Preparing before you go
There are several things that need to be done prior to leaving Australia and some are not so obvious. Redirecting and having someone deal with your mail is a good first step. Receiving as much mail in electronic form is one way to eliminate most, if not all, paper mail. Paying bills whilst overseas is fairly straightforward via the internet however there are times when banks or service providers send a code to your mobile phone for verification. We have had our credit cards frozen due to suspected fraudulent activity and a message sent to our registered mobile phones. This is fine, except if you have changed the SIM card in your phone to a local SIM and your Aussie SIM is not able to be accessed. We therefore travel with two extra mobile phones (cheap older devices that can accept and send text messages) for such occasions. It is also useful for if/when family members need to get in touch with us urgently. Using local SIM cards in the various countries we travel to has been a great money and time saver, particularly having internet access while out and about to look up timetables, opening hours, local cafes and even post pics to social media. We even did a live video call
in Mumbai India the day we visited the meeting point of the Dabbawallahs as well as one in Bern Switzerland
when it was snowing.
Suspending your health insurance while overseas can save you money without effecting your lifetime cover loading. Once again, your policy will provide the details as the minimum and maximum times for which you can suspend cover differs between funds. However, as a general rule, you need to suspend your membership for a minimum of two months up to a maximum of two years. Without health insurance, you definitely need travel insurance to cover emergency medical expenses and other cases of misadventure. While many travellers use credit card insurance, this may not necessarily be appropriate for long term house sitters. Credit card insurance policies often only cover trips for a maximum of three months. Some also require a return trip back to Australia be booked prior to departure. Check your policy carefully and take appropriate action. We have travelled on both credit card insurance (ANZ Rewards Credit Card) and also purchased insurance outright for other trips through Easy Cover and Budget Insurance Direct.
On the subject of credit cards, having access to your money while overseas needs to be planned. It can cost you significantly to withdraw money from ATM’s or use a credit card that incurs international transaction fees. We have changed all our credit card and ATM cards to providers that mean we pay no fees while giving us easy access to our money. Using a combination of cards and having a secondary cardholder on the account can help mitigate against being stranded without funds. One of our wallets was stolen overseas, still with several months before we returned home. Our planning and use of secondary cards on our accounts meant we could continue unhindered. Our go-to cards are Coles Rewards Mastercard and Citibank Visa Debit card and we never use travel money cards. Further details on which cards we use can be found at our blog post, Travel Like a Financial Ninja.