Preparing for your travels

Flights and accommodation are booked and suddenly the work day seems a little lighter as you have a break to look forward to. Although the main components of a holiday, there are a few other things that need organizing in order to make your holidays as smooth and relaxing as you are expecting it to be. Once the confirmations come through, it is time to start writing out your to do list so that you leave plenty of time to get everything in order, from documents to insurance to shopping for the necessities.

Here is a little time management list you can use to get yourself organized:

As soon as your booking is confirmed or at least 3 months before the travel date 

  1. Make sure your documents are in date and meet all requirements. Should you need a visa and are planning to travel within 3 months make sure you look into the requirements before you book your flights. Some countries recommend applying at least 8 weeks before travelling and you will need to compile and obtain documents, which you might not have at hand, before you can send your application. Furthermore, check your passport expiry date as you might need to have a 6 month clearance after your return date in order to meet entry requirements. The best thing to do is to look at the travel advice given by this site and follow up with contacting the country's embassy you wish to travel to for further information. If you are travelling to Europe, make sure you apply for an European Health Insurance Card which gives you access to state healthcare at free or reduced cost. If you are planning to drive abroad, you might need to apply for an International Drivers Permit which must be shown in conjunction with your current one. You can also apply in person in selected Post Offices.

  2. Contact your GP or health professional to check if any vaccinations are recommended or required before travelling. Some vaccination can be administered reasonably quickly, others require different boosters with a number of weeks between them and could take up to 3 months to finish the full course and provide full immunity. I always like to err on the side of caution and give myself plenty of time, particularly when travelling with young children, as vaccination times and procedures can vary for little ones.

  3. Get good travel insurance and make sure it covers all the specifics of your trip you can foresee (For example, if you are going skiing, make sure you are covered for winter sports). Although there is a good chance you will have an absolutely amazing, easy and safe time away, covering yourself for a bad eventuality is a must, as accidents could end up costing thousands of pounds, which must be paid for in one lump sum. Check with your bank before shopping around, as some of them offer travel insurance as a benefit of having certain accounts. Otherwise you can look into a quote comparison site to get a few options. Read the terms and conditions carefully and make sure you have opted for a cover which is adequately suited to your holiday and activities. If you go away for a long term holiday, make sure it covers the whole length of time you will be away as claims will involve providing flight bookings and overstaying your insured period will void your claim. I find this is a great site.

1 month before you travel

  1. Start looking into activities you might want to do when you get there as a lot of companies offer early bird discounts for advance bookings.

  2. Plan which items you will need and will not be available at your destination so you have enough time to acquire them before you start packing. On top of the obvious items such as clothing and toiletries, I always travel with a first aid kit, sunscreen, mosquito repellent and my essential oils as I use specific brands which are not available outside the UK (I will write about all these in the near future or if I have already written about them you should be able to click on the word and read on). 

  3. Arrange for house or pet sitters. Although family and friends do not mind helping out, advanced notice is always appreciated and saves last minute stress, should the person you had in mind, be unavailable.

  4. Stop automatic deliveries such as weekly food shops, milk, newspapers etc. Pretty much all companies which offer automatic delivery, offer the holiday stop option.
  5. Keepsafe - this is a great option if you are going away for a longer period, are house swapping or have a little grate inside your door that catches your mail and gets filled up quickly. You can set this up within a week and Royal Mail keeps all your mail while you are away and delivers it in one lot on your return. You can apply here.

A couple of days before

  1. Pack your bags (don't forget chargers, travel adapters, prescription medicines and at least a basic first aid kit)
  2. Book airport transfers
  3. Check in online, if your flight allows you to do so
  4. Print itineraries and directions and make sure you have your accommodation address and a contact number should you need help once you are there.
  5. Put away valuables in a safe place

Travel Day

  1. Check your luggage and make sure it is within the maximum allowed weight. The Duronic luggage scale is an awesome little gadget and a must have in order to avoid overcharges at the check in desk. 
  2. Empty fridge of perishables
  3. Turn heating and hot water off or to the minimum required to not cause issues whilst away (if you travel in winter, remember that the pipes can freeze if the temperature drops really low and you turned your heat off completely)
  4. Empty the bins and take the bags out
  5. Check that all doors and windows are locked
  6. Don't forget your passport, documents, flights, reservations and itineraries.

Although a long list, it is very easily managed and will allow you to have everything under control and not run into problems which could ruin your precious time away.

Safe journey!