Angela Symons from Travel Counsellors gives advice to get you prepped for a smooth trip, whether you’ve already booked a December holiday or are thinking of booking that dream trip next year.
Planning your trip
Look at the weather trends of the destination you wish to visit. Check the calendar – if your dates fall within religious holidays eg. Ramadan in UAE, you may prefer not to travel at that time, check if there are events happening eg. Grand Prix etc – it may be cheaper to travel before or after if you are not interested in the events. Ensure that travel documents are in order and if travelling with children, that you have obtained unabridged birth certificates for them.
Ensure that your passport is valid within the validity required – some countries insist that your passport is valid for another six months before it expires. If hiring a car, get an international drivers licence.
Ensure that you have the correct visas and inoculations or precautionary medication (eg. against Malaria if travelling to a risk area). Take out travel insurance.
Buy a suitcase that is light and durable – some suitcases can take up a good chunk of your baggage allowance.
Buy hand luggage that has a good set of roller wheels – you do not want to carry heavy hand luggage across airports (especially if you have to run to a terminal on the other side of the airport!)
Check your baggage allowance carefully and stick to it – airlines make money on excess baggage fees.
Use a packing list to ensure that you take what you need. Don’t overpack and pack smartly, with clothes that don’t crease easily etc.
Roll your clothes when packing – you can fit more in your bag and they are less creased.
Pack a multi-plug – this enables you to charge multiple items in one go. Take an international plug – to ensure that you can charge your phones and all other devices. Check to see if you need to register these devices before leaving.
You are not permitted to take liquids in your hand luggage (except for 100ml items – maximum 1 litre) so buy 100ml refillable bottles so that you can decant your shampoo etc. – pack it in your hand luggage to keep the weight off your main baggage.
You can pack hand sanitiser (remember max 100ml), tissues, chewing gum, lip-ice, saline nose spray (cabin air is very dry), deodorant and a neck pillow in your hand luggage.
Very importantly: pack an extra set of clothes and clean underwear and socks – in case baggage gets delayed or your clothes get soiled in-flight (from spillages etc.)
Always carry valuables and any medication in your hand luggage.
Travelling with kids is not as daunting as it seems – the key is to be prepared. Let them pack a light backpack with their favourite toy. These days inflight entertainment is amazing but to avoid too much screen time, take a few new toys or books that they can enjoy for the first time and to keep them interested. Give them something to suck during the take off and landing to ease pressure. Pre-order kiddies meals for the flight.
Before you fly
Call your bank to register your credit cards so that you don’t get blocked.
Order foreign exchange – you will require your passport, ticket and proof of residence to collect.
If you are travelling to Mauritius, don’t order any Mauritian rupees as you cannot exchange any surplus monies on your return. Rather draw rupees at one of the two ATM’s at the airport.
Make arrangements for a pet and house sitter.
Call your mobile network provider to arrange international roaming if required. Hint: this can get very expensive. To avoid unnecessary charges when abroad, keep your phone on airplane mode (switch data off) and use WiFi only for calling and messages. Consider buying a local sim card to make local calls if need be.
If you wear contact lenses – whilst flying take them out and wear glasses to avoid your eyes from getting scratchy due to dry cabin air.
Drink lots of water to keep hydrated – avoid too much alcohol and walk around – wear comfy clothing and use a neck cushion to hold your head up to sleep.
If flying to an international destination – change the time of your watch to the time of the destination you are travelling to – this helps you adjust to the time zone.
If you have noise-cancelling head-phones take them with – it will give you a pleasant experience.
To avoid jet lag – try not to sleep during the day.
Take a Hop On, Hop Off tour to orientate yourself with a new city.
Don’t book excursions with unlicenced operators.