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Pre-travel things

timjohns

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* Switch your iPhone to international roaming before you leave Oz.
AGree. in fact I now just leave my phone in Roaming mode all the time. I used to have it OFF when home in Aust and turn on before going. But it's easy to forget, and a couple of times, I've gone to do it at the airport and get the Optus widget sating "Service Currently Unavailable.. please try again later" The problem with later... is I will be on a plane and the next time my phone is out of flight mode... it's too late.


* Email a copy of your itinerary (dates, places, hotels etc) to your next of kin
Also send them a copy of your Travel Insurance policy with contact details, as well as a copy of your SmartTraveller Trip registration.

Wandering slight off-topic... but still a key part of my Pre Travel Checklist...
If the worst should happen while you're travelling, instructions where to find your Will. And just as important these days... a secure way to access all your online accounts, logins and passwords which will make things much much easier for whoever is looking after your estate.

I use LastPass which has a feature called Emergency Access. Essentially a dead-man-switch for my secure LastPass online vault where all my stuff is stored. I set it up a while ago and my Brother got an email with a one-time link and instructions should they ever be required. If I die then he then invokes the Emergency Access request. This sends me an email asking to CONFIRM or DENY access. If 72 hours pass with no reply from me, then he gets full access to my LastPass vault. You can configure the timing to be whatever you want.
 

Julesmac

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Mar 11, 2007
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Make sure you've paid your house insurance. Leave some pre-signed cheques with your trusted friend. Tell them who your solicitor is and where the Will is. Also contact details in case of emergency. Advise them of your doctor and contact details and give them details of your Medicate and health fund. Disconnect electricals like tvs where possible to guard against power surges. Neighbours went back to NZ over Christmas hols and we got a heatwave. Their pool pump tripped which then cut power to the fridge/freezer. I popped into the house a few days later and could smell straight away. The full freezer was just a lake of gloop and the fridge stank. Took me hours to scrub out the smell. Always turn water off at the main to guard against washing machine & dishwasher disasters. And most important iof all, don't forget to have fun!
 

timjohns

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I thought my Pre Travel checklists (THINGS TO DO) and (THINGS TO PACK) were detailed and comprehensive.... and they are... but I'm getting some awesome new tips from this thread - things I'd not stopped to think about before. Coin in the freezer is my favourite so far :)
 

MickyS

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Or register with a house sitting website and arrange an experienced house sitter (with lots of good reviews) to live at your place while you're away and you won't need to worry about your house, fridge, lights, electricity, possible break-ins, plants, garden, mail, or any of that.
 
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I tried that once. Came home to an energy bill 4 x normal, and although I'd asked that no one sleep in my bedroom that hadn't worked, and the Dyson vacuum cleaner had to be repaired.

Or register with a house sitting website and arrange an experienced house sitter (with lots of good reviews) to live at your place while you're away and you won't need to worry about your house, fridge, lights, electricity, possible break-ins, plants, garden, mail, or any of that.
 
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in case you do need emergency money.
Years ago I was cycling through Austria with my wife once when my wife had brain fade with the password our online Westpac Bank Account. Result was that we were BOTH locked out of our JOINT Westpac accounts as they had deemed it a fraud attempt.

Rang Westpac to get it reset and their helpful advice was just to go the nearest Westpac Bank to have it reset!!! :mad: They would not allow it to be reset in any way. No amount of , but we are in the middle of Austria, would sway them.

Now fortunately and prudently I had already had a float of funds already paid into my Citibank Card and it was also towards the end of the trip. We also had stash of about $200+GST and different credit cards.

Lesson learnt. When we travel now we make sure:

  1. We have cash at three different banks (Westpac , ING and Citibank on a Citiplus Card Account)
  2. We each have an ING and Citiplus Card to get cash out with (ie 3 can be blocked and we would still have one left to with cash at ATM free free with)
  3. We have credit cards from at least two different sources (normally have more). ANZ Traveller is good for currency exchange rates and no extra currency fees etc
  4. We still carry about $Aust200 (Though have never had to use it)
 

MickyS

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I tried that once. Came home to an energy bill 4 x normal, and although I'd asked that no one sleep in my bedroom that hadn't worked, and the Dyson vacuum cleaner had to be repaired.
That's unfortunate. We have used house sitters quite frequently and have been extremely happy with them except for one time when the house sitters we'd arranged couldn't make it at the last minute and we settled for a couple who had no experience and no reviews.

If you can get sitters who just about do this for a living (many retired couples love the lifestyle) and who have loads of glowing reviews, and make clear arrangements about what they can/can't use, electricity costs etc., you can holiday without a worry.

