each country you will visit. Or at least carry one of the major currencies (USD, EUR, GBP) as these currencies are readily exchanged all over the world. Use a major bank to get the best exchange rate (airport bureau de exchange are less favourable).

It is recommended to take more money than you need. When withdrawing money from an ATM withdraw enough for several days or a week as there will be a fee for each withdrawal.

Hide a small amount of cash on your person as an emergency fund while traveling. Carry many small notes so that you can give vendors close to the correct amount. Avoid giving large notes to vendors and expecting the correct change (or any change if a street vendor).

While overseas don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempt thieves. When possible, leave passports, travellers' cheques and other valuables in a safe at your hotel. If you have to carry them with you, keep your passport and valuables out of sight. Lock your baggage when leaving your hotel room and travelling.

There are limits to how much cash can be brought in and taken out of countries. Generally, do not carry more than USD 10,000 (some countries are a lot less than this) through an airport as it can be confiscated for a period of time and you may be fined and given a criminal record.

Immigration and Customs

Immigration and Customs Declarations are recorded on the arrival card. If you have difficulty with the arrival card, ask airline staff or airport officials for assistance. Declare all items required to be declared (eg large sums of cash, food, animal or plant material, restricted items). Commercially-packaged food is usually allowed through by the Agricultural services. An incorrectly completed arrival card can lead to an instant fine. Serious breaches of quarantine and customs regulations may result in large fines or a prison sentence.

Quarantine regulations can be very strict in some countries (eg NZ, Australia) to protect their agricultural industries and prevent the spread of disease (eg malaria, avian bird flu). Many economies are based on agriculture and importing even small quantities of food, as well as unprocessed animal or plant materials is tightly controlled to limit the spread of animal and plant diseases and pests. Items that must be declared include food, plant material, any animals, animal material or biological specimens, dirty or soiled sports gear, footwear, camping gear or anything that may have been in contact with soil, been used on a farm or has been used with animals. There are usually amnesty bins available before immigration and customs to cater for accidental importation. Some countries X-ray every bag and they can see any food, animal or plant items.

Before Leaving Home

Maintain the lawns and garden before departure. If traveling for a longer period arrange for lawn maintenance. Stop mail deliveries at the Post Office. Pay all bills that will be due while you are away or arrange for auto-payments of bills. Disconnect electrical applicances from the wall to prevent the possibility of fire. Turn off the hot water service to save electricity. Stop the newspaper delivery. Place a sign on the mailbox to stop junk mail delivery. Connect a few lights to a timer switch to give the appearance someone is home.

Family & Friends

Leave a copy of your travel itinerary with your family or friends, let them know of any changes to your travel plans and keep in regular contact with friends and relatives while overseas. Activate global roaming on your mobile phone but keep in mind your mobile phone may not work in some remote areas. Contact your family and friends immediately if there is a natural disaster, major accident or terrorist attack in the area you are in, to let them know you are safe. Some government web sites enable you to register your whereabouts which is advisable if venturing into remote areas

Overseas Crime

All destinations in this web site are relatively safe. However, always keep in the back of your mind that criminals can be anywhere and as soon as you make a mistake (eg leaving something unlocked) you can bet that a criminal will be there to take advantage of the situation. Criminals are everywhere from the biggest cities to the smallest towns and in every country.

Tourists are recommended to not wear expensive jewellery or clothes and dont show lots of cash in public.

Dont be fooled by overly friendly people they are often the criminals. Dont go with people who want to show you their city, you could end up in a difficult situation. Never give out your hotel name or room number to strangers. Some locals will tell you that you are being rude by not accepting their hospitality. Dont fall for those tricks. If you are not comfortable with them tell them to get lost. Try to stay with other tourists and dont wander off alone especially at night and especially if you are female.

While overseas be wary of food and drink spiking, never leave food or drink unattended. Comply with local dress codes and cultural sensitivities (this applies to both male and female travellers)

Don't hitch-hike. Keep your hotel door locked and meet visitors in the lobby. Don't leave your bags unattended in public areas or in the care of a stranger. Never carry anything into or out of another country for someone else.

Beware of Scams

Fake Ticket Collectors / Inspectors approach tourists on trains and trams or at the station and ask to see your ticket. After examining your ticket they inform you the ticket is invalid and you will have to pay a fine. (They double the fine if you argue with them). This fraud mainly occurs in Europe. Ask for their identity card which should be possessed by every inspector. If you are sure that your ticket is valid, tell them to call the police, or call the police yourself.

Restaurants Overcharging Check the bill before paying and question any unusual charges with the waiter. This sort of questioning will usually shame the server into removing anything that was incorrectly added, if not ask for the manager. Sometimes the staff will be impolite because they have been shamed.

Pickpockets usually work in teams and lurk at crowded places (eg street markets, metro stations). They are looking for lost or distracted tourists. Sometimes they use underage children as pickpockets, because they cannot be prosecuted under the law. Keep belonging safe and in sight. If someone bumps into you check your belongs immediately.

Money Exchange - Withdraw foreign currency from an auto-teller machine or exchange your money in a bank. Never deal with a street money-dealer as they may offer better rates but may try to confuse you and give you money from another country that looks the same but is worth a lot less. Most exchange offices are fair, but there have been a few that try to cheat customers. One trick is offering favourable exchange rates, but with a high minimum amount. Another trick is putting a board with "sell" exchange rates in the shop window, which makes an impression of good rates, whereas the actual rate for buying a currency is unfavourable. When the customer finds this out at the counter and wants to cancel the transaction, the money-dealer refuses with an excuse "I have already recorded the transaction and printed the receipt", implying it is too late. The police will only refer you to the Authority, which supervises exchange offices, to file a complaint (which does not help because you will not be around long enough to receive the results). If you use an exchange office always ask for the actual rate you will pay before making the transaction and before releasing any money out of your hand.

Taxis affiliated with major hotels (Hilton, Marriot, Ritz, etc.) are safe and it is not necessary to be staying in these hotels to use these taxis but they will be more expensive than a normal taxi. Always ensure the driver uses the meter or negotiate a fixed price before you set off otherwise you could be paying to much.

Shopping Scams occur all over the world. One common trick, is for the shop owner to offer a low price on a particular item, take a deposit or full payment from you and then "discover" that he doesn't have the item in stock, offering to substitute another (always inferior and usually less valuable) item instead. Ensure that you see the actual stock that you will purchase before making payment.

Another trick is to give you a great price on an item, take your payment and then before handing over the item point out that it isn't as good as another item and that you should buy this other item, at an increased price. The item they are showing you will in fact be a much cheaper one. Simply refuse the offer and stick to the item you want.

Other Scams

Chinese Buddhist monks that beg for food are fake as they are fed by volunteers working in the temples.

Other Warnings

Stinging jellyfish have become more of a problem in many countries. In many South East Asian countries, including Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, stingers have been seen at or near major beach resorts and people have been stung. Northern Australia has a stinger season from November to March when beaches may not be safe for swimming.