- Log on to the MFAT Safe Travel website at: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz. Type in your chosen destination(s) to check its safety. This department is forever updating their website on political unrest and criminal activities that target tourists, so the information you receive will be relevant. Note: this is also a useful site to go back to if you find yourself in a panic while on your travels and just want some extra peace of mind. You can register your travel and contact details online at MFAT. This way, if you end up getting injured or stuck in an emergency, the Government knows how to contact you!
- Depending on where you're going, it's worth checking with your doctor on all the essential vaccinations and immunizations, and numerous overseas laws associated with carrying medicine. Check how far in advance you need immunisation shots and when required medications are to be taken (e.g. anti-typhoid drugs) before you depart.
- Check the seasons prior to booking your flight. India's climate for example plays a large influence on where to go and at what particular time of the year.
- Passport up to date? Check the expiry date on your passport, because you don't want your passport to expire before you return to NZ. Many countries require your passport to be valid for an additional six months after leaving the country.
- Check if you will need a visa to travel through the country you intend on visiting, but keep in mind that a visa doesn't always guarantee entry into a country.
- Label your suitcase & carry on bag with your contact details. Try to include an international number or email address, as well as New Zealand contact details, just in case!
- Give your travel plans, accommodation details and arrival/departure dates to a couple of people back home you can trust. Also store behind photocopies of your passport, insurance policy, traveller's cheques, visas, credit card numbers and other forms of ID Take a spare copy of your passport and ID. for yourself and keep in a separate place when travelling.
- Have a dental, vision and medical checkup.
- It's a good idea to wear a medic alert identification tag for conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy or heart problems. (medicalalert.org)
- Take out appropriate travel insurance to at least cover hospital treatment and medical evacuation.
- Declare pre-existing medical conditions. Many insurers offer cover a number of pre-existing medical conditions. Unfortunately, if you don't declare these conditions, you may not be covered in a life or death situation.
- Request neighbours empty your mail box and keep an eye on your property while you are away.
- It's worthwhile leaving the television or radio on low when you're away, to trick potential thieves into thinking someone's home.
Pack and travel well
- Pack your luggage yourself.
- Pack a small medical kit. Include in this kit, ample medication(s) &/or take a prescription with you. The trick is to have enough prescription to last your trip, plus additional medication for backup.
- When travelling through customs, it's simpler if you keep your medication in its original packaging. Written proof that you need the medication is also handy. The best form of written proof would be a note of explanation from your doctor along with a prescription note showing the contact details of your pharmacy, drug name and dosage. Check with your doctor though on what customs would deem an acceptable amount to travel with.
- Never leave your luggage unattended and never accept others luggage prior to and after boarding.
- If you happen to damage or lose your luggage, report it to the airline immediately and make sure you get a written report before you leave the airport.
- Keep money, documents or valuables out of check in luggage.
- By all means, pack your best looking gear, but do as the seasoned travellers would - pack your gear in a less expensive looking suitcase and better still, tie a ribbon or string you'll recognise to the top so you're able to recognize it quickly on the carousel once you're off the plane.
- Pack a roll up amenities bag and place in a plastic transparent bag. If you are travelling first class, you will no doubt receive a travel bag. If not, consider packing the following: toothbrush & toothpaste, deodorant, rosewater spray to refresh the face, earplugs, a face mask, eye drops for dry eyes & decongestant spray to equalize air pressure in the sinuses.
- If keen to test the airlines selection of grog, ensure you balance this out with a descent helping of water. It is easy to get dehydrated on your flight.
- It's a good idea to take spare batteries and to pre-charge your laptop.
- As it is with the mobile phones, your laptop needs to be turned off prior to take off and landing.
- Double check that you have not packed items such as razors, nail scissors or tweezers in your carry-on bag. Transfer these to your luggage... airlines are becoming increasingly security focused and may ask you leave these behind.
- Keep your travel plans, including accommodation details - to yourself, but keep in continual contact with friends and family to ensure your whereabouts. It's as simple as a quick email or SMS.
- Ask your hotel manager for advice on 'safe' versus 'unsafe' areas.
- Try to rely more on credit cards and travellers cheques than cash. Don't carry large amounts of cash on you.
- Never counter-sign travellers cheques until you need them
- If you get mugged, don't fight back. You're better off losing some loose cash and a wallet than spending time 'bunked up' in a hospital - or worse still, being sent home in a box.
- Wear valuables (i.e: travelers' cheques and credit cards) on a belt next to your skin and under your clothes. If feeling especially vulnerable, wear your money belt somewhere other than your waist. Thieves are savvy buggers - they know all about money belts!
- Try carrying a 'dummy' wallet to 'give up'. If directly confronted, you can hand it over and go on your merry way. If you're keen to make it look like the 'real deal', place inside some local currency, old receipts and expired credit cards.
- Try and carry with you at all times the contact details of the New Zealand embassy. If the city you're in doesn't have a New Zealand embassy, try and source another embassy, such as the Australian or British embassy.
- Try to blend in with the locals and avoid looking or acting like a tourist. You can do this by not openly displaying large amounts of cash, expensive jewellery and electronic gear. Other tips include matching your dress style to that of the locals and acting with discretion when reading a map.
- Even if you're not sure where you're going, walk like you know the place, so thieves won't see you as a target.
- Never leave money, valuables or documents in your room - always take them with you or place them in the hotel safe.
- Securely close the door of your room when you enter or exit it. Check that any sliding glass doors and windows are locked every time you return.
- Obey local laws, even if they differ to our laws. The New Zealand government is unable to intervene in the judicial processes of foreign countries.
Respect the local laws & customs. Learn a bit of the local language of the country you are visiting - they'll love you for it!