- Is your passport up to date? The last thing you need is to book your flight without checking your passport expiry date. Many countries expect you to have a minimum of at least 6 months on your passport before it expires otherwise you will be denied entry. Some won’t even accept a damaged passport. So avoid rushing frantically to the nearest passport office to pay the high fees to rush your passport through when you are busy enough packing and planning your journey! Traveling with less than 6 months validity on your passport could mean that you are turned away at your departure airport, or worse at immigration at your arrival airport. This does vary by country, so if you’ve already booked your flight check with your arrival country’s Embassy or immigration office to see their Passport validity rules.
2. Weather - Be prepared, the weather isn’t quite as predictable as it used to be so firstly get ready to accept that it may rain or be overcast for a few days of your holiday! Don’t panic, it doesn’t mean your holiday has to be ruined, there is still lots of things you can do if you are forced under cover for a few days. Research one or two things to do on your holiday other than propping up the bar to make the most of these days. Many tropical locations will have sudden afternoon downpours so it is helpful to have a mini umbrella in your suitcase, because as much fun as it is cooling off in the down pour, you may regret having to sit down in a restaurant sopping wet in transparent clothes! You can’t go wrong with an umbrella as a bit of shade either, great for shopping around the markets and even on the beach in the middle of the day. There’s no point risking sunstroke on your first day just because you haven’t seen the sun in a few months. Sun stroke isn’t just sun burn, it causes migraines, sickness, dizziness and fever so keep an eye out for these symptoms. Sadly many of us will also need our umbrella upon arrival home! It’s also smart to check out hurricane and monsoon seasons before you book your travel, these seasons don’t always have to stop your travel but can make an obvious difference especially in transportation and delays.
3. Jewellery - Watches or expensive items, do you really need to take them on holiday with you? Your travel insurance may well cover these items, but losing them or having them stolen isn’t just heart breaking it can be a real inconvenience if they do go missing. Not least because you will have to report them stolen in your holiday destination to claim on your travel insurance, wasting precious holiday time and sending your stress levels sky-high at a time when you should be relaxing. So girls, if you don’t really need to take the diamond earrings then don’t, take bits of costume jewellery with you, and it’s a great excuse to pick up some cheap and pretty items in the shops while you are away. And guys, that watch you love, is it going to survive being thrown in the pool by the lads, or draw unnecessary attention if you are in more questionable parts of town? I know we all find it hard to survive without our mobile phones abroad, both for communication, entertainment and time keeping so if you are taking it with you ensure that your travel insurance covers it, as these days many insurance policies don’t cover it and you will need to take out gadget insurance, this will cover your laptop and camera too.
4. Phrasebook - most of us take it for-granted that we will be able to get by in our own language in the majority of countries that we visit. But now that we are visiting more far-flung destinations and we don’t intend on taking a language course before we go, it can be really handy to have some basic phrases to hand. Talking loudly and slowly in our own language isn’t always going to cut it! Often just the simplest of phrases on hand to get a taxi or find a hotel can be really helpful and leave you feeling just slightly more in control when you are completely lost and it appears that no one has the slightest clue what you want! These days there are plenty of translation and phrasebook apps available for our smart phones, so even if you don’t look at it once, just downloading it before you go is a good idea. And if you are a fan of the traditional hard copy phrase book there’s no harm in noting down a few important phone numbers in the cover, such as the Embassy number, the emergency services number and even a number for a friend back home incase your phone goes missing as I don’t know about you but remembering phone numbers these days is not something that comes naturally!
5. Travel Vaccinations - Some places around the world may have increased risks of infections and disease that don’t exist in your own country, meaning that as a traveller you are at a higher risk of contracting them and vaccinations can protect you. Ideally you should be checking for necessary vaccinations around 6-8 weeks before you travel. This will give your doctor or pharmacy enough time to order them in if needs be and often it may be that your vaccination or medication needs to be taken several weeks before you go in order to work in time. This Travel Vaccines site has handy tips to protect your health when travelling as well as vaccine information.
6. Currency - Do you need to change up money before you go? Unless you are going somewhere particularly remote you can often get away with just drawing out cash when you get to your arrival destination for a small fee, this way you are not carrying around wads of cash on your travels. If you are taking your own currency with you then changing it at the airport whether at your departure airport or arrival airport is going to be more costly than at a bank or bureau de change. What you may find worthwhile is to change a small amount, enough to cover your taxi and food on arrival and change the rest later at your destination. If you are going somewhere far from a town such as a remote island, it is more difficult to get cash, and you may have to travel a long way to find the only cash point on the island! So this is where you will find carrying cash handy. Don’t forget if you’ve got left over coins on the way home, you won’t be able to change them when you get back, only notes. So make the most of them and spend them if you don’t want them hanging around in a drawer for the next 10 years, or be cheeky and see if you can swap them for a note at the airport.
7. Travel Essentials - Sunscreen and Mosquito Spray. Don’t go without them, as buying them when you get there can be really expensive as well as the fact that it may take you a few days once you are there to actually get around to buying them. Waking up on your second day unable to move because you’ve burnt your back snorkeling can put a real damper on your vacation! Likewise if we are not used to having to look out for mosquitoes, an evening at the bar on the beach or restaurant can result in 20 extremely itchy bites and unsightly bumps on that perfect beach body you’ve worked so hard for! Looks aside, we all know mosquitoes can carry some serious diseases, so if you are in a country in which mosquitoes carry more than a sharp bite, such as dengue fever, Malaria, Yellow Fever and West Nile Virus to name a few; then you’ll really need to cover up and protect yourself from mosquitoes as much as possible.
8. Mini Medical Kit - our travel checklist isn’t supposed to instill doom and fear into our travels! But being prepared will make your vacation just that much better, especially if you are taking quite an adventurous holiday where even a foot blister can ruin your skiing, or hiking and even your shopping trip! So just a little bag of a few essentials such as plasters/band aids, anti-bacterial wipes, diarrhea tablets, Paracetamol and the like will save you searching for a pharmacy and having to buy whole boxes when you only need one or two of the above.
9. Travel Insurance - for the sake of the price of hiring a beach sun-bed for the day, investing in at least the most basic travel insurance is a no-brainer. Even if we think we are not going far, or not going for long, if it means an unplanned trip to hospital is going to cost you your life savings it’s not worth it! Likewise dependent on what your Insurance actually covers (read it well as many don’t cover what they used to such as phones or missed flights ) you could be paying an awful lot more than the price of travel insurance if you do miss that flight, or your flight is cancelled meaning you miss your connection, your case is lost or your wallet stolen. You’ll have peace of mind and you can forget all about things going pear-shaped as you’ll be covered.
10. Get to the Airport Early - Gone are the days where we can swan into the airport 45 minutes before our flight knowing that we’ve checked in online already. As we all know security can take so much longer now, and pushing your way through those queues when you are running late or only a little time to spare is no easy feat! Furthermore with security being so strict, it can be a veritable changing room both before and after the metal detector scanners, with people taking off shoes, jackets and belts, taking laptops out of cases and forgotten liquids adding to the time taken to get through security. At one time, having checked in online meant that you could avoid queues and just go to the bag drop section and whisk yourself through security smugly ahead of all the other people who hadn’t bothered to check in online. Now all it seems that you are doing is saving the airlines paper, and standing in a long queue with all the other people in bag drop.
So there you have it, all the boring bits out of the way, and it didn’t take you long! Now all you have to do is choose where to go on holiday and enjoy your time away. Happy Travels!