Preparing for your trip

DSC_6917Every trip, long or short, will typically involve some preparation. How much you will spend planning and preparing will depend on the type of the trip, the location, the length of time away but most of all, on your personal preferences. Some people like to plan everything in detail, other like to take things as they come.

But regardless of whether you are of the first of the second kind, here are some things that you might consider doing, particularly if your trip is relatively long:

Bureaucracy: This is boring but necessary stuff…if your trip is going to be long make sure you’ve covered all compulsory things with deadlines that expire while you’re away, such as:

  • Tax return;
  • Renew any documents that will expire while you’re away (driving license etc)
  • If you need to apply for anything with a specific deadline that falls into the period while you’re away, o it before you go
  • Make sure you let your bank know you’re going away and tell them the destination to make sure your card doesn’t get clocked after withdrawing money from an ATM abroad

Money saving measures: still boring but at least you get something nice in return – you save money… consider doing the following:

  • Suspend or cancel anything you pay for regularly (e.g. bu direct debit) but won’t be using while you’re away: gym, internet, mobile phone, various memberships;
  • Set up automatic payments for anything that needs to be paid while you’re away – you don’t want to bother with this sort of thing on holiday…
  • Use up food and other perishable items that you might have stocked up, rather than continue buying new stuff
  • Consider renting out your house or apartment – good idea particularly if you’re going away for a long time!

House: Still boring but at least should involve interacting with nice people :)

  • Again, consider renting out your house or apartment – good idea particularly if you’re going away for a long time!
  • If you’re not doing that, make sure that somebody will check on it from time to time, water the flower, pick up post, and so on.
  • If you’re renting, let know your landlord that you’re going to be away, particularly if for a long time. Make sure arrange the payment of your rent!

Travel documents: this is really important and as simple as that – if you don’t have this in order, you won’t go anywhere. So make sure you’ve ticked all the boxes below:

  • Your passport is valid and you checked that it doesn’t expire for long enough (many countries require for your passport to be valid 6 months past you planned date of living the country you visit)
  • You have all necessary visas – best check directly with the embassies (e.g. phone them or check on the Internet); you can also use one of the many websites providing this sort of info;
  • If you don’t have a visa, apply in good time – check the estimated processing times!
  • Check if you need to have any other documents to enter/exit the country: evidence of return/onward travel, proof of ability to financially support yourself (sufficient funds, bank statements, etc)

Health: This is another crucial bit of work that needs to be done. You really don’t want to neglect this stuff or you dream holiday might easily turn into a nightmare:

  • Go and see your doctor well in advance – at least a month before your trip, preferably a few months if this is your first trip to an exotic country (or first after a long time) as you may need a long course of vaccinations. Tell the doctor where you’re planning on going and what you’ll be doing and ask for advice on vaccinations and any drugs you should consider taking. Note that some vaccines are compulsory for certain destinations (e.g. yellow fever for travelling to many South American countries).The following websites will give you a good overview and might be worth checking out before seeing your doctor as you’ll be better prepared and know what to ask about:

http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/home.aspx

http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/

  • Ask your doctor for a travel letter listing all prescription medicines you will be taking with you;
  • Make sure you deal with any ongoing ailments or conditions before you go. This also includes your sorting out your teeth if they need it!
  • Stock up on medicines that you’ll need during your trip: anything that you normally take, the basic emergency drugs, e.g. painkillers, diarrhea stopper, tablets for motion sickness if you need them and so on;
  • Make sure you have a basic first aid kit with you, particularly if going to more exotic/remote locations – things like band aids, plasters, antiseptic cream, antibacterial liquids, etc
  • Make sure your travel insurance has a proper cover of medical expenses, including medical evacuation by air in emergency

Travel insurance: this point is so important that it deserves its own paragraph – just make sure you have it. The single most important component of travel insurance is an adequate cover of medical expenses. Other useful features include cancellation/curtailment cover in case of unexpected events forcing you to abandon your trip and cover of your possessions and money in case of theft.

Travel advice: Make sure you know the situation in the destination you’re travelling to, particularly if it’s a potentially dangerous place. Check out the official travel advice websites managed by the governments of some countries but don’t freak out if you find out that caution is advised. Just have a read and think if can do anything to prepare better, or need to consider modifying your plans. The following websites are all worth checking out:

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

http://travel.state.gov/

http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

Of course, do your own research on the Internet to check the latest situation but don’t necessary believe every single word you read, after all it’s only the Internet…

Buy a good guidebook: Check out interesting places in your destination, where to go and what to do, and get general idea about the place, it’s culture and customs, as well as practicalities such as moving around, organising accommodation and so on.

Also, do your own research on the Internet but don’t necessary believe every single word you read, after all it’s only the Internet…

Plan/organise your trip: this step will mostly depend on your personal preferences but also on the type of trip, its length and the destination. Some people like to have it all planned in advance, while others prefer flexibility. Some trips are more suited to have them all planned in advance, others are much more fun when approached more flexibly. The things to consider in this step may include:

  • Booking your accommodation;
  • Organising local transport (e.g. local flights or train rides);
  • Booking a rental car
  • Organising in advance various trips or activities (usually more expensive than organised after arrival)

Shopping: Make a list of things you will need to take with you and check what you have to buy. An example of such a list can be found here.

Pack up: Don’t leave for the last hour before your flight as you’re bound to forget something… Use a list like this one to guide you through the process and ensure you don’t go without your passport :-)

Finally… Go and enjoy your trip: You really deserve it after all of the hard work described above!!! :-)

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