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Part 2 - Travel Crusader

Research Tools.
1. on the web. 2. travel guides.  3. official tourism sites.  4. weather.      5. safety & security. 6. travel health.  7. passport.  8. visas. 9. currency & money. 10. atm access. 11. customs & duty-free. 12. taxes. 13. travel etiquette. 14. maps. 15 electrical plugs & electricity. 16 time.                17 tipping. 18. festivals & main events.  

Research & Plan.  Get involved with your trip. It’s fun, exciting and gives you something to really look forward to.  It gets you ‘going’!

1. On the Web
TC’s pick for general travel information about countries.

These websites display great information about countries around the world and other good worldwide travel stuff.  Unbelievably detailed.

Wiki Travel www.wikitravel.org
An incredible array of general travel information for each country in the world.
World Travel Guide www.worldtravelguide.net
Well laid out. Easy to read. Plenty of travel info.
TripAdvisor www.tripadvisor.com
World’s most popular Travel Site.   Everything from hotels to day tours.

TOP TIP

Consider these sites a good appetiser. There's a lot of info on these sites, perhaps too much. Use them sparingly.

2. Travel Guides & Travel Guide Books
Online & Offline ‘Advice from the experts’

Read a travel guide book. You’d be amazed at what awesome information there is for any type of traveller.  Guide books are packed with features including colourful photos, maps and easy-to-read lists of sights and attractions. It’ll get you very excited!

Travel guide books and their online websites are some of the most reliable sources of travel information.  They’re excellent research tools. Some will also advise you on the best seasons to visit. You’ll also be able to check their current and most up-to-date titles. Most book stores will sell the latest copies but sometimes they sell older copies. Check online first!  You can also purchase a variety of maps from their websites.

Check the following travel guide book sites that may have the latest titles on the destination.

TOP 5 by TCG

Lonely Planet  www.lonelyplanet.com   OUR PICK   
The pioneers. Still the best.  LP also provide up-to-date travel advice on their site.
Rough Guides  www.roughguides.com OUR PICK
Footprint www.footprinttravelguides.com OUR PICK
Frommer’s  www.frommers.com
Fodor’s  www.fodors.com

Check out the TravelCrusader Full List HERE.

TOP TIP

Definitely, buy a travel guide book if you plan to do extensive travel in a city or country..

3.  Official & Unofficial Tourism Guides
You can research any country/state/local tourism site all around the globe. Every country, city and town has an official and unofficial tourism sites.   Especially major cities and countries, official tourism sites are fantastic, insightful and informative research tools for your travels.  Use them all the time.
Just Google search any of the following phrases

official (insert city) tourism site
official (insert country) tourism site
‘city/country/town/region’ tourism website
‘city/country/town/region’ tourism

TOP TIP

Locals know best. Many official tourism boards have offices locally at the destination. Get free guides and maps. USE THEM TO YOUR ADVANTAGE!

4. Weather
What’s the weather like there?’

Weather can make or break your holiday.  Research it well, especially if you’re going to a tropical destination.

Get a rough understanding of weather at your destination. Try www.Weather2Travel.com.  This is perhaps the best & most comprehensive weather planning site for travellers.  Followed by (the more simple, yet still effective) www.WeatherBase.com and www.WorldClimate.com

Climates can determine when and where you take your holiday. Especially, check wet/rainy seasons, and hurricane/cyclone seasons for tropical or island destinations, and other destinations in general. For more detailed (should we say, serious) weather forecast guides online, click on our Weather travel tips page.

Just choose your destination and you can find out what the weather could be like during your time away.

REMEMBER: they’re not going to be 100% accurate.  Who can really predict the weather!

5.   Safety & Security

Dangers & Bothers / Travel Warnings / Travel Safety / Level of Security Risk / Level of Health Risk

Your travel safety is paramount.   Read, research, be prepared, be vigilant, make your own judgement.

​Foreign Affairs Departments of countries are the best source of obtaining information and travel advice regarding the safety and dangers of a particular country you are intending to visit. Up-to-date safety and security issues within a country are their prime tasks. They’re an excellent researching tool before you travel to certain destinations.  They also provide very informative health information.

Check out the list in the English speaking world HERE.

