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Flights
On the 31st May 2008, all IATA airlines moved over to Electronic ticketing. This means for any new reservations made after this date, you will not receive a formal paper ticket for your travel reservation. Instead you will be issued a reference or reservation number, which will relate directly to the Airline’s Reservation system and this will contain all the information needed for you to travel.

As this information is held electronically, there is not need to fear losing or damaging your e-ticket as it easily replaceable, and in fact, in many cases you can be checked in for your flight with just your passport or photo ID.

The elimination of paper tickets has not only cut airlines’ costs by approximately $10 for every traveller (a total of nearly $3.5 billion for the whole industry) but it also means that air travel – criticized by environmentalists for its part in global warming – would save 50,000 mature trees a year.

There are some exceptions to the e-tickets for passengers such as infants who do not require a seat, but you will be advised at the time of booking exactly the ticket type you will be traveling on.

Hotels
For hotels, it is likely that you will receive a voucher for your reservation. It is important that you present this to the hotel upon check-in so they can see that your hotel has been paid for and you will not be inconvenienced.

Car Hire
Like hotels, in most cases you will need to provide a voucher as proof of your reservation. Most car rental companies are electronically linked, so that it is unlikely that you will experience any problems when it comes to collecting your vehicle.

Passports and Visas

Passports
It is mandatory for all passengers to be in possession of a valid passport. Most countries insist that the validity of the passport is at least six months beyond the last date of travel. It is important therefore that you check carefully the expiry dates of your documents. Airlines will regularly refuse check-in to passengers whose documents do not adhere to this criteria.

In Australian passports can be obtained via most post offices or directly via the Government website. https://www.passports.gov.au

Other nationalities need to check with their local embassy or consulate for procedures to obtain a new passport or update their existing one.

Visas
Many countries now require a visa for entry. In this time of world unrest, visas are a way of countries screening passengers prior to arrival and thus making entry into their country easier for all genuine travelers.

The visa process can be as simple as competing a form onboard your flight, or it may require an application several months before departure. Quite often there is a fee involved for each application.

At XL.com we constantly monitor each countries visa requirements and in conjunction with the world airline body IATA, we can advise on the your individual needs based on your itinerary and travel dates. This is a free service so please contact us if you need any assistance or advice.

Travel insurance is essential

The Australian Government advise that if traveling overseas, travel insurance is an essential part or your planning and should be budgeted for accordingly.

Organising comprehensive travel insurance before you depart should be an essential part of your holiday preparations and can save you the worry of unexpected medical costs.

Regardless of how healthy and fit you are – if you cannot afford travel insurance, you cannot afford to travel.

When organising your insurance, fully disclose any pre-existing medical conditions in writing. If the insurance company refuses to cover your pre-existing medical condition, be sure to take out insurance to cover other health and travel-related issues, not related to your pre-existing condition. In cases where full coverage is not provided travellers should consider the potential financial risks very carefully before deciding whether to proceed with the planned travel overseas.

It’s a good idea to make sure the cover provided is adequate for your needs and covers you the whole time you will be away. You should check the small print of your insurance policy very carefully, to see if any exclusions might apply and that your policy includes cover for emergency treatment, hospitalisation and repatriation to Australia if necessary.

This is equally true with “free” credit card policies that may not give you the full cover you need for your journey. If you are planning to rely on the travel insurance provided by your credit card, you should, before travelling, obtain written confirmation of what exactly the insurance covers, the period of time you will be covered and what conditions are attached. Don’t just assume your application has been accepted and processed or that just by having a credit card you are entitled to immediate coverage when you leave the country.

You don’t want to find out once you are in trouble that your traveller’s insurance does not cover everything you thought it would or that your insurance was not activated. If you are not sure whether you are covered for any of the above, you should check with your insurance provider.

If you plan on participating in adventure tourism or sports like scuba diving or parasailing, be upfront about your plans with your insurance provider and ensure your policy covers these activities.

