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.
But even before you get to the packing stage there are so many things to do to ensure your trip is as stress-free as possible; with a little forethought and planning, even major disasters while you’re away can be minimised and made much much easier.
1. Quick Health Check. For any long haul trips, make sure you have arranged any necessary vaccinations in plenty of time. And no matter how far you’re going, always ensure you have plenty of all necessary prescribed drugs.
2. Check your Insurance. If you’re heading abroad, then you’ll need travel insurance. Lots of people already have one included with their bank account – check if you have a policy without knowing it – but don’t go abroad without being properly insured. You’ll need to check your cover, too; if you do extreme sports, or are visiting certain countries (not necessarily ‘dangerous’ ones; my son needed an upgrade on his usual cover because he was going to America) then an addition to your policy will be required.
3. Photograph your documents. One of the most inconvenient things to happen abroad is your passport being stolen or lost. Life will be much easier if you have a photograph of it stored in the cloud – and while you’re at it, photograph any necessary prescriptions too. Oh, and seeing as you have your passport out – check it’s in date!
4. Let your credit card company and bank know. We’d had a fabulous day at Futuroscope in France, and left at nearly midnight as it closed. We casually tried to pay for the parking with our card as we left – and the card was refused. Cue frantic telephone calls trying to get the card unblocked so that we could be let out of the car park – I had no idea back then that unexpected foreign transactions will flag as fraud on the system. It’s easy to let them know where and when you’ll be travelling.
5. Take a little cash. Even if you’re planning on doing all your spending on a fee-free card, make sure you have some local currency; not everywhere takes card, and sometimes you just want a gelato in the street – or to leave a tip.
6. Head online to get your tickets now Research places you’ll definitely wish to visit, and buy your tickets ahead; it’s nearly always cheaper, and you’ll avoid huge queues in the height of the season too.
7. Go retro with a guidebook. More info than you’ll probably need on your chosen destination, with maps, useful local phrases, descriptions of local food and handy recommendations on things to do… and none of it requires data on your phone!
You can’t go wrong with Lonely Planet or Rough Guides
8. Get an adapter. Don’t be that person who can’t charge their phone… We love this little blue square; no need for a drawerful of adaptors for each country, just buy the one worldwide adaptor. Smart thinking.
9. Unlock your phone. If you’re travelling somewhere outside the free roaming zone included in your contract, then unlocking your phone means you can simply purchase a local sim when you arrive. SO much cheaper.
10. Check your baggage. Every airline is different, and even within one airline the rules change frequently. So before you pack your case, check the limitations with your booking, and make sure you use a handheld scale to weigh it once it’s packed (we love the one below which is under £7 on Amazon)
Pint it for later!