• Jenna van Bentum

The Three V’s

I like to peruse the family travel Facebook groups to check out the adventures families have planned, adventures families are on and adventures families are counting down to. I like to offer tips to those asking questions about destinations or needing suggestions for their first big family holiday. It gets me excited knowing these families are showing their kids the world and making memories together as a family.

As I flick through these travel groups I come across many of the same questions. These questions are important ones to ask but often left until the last moment sending families into a panic right before the eagerly awaited departure day.

What are those common questions you ask?

I call them the Three V’s – Visa, Vaccination and Validity.

Visa

International travel requires so much more that booking flights, packing a bag and counting down the days. Each country is different and has different requirements for people visiting depending on the country you hold your passport in. Some countries don’t require you to hold a visa, however, you must have a visa exemption certificate or visa waiver which is still something you have to apply for and have prior to your visit. Some countries let you purchase a tourist visa upon arrival and, although all people including children require a visa, often children are cheaper or free.

It is so important to get information about visas and requirements from a trusted source and within enough time before your trip. Such sources must be a government website and my go to each time is smartraveller.gov.au for information for Australian travellers. If you hold a passport from another country then be sure to check your local government website to get the information you need.

If you are required to apply for a visa or a visa waiver prior to your departure and are arranging those yourself online there is some things you need to be aware of. Third party websites claiming to make the process simple and charge many times the amount of the actual application are everywhere. If you do a simple Google search it is guaranteed that these third party websites will be up there among the top hits. Always go to the official government website for the country you are visiting and apply for your visa through them. The price is always much cheaper and you know you’ll have the right document. If in doubt, contact the countries consulate to clarify the process and what is the best website if able to apply online. Don’t forget that you will need your passport when applying for a visa so make sure your passport is valid before you do. (More on passport validity below) 

Vaccination

Wether you are pro or anti vaccinations it is extremely important that you are well informed about the risks and prevention of diseases in other countries. I see parents time and time again asking for advice in travel groups online and it concerns me that people are so happy to give their advice although they are not a trained professional. Please visit your local doctor and discuss your travel plans with them.

There are many reasons as to why vaccinations are an important conversation with a trained professional. Here are some of those reasons:

  1. There may be significant risk of disease in the country your are visiting

  2. Your travel insurance may be void should you get sick and not had the recommended vaccinations

  3. Only you and your doctor know your body and if you are susceptible to certain illnesses or have a weakened immune system then vaccinations are a serious discussion for you

  4. You may be pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant in the near future 

  5. Western cultures often mean that our bodies are more susceptible to infection and disease that don’t exist or are very rare in our country

  6. Some vaccinations need to be had well in advance of travel and a booster can often be given a few months after to prolong the effect of the vaccination

  7. Children can be more susceptible to diseases and infections so important to know what they already have had and what they may need

It is always a good idea to travel with your current list of vaccinations you’ve had should you require medical assistance while traveling.

Remember vaccinations cover you from so much more than simply avoiding mosquitoes does. Please have the discussion with your doctor before you book those flights!

Validity

If I received a dollar for every time I read a post stating that someone was only a few days out from departure and have just realised that their passport/s are not far off expiring and what should they do, I’d be one wealthy lady right now! I’m not having a go at people, it is very easily done. I just want to bring it your attention now so that you remember to check your passports with plenty of time to renew if needed.

So what does passport validity mean? Surely if you are travelling within your passports expiry date you’ll be fine, right? Wrong.

Many countries require your passport to still have 6 months validity from the day your depart your destination to come home. Many airlines have taken it upon themselves to refuse travel if your passport is within 6 months of expiration to prevent stranded travellers around the world.

The best way to ensure you are ok is to count back 6 months from the expiry date from the day you arrive home.

Most adult passports are valid for 10 years so you don’t have to renew them as often. The ones that creep up on you are the kids passports that are only valid for 5 years. Also, if you are a frequent traveller then be aware of how many pages you have left in your passport. If your pages run out then you can be refused entry into a country.

If you do have a trip booked and have just realised your passport is not valid for the period of time required then you will need to place an urgent application from the Australian Passport Office or the consulate from where your passport is held. This is an expensive and time consuming exercise as it often means you must visit the passport office in person and comes at an extra cost. Don’t take the risk of trying to get through on a nearly expired passport. It won’t work and if anyone tells you they were fine, well then… good for them!

For more information see the Australian Passport Office website here.

Passport - The World And Kids

So those are the Three V’s that are important when planning and booking travel. Impulse booking when a cheap last minute deal comes along can end up being a very expensive exercise if these three things are not considered first.

I do love the community that the family travel Facebook groups have as well as the wealth of knowledge that we can provide each other. Just remember to careful about the advice you take on board and research from trusted and professional sources.

If you are looking for a Family Travel Facebook Group then I’d love to invite you the group I host. With over 1000 travel families represented, you have a very good chance of bouncing ideas off others and being inspired about new destinations. I love our supportive and inspiring community and I hope you can come and join us.

Happy planning and safe travels!

Jen x

The Three Vs

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