Don’t base your decision to take out insurance on the assumption that ‘it won’t happen to me’. Accidents do happen. Medical standards differ from country to country. Hospitalisation, medical evacuations, or even the return of a deceased person’s remains to Australia, can be very expensive. Be aware when organising your insurance that uninsured travellers (or their families) are held personally liable for covering any medical and associated costs they incur. Overseas medical costs are not covered by Medicare. Some families have been bankrupted, forced to sell off assets such as homes, or cash out superannuation to bring loved ones back to Australia for treatment.
If you extend your stay overseas, make sure you contact your insurer in time to extend your cover.

Some examples of why you need travel insurance:

  • Daily hospitalisation costs in South-East Asia regularly exceed $800
  • A stay in a general ward in Noumea’s main hospital costs a minimum of $1500 per day – daily charges the Intensive Care Unit start at $4000
  • The Department has handled medical evacuations from nearby Bali in which costs have exceeded $60,000
  • The return of a deceased person’s remains from Europe can cost in excess of $10,000
  • The cost of medical evacuations from the United States regularly range from $75,000 to $95,000 and sometimes up to $300,000.
Vaccinations and health checks

Advice
It is recommended to make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic check-up at least 6-8 weeks before you depart to find out if any vaccinations or health checks are required.

It is also important that you discuss your personal travel plans with a doctor so they can determine the correct vaccinations for your trip and any booster doses of childhood vaccinations that may be necessary.

Vaccines can prevent you from contracting some diseases, but it is important to also remember:

  • Vaccines are not perfect. New vaccines are constantly being released but diseases continue to evolve.
  • Some vaccines require a long period to take effect and may require more than one dose, but it is never too late to vaccinate.
  • You may need boosters for childhood vaccines.
  • Health risks within a country can vary from locality to locality and local authorities may be slow to announce outbreaks of disease.
  • New diseases, such as SARS, can appear suddenly. Check out the latest travel advice and travel bulletins for your destination before you depart, and while travelling, so you can ensure you have the latest information.
  • Common infections contracted by travellers include those which are the result of eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Find out whether tap water and local food is safe to consume before you depart.
  • There are a number of mosquito-borne illnesses you can contract while overseas particularly in tropical areas. Be sure to take measures to avoid being bitten such as wearing light coloured, loose fitting clothing that covers your arms and legs, regularly applying an appropriate insect repellent and staying in mosquito-proof accommodation.
  • Further information can be found via these links.

» World Health Organisation
» Australian Immunisation Handbook

In flight

To increase safety on board aircraft, new rules came into force on the 1st April 2007. These rules relate to the taking of liquids, aerosols and gels on flights into and out of Australia. These rules also apply when transiting on international flights within Australia.

These rules are needed to protect you from the threat of liquid explosives. Each container of liquids, aerosols or gels in your carry-on baggage must be 100 millilitres/grams or less. All the containers must be sealed in a transparent, one-litre plastic bag. You are only allowed one plastic bag. Any transparent resealable bag of one litre capacity or less is allowed. Please note, these bags must be independently resealable. Bags sealed with items such as sticky tape, rubber bands or ribbons will not be accepted. For more information on clear resealable bags please see the frequently asked questions section of this website.

You may still carry on board prescription medicines. Baby products and non-prescription medicines that you need for the flight are also allowed. Proof of need may be required.

When you get to the screening point, you will have to surrender any liquids, aerosols or gels greater than 100ml/g that you still have with you, including duty free. The rules also introduced random frisk searches as part of the screening process.

We recommend that you click on this ‘what do I need to do?‘ link and pack your bags in accordance with these rules before you check-in. This way you will have time to put any containers that are too big into your check-in baggage.

Please Note: These restrictions do not apply to checked-in baggage

Travelling with medicine

Before leaving home, you should check that your medications are legal in the countries you are visiting. You can do this by contacting the country’s embassy or high commission.