Top tip: Type in your smartphone or write down your country’s consulate details just in case you need them in an emergency (you’ll find them on the websites above)

To check out TCG’s Travel Safety and Security Checklist, click here.

In general, always be watching out for, and be aware of drugs, thefts, pickpockets, muggings, touts and scams.

TOP TIPS

Travel Light; Be Vigilant; Stay updated with Local Developments, Keep your Consulate Details handy, take Travel Insurance!

6.   Health (Travel Health and Vaccinations)

You may need vaccinations for your destination, for adults AND children. Particularly in developing countries.  
Work out a plan to stay healthy when you travel with your family.  This is imperative. Visit health centres, doctors etc., that are experts in travel destinations.  Be aware of the diseases that are common in countries around the world. When at your destination, always consult your travel insurance provider for listings of recommended hospitals and doctors. Embassies and consulates may also have listings of establishments.  

First Aid Kit:  It is extremely wise to carry a first aid kit while travelling, no matter how long you’re going for, or where you’re going to.  It’s saved us many times, tending to our children when they need it. For simple medical scenarios, Imagine the time you’ll save by having medical supplies on hand –  immediately with you, rather than going to a medical clinic, pharmacy or hotel reception. Especially in the middle of the night. Medication: Check to see if it’s legal to take overseas.  Comply with overseas laws. Some medicines can be prohibited in certain countries.

Editor’s note:  we take a good supply of medical supplies including antibiotics, antiseptics, creams, band-aids, etc.  All in a plastic box, as you never know when you (or your partner or your kids) will get sick overseas. Saves you from going to the doctor for little things.

You may require vaccinations or immunisations for the country you’re visiting.

To check out the latest health issues and advice for your destination, check out:  (this is in addition to the foreign affairs websites)

World Health Organization (WHO)  www.who.int
MD Travel Health www.mdtravelhealth.com
IAMAT  www.iamat.org
Masta www.masta.org
Travellers Medical and Vacc Centre www.traveldoctor.com.au

CLICK HERE FOR MORE TRAVEL TIPS ON HEALTH

TOP TIP

Always carry a FIRST AID KIT. This is paramount!

Be sure to get good Travel Insurance!

7.   Passport
‘is it valid’

Make sure your passport is valid.  Ensure you have at least 6 months validity from the date upon returning back to your country.

Click Here to check out more passport travel tips.

TOP TIP

Always keep your PASSPORT in a safe place.

8.   Visas
do I need a visa?’  

A visa may be required to enter the country you’re visiting for your purpose of visitation.  Travel agents and visa companies can help you with this.  Check the country’s foreign affairs website for current information.  Just use a search engine to get the specific web address. A good place to start is here:  CIBT VISAS  www.cibt.com

👪 Remember, even children need visas.   Many countries charge same as adult prices.

Check out more info here on visas.

handy hint

You can also go directly to the country's consulate or embassy to obtain a visa.

9.   Currency & Money
‘How much spending money do I need?’

It’s good to know the currency breakdown of notes and coins because you will become familiar with the money before you arrive.  

👪 You may want something straight away when arriving at your destination.

TOP TIP When exchanging money, always ask for lower denomination notes, especially when using money in smaller areas of the country.

XE – is a great online converter tool www.xe.com
Check out more info here for currency & here for the money

TOP TIP

Carry different forms of money when travelling. Don't rely on just one type of money.

10.   ATM access
‘Where can I access my money?’  

Did you know you can access your funds worldwide?  If you want to locate an ATM anywhere in the world to access your money, just click on the Visa or Mastercard sites.  Important tips: Make sure you have adequate funds; keep receipts; you’ll be charged fees for use; many foreign ATM’s do not give you bank balances; note down withdrawals; be aware of your surroundings.

VISA (Visa/PLUS) www.visa.com
MASTERCARD (Mastercard, Maestro or Cirrus ATM) www.mastercard.com

It may be wise to carry multiple cards, in case you have an emergency
Click here for more info.

TOP TIP

Keep a 4 DIGIT PIN for your cards. Many ATM bank machines globally only accept a 4 digit code.

11.   Customs & Duty-Free
‘Check your limits’  

There are always limitations to what and how much you can bring into a country.​

Every day,  customs/airport officials confiscate items at airports around the world, because travellers bought too much and/or were over their limits. Know your limits.

