Thursday, 28 June 2018

10 Things To Put On Your Pre-Holiday Checklist.*

We're currently in the middle of a heatwave which is making life in the UK feel unnaturally summery (seriously, it's 29 degrees here in Scotland, madness!). However, if the weather here isn't enough for you and you're jetting off on a summer holiday soon, there are a few things you'll need to think about before you go. Don't worry, they aren't too taxing - you'll be on a sun lounger with a cocktail in your hand in no time...

Check your passport!

This sounds like such an obvious thing, but you'd be surprised how many people forget to take their passports with them when they head to the airport. I've heard stories of relatives having to drive from Liverpool to Manchester to reunite their son with his passport, and I even know of one person who didn't realise you needed a passport to get the ferry to France... whoops. Double and triple check you have it with you, as there's no way you're crossing the border without it. Also be sure to check the expiry date: there are a number of countries (particularly in the Middle East and Asia) which require you to have over six months left on it in order to travel. I couldn't tell you when mine expires without checking, so make sure you know before you try to go - the last thing you need is a trip to the emergency passport office!

Get travel insurance

This is another thing that should be obvious, but so many people think they can chance it and risk going on holiday without it. Please don't be one of them! As someone who was robbed on a trip last year, I highly regret not having had insurance. Luckily, when my dad had his passport stolen in South Africa, his insurance helped him cover unexpected expenses. Not to mention the medical side - you never have any idea what might happen to you in the future. Just ask my brother, who was bitten by a snake in Borneo! Health care may be 'free' in the UK, but it could cost you a hefty chunk of change if you are injured or fall ill abroad. If you're heading to Europe make sure to apply for a European Health Insurance Card, but remember that this doesn't replace travel insurance. You may still have to pay for treatment, so make sure to get insurance! Bupa Global provide travel insurance all over the world, so are a great option regardless of where your trip is taking you. Get yourself covered so you can enjoy your holiday without any worries - and hopefully without any snake bites.

Organise your documents

Make sure you have easy access to your paperwork. If you have checked in online for your flight, you can print off the boarding pass, or most airlines have an app for keeping a digital copy (just make sure you have enough battery life on your phone for this!). It's well worth having a small folder to hold onto anything you might need, like flight or hotel details (or a photocopy of your passport, just in case) so you can keep them all together. It's also useful for any immigration documents you have to fill in on the plane; when I visited Antigua earlier this year we had to hold on to a small piece of paper to show officials as we left the country. Keeping that document safe for two weeks made me so anxious! It's so much easier if you're organised with your important paperwork.

Weigh your luggage

It's really important to check what your baggage allowances are, as honestly, they seem to vary so much between airlines. Find out exactly how much you're entitled to, and make sure you weigh it before you go. My brother, best friend and I once had to have that embarrassing reorganisation of suitcases at the front of a loooong check-in queue, and trust me, the people waiting did not thank us for it (or for the view of our underwear being chucked into carry-on bags). Even if you aren't checking in luggage, you still need to check: there are size restrictions on carry-on bags, and some airlines now have weight restrictions for them too. Make sure you're adhering to them or you'll be forced to check in your bag.

Cash or card?

Going on holiday is an exciting time, and you get to experience new cultures, history, cuisine and so on. It also usually means you're more likely to be splashing the cash a bit. Between hotels, day trips and meals, you're probably going to be spending more than you normally would. That's why it's worth doing a bit of research into exchange rates, and seeing where you can get the best deals. I'd highly advise against exchanging money at the airport, you are probably going to get a rubbish deal. Post offices usually have a decent rate, but you may need to order in some currencies so don't leave it to the last minute! Using cards abroad is a possibility, but there are often quite expensive charges put on any transactions (even just removing money from an ATM). If you do intend to use credit or debit cards abroad, be sure to let your bank know in advance or you could end up with a blocked card - not very helpful!

Unlock your phone

This is something I hadn't even considered until my sister-in-law did it when we went to Antigua (I swear I'll stop talking about that one holiday soon, sorry). If you can unlock your phone before you go, you can buy a local sim card while you're away. This will save you a fortune on your phone bill and helps avoid the dreaded roaming fee. If you're not too fussed about using your phone, make sure you turn off the data roaming or you're going to be hit with the biggest phone bill ever. Stick to using Wifi or just put your phone down and enjoy the holiday haha! (I sound like my dad, help).

The right adaptors

Blair and I were very smug, taking a fancy travel adaptor away with us when we went on honeymoon around Europe. All well and good, until we realised that Switzerland likes to be unique and doesn't have the same plug sockets. Serves us right really. If you're going to a variety of places make sure you have the right adaptors. Also, consider investing in one with a USB input on it so you can charge your phone at the same time as using other electrical items.

Arrange your transport

The last thing you want when you've got off a flight is to be worrying about how you'll make it to your hotel. Lots of hotels offer transfers, so if you can get booked onto one of them you should be fine. However, if you're Airbnb-ing it or staying in a private rental, make sure you arrange for transport from the airport. You can pre-book airport taxi services, but ensure you have the cash to pay for them. Alternatively, some more metropolitan airports have bus and train services which are very useful, just take a look at the routes and timetables before you go so you aren't stressing when you get there. There are also lots of car rental places at most airports, but don't forget to check what documentation you'll need to bring in order to hire a vehicle.

Visit your doctor

If you're off somewhere hot, sunny and far away, you might need to get yer jags! Not the most pleasant thing in the world, but it's gotta be done. Make an appointment with the travel clinic at your surgery around 8 weeks before your trip. Lots of the vaccinations are free but they also offer anti-malaria medication and Hepatitis B vaccinations that do cost so make sure you budget for them! Obviously, if you're just going across the Channel then you won't be worrying about vaccinations, but it's always good to get a pre-holiday check-up in if you can. Make sure you have an adequate supply of any medicines you might need too, as it could be hard to get your hands on medicines abroad.

Secure your home

In all the fun and excitement of going away on holiday, it can be easy to forget about what you're leaving behind. But you really do not want to come back to a ransacked home, so be very careful to secure all the doors and windows before you go. Try not to make it obvious there's no one in the house. If you're away for a considerable time, it might be worth installing a timer to turn your lights on in the evenings, deterring burglars. If you can, get someone to go round while you're away - even just to open and close the curtains, remove any obvious mail or just put the bins out - little things like this show signs of life. If you know your neighbours well you could let them know you're going away, and ask them to keep an eye on things. Organise care for any pets you have - don't forget about the tiny members of the family like fish or hamsters! And seriously - empty your fridge before you go. You'll regret it if you don't.

Now you've got all the big things out of the way, the only real decisions you have to make are how many swimsuits to take with you! I'm a chronic over-packer and a total enabler so I say take them all - make someone else carry your suitcase haha! Just make sure they've also got Bupa Global travel insurance so they can get treatment when they throw their back out...

What's on your pre-holiday checklist? And are you off anywhere exciting this summer?
*This is a sponsored post.

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