Booking your holiday on the internet is often seen as the cheapest option but only if you are a diligent and regular researcher and are willing to take a certain amount of risk! A good travel agent will not only give recommendations according to your tastes and wants but often have agreements with airlines and hotels, offering discounts and free nights/upgrades etc. They also take all the stress and worry out of booking and leave you free to enjoy your trip!
If you decide to book each element of your holiday yourself, review sites such as Trip Advisor show traveller reviews for just about everywhere in the world! These views can be a good source of information but should only form part of your research. Don’t forget to check the review date – a glowing review from 3 years ago is no good to you! Read between the lines, ask yourself if the writer shares your mind-set or if a negative review is the result of a cranky traveller or just a bad experience.
As a rule of thumb, the more people that have contributed, the more valuable overall ratings become. Always check travellers’ photos – they can often be more informative than reviews!
BEFORE YOU GO…..
- Guidebooks: always look for the latest version. They will contain local maps, phrases and valuable, unbiased information. Local libraries often stock a wide range. Many guidebooks, including Lonely Planet and Rough Guide, can now be downloaded onto your phone, kindle or tablets and save on space!
- Book tickets in advance: many tourist sites have their own websites and having your tickets helps you to avoid the queues when you get there.
- Credit Cards: Let your credit card provider know when you are travelling. They keep an eye on your transactions to avoid fraud while you are away.
- Research: Always know what events are planned at your destination so you don’t miss out on the fun.
- Adaptors: There are many different plugs and voltages in use around the world. Check what adaptors you will need in order to use/charge your appliances.
- Plan in advance
- Lay out all the clothes you want to bring and then put half of them away!
- Roll your clothes – you fit more in!
- Mix and match your outfits and layer for colder weather
- Bring as many crease-free items as possible.
- Pack a week’s worth of clothes for 2/3 weeks holiday. Most destinations will have access to washing facilities.
- Holiday Rule: 3 tops for every bottom.
- Limit shoes as they take up too much room and add weight. Pack socks and underwear into shoes to utilise the space.
- Pack heavy items at the bottom of your suitcase, close to the wheels. Weighting the bottom of the suitcase will make it more stable when transporting.
- Use a plastic, ziplock bag for your toiletries – you’ll need it for customs anyway so why bring a separate washbag?
- Decant all your liquids into 100ml bottles – no panic when you forget to pack one away in your check-in baggage!
- Pack jewellery & cosmetics in a bag that will also do as a 2nd handbag.
- Pack a scarf! It has multiple uses: sun cover, eye mask, towel, make-shift bag, skirt etc.
- Put your contact details, home and abroad, inside your suitcase. If your luggage goes missing, there is no guarantee that your luggage label will remain attached to the handle.
WHEN YOU’RE THERE…
- Check all around you before you leave the bus, train, taxi, hotel, restaurant. When you are somewhere new, there are always plenty of distractions, so get into the habit of double-checking to ensure you don’t leave anything behind.
- Travel Insurance is an absolute must. Not just for the financial aspect but their local knowledge and immediate action also is worth the effort and payment.
- Keep your money sources separate – use one card for the majority of purchases/cash and keep another elsewhere, just in case. Always keep a small amount of cash separate to your wallet – you never know when you might need it.
- Keep a copy of all important documents in your suitcase or even better, scan them and email them to yourself – passport/travel insurance/drivers licence/ tickets and booking invoices – if you lose any one of these, they are much easier to replace if you have copies.
- Making friends when abroad can be extremely rewarding but remember that not everyone has your best interests in mind. Overly friendly or pushy locals and tourists should be avoided – learn to say No,politely but firmly.
- If you have questions, ask the concierge in your hotel or visit the local Tourist Office. Offers from strangers could lose you a day in visiting shops/markets/ restaurants you have no interest in – your driver/guide most likely gains commission from everything you buy!
- Know the culture before you go! Respect local way of life and you will have a thrilling and rewarding holiday. Some countries frown on public displays of affection or revealing attire.
- In any country, you are an obvious target to thieves if you wear noticeable jewellery and carry expensive handbags/luggage. Don’t give them an excuse!
- Don’t let your credit card out of your sight when making payment. Unscrupulous retailers can put through false payments or steal your details.
- Beware when using internet cafes abroad. Your privacy may be compromised and key strokes monitored for payment and passwords.