This page is mainly dedicated to helping residents of Sri Lanka plan a trip out of the Island. It contains a number of tips that will be useful to anyone residing anywhere.
At the outset, decide to which country or countries you want to travel to.
Ideally you should work with a travel agency. We have compiled a List of Travel Agencies for those who do not have one. You could decide to get everything done through the travel agent or get only certain parts done through them. Given the amount of information available on the internet, we urge you to consider doing most of you planning and booking directly. It’s really no big deal!
Generally we advise you to use an agency when;
i. Your trip involves stays in different places, especially if more than one country is involved.
ii. You have to send your passport overseas for obtaining a visa – most reputed travel agencies have counterparts in other countries that they work with.
iii. You are not an experienced traveller.
As a first step you should get started on obtaining a visa for your trip from the relevant Embassy closest to you. You should start this process as early as you can, since you never know how long it will take. Most countries require Sri Lankans to obtain a visa prior to travel. You could find out the following from calling the Embassy direct; how to get an application form (a number of countries have forms on the internet that could be downloaded), the likely time required to process the visa, the fee and the way to pay it (some require a bank draft), where to hand over the form and any other information you require. Depending on the requirements of the country, you may have to make tentative flight and hotel bookings, prior to submitting your application. Please note that you may be liable for a cancellation fee for such bookings, in case you do not obtain a visa. Where the country you want to visit does not have an Embassy in Sri Lanka, you will most probably have to send your application overseas, mostly to India.
The following tips can really come in handy when planning a trip:
i. Book your airline ticket online directly through the airline site. Keep looking for specials.
ii. If you are planning on travelling within Europe and the UK, consider flying with Ryanair and/or Easyjet. These are two budget airlines which have a very good reputation and are very inexpensive. We have got tickets for as little as 1p(!!) for travel between the UK and Europe – of course you have to pay the relevant taxes.
iii. If travelling in the USA, consider flying with Jet Blue or Southwest. The same comments in the previous paragraph, applies to these two airlines. In Asia, Tiger Airways and Air Asia are two airlines in this same category.
iv. There are many other budget airlines operating throughout the world. You have no choice but to book all budget airline travel directly through the internet. Sri Lanka’s very own budget airline, Mihin Airlines, has been revived again. There are no other budget airlines operating out of Sri Lanka at present.
v. Travelling by train is especially recommended if you are travelling through Europe. For those planning to use rail travel extensively, buying a Eurail pass must be given serious consideration (there are other types of passes available). These passes have many options such as travelling within one country or through many countries and class of travel. We would urge you to do some research on the financial feasibility of whether to buy tickets along the way or to get a pass. This could easily be done by going to the various sites on the internet. Generally speaking, if you plan to travel by rail a great deal, a pass makes a lot of sense.
vi. Booking hotels through online agencies such as Expedia and Travelocity, makes a great deal of sense. Generally speaking these agencies offer the best rates. Before booking on these sites, we strongly recommend that you read the comments made by other guests. Armed with this type of information, you will rarely go wrong with your choices. Try and get a rate that includes breakfast.
vii. Most places have a great many choices for eating out that would fit any budget. Therefore other than breakfast at your hotel, all other eating decisions should be made when you are at your destination.
viii. We recommend that you decide on the various side trips and excursions when you get to your destination.
ix. The concierge service of every hotel should be used extensively. They will be your best source of local information on things such as where to eat, where to shop, where to visit, where to avoid, safety precautions that you should take, etc.
x. Most cities have a relatively inexpensive travel card that will enable to use all public transportation. We urge you to consider getting one of these cards. If you prefer to use taxis, do so by all means. Make sure you get your concierge’s advice and arm yourself with a local map and/directions before you set out each day.
Please follow the following advice to the letter. Believe us, we are talking from experience:
i. Buy adequate medical and travel insurance before you travel. You could do so through most Insurance Companies.
ii. Obtain two copies of the main page of your passport and each of your visas. Leave one set with someone at home and carry the other set separately from your passport. This precaution will come in handy if you lose your passport whilst abroad. In case you lose your passport, contact the nearest Sri Lankan Mission immediately.
iii. Make sure you carry enough supplies of all the medications that you take. Also, we recommend that you carry with you some pain relievers such as Panadol, medication for allergies, a few band-aids and some medication for upset tummies.
iv. If you are carrying a number of credit cards, do not keep them all together.
v. Make sure you lock your valuables in the hotel safe (most hotels have safes in every room), and go about with the absolute minimum. For instance, do not carry all your cash and credit cards.
vi. Obtaining an International Driving License is also recommended. In any event carry your driver’s license in case you plan to drive yourself.
vii. Make sure you have obtained all the vaccinations required for the country you are visiting. Some countries require you to carry evidence of having got vaccinated.
viii. Get details of areas to avoid, from the hotel concierge. Some cities are notorious for pickpockets. Listen to all the advice the concierge gives you.
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We sincerely hope the above was useful. Please do not hesitate to contact us in case you have any queries.