Most people love the idea of a holiday but dread the thought of planning it. Whether it’s booking flights, coordinating logistics, or last minute packing, the pre-travel part can get a little stressful at times. Key to avoiding all this anxiety is to take a step-by-step approach and get organised in advanced.
If you’re keen to make your next getaway as smooth and stress-free as possible, consider the following 10 tips before you jet off.
Keep your options open
Whether it’s flights or accommodation, never book the first thing you see. Browse in incognito mode to avoid cookie tracking and the consequent price spike from suppliers, and make friends with comparison websites. When booking for hotels, use a site like Booking.com to lock down several free-cancellation options. This gives you some flexibility to change or cancel a hotel when an impromptu sale or discount pops up for another hotel a few weeks later. Whilst Airbnb is also a fantastic go-to, the platform generally requires immediate payment, which makes it less flexible – so only opt for this option if you’re 100% certain on a place to stay.
Get savvy with your researching
Guilty of doing the bare minimum when it comes to researching your travel destination before flying out? Rookie error! To maximise your holiday experience, it’s worthwhile checking out travel and food blogs for recommendations on local gems off the beaten path, the best places to eat and tourist traps to avoid. Similarly, do the due diligence in checking for travel discounts and special offers – if you can save some money, why not? Travel deals websites like Scoopon offer holiday packages that include flights and accommodations with occasional additions like tours and activities, ideal for those who want to avoid the hassle of planning everything. Always double check the terms and conditions to ensure you are aware of what’s included and most importantly, what’s not.
Tick off your pre-departure to-dos
Draft up an essential to-do list and ensure you tick every item off before departure. This includes checking visa and passport requirements for the destination you’re heading to, buying travel insurance, notifying your bank of your travel arrangements (to avoid credit card disappointment), and saving emergency numbers in your phone. If you’re taking leave from work, ensure your out-of-office message has been set up in your emails and that close friends and family are aware of where you’re heading off. These tasks may seem pesky but once ticked off, can help prevent unpleasant and unwanted situations.
Create an itinerary (and include the details)
Avoid the ‘wing it’ mentality and dedicate time to creating a proper travel itinerary. You don’t necessarily need to stick to it word for word once you’re at the destination, but it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan to fall on if your spontaneous adventures don’t work out. At the bare minimum, include details of where you’re staying for each day, a list of key activities you have planned and transport logistics on how to get from A to B. The time you spend organising yourself before you leave will result in time saved upon arrival at your holiday destination. The last thing you want is to have wasted 2 hours getting lost because you forgot to research how the local transport system works.
Organise your finances & get the right credit card
Different people have varying preferences when it comes to money and travel – some prefer cash whilst others love card. It’s worth researching the destination to see what the local preferences are – some countries are more cash-driven than others. There’s long been a debate over cash vs. card, but your best bet is to have both. If you’re thinking of bringing a credit card, the 28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard is a fantastic travel option to consider as there are no annual fees, no currency conversion fees, and no international transaction fees on purchases. If you have connecting flights or long layovers, consider converting some cash for those destinations too.
Download the right apps
Leverage technology to your advantage and download apps that are designed to make your travel experience easier. Apart from the essentials like Uber and WhatsApp, there are some hidden heroes to be discovered.Google Translate works wonders when you come across foreign text – simply take a photo and the app will instantly translate the text into your language of choice. Tripit is another handy one – the app utilises all of your booking confirmation emails (hotels, flights, attractions, restaurant reservations) to generate an itinerary for you.
Sort out your Wi-Fi needs
In the increasingly connected world we live in today, Wi-Fi access has become a non-negotiable, especially when traveling. Depending on where you’re going, internet access and availability may vary. For most destinations, there are generally two options – you can get a local sim card with data usage included or a pocket Wi-Fi. Ensure your phone is unlocked before you jet off and turn on global roaming just in case your Wi-Fi plans don’t work out. Whilst using data via global roaming can amount to a pricey bill, having the option to turn it on is still recommended in case you need the access during an emergency.
Pack for the expected and unexpected
No one likes to think about worst-case scenarios but it’s handy to pack with a backup plan in mind. If possible, pack all of your valuables in your carry-on and always include a contingency pack. This pack should include a toothbrush, essential toiletries, phone/laptop chargers, spare underwear, and a change of clothes – all will prove to be a godsend if an unforeseeable delay pops up or your checked luggage goes missing. Also, bring a few spare shopping bags so you can separate your dirty clothes from the clean ones. Avoid over packing, especially if you’re heading to a shopping destination.
Update your digital storage
If you haven’t already, download Dropbox or Google Drive – the best apps for online storage. Scan your passport and save a digital copy, along with your travel insurance confirmation, flight and hotel bookings, and any other important travel documents. No one wants to lug around folders of paperwork, so get digitally savvy and ensure you’re covered by getting organised ahead of time. For safe measure, you can also email yourself copies of the above.
Plan ahead to prepare for your arrival back home
Nothing is more stressful than returning from a relaxing holiday to a messy or dirty house. Avoid this by making the extra effort prior to departure. Do a thorough clean of the house the day before you leave, so that you’ll come home to order as opposed to chaos. If you’re living alone and about to go overseas for a long time, it’s also worth hiring someone to come by to collect the mail every week and maintain your garden. Look to online marketplaces and apps like Airtasker to easily outsource the job.