You’ve chosen the destination for your next great adventure, whether for business or pleasure, and managed to get a great deal on the flights. The only thing left to do is pack…right? Not quite. If you really want your trip to be a success from start to finish, it’s essential to consider the following points.
1 | Getting to the airport
Which option matches your needs?
- Public transport
Can be low-cost but may only operate during the day, so not an option if you have a late night or early morning flight. Plus, lugging bags around on buses and trains is never fun – especially if you have kids.
Ultimate convenience and great option if you live near the airport, but can be very costly. Depending on the size of your party, you may need more than one taxi.
- Own car
If you value flexibility and being in control, then drive yourself. Taking your car may mean you have to drive in the middle of the night, but you can stop if you need to.
2 | Airport Parking
Book your car park at the same time as booking your flights. Most airports have several different car parks and services, so depending on your budget and needs you can pick any option from covered or uncovered, long- or short-stay, or Meet and Greet or Park and Ride services. See below for some of the main types of airport parking:
The long stay car park has a tariff tailored to those who need to leave their car for more than a day or two. Some long-stay parking lots tend to be further away from the terminal, so passengers are transferred via regular, free shuttle buses.
Park and Ride
Often the most cost-effective parking option, with regular shuttle buses operating between the car park and the airport terminals. Park and Ride doesn’t have to mean far away, and it’s a great way to make your budget go further.
Meet and Greet
If you want hassle to be kept to an absolute minimum, then Meet and Greet may be the right option for you. You simply drive up to the terminal’s drop-off area, hand your keys to the car park valet, and they do the rest. You’re then free to go straight to departures and relax.
Use a comparison site, such as Looking4parking.com, to find what’s available at the time and to discover some great deals. Not only will this guarantee a designated spot in the car park you prefer, but the rate will also be far lower than the ‘drive up’ tariff.
3 | Documentation
It’s a good idea to check the expiry date on your passport. Some countries will refuse entry if you don’t have at least six months left on your passport. If you need to renew, send off your application as soon as possible, to allow for delays during peak times. Make sure you apply for the correct visa, as it may depend on the purpose of your trip. For instance, you’d need a B1 visa if you went to the US on business, or a B2 if you were on a leisure trip.
It’s a good idea to keep travel and medical insurance certificates on you when you travel, as some countries require you to prove you have insurance when you enter (e.g. Cuba). Also, remember to bring your driving licence if you’re renting a car. One top tip is to take photos or scans of all important documents, and store them separately to the originals, in case they are lost, damaged or stolen.
4 | Changes to your trip
Don’t assume that your flights won’t change. Timing changes aren’t uncommon, and occasionally flights are cancelled. It’s the airline’s or tour operator’s responsibility to notify passengers of any changes, but it’s still a good idea to keep checking online.
It’s also worth checking to see if there are travel alerts for the country you’re visiting. Even if everything was fine when you booked, situations can quickly change. For up-to-date information, visit smarttraveller.gov.au.
5 | Local laws and traditions
Do some research and find out if there are any specific laws you need to know. Did you know the sale of alcohol is prohibited in Brunei (even hotels), but it’s permitted to bring your own duty-free allowance for personal consumption? Or, that you’ll get hefty fines in Singapore for leaving a public toilet unflushed, or for feeding pigeons?
Local customs and traditions can sometimes seem odd to the uninformed, but if you understand them it can stop you offending anyone. You would raise eyebrows if you ate with your left hand in many Islamic countries, as they use toilet paper with that hand. In Nicaragua, you may think a local person is getting friendly by puckering their lips, but that’s how they point at things.
Whether you’re off to sign a new business deal, or catch some rays on a beach, putting some extra thought into planning by following the above points will help to ensure your trip ticks all the boxes.