Thursday, May 31, 2012

A few things to prepare before you go

This site is obsolete

Passport Form

These are available at Australian Post Offices, or you can download.
You need a witness who has known you for a few years, and that does not live at your address.
You also need to make an appointment at selected post offices, or the Passport office – this can sometimes be days in advance.

Passport photos

You will also need an extra one with each application form:
if you are getting an International Drivers Licence, or any other permits. 
Allow one photo for each year you are away (see IDL below).
Also a great idea is to have a spare photograph of each of you available. 
You can place a picture of you in your child’s wallet or backpack, and one each of your children in your wallet.  Heaven help if the child gets lost, but they can at least show what you look like and visa-versa.


Visas can take up to 2 months or more. 
For example, a USA / Canada Northern American Visa for an over 3 months stay, requires each person (including each child) to fly to Melbourne for an interview.
There can be a six-week wait for the appointment I am told. 
Don’t book til your home is old (if you are planning this), or nearly ready to go, as if it is dated, you waste travel time, and may have to re-apply.

International Drivers Licence (IDL)

In Australia, these are available at RACV, RAA, RACQ, NRMA etc. and other roadside assistance offices.
If you are going for a long period, pick up extra forms (one for each additional year) and leave with a family member – signed, completed & with each payment, and they can then lodge - as only valid for 12 months.

Emergency Roadside Membership

Change addresses, and supply a forwarding mail address.
You will need to suspend your Emergency Roadside Assistance membership once you have your International Drivers Licence, and are ready to leave, or have sold your vehicle.

This can be done for the entire period you are away, and just resume on your return.


Change addresses, and supply a forwarding mail address.
Make sure this card does not expire while you are away.
Our card was damaged, so we had to get a new one anyway, and found this a perfect way to get the date extended by 5 years.  How convenient!
If you do not have a current address when you return, and proof you live in Australia, you can’t just get another card. 
This is true, as happened to someone I know.  They are Australian, and had moved overseas for a while, and came back just last month, and tried to get their Medicare card again, and alas, they couldn’t.
If you are out of the country and it is going to expire, ask a family member or friend to get a form. 
If need be they can send to you to sign.  
You will need and Aussie address to register though.

Australian Drivers Licence

Make sure it is valid whilst you are away.
If it is close to expiring, or may do so in coming months, renew for as long as you can.  
In SA we have a 10-year option. 
You can even walk in and do this months before it is due.
Reminder to update your new postal address when you move – form required.

Child Support

If you are in receipt of child support, you are permitted to travel out of Australia on holiday, so I believe.  
Change addresses, and supply a forwarding mail address.
It is up to you if you tell them of your departure.  
Check with CSA for full and accurate details.


Change addresses, and supply a forwarding mail address.
You cannot receive Centrelink payments when overseas.
However, I do believe you may be entitled to continue, if you are Australian and going to New Zealand (recently informed about this by a NZ friend at a dinner party, and yet to confirm), so if you are heading that way, it may be worth enquiring first.
If you fail to advise Centrelink of your departure, Immigration will do so, and you will be caught, and have to pay it back.  
All outstanding loans and arrears should be settled before you leave Australia where possible.


Change addresses, and supply a forwarding mail address.
Close any accounts with fees, or not being used.
Place large sums of money in short term investment accounts.
If staying in countries for extended times, it can assist to have proof of your finances when getting a visa (if you can show you have adequate funds to sustain during and beyond your stay).
Advise you banks of the countries you are going to, as credit cards may be frozen or cancelled.
Open a safety deposit box, and tuck away your valuables – don’t bring them along – valuables including jewellery, are just one more thing to add to your stress, and that is what we are all trying to leave behind.
Travel Card - Commonwealth bank have a travel card, you top up as you travel, and can use safely at any ATM.  Please refer their web site for further details.
Commonwealth bank also have a great Amex/ MasterCard. 
Not only do you get 2 or 3 points per $$, if you book your return flights using the car, you get free travel insurance.  
Please see their web site for further details.  
To check points, costs and other credit card benefits – you may find this link helpful

Travel Documents as a Single Parent

You will require a letter from the other parent allowing you to travel with the child.
Or a copy of your current Restraining Order Document.
Or child’s other parent's Death Certificate if deceased.
These papers may be asked for at some international border crossings, via applications, and airports.
Make sure you have a copy of file in case they try to take it from you.

Paypal, Amazon, ebay & other on-line selling and buying

Change addresses.
Close accounts not used.
You may need a Paypal address if you are writing a blog and it has advertising attached to it.  
You may also find interesting items to sell overseas.
Paypal can also be used for people to donate to your trip via your blog, or to transfer money.

Airlines and flights 
Qantas and any airline Frequent Flyers etc

You may have to attend to this with more than one airline prior to departure.
If using Qantas, refer to their One World partners.
Want to join for free?
Head to Woolworth’s Supermarket – join their in-house card Everyday Rewards. 
Not only will you get cheap petrol, you will automatically get Free Qantas Frequent Flyer membership. 
Even children can get a card.
Make sure you:
-           Change addresses, and supply a forwarding mail address.
-           Transfer points
-           Use any existing points on flights – they expire if not used within a timeframe
-           Register children for their own Frequent Flyer number

Organise Travel Insurance

Commonwealth Bank have a great MasterCard/Amex 2-in-1 card ...
...where not only do you get 2 or 3 points per $.
You also get free travel insurance when you use the card to book return flights.
I believe the is only for return flights, so read carefully.
If you book with Flight Centre and you are trying to get the lowest deal on flights and they cn't beat the offer you have found, they offered me free travel insurance instead on my last trip.

Notifying Airlines

Make sure you have seat requests placed on your file.
Make sure you request special meals.  Meals should be served first on the plane. 
If you see them handing out meals and you have not received yours, attend to it ‘quick-sticks’, as they can have a shortage, and one flight ran out of regular meals and I was stuck with crackers. 
And my child went crackers over the whole event!