1. Fill up the Visa on Arrival Form in Advance
This is one of those Travel Hacks that will save you a lot of time and hassle.
Getting a Visa on arrival at the Airport is a blessing for travellers. However, one may spend considerable time at the Airport going through the whole application process. There are extended delays especially when you land at rush hour and the queue at the visa counter runs long. You do not want to go through this after long flight journeys.
The trick is to download, print and fill-up the visa on arrival form in advance (before leaving India) and rush to the visa counter as soon as your flight lands. This will put you in front of the queue while your fellow passengers are busy filling up the visa application form. You will be among the first to get you Visa processed and your stay at the Airport will be short.
Note: Visa on arrival forms are usually available for download on the immigration websites of the respective countries.
2. Carry prescriptions for all the medicines you have on you.
This is one of the important Travel Hacks to ensure you get through Customs and Immigration smoothly.
Some foreign countries are very strict about medicines you carry along. In fact many of the common OTC medicines that are available in India require a prescription abroad.
Make sure you take prescriptions along to avoid any hassle at customs/ immigration.
3. Inform your Bank and Credit Card Company of your travel plans
This is not just one of those usual Travel Hacks, but an absolute must when going Abroad.
If banks notice that your credit/ debit card is being used outside your normal usage pattern (e.g. in a foreign country), they might try to contact you to confirm the transaction. If you are not reachable, they will most likely block your card suspecting theft/ fraudulent use.
You do not want to be stuck abroad with no means of Finance.
Always inform your banks and credit card companies about your travel plans. Provide them a number to contact you abroad too if possible. Better safe than sorry.
4. Flying to South East Asia is substantially cheaper from the south of India
Most budget flights to South East Asia (e.g. Airasia, Scoot) operate from the South and East of India. if you are from the West or North of the country, considering flying to the South (Chennai, Bangalore) or even East (Kolkata) to avail cheaper flights. The overall flight costs might work out cheaper using this option.
5. Use the IATA Travel Center for figuring out Health and Visa Requirements
You many be aware of many Travel Hacks, but this one may not have crossed your mind.
When self planning a foreign trip, visa and related documents can always be a cause of worry. What if I don’t have the right documents? What if i need a yellow fever vaccination? Worry not.
The International Air Travel Association (IATA) has a travel center that will give you all this information. Just go to IATA Travel Center, and enter the details of your journey.
IATA will tell you in details about entry visa, transit visa and any other docs you need for your travels. IATA Travel center is so accurate and up to date that Airline staff use it to verify your documentation at the time of check-in. This will definitely put your mind at peace.
6. Refer to numbeo.com when budgeting for Foreign trips
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to self-planning a foreign trip is the budgeting part. Our solution? Numbeo.
Numbeo is a cost of living aggregator that tell you the prices of essential stuff such as food, drinks, transportation etc in destinations across the world. Just go to numbeo.com and input your destination.
Within moments, Numbeo will tell you the latest cost of essential products and services in the destination. Data from Numbeo is used by reputed organisations worldwide to study cost of living.
But for us, It is a big help when it comes to budgeting for a foreign trip.
7. Use viator to figure out cost of sightseeing and other activities.
What if you have no clue about cost of sightseeing and other activities when budgeting for a foreign trip? The solution is viator. Viator is an international activity aggregator. Whether it is scuba diving in Thailand, luxury yachting in the mediterranian sea or museum hopping in Paris, viator has all the prices.
Viator will give you a clear picture of the stuff to see and do in your destination and how much it is going to cost you.
8. When making International payments through card, always opt to pay in the foreign currency itself
When making international payments through card, always opt to pay in the foreign currency itself. Lets say you are booking an AirAsia ticket to Thailand and the fare is in Thai Baht.
One generally has 2 options for payment in this case.
1) Make payment in Rupees: In this case, Air Asia will convert the Thai Bath into Rupee (at their standard rate- usually higher) and charge your card for the equivalent rupee amount.
2) Make payment in Thai Baht: in this case, airasia will charge your card in Thai Baht and your card issuer (eg. Hdfc, icici) will apply their conversion rate and charge your card in the equivalent Indian rupees.
Option 2 (paying in Thai Baht) is preferable as your card issuer’s rates will usually be cheaper compared to the third party (airasia) rates.
The difference can be significant sometimes and many a travellers have been caught unaware.
The same thing applies while abroad too. Always pay in the local currency. Let your bank do the conversion and charge you in rupees.
Btw, if the expense is indicated in rupee in the first place, just pay in rupee.
9. Carry a pair of clothes, and all your valuables in your cabin bag
Check-in baggage getting lost or delayed is not rare when travelling abroad. If you bag is delayed for a day or worse comes to worse is lost, and all your clothes and valuables are in it, you will be in a tight spot.
Always carry all your valuables, and some extra clothes and essentials required for a day or two in your cabin bag.
10. Watchout for Airport Check-in Fee when flying budget airlines
Heard of an Airport Check-in Fee?. It is a fee charged by few budget Airlines when check-in in at the Airport (e.g. Ryanair). Sometime this fee can run up to about 50% of the cost of the ticket.
Be cognizant of such fee or better yet, do a web check-in to stay on the safe side.
11. Do not keep all your money and valuables in a single place.
Imagine this. You keep all your cash and cards in your wallet and you get pick pocketed. A pretty tight spot to be in, is it not, especially when abroad.
De-risk yourself by splitting your stash and storing it in different places.
For e.g. leave part of your money and a card in your hotel locker when you go sight seeing. Always good to be prepared for the worst.
12. Always buy Travel Insurance
Always buy travel insurance. It’s a small price to pay for the comfort and security against unforeseen events such as medical emergencies, loss of baggage, theft, loss of passport etc.
You can buy this on your own online from reputed companies.
13. Always do an online check-in on long haul international flights
Most good seats on long haul international are taken early by travel agents who web check-in on behalf of their clients. It is unlikely that you will get good seats if you check-in at the airport.
You don’t want to be cramped into a middle seat for ten hours. Do an early online check-in to avoid this.
14. When flying budget airlines, avoid check-in baggage
Most budget airlines(Ryan Air, Scoot, Air Asia) charge a check-in baggage fee. This fee can sometimes be upto 20% of your ticket cost when purchased along with ticket. Last minute purchases of check-in bag option will cost you even higher.
Save on your flight fare by restricting your luggage to just a cabin baggage. This option very much feasible especially for short duration trips.
15. Carry a Dry Bag when travelling to a beach destination
A dry bag is typically a cylindrical shaped bag that is water proof. It is ideal when travelling to beach/ water destinations.
All your valuables will stay completely dry even if the bag is accidentally submerged in water. A dry bag has saved the day for many travellers.
Conventional Face and Bath towels are generally bulky and heavy.
Carry a Microfiber towel to save space. They are super light, compact and fast drying.