Whether it's a short package tour, an extended working holiday or a complete 'round-the-world' adventure, any overseas travel needs some well considered planning.
Once you get started, researching and planning your trip is almost as fun as actually taking it.
There are plenty of good reasons why planning your trip – even just a little bit – makes sense.
It helps you choose your destination
Often deciding where you actually want to go and what type of holiday or travel experience you want is the hardest part. A bit of research into destinations and travel options can help cement your ideas.
You make better use of your travel time
If you don't have the luxury of an extended break, planning can help maximise your vacation time so that you can pack the most into your time away. Tasks like organising visas, buying tickets and booking accommodation and tours can be very time consuming. The more you can do in advance, the more time you have to enjoy your holiday.
You learn about your destination
Knowing a bit about places you are visiting not only makes you more prepared, it can also enhance the whole travel experience. Researching things like weather, language, culture, history, food and environment is fun and helps you to know what to expect before you arrive so there's no nasty surprises.
While online research is a great starting point, there's also heaps of information to be found in any reputable travel guidebook.
It helps you manage your budget
Overseas travel can be a real money sponge. And no one likes returning from their 'big trip' to be faced with an even bigger debt. If you know how much money you have (or set the limits on what you can realistically spend) it's much easier to plan your trip to the size of your budget. Find more tips about saving and budgeting in our how to budget and save pages.
It helps minimise risks
All overseas travel can have an element of risk. Checking out possible risks such as dangerous places, potential health problems or security issues (war zones usually aren't the safest of places to visit) can help you to take steps to reduce or remove any risks from your trip.
It's a great idea to embark on an adventure, but try to ensure that it's not one that risks your health, safety or wellbeing.
Things to Consider
Planning doesn't have to be a mammoth task. In fact, planning often adds to the excitement or anticipation of a pending trip.
And these days you can do heaps of research via the internet. Our list of sites at the end of this article will help get you started. For more information ask your travel agent or tour booking agency or browse the travel section of your local bookstore.
And don't forget to ask around among your friends, colleagues and family for ideas, tips and advice. Here's some suggestions to guide your planning and research.
- What sort of trip do you want? A working holiday, extended trip, or package tour?
- Where do you want to go? Another country where English is a common language, a western country or somewhere culturally and linguistically diverse or different?
- What's your destination like? Research things like people, weather, geography, history, language, food, culture and customs.
- What's your mode of travel? Sure, if it's overseas, you're going to be flying there but what then? Will you need to use trains or buses? Should you buy or hire a car? Or is cycling or walking an option?
- What sort of accommodation? Short stay or extended? Hotel, hostel or backpackers? Or maybe a home stay or on-site accommodation such as a university or college campus?
- What's your itinerary? List key destinations and travel dates. What kinds of sight-seeing activities interest you? Are you a churches and museums type or do you prefer rock-climbing or white-water rafting?
- What about money? Will you take cash, a credit or debit card or travellers cheques? How can you access money overseas? Do you know the currency conversions? What's your budget?
- What about health and safety? What are the risks? Do you need a health check? Do you need any vaccinations or precautionary medications?
- What about travelling buddies? Are you travelling alone or with someone? Do you need to find a travel partner?
Links for planning your trip
Here are some handy travel-themed links that can help out with the questions you'll inevitably find yourself asking when you start planning your trip.
Better Health Channel
The Better Health Channel travel section has heaps of information about planning your travels, getting your immunisations and staying safe while you're on your trip.
Smartraveller is another must-visit website provided by the Australian Government. This page has links to some useful hints and information for travellers including health information, living and working overseas, voting overseas and tips for women travellers.
Smartraveller - Travel Insurance
Explains why it's important to take out travel insurance and provides information to help you select an insurance policy. Includes examples of situations where travel insurance is essential.
Smartraveller - Backpackers
Even if you're not technically 'backpacking', this web page has some great general travel tips and things to consider when preparing for your trip.
Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) - Australian Embassies
Provides contact details for all Australian Embassies, high commissions, consulates, multilateral missions and representative offices. You can also download a list of contact details for all Australian overseas missions in a text file.
Australian Passport Office
Information about getting a new passport or renewing an existing one. Includes the application process, downloadable application forms, fees and what to do if your passport is lost or stolen.
Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) - Country, Economic & Regional Information
Provides details about most countries overseas in an easy-to-browse, A-Z format. Includes fact sheets, economic and trade information, health advisories, embassy contact details and information about heads of Government.