Since the National Health Act was amended in 1999, it has been an offence to carry or post Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines overseas unless they are for your personal use, or the use of someone travelling with you.

Only Australian residents living in Australia at the time a PBS prescription is dispensed are entitled to receive PBS-subsidised medication and there are restrictions on the amount of PBS medicine that can be carried or sent overseas.

When planning to travel overseas with PBS medicine it is important that you:

  • talk to your doctor and discuss the medicine you will need to take
  • carry a letter from your doctor detailing what the medicine is,
    how much you will be taking, and stating that it is for your own personal use
  • leave the medicine in its original packaging so it is clearly labelled
    with your own name and dosage instructions.

If you intend to travel with large quantities of medicine, including over-the-counter or private prescription medications, you should ask your doctor, dentist or pharmacist to provide you with a letter explaining why you need to carry such quantities.
If you have to inject your medication it may be preferable to carry your own needles and syringes but you should check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to make sure this is acceptable. If you need to carry needles and syringes with you on the plane, inform your airline before you travel and, if necessary, arrange a letter from your doctor explaining why you need to carry them.

If you buy needles and syringes while overseas, ensure you buy packs that are sealed and sterile.

It is important to be aware that some medicines that are readily available in Australia may not be available overseas, or if they are available they may be packaged under a different brand name. Keep an eye on the strength of the active ingredients of similar sounding medications overseas – they can vary.

Do not try to save luggage space by combining medications into one container. Keep all medications in the original, labelled container to avoid problems at customs.

More information on travelling with medicines is available from Medicare Australia’s website or by phoning the PBS Medicine enquiry line on 1800 500 147.

Cash or Credit?

Nowadays, travellers looking for low-fee ways to access cash overseas have plenty of options.

A growing number of financial institutions are keen to provide services to overseas travellers.

This is good news for holiday-makers looking for good travel money deals, as increased competition leads to a range of improved product options and pricing discounts.

American Express currently offers zero commission deal on traveller’s cheques through its partner, Australia Post, and through its own retail offices.

Travelex has launched a new version of its Cash Passport, with point-of-sale access in addition to ATM access.

The Commonwealth Bank has launched a product called Traveller’s Cash, which is based on a MasterCard prepaid card.

The opportunity to save money is significant. A survey of travellers commissioned by GE Money and conducted by Pure Profit found that people spent an average of $2300 on plastic cards (credit and debit) while travelling overseas.

Fees on those transactions amounted to an average of $60, equal to a charge of 2.6 per cent.

Changing your travel plans

Like life, things do not always pan out the way that you intend and often you need to amend or alter your flights or travel plans along the way.

Airlines nowadays use flight flexibility as a way of generating extra revenue so it is extremely likely that you will be charged extra for any amendment you make to your journey once purchased. The exact amount varies from carrier to carrier, but as a general rule, the lower the price of the ticket, the more you are likely to pay to change or cancel.

Please call us if you need to amend your travel plans and we will do our best to re-arrange your itinerary at the lowest possible costs.

General Advice
  • Terrorists may attack official or civilian targets depending on their particular objectives at the time. You should visit www.smarttraveller.gov.au for specific country travel advisories and details on terrorist threats to specific locations and types of venues.
  • Violent and petty crime occurs in many countries. You should familiarise yourself with the types of crime that may occur and locations where you may be particularly at risk.
  • You should avoid demonstrations and protests as they have the potential to turn violent. Periods surrounding elections often experience unrest and violent protests.
  • Transport safety standards vary widely. You should understand the risks and plan your travel accordingly.
  • Many Australians are affected by natural disasters and health emergencies overseas each year. You should seek to monitor the media, be aware of emerging risks and take appropriate precautions.
  • When you are overseas, local laws apply to you and penalties, particularly for drug-related offences, can be severe and can include the death penalty.
  • Be a smart traveller.

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