It is a big world with lots of places to visit and things to see. If you have decided to take a holiday, at home or abroad, here are a few things to consider before you set out.
Choosing a Destination
First decide on the type of holiday you want – action packed or educational. The internet has information on every corner of the globe with links to tourist sites or online guides. The easiest way is type the name of a country into a search engine such as Google, or in sites like LonelyPlanet.com.
What to consider:
- Climate – Hot or cold? Is there extreme weather at a particular time of year e.g. hurricanes?
- Politics – Political tensions or religious beliefs could affect your trip e.g. what you can wear or where you can go. Be aware of what is going on in the country you are visiting, where any dangers might be, and how you can keep your trip safe and enjoyable. For up to date information and travel warnings you can refer to the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office
- Sights and Activities – What do you want to do while you are there – lie on the beach, visit cultural sights or take part in extreme sports?
- Travel – Explore the best value for money with public transport and make your priority the safest way to travel.
High Street travel agents have advisors and free magazines with different packages. There are cheap deals on the internet where you can tailor your trip from flights to accommodation. Some larger companies may cost a bit more but offer guarantees on flight cancellations and lost baggage that you may not get from a smaller company.
You can plan sightseeing trips before you go through independent operators. Your travel agent can advise you. Most big hotels and resorts have representatives who will book trips for you. Again these come with certain guarantees that you may not get with pre-booked operators.
Check if your package includes transport from the airport to your hotel. Many tour operators offer a bus service for free or a small fee. This is often cheaper than getting a taxi but can take longer as it drops off at lots of hotels. It might be worth paying extra for a taxi if you are only on a short break.
The most important thing you need if you are going abroad is a passport – for British passports go to the UK Passport Office.
Application forms are available from the post office. It can take sometime to process a passport so leave plenty of time for your applicationto be completed.
Travel Insurance is invaluable. It offers protection against risky activities such as winter sports or scuba diving; if you have to cancel your trip at last minute you can recoup some or all of your costs; and in many countries the health service is not free and you may face a big bill for a medical emergency which your insurance can cover.
Some countries require you to have an entry visa to control the length of your stay and the terms of your visit. There is a fee for some visas and you may have to have money in your bank to cover the period of your stay. More information can be found from theForeign and Commonwealth Office
There is a range of good guide books which are regularly updated and available from bookshops or libraries. A guide book is useful to have if you are on a long trip as they have information on food, accommodation, travel and other essentials.
Make a note of important numbers before you travel in case you lose or have any paperwork stolen: passport numbers; travel agent’s contact details; ticket numbers; bank card numbers and cancellation phone numbers; insurance contact number and policy; mobile phone cancellation numbers and details of any other valuables.
Keep these separate and they will save you time and stress should anything happen.
Some countries have a risk of unpleasant or dangerous illnesses but bit of forward planning can ensure that your trip is safe and enjoyable.
Things to consider include:
- Specific health issues at your destination
- Required vaccinations and timescales
- Personal health and fitness and medication
- Health insurance including an E111 form which covers you in a EC country
- Any other necessary health requirements e.g. contact lenses or contraceptives
To visit some tropical countries you need an injection to prevent contracting diseases which are uncommon in this country. If you are unsure about the risks at your destination consult your doctor at the earliest possible stage. It is important to have your vaccinations 2-3 months before you travel to allow your body to establish its defences.
Basic First Aid
There is no need to take the whole of your medicine cabinet away with you but a few basic items will come in handy whether you are in the city or the countryside. It may be worth considering a first aid training course if you are travelling to remote places or on long expeditions to extreme climates such as the jungle or the mountains.
Here are some basics to carry in your first kit:
- Plasters – for cuts and grazes
- Painkillers – for accidents or hangovers
- Insect repellent/bite soother
- Female hygiene products – which can be hard to obtain in some climates
- Water purification tablets
Sunburn is a common problem for Western travellers and can lead to more serious conditions such as sunstroke, dehydration and, in extreme cases, skin cancer. Apply a high factor sun cream in hot climates and high altitudes and reapply it regularly. If you are fair skinned, wear a hat and stay out of the direct sun in the hottest part of the day which is generally from 12-3pm.
Space can be saved by rolling clothes up into small tube-shapes before packing. Many airlines have strict limits on the weight of your suitcase and surcharges for extras go upwards from £5 a kilogram. High Street chemists sell miniature bottles of cosmetics and empty bottles you can decant your products into. This saves space and weight. Make sure liquids are securely wrapped and not likely to burst in your case.
Don’t forget if you are flying, you are not allowed to carry liquid in containers of over 100ml in size in your hand luggage. Put them in your main luggage, otherwise that expensive jar of cream will have to go in the bin! Be aware that flight security rules are changing regularly, so keep up to date on current regulations – see www.baa.com, or contact the airport you are flying from.