The best thing about holidays is that they allow you to forget about the daily stresses at home. Make sure you plan ahead so everything runs smoothly and then you can focus on whatever holiday activity you’re looking forward to, whether it’s relaxing, sightseeing or eating and drinking.
Careful planning before you head off can save a huge amount of hassle later on and cut down on travel time. Think about avoiding the peak holiday periods as prices will be lower and everywhere is likely to be quieter.
You can use price as an indicator of how busy a place will be at a certain time – the more expensive the trip, the more packed with people it is likely to be! If you’re retired, you’ve got new-found flexibility, so use it!
When packing, make a checklist of everything you need to take. If you keep it on your computer, or in an app like Evernote, or print it out, you can use it again the next time you travel. Here is an example packing checklist, for inspiration.
Ensure you’ve got copies of important documents such as passport and insurance details in your hand luggage just in case anything happens; it’s well worth leaving photocopies of these with family or friends at home in case of emergencies.
Thanks to the internet, the days of arriving at an “idyllic” hotel, only to find a nasty surprise, should be coming to an end. It’s well worth spending time reading recent reviews, both good and bad, on sites such as booking.com, TripAdvisor and Expedia so there is less chance of a nasty surprise waiting for you. No one wants to go on holiday to find out their hotel is next to a building site!
You can ask questions on the TripAdvisor forum to get answers to specific questions you might have, or you can ask the hotel directly. There can be a language barrier with hotels, and sometimes it’s easier to email them, and other times it’s easier to phone them. If you don’t have luck with one method of contact, try another!
Notifying your service providers
If you think you may be withdrawing cash from your bank account while abroad, make sure you let them know where you’ll be on which dates so there are no issues with security. There would be few things worse than the cash machine keeping your card and having to liaise with both your bank and the local one to retrieve it!
Similarly, you might need to notify your credit card issuer to tell them that you will be using the card abroad. This especially applies if your card issuer is particularly sensitive to fraud, and tends to block your card quite often as a precaution.
Mobile phone roaming
Everyone wants to be able to keep in touch with family and friends when away so consider downloading an app such as WhatsApp or Skype which lets you speak over an internet connection. It can be hugely expensive to make calls from your mobile and to browse the internet without using a wifi network, so it’s always best to turn off the “Roaming data” setting on your phone to avoid charges.
Although you don’t want your phone to be using roaming data, it’s useful if it can connect to the local mobile network to receive calls and text messages, just in case of emergency. To do this, you might need to ask your mobile network provider to switch on roaming for you.
If you have just got a new phone, or switched your mobile phone contract, roaming is likely to be turned off. Contact your mobile network, or log into their website, to make sure roaming is on. While you’re doing it, make sure you are aware of the fees for roaming, so you don’t get caught paying high charges for calls!
Internet calls from wifi are often your best option when phoning home from your holiday, using Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, etc.
If you’re planning on being away for a bit longer or you’re a regular visitor to the country, it may be worth buying a local SIM card so you can make calls when abroad.
The most stressful part of a holiday is often the travelling. When all you want to do is get to the pool, faffing around at the airport for taxis or currency can be a real hassle. When booking your hotel ask whether they offer a shuttle service: this is sometimes free, and even if there’s a cost involved, it can be worth it to avoid having to negotiate a taxi or work out which bus to catch.
If you’ve exchanged your money at home you will often get a better rate than at a kiosk in the arrival lounge, plus you won’t have to queue. Double-check the currency of your destination before you go – not everywhere uses the Euro!
Remember to keep a bottle of water handy (after you’ve gone through airport security) and any medications you might need in your hand luggage, just in case! It’s often worth keeping a day’s worth of clothing, especially underwear, in your hand luggage, just in case your suitcase goes missing.
Finally, don’t try to squeeze too much into your holiday. It’s often far more relaxing to pick a few places to visit so you don’t spend all your time on transport, letting you enjoy your holiday! It can feel like anything but a holiday if you’re rushing to fit everything in, so allow yourself time just to relax, and realise you’re probably not going to be able to fit absolutely everything into just a week.