Common wisdom tells us that the death of a loved one and moving house are the two most stressful events a person can go through in the modern world. Not being an estate agent or a funeral director, I can’t really comment on either of these, but I do feel qualified to discuss another stressful area, planning a trip and preparing to go on holiday.
It’s ironic that a period of the year designed to promote rest and relaxation can actually be the cause of the most stress and strain present for the entire year. Things are usually completed in a rush, there is a lot to organize and there’s packing time to consider — and that’s not even taking into account the stress families will go through looking after the kids during all of this! For this reason, I’ve written a useful holiday checklist to ensure you don’t miss any of the small things which have a tendency to turn into bigger problems while you’re away.
Simply work through my holiday checklist and travel with peace of mind:
Before you go (planning your trip)
> Always make sure you have full travel insurance, fit for the purpose of your trip and if you have an annual policy – check that it is still valid. Sometimes people who have purchased annual travel insurance forget to renew it, and assume they are covered whenever they wish to leave the country. Checking your travel insurance is right for the task can save you a lot of stress and tears in the long run, should the worst happen. It is also essential that you make your travel insurance company aware of any pre-existing medical condition you have before you travel — although it may increase your costs in the short term, you may find yourself without cover if you later need to claim on such an illness without having warned them of it!
> If you’re traveling within the European economic region, or in Switzerland, you should get a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). It’s a common misconception that this is as good as travel insurance for giving you free health care, but it can entitle you to reduced costs, meaning you are not left out of pocket while you wait to be reimbursed on your policy.
> When planning a trip, make sure the vaccinations for both you and your family are up to date — especially if you’re traveling outside the country. Your health care provider can advise you of any additional vaccinations you’ll need depending on where you’re going.
> Fill in the contact details at the back of your passport for the next of kin, or the details of someone who can be contacted in case of an emergency.
> Make sure you are aware of the immigration and customs laws of the country you are traveling to when planning a trip. A visa may take a little time to come through, so be prepared and allow enough time to complete this procedure. Also, you should note that in many countries your passport needs to be valid for at least six months after the date you travel, so check this in advance.
> Tell someone where you are going and when they should expect you back. Try to leave an itinerary and details of where you may be able to be contacted during your time abroad, in case of emergency.
> If you are planning on driving in foreign climes, take your full driving license with you. Make sure you are aware of the driving laws, license requirements, and driving conditions of your destination before you set off.
When you are there
> Be aware of security and take sensible precautions. If an area is advised against traveling to, the chances are there’s a good reason for it!
> Keep a note of the local embassy, high commission, or consulate number. Although the chances are you will not need it, it’s always worth holding on to in the case of emergency.
> Stay in regular contact with your family and friends, especially if you are traveling alone. This will ensure they’re always aware of where you are and should be, and can ensure they can contact you in the case of emergency.
> Respect local customs and behave and dress appropriately. Although unlikely to cause disastrous problems, as a guest in a foreign culture, it’s only polite to try and fit in.
> Inform family and friends of your safe return, to end their worries, and ensure no bogus emergency calls are made.
> If you need to make any claims against your travel insurance make sure this is done at the earliest opportunity, for maximum chance of getting a positive result.
I hope this travel checklist has been helpful. Although planning a trip in this much detail may seem like a lot of hassle, dotting all the ‘I’s and crossing all the ‘T’s, it really is worth doing. In the end, following this holiday checklist to the letter will ensure you are more relaxed and prepared to enjoy your holiday, and should the worst happen you’ll be well equipped to deal with it.