1. Travel Insurance
If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. That might sound a bit harsh, but organising insurance is an essential part of preparing for your overseas trip. If you are uninsured, you (or your family) are personally liable for covering any medical or other costs resulting from unexpected incidents or accidents.
1.1 Comprehensive travel insurance
Comprehensive travel insurance should cover all medical expenses for injury or illness, as well as theft of your valuable and cancellations or interruptions to your flight plans, baggage damage and more. It also saves you the worry and financial burden if you have an accident or illness overseas - medical costs can reach tens of thousands of dollars.
Shop around, including online, to find the policy that best suits your individual needs:
- Check the policy's exclusions including how it deals with pre-existing illnesses.
- Make sure your insurance covers you for all of your activities for the entire length of your trip.
- Be aware that some policies do not cover refunds for changes in safety and security environments overseas.
2. Official documents
You might just want to jump on a plane and get moving, but it's important that all your documentation is in order before you leave. Find out what you need in advance as some documents can take a while to organise.
Your passport is your most important travel document. You will need it to leave and enter Fiji and other countries, obtain visas and cash travellers cheques - and in some countries you must carry it at all times as a form of identification.
- Check that your passport has at least six month's validity from your planned date of arrival to Fiji.
- Safeguard your passport at all times. Aside from the inconvenience and time taken to replace a lost, stolen or damaged passport, an additional fee will apply to get a replacement. A replacement passport may also have limited validity.
- Report the loss of theft of your passport to your nearest Fiji embassy, high commission or consulate. This is required by law.
- If your passport has been damaged in any way, before your next trip phone 3312622 or visit your nearest DOI office or Fiji overseas mission to check whether your passport is usable for international travel.
- Write your contact details on the Emergencies page (last page) of your passport (in pencil, so that you can make changes if you need to). Apart from this, it is illegal to alter or tamper with your passport in any way.
- Always carry your passports separately from other forms of identification. This will ensure you will have other proof of identity documents if your passport is stolen.
Find out early which visas you need by contacting the nearest embassy, high commission or consulate of the country you plan to visit. Your travel agent might also be to provide advice on visa requirements.
A visa does not necessarily guarantee entry to a country, particularly if authorities suspect you might breach the conditions upon which the visa was issued.
2.3 Entry permits
When you enter some countries, you receive an entry permit that tells yu the date when you must leave. If you want to stay longer you must apply for an extension. Be aware that visa-free schemes may not permit extensions and if you overstay, you could be fined or jailed.
2.4 Driver's licence
Don't assume you can use your Fijian licence overseas - many countries you'll need an international driving permit to rent a car. You can get an international driving permit from the Lands & Roads Authority.
3. Personal Information
Make two photo copies of the following documents and leave one copy at home with your family or a friend and other in a safe place while you're travelling, separate from the originals:
- itinerary and tickets
- travellers cheques and credit card numbers
- driver's licence or international driving permit
- insurance policy
4. Dual nationality
If you or your parents were born in another country, you may be considered a citizen or national of that country, even though you are a Fijian citizen and even if you have never traveled outside Fiji.
Some countries offer citizenship to people who marry their citizens, or to people whose grandparents were born in that country. Before you leave, it is important to know about the implications of local laws for dual nationals - for example you may be liable for military service in the country of your other nationality.
A country may not permit Fijian consular assistance to be given to Fijian citizens who, according to its laws, are considered to be its own nationals. Some countries may not recognise your Fijian citizenship unless you are traveling on a Fiji passport.
You must use your Fiji passport to leave and return to Fiji. If you hold another country's passport, seek advice about using it from the country's embassy before you leave.
5. Travel health
Read up on health issues affecting the country you are traveling before you go. Seek a doctor well in advance of your trip to discuss travel health issues, even if you're well at the moment.
Standards of medical care overseas may be very different from those in Fiji. Medical treatment in other countries can be very expensive and you might have to pay in advance. In some cases medical evacuation may be necessary, costing many thousands of dollars.
In some countries, HIV/AIDS is a significant risk. You should take precautions if you are doing things that expose you to risk of infection.
Visit a doctor well in advance of your trip to allow rime for any vaccinations or other medical treatment or tests required for your trip. Remember that some vaccines require a long period to take effect and some more than one dose may be needed.
It is important to get advice that is tailored to your health needs and the place you plan to visit.
You may need to update immunisations such as measles, whooping cough and tetanus, which can occur regularly in many parts of the world, including developed countries.
In discussing your travel needs with your doctor you should consider vaccinations against diseases that are risk to travelers, such as hepatitis A and influenza. Depending on your travel plans,your doctor may recommend additional vaccines, such as for encephalitis or typhoid.
It is recommended that before you leave you check the vaccination entry and exit requirements of all countries on your itinerary. You can get this information from the relevant embassy, consulate or high commission located in Fiji.
If you are traveling to country where yellow fever occurs, you may be asked to provide proof of vaccinations when returning to Fiji.
Before you leave, check that the medications you plan to take are legal in the country you are visiting. You can do this by contacting the country's embassy, consulate or high commission located in Fiji. Make sure you do this in plenty of time to receive a response.
If you are taking medicines overseas:
- take enough medicine to cover the length of your trip
- carry or enclose a letter from your doctor detailing what the medicine is, how much you will be taking or sending, and stating that the medicine is for your personal use.
- always leave the medicine in its original packaging.
If you have to inject your medication, it may be preferable to carry your own needles and syringes, if its is allowed in the countries your are visiting. If you have to buy needles or syringes overseas, make sure they are sealed and sterile.
5.3 Influenza & Ebola
Since 2003, there have been outbreaks of various strains of influenza (including H5N1 and H1N1) in a number of countries around the world. There have also been outbreaks of Ebola mainly in African countries since 1976.
Information, including precautionary advice for travellers, during these types of outbreaks is generally available at the World Health Organization - www.who.int/ith
6. Travel money
There is no limit to the amount of currency you can bring in and out of Fiji. However, you must the necessary approvals for certain amounts of currency.
7. Packing tips
Packing tips and information on items that can be be included in carry-on and checked luggage are available through your airline.
When travelling, always remember:
- Obey the law - do not purchase, use or travel with illegal drugs.
- Pack your luggage yourself - tales of tourists having drugs planted are not uncommon.
- Secure your luggage as a sensitive precaution against tampering or theft.
- Do not leave your bags unattended in public areas or with a stranger.
- Never carry anything into or out of another country for someone else unless you are sure of its contents.
Please refer to advice by the Fiji Revenue & Customs Authority regarding departing Fiji.