Planning Your Holiday? You Might Want These Tips from Seasoned Travellers
Christmas is gone, we’ve made it through the glum of January, and now we’ve all got our eyes firmly fixed on our next chance of some time off, yes?
Whether you’re heading for the wilds of Canada for some adventure and exploring, or you’re eyeing up activity holidays in Greecethis year, there are some universal truths about prepping for ANY family holiday. Get these things sorted, and the steps towards getting on that plane, wherever it may be headed, will simply be easier and less stressful.
I’m sadly known for my holiday packing lists – I hate to feel flustered, and even before I had four children I was a big fan of checklists to ensure I forgot nothing. With four extra bodies and minds to pack for, it’s unthinkable doing it any other way.
I have a folder of them on my computer – spreadsheets titled exciting things like ‘summer family’, ‘winter family’, ‘1 week autumn’ and ‘grown ups short break’.
And it’s a rookie error to get these lists out the day before you leave. No no no – take them out two weeks before, and double check. Becuase kids have a habit of growing… and last year’s swimming trunks or hiking boots just aren’t going to still fit.
Always being prepared and packing the right stuff for your holiday goes without saying, but packing can easily get out of hand. Sticking to your list means you can avoid the last minute oh-I-just-might-need-those-scarlet-shoes-too suitcase stuffing.
A list also means you don’t leave home without your non-clothing essentials – your medication, your hairbrush or the charger for your kindle (oh the horror of a holiday without an endless supply of reading material).
Whether it’s a hot or cold climate you’re headed to, you can’t do without sun protection – hats, cover-ups, sunglasses, sun cream and after sun. Nothing is worse than a sore, dehydrated and grumpy child, but it’s also the easiest thing to avoid. All the clothing and accessories can be as cool or flamboyant as you like, but sun cream is where most mistakes are made and where seasoned travellers get it right –
Always use the highest factor sun cream you can find and, if they’re in and out of the pool, get a water-resistant one; even if it (temporarily) smells like cat’s wee..
Top tip for young kids – they hate it, so make it a no-compromise rule; no cream, no outside. But then make it fun – get colourful ones, roll-ons, sprays, whatever you can find and make applying it a silly ritual so the kids look forward to topping up.
Don’t be that person who can’t charge their phone… Wherever you’re headed, you’ll want your phone charged up (and maybe your kindle too). It’s a great investment to buy a few of the new world-wide universal adaptors, which you cans witch for most countries electricity supply. If you have four of them in a drawer, you’ll just smile smugly and pass over it with a nod on your pre-trip checks, no matter where you’re headed this year. We love this little blue square; no need for a drawerful of adaptors for each country, just buy the one worldwide adaptor. Smart thinking.
All it takes is a few clicks, a few quid and you’re all set; travel insurance is easier than ever to buy, especially online. The issue is, making sure you’re covered correctly for the trip you’re taking and that you have the documentation you need should something happen that requires you to use it. A small folder with photocopies of passports and essential documents will make any emergency easier to deal with and the pre-holiday preparation will take all of five minutes.
Unlock Your phone
With Brexit looming, and of course if you’re travelling somewhere outside the free roaming zone included in your contract, then unlocking your phone is a real boon.
Instead of paying massive fees to your UK contract provider, simply pick up a PAYG SIM when you arrive at your destination (if you wish you can purchase a pre-paid SIM for a lot of popular travel countries from Amazon before you go). SO much cheaper. A lot of new phones come with dual SIM slots, so there’s no need to remove (and risk losing) your UK sim either – simply tell your phone which SIM to use. My son travels a lot to the US, and he purchases a re-paid SIM from Amazon, keeps it permanently in his phone, and just switches between them as required.
Research Your Holiday
I know, you did loads of research before you ht book on your hotel/villa. But now’s the time for the fun work to commence – look for must-see places (blogs and newspaper features are often great for finding less obvious (less touristy) locations you won’ want to miss), but also read up on local culture, customs and traditions.
Always look at the local Tourist Board website – they are a fantastic way of discovering any events taking place during your holiday, and lots have suggested itineraries which are carefully planned by locals to help you make the most of your visit.
It’s also a great idea to find out if you need to pre-book day trips – booking ahead not only guarantees you a place, but can also save you money (and for places like the Doges Palace in Venice and the Vatican in Rome, booking in advance is the only way to guarantee to see them at all). Tripknowledgy has a fab article on 10 things to book before going to NYC – there are blogs and articles like this for most destinations, so get Googling!
If you’re headed off for a long haul trip, then make sure you research not only what you need in terms of vaccinations, but also when – you have arranged any necessary vaccinations in plenty of time; usually 6-8 weeks before you leave. We love the Boots Travel vaccinations tool for a quick and easy way to exactly what you need.
And no matter how far you’re going, always ensure you have plenty of all necessary prescribed drugs, and also supplies of the basics like Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, Anti-histamines etc.
Do you have any more tips to share? What are your secrets for a stress-free holiday?