Whether it’s a business trip, a last minute escape or a longed-for family holiday, what is the best way to ensure it is everything you expect it to be, with no avoidable surprises? There is no secret recipe – the answer is simply – ‘be prepared’.
Social networks are the best way to get in touch with the real situation. Google and TripAdvisor are good sources of recent reviews, and look to the country’s tourist board for official information. While abroad, it matters to register with your Embassy if you suspect there could be trouble.
Know the local emergency number before you need it. Know where the local hospitals are for lesser emergencies. Writing them down and keeping in your wallet could safe massive stress in a country where the language differs from your own. Hepatitis A and B, malaria, and typhoid fever are among the worst preventable diseases with vaccination or pre-holiday medication.
Whatever the Weather
Check the weather reports a few days before you depart. At the planning stage, the average temperatures for the month, which can be found online, will give an indication of tendencies. You can plan your itinerary and packing appropriately.
Great packing involves great imagination. Not too much and not too little – all the basics plus accessories. A lot depends where you choose to stay. Do you need your own towels? Waterproof sunscreen? Useful items to pack are Ziploc bags, duct tape, extra memory cards, a Swiss army knife, antibacterial wipes, copies of your medicine and glasses prescriptions, insect repellent, antacid tablets, 24-hour non-drowsy cold and flu medicine, and Band-Aids. An extra shoulder bag is also useful. Make sure your medication and valuables are with you.
Do not forget travel insurance for you and your family, covering healthcare (especially if travelling to the USA) and any expensive ‘extras’ such as camera gear. Be aware that policies will differ in their coverage of weather disasters, terrorism and pre-existing medical conditions.
It is essential to check whether you need a visa for your destination – and check that your passport is still valid. Many countries now require three to six months’ validity. Passports can have a processing time of six weeks or more. Make photocopies of your passport and visas and store them separately from your documents.
Leave a Trail
Let your friends and family know where you are staying, going and when you are travelling… and let them know when you arrive.
Counting the Pennies
It is possible to estimate your budget by factoring how long you are staying, how many people you are paying for and how many stars are after the word ‘hotel’. It also pays to cast a glance at Currency Converter and tighten the belt a bit. Make sure you can use your cash card at your destination – is it an international card? Call ahead to your credit card holder and let them know you will be abroad to avoid the dreaded ‘no transaction’.
Time is on your Side
No one is going to plan a ski holiday in summer time – but there is such a thing as planning to travel to avoid sticky/rainy/hot/winter season at home. Choosing off-season travel dates mean that you can take advantage of promotions, packages and low-season hotel rates. Most importantly: don’t forget to smell the coffee.