Creating and building a relationship between your church and a church in another part of the world may well involve international travel. Even if you are a seasoned traveller, it pays to take care with your arrangements.
It’s obvious, but make sure you’ve got a valid passport! Less obvious is that for some countries you need to have six months’ validity remaining on it when you travel: check it out.
Make sure you get any necessary visas well ahead of your visit – it can take time.
For security, take a photocopy of relevant passport pages (and other important documents, e.g. tickets) with you, or scan them and email them to yourself at a site you can access overseas.
Check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website for safety and other advice regarding the country you’re planning to visit. Go to www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and-living-overseas for helpful information on a range of topics.
Find out about the possibilities of accessing money at your destination. For example, are there reliable ‘hole in the wall’ cash dispensers (ATMs)? Should you take traveller’s cheques? If you intend to take foreign currency with you, order it in good time. If you’re planning to use a credit card, make sure it’s valid in the country you’re going to, and take precautions to ensure it’s not lost, stolen or fraudulently used by someone else.
Make sure you have appropriate travel and medical insurance, and that you know what it covers. Keep policy details and emergency contact information in a safe place. Some countries require you to present a valid yellow fever certificate on arrival. Make sure you’re aware of any special requirements like this, to avoid difficulties on arrival.
Find out about the local climate and the weather expected for the period of your visit. Check whether there are any special clothing or equipment requirements. For hot climates, make sure you have adequate sun protection.
Ready to go
Check current airport and airline baggage security restrictions before you set off. If you hope to take excess baggage without paying a large fee (e.g. goods or equipment for charitable use), make sure you negotiate and agree this with your airline well in advance of your trip.
Pack sensibly – for example, don’t take more than you can comfortably carry yourself. Leave space in your baggage for gifts and souvenirs that you might want to bring home at the end of your trip.
When you’re flying, make sure you drink enough non-alcoholic and non-stimulant drinks, wear loose and comfortable clothing, do feet and leg exercises for circulation and move around the cabin. Be aware of the risks of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) on long journeys.
For some countries, you may have to fill in an arrivals card on board the plane before you land. Make sure you have the address of your destination accommodation with you and easily accessible in case this is required.
It’s a good idea to make sure your host or their representative meets you at the airport when you arrive, especially if you’re not familiar with the place. Have a contingency plan in case they are delayed or unable to meet you.
When it’s time to come home, don’t spend all your money before you get to the airport – there may be a departure tax to pay! Find out about this, and if there is one, make sure you have the appropriate amount of money with you
Help is at hand on the Foreign and Commonwealth office website: