overseas travel tips for australians

I travel overseas for work quite a bit so I’ve worked out a few things that make it easier and more streamlined when traveling abroad. 

Here they are in case they come in handy for you:

  1. Vodafone overseas roaming is a godsend for traveling Australians. It’s automatically activated for post-paid accounts and charged at aud$5 per day for 90 odd countries (including all the big ones like USA, Canada and the UK) and free for New Zealand! Since it’s automatic you can use your phone as you would at home to make and receive any number of calls and use your included data. I used to use Optus but their $10 daily travel packs are limited and complicated so I’m so glad I made the switch to Vodafone. 
  2. Using foreign ATMs is risky. I’ve had cards swallowed by ATMs whilst abroad which is a PITA so I avoid using foreign ATMs completely, avoiding ATM fees, skimming and potential card loss. I do this by having a few hundred dollars of currency of each country I regularly visit which I use for things like very small purchases where cards aren’t taken and tipping. I keep the currency for multiple trips so I don’t need to get currency for each trip. For everything else I have a 28 Degrees MasterCard which offers fee free currency conversion so I use this whenever I travel for all purchases. 
  3. When departing Brisbane airport you can use the BNE Airport App to generate a QR code which you can use to print departure cards at the airport. This saves standing around trying to fill out your departure card at the airport with everyone else. For other airports I keep a few spare departure cards in my passport pouch and fill them out at home so they’re ready to go. Same applies to arrivals cards for coming back into Australia – I always have one pre-filled to avoid filling it out on the plane. 
  4. Australians can claim the GST they paid on items costing $300 or more that they purchased during the 60 days before their departure. You need to take the receipts, and items to the TRS counter at the airport (after customs). There’s a TRS app you should use to prefill your details which allows you to use the express queue (which can still take some time – so be early)
  5. Drinking plenty of water is the most important thing you can do on any flight; especially long haul ones. I always take my own water bottle and fill it during the flight during the filtered water dispensers which are typically near the toilets. You’ll need to empty it before taking it though airport security but you’ll be able to refill it airside at water fountains available in all airports.  
  6. If you’re an Australian traveling to the US  on an ESTA, you can use the kiosks on arrival into immigration. You don’t need to fill out the blue US arrivals form given to you on the plane (no matter what the flight attendants tell you).
  7. When coming back into Australia avoid bringing any items which you need to declare (such as wood or food) as this will slow you down a lot coming back in. 

This year I’m experimenting with taking carry on luggage only so I’ll see how that goes. 

That’s all for now. Here’s wishing you a streamlined overseas travel experience.