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You’ve worked hard every day, battled the traffic to and from work, saved as much money as possible at the end of every month… and now you can finally go on a much deserved and much anticipated trip overseas. But before you pack your bags and hop on a plane, there are some things you should take into account that could potentially save you heaps of cash while at the same time keeping you safe and protected.
“We plan for our retirement, our day-to-day health and safety, and for the future of the ones we love… so, why not plan for the ‘what ifs’ that could potentially strike while we’re on holiday?” says Derek Wilson, head of Hippo.co.za, South African online insurance and finance comparison website. “There are so many checkpoints in place to ensure that your overseas trip is nothing but a dream come true, but first you have to ensure that the most important measures, like your travel insurance, are in order.”
Here are just some of the key factors to keep in the back of your mind when packing your sunhats and sarongs:
Do you have a Plan B? The South African Embassy might recommend postponing travel to a country because of widespread civil unrest, dangerous conditions, terrorist activity or, in some cases, because your destination has no diplomatic relations with South Africa and may have great difficulty in assisting you should you be in distress.
Are your travel documents in order? Travel documents – check! Passport – check! Unabridged birth certificates – check! When planning to travel overseas, ensure that your passport is still valid (that it doesn’t expire within the next three months, and has at least three blank pages). A passport is the only internationally recognised travel document that verifies your identity and citizenship so protect it with your life. According to new South African laws, children need to travel accompanied and with their unabridged birth certificates. This might take a while to attain, making planning and timing crucial.
Who are you going to phone in the case of an emergency? Make sure you have the contact information for the nearest South African Embassy or Consulate at your destination. Consular duty personnel are available for emergency assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week and they should be able to assist you in the case of an emergency. Make sure you leave the contact details with a family member in South Africa before you embark on your journey.
Do you plan to drive while overseas? If so, you need to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP), which is easily obtainable from organisations such as the Automobile Association granted you possess a valid South African driver’s licence.
Are you fluent in foreign currency? Ensure that you convert some rands into the currency of your destination, as well as obtain traveller’s cheques – this is particularly handy when you need to make an urgent phone call or emergency purchase. It’s also a good idea to notify your bank before travelling overseas, so that they don’t automatically assume that there is suspicious behaviour on your account.
Does your medical aid cover you outside of South Africa? Make sure you are up to speed with exactly what medical services your health insurance provider will cover overseas, as this might change every year. Although some medical aids will pay for ‘day-to-day’ hospital costs and benefits abroad, very few will pay for a medical evacuation back to South Africa, which can easily cost up to hundreds of thousands of rands. If your insurance policy does not cover you abroad, consider purchasing a short-term policy from your travel agent that does.