The summer holidays might be a distant memory (raise your hand if you did a little jump for joys when the schools started back), but there’s probably one element of your summer break which is etched firmly in your mind.
Who’s got the passports? Did you pack an adaptor? Can I carry that in my hand luggage? Who’s got the baby? What if the guy doesn’t turn up to meet us at the airport?!
Going abroad is supposed to be a relaxing affair – but new research from safe.co.uk has revealed that, as a nation, we’re prone to getting in a flap about travel rather than feeling zen.
Half of Brits feel anxious leaving the house before going on holiday – and that’s not the only thing we’re not getting right. Their research also showed that one in 10 people have had to get an emergency passport before travel, 20% of us travel without insurance and 20% of us update our social media profiles while we’re away – playing into the hands of tech-savvy burglars.
One in three also have to return home to double check something – did you switch off the bathroom light? – and over a third don’t put any security measures in place before going away.
So what can you do to ensure your home is safe, secure and your journey to your dream destination is worry-free? We’ve got a few handy tips for stress-free travel…
1. Make a list
It’s easier said than done, particularly if you’re travelling with kids, but make a pre-holiday check-list to ensure you’ve got and done everything before you head for the airport. Whether that’s making sure you’ve remembered to pack enough nappies for the plane, remembering your contact lens solution or locking the garage door, write it all down at least a week in advance before the stress hits and check it all off on the day of your departure.
2. Sort your insurance
Do not – we repeat, do not – head off on holiday without appropriate travel insurance. Make sure it covers any pre-existing medical conditions, any activities you might be taking part in like water sports or bungee jumps, and that your possessions are covered too. Going on holiday and getting your bag nicked is a potential nightmare, but if you’re insured, you’ll have back up. Medical bills abroad can be costly too, even with an European health card, so be prepared for every eventuality.
3. Check your passport
Have you got one? Is it in date? Are your kids’ in date? Will it still be in date when you’re flying home? Check this out NOW, because a fast-track replacement passport costs £128 for adults, compared to the usual £72.50.
4. What about visas?
If you’re travelling outside of the EU, it might mean that you need a visa to enter the country. Speak with your travel agent or get online and check what the requirements are before you fly off – you don’t want to be left red-faced at customs. Some countries have really strict rules – South Africa, for instance, require a legal document for children travelling with one parent stating the other parent has given permission for them to leave the country. Families have been known to be sent away – don’t risk it.
5. Check out vaccinations
If you’re flying off somewhere slightly more exotic, you might need to get vaccinated against certain diseases. You can check out travel advice for different countries on the government website.
6. Final checks
Are your windows shut over and locked? Have you unplugged chargers? Is the water switched off? Have you emptied out your fridge? Do a final sweep of your house once everyone’s emptied out to make sure everything is as it should be – and avoid a mad dash back home to check the oven’s off.
7. Look occupied
Burglars tend to know tell-tale signs that mean a family are off on holiday, so try trick them by setting a timer to make lights go off and on, and ask a friend or family member to pop in now and then to move your mail and make the place look like it isn’t lying empty.
8. Plan your journey
How are you getting to the airport? Are you getting a lift? Booking a taxi? Relying on public transport? Or are you booking the car in at the airport? The further ahead you plan, the better deal you’ll get on transport and parking, so don’t leave it to the last minute!
9. Keep an eye on the exchange rate
The exchange rate for the euro is nothing short of diabolical right now – but that’s not to say it won’t change. Keep an eye on the exchange rate every day, and use MoneySavingExpert’s travel money comparison tool to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Most airlines ask you to check-in online now. This saves a bit of time at the airport – and money. Most budget airlines ask you to pay extra if you’re checking in on the day. By doing it online, you’re turning up prepared with your boarding pass – all you have to worry about is dropping off your bags if you’ve got any for the hold.
11. Look at your luggage
Double check what your airline’s luggage restrictions are. Different airlines permit different dimensions when it comes to hand luggage, and weight can vary too for hold luggage – Jet2, for instance, let you carry 22kg while easyJet only let you have 20kg. If you think you’re going to go over your weight allowance? Book an extra bag to be safe. It’ll be cheaper than dealing with excess baggage charges at the airport. Likewise, if you’re flying with two different airlines, make sure your baggage fits the restrictions for both journeys.
12. Know your restrictions
There are still rules in place when it comes to what you can carry on a plane, so read your airline’s guidelines before flying. From liquids in hand luggage to laptops and tablets, make sure you’re only carrying what you should be – otherwise it could be confiscated.
Once you’re through security? The real fun begins! With a bit of preparation and forward-planning, heading off on holiday doesn’t have to leave you trembling with anxiety. Now, where the bar…?