Holidays, a time to relax, unwind and let go of the stresses and strains of the day to day grind. Greatly anticipated and usually mercilessly saved for, we all look forward to being away from work and getting some rest.
With 14 million Brits packing their suitcases and jetting off on holiday, why is it that over a quarter of those finds booking the holiday to be a very stressful experience? The planning and organising of a holiday break, especially if there are children involved can feel like a military exercise. What flights do you take? Which hotels are close to the airport but not too close? How far away are the local amenities? The list of questions is endless and it can feel like stumbling in the dark if it is a country that you have never been to before.
Here at Independence Travel, we want you to enjoy the whole holiday experience, from planning where to go, right through to getting back home again. Our staff has collectively travelled the World, and have put together a list of tips and tricks that can help lower the stress of booking a holiday. And if you still find yourself bamboozled by it all, we are all here to help, either in person, on the internet or over the phone.
- Check your Passport: The most important thing to check when thinking of going on holiday is your passport. Do you know where it is and is it in date? Passports can take weeks to be replaced and with your holiday coming up, you don’t want the extra expense of paying for a fast track. Make sure you check this way ahead of the time you want to go away.
- Pick you destination carefully: If you are looking for a quiet holiday, booking peak season to Ibiza is not a good idea. A romantic break at a popular family resort may not be for you. Doing your research on the destination is always a must and knowing peak times and weather cycles for certain countries can make the difference between lying on a beach or hiding from a hurricane. The world is a big place and there is a destination for pretty much every kind of holiday goer so look around. And remember that depending on where you go, you may need to have vaccinations. Booking an appointment with a Doctor can take time, so plan this in advance. Talk to our team and they will be able to guide you in the right direction.
- Know where to stay: So your passport is in date and you have chosen where you are going, but how do you know where to stay? A hotel close to the airport sounds good so you don’t pay huge amounts in travelling to and from, however stay too close and the constant sound of jets will make you wish you were back home. The cheap 4* deal you have found may be cheap for a reason. How far is it from where you want to visit? Are there shops and restaurants nearby? Doing your research on the hotel can make or break a holiday so getting it right can reduce stress levels by a massive amount.
- Paperwork and Banks: Letting your bank know that you are leaving the country is always a good idea. With fraud being a big problem these days, a payment in a foreign country will instantly alert your bank and could result in your account being blocked. No one wants to spend their holiday on the phone to a bank back home, and a five minute talk before you leave can save you from this. And the same for your travel insurance and health documents. On holiday, people tend to do things that they may not do back home, so making sure that you have the correct cover if something does go wrong will make a bad situation a lot easier to deal with.
- Ready to go: Ok, so you’re all booked and everything is in place for you to leave for your holiday. Airports can be stressful and sometimes daunting places and with legislation changing all the time, it helps to read up on the current guidelines before you leave home. Liquid allowance is the one that will affect the most people, so making sure that your liquids are in the right sized containers and the right sized see through bags will not only get you through to the departure lounge faster, but will mean that you won’t be made to leave anything behind at the gate. The second biggest factor at an airport will be your luggage and more precisely, how much it weighs. Most airlines will have their current weight allowances on their websites, and these can differ depending on who you fly with, so make sure that you find your one and stick to it. You will be asked to empty it down to the limit if you are over and they don’t store it for you until you return.
- Once you are there: You’ve arrived safe, have booked into your hotel and are ready to explore. Hotel staff are usually good sources of information for where the best places are and to find out peak times so make friends with them as soon as you can. Learn a few key phrases in their language and be friendly. This may be the difference between eating at the best local hideaway restaurant and being bundled into a main street place with the rest of the tourists. It’s always wise to look at what the locals are doing. Many hot countries close down for a few hours at peak sun times. This is because it is too hot to be out and about, so do what they do and avoid sunburn and sunstroke whilst away. Having a map of the local area is always wise, and if you have thought about phone internet whilst abroad, there are many apps that can help you navigate an area like a pro.
- Winding Down: The last couple of days of a holiday are usually all about revisiting the places that made the trip and buying keepsakes to take home. Be careful with this one as your weight limits still apply on planes going home and there are some items that you will not be allowed to bring back once you hit home turf. Food items are usually a no go, so steer clear of anything edible and the same with plants and organic materials such as reed mats and sometimes wood. Countries within the EU are not as strict than if you are coming from further afield, but again, it is best to check the restrictions before you leave the UK.
The government also offers a variety of advice to any concerned travellers. The foreign office has advice on each destination country, find those here: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/foreign-commonwealth-office
For more information on passports, and travel advice click here