We’ve all had holiday nightmares before; whether it’s expired passports, getting lost on the way to the airport or forgetting to buy travel insurance. A stress-free holiday isn’t as hard to achieve as you may think, all you have to do is adhere to these important holiday commandments:
1. Thou shalt check all travel documents
You may have remembered your passport, but this doesn’t mean you’ve got the green light to travel. There are several important checks to carry out before embarking on any journey. Firstly, make sure your passport hasn’t expired, and if it is in date, be aware that some countries require you to have at least six months left before you need to renew it. Secondly, if your passport is in date, remember that certain places require at least two blank pages that they can stamp. Have you checked if the country you are travelling to has visa requirements? You may be refused entry if you don’t have a valid visa. Be sure to make copies (paper as well as digital that you email to yourself).
2. Thou shalt check in online as well as double-check airport information
These days it’s the norm to check-in online before your trip, so make sure you do this as soon as you can and print off your boarding pass to avoid any airport delays. On the topic of airports – are you sure you are going to the right airport? For example, there are five London airports, so make sure it’s Gatwick not Heathrow you need to go to. When you’re en route, find out in advance which terminal you’re departing from to avoid that last minute moment of panic.
To make your travel experience a bit easier, listen to Skyscanner’s podcast about airport annoyances and how to beat them
3. Thou shalt label luggage
Always label your luggage. It’s a simple rule but many of us forget it and it’s a big helping hand to airline staff to ensure your baggage does not get lost. On the outward journey, don’t display your home address on the outside of the label, instead write down the address of your destination hotel, your flight details and have your home address on the inside. Include your email address and contact number in case your bag goes missing. Also take a photograph of your luggage in case you need to show this to anyone to help identify it if you lose it. It’s also a good idea to use something distinctive to label your bag – for example a colourful ribbon. Suitcases can look very similar and it’s easy to pick up someone else’s by mistake.
4. Thou shalt get travel insurance
It may feel like an unnecessary expense – but the day you don’t buy it, you’ll need it! Don’t automatically go for the cheapest option, instead take the time to compare different companies, read reviews and the small print and consider an annual policy if you travel several times a year. Anything can happen when you go away – from lost lugagge to stolen money and cancelled flights, so it’s best to be safe than sorry. You’ll appreciate it the one day you do need it.
5. Thou shalt prepare for the journey home
Your full focus may be on the holiday itself, but don’t let the dream holiday have a dreary end by failing to prepare for the journey home. If you’ve driven to the airport – where are the car keys? More importantly where is your car parked and who’s got the parking ticket? Also where have you put your house keys? It’s a great idea to have a separate clear plastic ziplock bag in your hand luggage with all the items for your return journey home – so have all your keys in here as well as the parking ticket and a piece of paper with the car park information. On top of this – have some of your home currency – for example a few coins in case you need a trolley at the airport.
6. Thou shalt check for vaccination requirements
Don’t overlook the vaccinations and assume you had them all years ago. Certain vaccinations need a booster after a number of years, and there may be ones you’ve not had yet. There are certain countries that require vaccination certificates to travel so be sure to check vaccination requirements before you go on your trip. Also don’t forget to look into any other medications you may need for example – malaria tablets and you should always have a first aid kit with you.
7. Thou shalt print off the name and address of the hotel
There’s nothing more frustrating than arriving in a new city, but being delayed en route to the hotel. Don’t assume the taxi driver will automatically know the address if you give him/her the name of the hotel. Instead, it’s always best to be prepared and have the full address of the hotel and a map too. Also print off your reservation voucher and the phone number of the hotel in case you need to get a local to speak to the hotel staff to get clearer directions.
8. Thou shalt get foreign currency
Shop around before you leave to find the best rate. It’s a bad idea to get the money at the airport as the counters here often have the worst exchange rates. Instead look into ordering currency online or picking it up beforehand. Also try to have smaller denominations if possible so you are able to tip the taxi driver or porter if you are staying at a hotel.
9. Thou shalt remember the travel adaptors
You’ve remembered your phone charger, but did you remember the travel adaptor? Ideally bring a couple and have one in your hand luggage and one in your checked luggage. If you do forget it, it’s a good idea to check with the hotel reception as they will often have a collection of chargers past visitors have left. Another tip – if your charger needs a USB port, sometimes flat screen TVs at hotels may have a spare port you can use.
10. Thou shalt pack lightly
We all have the urge to overpack, but do you really need so many pairs of shoes? A lighter suitcase means more room for shopping and less danger of airport stress when you’re charged extra for a heavy bag. You should always be prepared for the worst case scenario – i.e. the airline losing your luggage or someone taking it by mistake, so make sure you have a change of clothes and some essentials in your carry-on bag. Also – to check your bags aren’t over the weight limit, be sure to invest in some luggage scales to eliminate the guesswork.