If you're very precious about your house and your belongings, maybe this isn't for you, but I wanted to mention it as an option to consider for when you're away for a longer period and worry about your home being empty.
 

VPS

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I'm amazed someone said leave some presigned cheques. I'm not even sure I have a cheque book any more and it's not something I'd leave lying around. I'd rather give someone a debit card to an account that only has a small amount of money and then can transfer more while I'm away
 

Julesmac

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I'm amazed someone said leave some presigned cheques. I'm not even sure I have a cheque book any more and it's not something I'd leave lying around. I'd rather give someone a debit card to an account that only has a small amount of money and then can transfer more while I'm away
Oh I meant leave with the trusted friend in case some big bill came and it had to be paid in an emergemcy. Debit card seems a good idea though
 
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Check your international roaming reqmts/charges with your mobile phone provider. First to make sure its actually active, and second to be sure you know how to use/take advantage of it. This info is often on their website.

Eg. My carrier charges $5/day which is charged once as soon as I connect on a day. I get all my normal data etc. allowances. BUT. If I don't need the phone or mobile internet then I can switch the phone to airplane mode the night before and save on the day. I might check emails once a week.

Plan B is to turn off 'mobile data' in the settings and connect to free wifi hot spots. I use a VPN. The free wifi doesn't access mobile data for email and web browsing, so no roaming charges. Over a few weeks it can be over $100 saved.

Note that you should NEVER use free wifi without a VPN, and NEVER use public computers to enter banking or other passwords etc. even on secured websites. Your devices are constantly sending data you don't know about via local servers you don't know about. Without a VPN you're risk is quite high.

You might also like to check out another thread we had going here not so long ago.
 

p--and--t

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Turn your water off at the main - in the event that an internal pipe / connection gives way, there will be no / minimal water damage. Unfortunately for my parents they did not do this and came home to a flooded house. Luckily they were only away for a weekend and not seven weeks. Still, not an inexpensive repair.
Second that. You never know when the washing machine or dishwasher hoses decide to give way.

For anything over 4 weeks, we also turn off the power to the HWS, and over 6 weeks the fridge. Surprising how much lower the electricity bill was next quarter.

We purchase a few boxes of muesli bars when they are on special at woolies and distribute them across the suitcases and backpacks. Often on tour we feel peckish but don't want to spend a lot at a tourist stop for lunch/morning/afternoon tea.

You might consider if you need a "travel sim" to save money if you intend making calls overseas or will be in places where free WiFi is not prevalent.

Visit the GP and get a letter from him about ALL medications you will be taking with you. In many countries even over the counter stuff like Panadeine is illegal without a doctors letter. In the middle east they sometimes do random searches of luggage for "unapproved substances".
 

Hvr

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Turn off all devices at the wall, immediate on devices such as the television use a lot of electricity when kept in stand by mode.

Pull the plugs out if possible.

If you still have a land line, turn the ringer to mute.

Make sure no cards are due to expire while you're away.
 

Tygeray

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I usually put the mail on hold. That service, in fact, works surprisingly well.

Having a photo of the passport name page stored on a cloud drive and then synced on my phone has once kept me going when I was not able to produce the physical passport on spot.

Offline maps on the phone are also great. My favourite is OSMand app which allows you to download maps specific to the country or area you are visiting. Plus those maps are often more detailed than Google Maps (OSM has many walk paths / trails, etc marked, too).

In many bigger cities, Google Maps navigation with 'transport' as the selected mode works beautifully but will require data, i.e. roaming or a local data plan.
I find auspost quite good with redirected/held mail but several people I know have been caught out with Auspost parcel deliveries apparently the two don't talk and parcel deliveries come as normal. Google maps ,WhatsApp and App in the Air are my 3 reliable favourites while we are away.
 

vetrade

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I overlooked one thing which is probably obvious - being a pedantic type I have Excel spreadsheets set up which I reference before each trip.
One is a list of pre-trip things to do (one more I thought of was booking the airport long term carpark about 3 months prior to get a cheaper rate)
My other list is for what to take - meds, camera filters/lenses, docs, credit/debit cards etc. etc. - even what clothes to take for whatever season we will be heading into.
 

exceladdict

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Years ago I was cycling through Austria with my wife once when my wife had brain fade with the password our online Westpac Bank Account. Result was that we were BOTH locked out of our JOINT Westpac accounts as they had deemed it a fraud attempt.

Rang Westpac to get it reset and their helpful advice was just to go the nearest Westpac Bank to have it reset!!! :mad:They would not allow it to be reset in any way. No amount of , but we are in the middle of Austria, would sway them.

Now fortunately and prudently I had already had a float of funds already paid into my Citibank Card and it was also towards the end of the trip. We also had stash of about $200+GST and different credit cards.

Lesson learnt. When we travel now we make sure:
  1. We have cash at three different banks (Westpac , ING and Citibank on a Citiplus Card Account)
  2. We each have an ING and Citiplus Card to get cash out with (ie 3 can be blocked and we would still have one left to with cash at ATM free free with)
  3. We have credit cards from at least two different sources (normally have more). ANZ Traveller is good for currency exchange rates and no extra currency fees etc
  4. We still carry about $Aust200 (Though have never had to use it)
I've also made a habit of losing credit cards in taxis, when I get too lazy to put it back in my wallet. So these days:
I carry our credit card with no forex fees plus either an ING or Citibank debit card with no forex fees for ATM use or if im ever sketchy about a vendor. Credit card obviously very important for hotel bonds. The other of those two debit cards lives with my passport, hidden on body or secured elsewhere.

We normally also travel with an active but mostly empty travel money card of the Qantas Cash or Velocity Global Wallet variety. The card does not stay with the other two (normally in a side pocket of luggage, etc) but can be quickly loaded with funds should the need arise.

Other thing about longer term travel is you'll need to consider some more routine things you normally do at home, while overseas. These can be options to treat yourself i.e. a nicer hairdresser or barber, getting a full load of laundry done, etc. But don't forget delicates bags if you plan to do it yourself, or other irregular household items like nail clippers!
 

exceladdict

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also, if you are not activating roaming, think about any services that might require SMS pins (anything with 2 factor auth eg bank money transfers, resetting email passwords), and make alternative arrangements.
 

jamesimo24

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Basically everything everyone else above has said. Good to have neighbours that will take care of things for you and keep an eye on your property when your gone. But, one other thing coming from the owner of a lawn and landscape company; if you have a lawn, MOW IT. Preferably a day or so before you go and make sure the rest of your garden looks neat and tidy too (I'll be the first to admit that between everything else I've got going on in my life and the customers I have to take care of my garden sometimes ends up looking the worst of them all ;D). If your property looks unkempt people will assume its abandoned or the owners are away from a long time and so they'll break in or squat in it. If your going away for a while (as it appears you are), try to get a family member or neighbour to come past and even just mow the naturestrip and front lawn down so it looks like someone is still there if your driving past. We have a few properties where the owners mostly stay overseas but they hire us to take care of their places here so they always look neat and tidy. Little extra effort but it saves a lot of headache when you get back. The other part of all this isn't just getting robbed- we get a lot of calls particularly from international uni students who don't know the word lawn mower freaking out that they've received a council notice to cut their grass within 7 days. These are sent out when a complaint is made or if an inspector sees that your grass is longer than 30cm (may vary depending on where you are), and the fine is often north of $1000 plus fees to get them to mow it for you. Let it get that long and then call us in, and you can expect to be charged $175+ just for a standard size block. We have done a lot of larger overgrown lawns for $300 or more so its a lot less hassle if you just keep on top of it yourself, plus your wallet won't hate you as much either lol. Even if you can't do it yourself or get a friend to, you'll get a lot better deal from us lawnies if your yard is already reasonably maintained and isn't too long. Think more $45-70 for your standard block, but do give us a couple of weeks notice, especially getting into summer. Don't expect to call us today and have your job done by tomorrow when our schedule is already booked 2-3 weeks in advance. Though its daunting having a stranger at your house, we are businesses, and only want to get in, do our job, and get out as quickly as possible whilst leaving a result that your happy with. PLEASE don't screw us around telling us to wait another 4 weeks until you get back and expect to be charged the same as if we mow it biweekly, make us go running round your neighbourhood looking for that bloke next door that you gave your gate key to or otherwise just giving us a hard time in general. We ain't bad guys, and in fact we'll often be the first to alert you if anything happens which concerns you (I showed up to check whether an elderly customer's lawn needed mowing a couple months back whilst they were down at their holiday house for a few weeks to find that someone had tried breaking in while they were gone; they had tried to crowbar all the doors into the house (thank god for security doors which they couldn't get past), smashed a french window in the enclosed back porch and booted open a shed which I immediately informed the customer of) So basically what I'm trying to saw without going off on a rant is keep ya lawn mowed and you won't get broken into by crooks, and the council won't ping you either.
 

jamesimo24

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maybe...Check that your home insurance covers the building being unoccupied for long lengths of time ?
Yes this is actually a very good idea, my elderly neighbours often spend time at their holiday house but have to come back once every month or two so that their insurance still covers them
 

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