Whether for business or for pleasure, travelling helps us escape our routine and experience different cultures and customs. If you want your travels to be successful, organisation is the key. And the way to get yourself organised and ready for your trip is by meticulous planning. You should reap the benefits while away, if you take the time to sort out these essentials before you go.
Tickets and accommodation
Booking your flights as early on as possible means that you’re more likely to find a flight that suits you (and at a lower price, too). Comparison sites make searching as easy as it gets, but sometimes booking directly on an airline’s website can get you a better deal, so try searching both ways before buying.
Decide whether self-catering is better for you than half-board or fully inclusive. Would you prefer the flexibility of staying in a rental property, or would having everything done for you in a hotel make your trip even better? While you may be able to bag a great deal if you book accommodation last minute, the choice will more likely be limited.
Airport parking and transfers
If you’re driving to the airport, pre-book your parking space well in advance, preferably when you book your flights and accommodation. When it comes to airport parking there are usually plenty of options to choose from; if you’re after the cheapest option perhaps a Park and Ride option is right for you, but if you’re after maximum convenience and just want to keep things as simple as possible, then try Meet and Greet or the airport’s official car park.
You can use a dedicated comparison site like Looking4Parking to research and reserve your spot, as it’ll guarantee you a space on the day and you’ll end up paying a lot less than the full-price tariff.
Don’t forget to arrange your transfer from the airport to your accommodation, too. Is a shuttle bus laid on, or will you need to book transfers? The airline or tour operator should be able to advise you.
Is the timing right?
You may have found the perfect destination but is it the best time to visit? Some things to consider are:
Check when the monsoon period starts at your destination, or if it’s experiencing dangerously hot/cold weather.
Currency exchange rate
This can make a huge difference, so have a look into the trends and get your travel money when the rate is in your favour.
For example, catching malaria is more prevalent just after the rainy season.
Check on the dedicated government websites to find advice on how to stay safe at your destination or warnings about travelling to specific destinations worldwide due to civil unrest etc.
If your home stays empty while you’re away, see if a friend or neighbour can keep an eye on it. Make sure they have your contact details to get in touch if necessary. You could also ask them to water the plants and make sure nothing is sticking out of the letterbox. Remember to stop deliveries of newspapers, milk etc., as that’s a dead giveaway that no one’s home. If possible, set up timers for lights to turn on and off at various times.
Get recommendations for kennels, should you need one, but don’t forget your cat or dog will need to be up-to-date with their boosters. If kennels aren’t an option, consider using a house sitter. Maybe someone you know would be willing to look after your pets, or employ a professional carer who would come during the day. Your vet or pet shop might be able to recommend someone.
If you’re bringing your pet with you to a country that permits it, they may need a special passport, a microchip and vaccinating against rabies. You need to start the process well in advance of your trip, but your vet will be able to give you more information.
Notify your bank
The last thing you need is for the bank to put a stop on your debit or credit card, and this can happen if a purchase is flagged as unusual. Let your bank know where you’re going and how long you’ll be away, and they should make a note on your account. Find out the number to ring from abroad in case your card is declined.
Pack these items
You may never have had a problem with missing luggage, but there’s always a first time… Pack an extra top or two, some underwear and mini-toiletries in your hand-luggage to get you through in case anything goes wrong.
As soon as the idea for a trip pops into your head, start planning. Putting the emphasis on organisation before travelling will pay dividends and will allow you to enjoy a relaxing and refreshing holiday!