👪 attention parents:   I’ve seen moments at airports where big toys and children’s gifts have been confiscated by customs/airport officials because parents bought too much and/or were over their limits.  Much to the dismay of their children! Check your restrictions!

Check out more info here.

Respect!

Always be nice and respectful to a customs official!

12.   Taxes
‘Do I need to pay ‘travel’ taxes?’

Airport Taxes – Don’t forget there are still some airports worldwide which require you to pay airport taxes on arrival and/or departure. Some may also require CASH ONLY.  Be careful. (although thankfully, not many exist these days)

Hotel Taxes – Most medium to first class accommodation will charge tax, fees and surcharges on the hotel room bill.  If you have pre-booked your hotel, enquire if the rate is inclusive of hotel taxes, fees and surcharges.

Other Taxes – In certain countries like the USA and Canada, you need to pay tax on top of all goods that you purchase at the counter.

check

Hotel taxes can be the biggest nemesis. And can really add to your hotel bill. Check exactly how much tax you're paying.

13.   Travel Etiquette 

Learning the local etiquette can go a long way with the people and their culture.  If you’re concerned about the do’s and don’ts of etiquette in countries, then try the following websites:

Government foreign affairs sites – they’re probably the best for an insight into local cultures and customs for international travellers.

Executive Planet – very basic and more ‘business geared’, but worth a read www.executiveplanet.com

👪 You don’t want to get yourself (and your kids if you have any) into an embarrassing situation.  It’s wise to check local customs. Even a little knowledge goes a long way.

Excuse me?

If your're travelling to a foreign country that speaks another language other than your own, note a few phrases on a card. Practice your phrases. It does wonders!

14.   Maps

TIP Apart from the above travel guide websites, there are a number of online maps you can view.  Any good search engine will provide you with a few. However, there is still nothing like a proper printed map for travelling.

TCG’s online pick
GOOGLE www.maps.google.com
Mapquest www.mapquest.com
Michelin www.viamichelin.com
BING www.bing.com/maps                    
National Geographic www.nationalgeographic.com

CHECK OUT our FULL PAGE on maps here.

a great travel tool

There is nothing like a good printed, laminated map.

15.   Electrical Plugs & Electricity

If you’re taking appliances, do you need to take a plug/voltage converter?  Even better, just get a universal plug.

👪 What if you cannot plug in your favourite device?  Travelling with Kids? What if a child can’t plug in their gadgets or devices!  Carry a few converters!

Find more info here.

TOP TIP

JUST BUY A UNIVERSAL WORLDWIDE PLUG CONVERTER - PROBLEM SOLVED!

16.  Time

OUR PICK if you want to know the time difference instantly between your home country and any destination,  we recommend you go to the simple yet effective www.TimeandDate.com to check times.

GMT/UTC
Compare time difference Australia GMT +8 to +10hrs Canada GMT -3.5 to -9hrs New Zealand GMT +12hrs South Africa GMT +2hrs United Kingdom GMT United States GMT -5 to -8hrs

For example, if Melbourne is GMT +10 hrs, and Kuala Lumpur is GMT +8 hrs, then time difference is 2 hours.

17.   Tipping

Tipping is used at restaurants, hotels, taxi/limo drivers, porters and so on. Sometimes knowing what to tip can be a little daunting. If you want some help to be a little prepared when you travel, just look for some online forums.  Tipping is mainly in the USA and Canada.

 Tipping can really add to your expenses, especially for travellers who are not familiar with it.  Carry small notes so it’s easier to tip.

handy tip

An easy thing to do is to simply add about 10% onto your restaurant bill. Easy.

18.   Festivals & Main Events

Is there a major festival or event happening in the place you’re visiting? You’ll need to go direct to the source: the place and country you are visiting.  Every region and country has a tourism website. That’s the best place to go.

👪Big events can ruin a holiday – particularly ones that you have no interest in. Or, if travelling with kids – ones that are not ‘child-friendly’ or related to children at all.  Be aware. But on the flip side, there are many festivals around the world that can be awesome and so much fun!

be aware

Main events and festivals can HIGHLY affect the cost of your stay. Hotels always charge more per night during a main event.

NEXT - Part 3 - Booking Tools

Let's get booking your trip off to a great start!

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