After almost 600 days of closed borders and two years of intermittent lockdowns, Australians have been given more freedom to travel. You may be rushing to book a trip already, but in this new normal, it’s best to be a little cautious when you plan your travels.
The recent emergence of the Omicron variant has proved that things can change quickly, flights can be cancelled, border rules can change and lockdowns can occur suddenly. When this happens, getting refunds or rescheduling accommodation, flights, and activities can be difficult.
To help make sure you don’t end up losing money or getting stuck on your next trip, we’ve put together a few useful tips on planning ahead and protecting yourself.
Know the requirements for returning to Australia
Before you book your trip overseas, make sure you fully understand what’s required to return to Australia. Note that these restrictions can change regularly and have recently been adjusted due to the emergence of the Omicron variant:
- You may be required to isolate at home for 3 days in NSW and VIC and stay in a managed isolation facility for 14 days in all other states.
- You will need to be fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine that is approved or recognised by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration.
- Non-Australian citizens and those who are not citizens of Singapore, New Zealand, Japan or South Korea are not permitted to enter Australia (citizens of these countries may enter participating Australian state or territory).
For more information, check the quarantine and entry requirements on your state or territory’s website. It’s also best to carefully check the entry requirements of any country or state you’re planning to visit to make sure you’ll be allowed to enter when you arrive.
Understand airline cancellation policies
The major Australian airlines are operating a reduced schedule of international and interstate flights. If you book a flight that is cancelled because of COVID restrictions, you may be able to get a cash refund or a flight credit depending on who you book with.
Before you book, it’s important that you check the airline’s cancellation policy to ensure that you know exactly what would happen if your flight were to be unexpectedly cancelled.
Double check your travel insurance policy
Several insurers have completely suspended their overseas travel insurance policies but there are a few who offer COVID-specific cover. However, these policies will generally only cover a limited range of events and are unlikely to cover cancellations and changes due to government policies.
When buying your policy, it’s more important than ever that you double check what’s included, which destinations are covered and whether claims caused by government policy changes are covered.
Know your accommodation cancellation policy
Before committing to any accommodation booking, make sure you fully understand their cancellation policy. Below are some of the most common policies that you might encounter.
- 100% refundable.
- Free cancellation if you cancel before a specified date.
- Partially refundable if you cancel before a specified date.
- Booking dates can be changed before a specified date.
When searching on certain sites such as Airbnb, you may even be able to filter by cancellation policies. Try to only book accommodation with flexible refund policies.
Card fees and things to look out for
We may be in the middle of a global pandemic but it’s still important to take the usual precautions while travelling, especially when it comes to your money.
If you’re a Qudos customer, send us a secure email message within online banking or the mobile app to let us know you’re leaving, where you’re going and the dates that you’ll be away. Always keep your card in your hotel’s safe deposit box, if it has one, and consider having backup access to your money, such as another card, just in case.
Beware of withdrawal and transaction fees and charges overseas as these may be particularly high depending on where you are.
If you lose your card or it’s stolen while you’re in Australia, cancel it through online banking right away and call us immediately on 1300 747 747. If you’re overseas, contact the toll-free Visa International Card Hotline in the country you are in.
Travelling overseas and interstate can be a little risky and uncertain right now, but we’re all craving a holiday. With that in mind, if you take a few simple precautions and plan ahead using our tips, there’s no reason why you can’t have a safe and enjoyable trip away.
Happy travelling everyone!
Qudos Mutual Limited trading as Qudos Bank ABN 53 087 650 557 AFSL/Australian Credit Licence 238 305. The information in this article is of a general nature and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on the information, consider its appropriateness to your circumstances.
Published December 2021