Preparing your travel documents

Most people would agree that half the fun of a holiday or trip abroad is the choosing and the planning of where they`re going. Checking out the brochures and the websites is an adventure in itself and, of course, when you have made the choice there`s all those weeks, even months, of pleasant anticipation before the big day of departure. You buy the clothes you need, the suntan lotion, the swimsuits or ski gear and all the other things required to make it the holiday of a lifetime.

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Photo: jk5854

Nothing is left to chance, right? Well, all too often the answer is `wrong` because travel documentation frequently gets overlooked and that`s an oversight which has the potential to ruin the trip before you`ve even left the country. The airlines will tell you just how many people actually turn up to fly only to discover they`ve forgotten to bring their passport. Just as many arrive and discover, to their horror, that their passport has actually expired. It sound incredible but it`s true.

So when you`re planning your trip spend a little less time on dreaming and a little more on practical planning. Is your passport still within date? Remember, some countries require a passport to be valid for a certain period after your arrival there, so you need to check the requirements of your destination.

Do you need a visa? This is a complicated business because different countries have different requirements depending on how long you intend to stay there and what you intend to do when you arrive. Tourist visas, for instance, will not entitle you to work in that country however casual, informal or brief that employment may be and, if caught, you`re likely to face deportation and a possible ban on returning.

And if you`ve booked hotels, car hire or excursions in advance of your departure, have you got the necessary confirmations? This may be in paper form or, even better, as an e-ticket. E-tickets normally take the form of a unique number sent to you by e-mail after you`ve made your booking. As long as you have that number, the details of everything for which you`ve paid can be called up on a computer at a moment`s notice – and you don`t have to carry a wad of papers with you when you travel. There`s nothing worse than presenting yourself at a car hire desk at the end of an 11-hour flight only to be told: “I`m sorry, sir. We don`t seem to have any record of your booking .”

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Photo: Gravitywave

Accommodation confirmations are particularly vital. Hotels are all about moving vast numbers of people in and out of their establishments over very short periods of time and, with the best organisation in the world, things can occasionally go wrong. Making sure you know exactly where you`re staying and for how long – with the confirmation to prove it – could save a lot of heartache and expense when you arrive at your destination.

We invest a lot of money, time and expectations into our trips abroad. Don`t let yourself down by failing to do your homework. Get yourself organised and get yourself on-line where visas can be applied for and a wealth of invaluable information and advice for travellers is available to help ensure that your trip abroad doesn`t crash before it`s begun.

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