5 Things to Secure Before Your International Trip
Travelling with children can be both rewarding and challenging; something we experienced in spades during our family gap year and living in Bali with our three young kids!
We are frequently asked for advice on how to plan a family gap year or even shorter trips with children, and there is one thing that sticks out in my mind- planning. We didn’t plan a lot of our route, which ended up to be Bali – Thailand – Sri Lanka – Thailand- Bali again, with a couple of stops in Singapore.
This is because we didn’t have a time limit and thought we would go with the flow. However, this isn’t always the best option even for very relaxed and seasoned travellers!
We experienced a lot of unexpected costs and admin aggro due to our lack of planning and prep, and there are a few things that I would always tell people to get ready before you start your travels (especially with children!) Getting the tedious admin out of the way before you leave home will save you headaches, money and time during your travels, so it is ultimately worth it.
Here are the five things I would recommend to any family wanting to travel long term with children.
Process your travel visas
A passport might seem like your ticket to freedom but many countries require tourists to secure a visa before they are allowed to enter. A lot of these countries have several visa options.
In Bali, for example, there are several visa types and it can be difficult to know which Bali visa to choose. we could get a 30 day Indonesian Visa On Arrival (this visa could then be extended to 60 days in total, which we did on our first visit) or a Social & Cultural visa for 6 months which we got on our second visit.
The rules and regulations surrounding visas can be absolutely mind-spinning and there are lots of agencies and individuals in every country offering processing services. It can be a prime way to get scammed so I highly recommend sorting visas out before you leave home, to the best of your ability.
Get travel vaccinations
Before your international trips your local doctor and/or travel nurse will tell you the recommended vaccines for your destination; there is also travel health information on the NHS. The purpose of vaccinations is to protect both tourists and the citizens of the destination country.
Some vaccines will be routine and free on the NHS (if you are in the UK) and some are private, like the rabies vaccine. We were bitten by dogs 5 times in total during our family gap year despite trying to stay away from all animals; other countries simply have very different cultures when it comes to animals and many are stray or untrained/ unvaccinated.
For us, paying the £750 for our family to get the rabies vaccine was worth the increased peace of mind that comes with the extra time it buys you to get the shots required after a bite or scratch. Health is priceless and definitely the last thing you should be looking to save money on during your family trip!
Secure your house, car & pets
Before taking off for an international trip, make sure that everything you leave behind is safe, secure, and tended to. The absolute basics are that your house and car is securely locked, neighbours are aware that you are away and your pets are taken care of.
For longer trips you may need to arrange a house sitter/ someone to check up on your property from time to time; a gardener and someone to run your car every so often so it doesn’t get problems from disuse.
Manage your mail and deliveries
We took care of most of our postal forwarding/ babysitting thanks to a friend while we were away, but it is no fun to come back to a stack of letters!
There are now services to help manage your mail and deliveries even when you are out of the country. One such technology is Anytime mailbox, which is an application that allows you to manage your postal mail online. You can choose to simply have it stored securely, or have it opened and scanned so you don’t have a backlog to deal with when you get home!
Travel Credit Cards & Funds
Last but definitely not the least, secure your funds before your international travel. Notify your banks and credit card providers that you will be travelling abroad or you are likely to have credit and debit cards cancelled on you when you use them in an unfamiliar location.
The Halifax Clarity is the best credit card that we found for using during our family gap year; we were able to withdraw local currency in each country and pay using the card too, as well as managing our travel funds online.
Last but not least, enjoy your trip! Learn from our mistakes and prepare yourself and your family for a thoroughly enjoyable and organised travel experience, leaving all the admin behind you.