When we plan a holiday we usually get so excited that we forget the important things we need to do before. The boring things we don’t really want to think about because all we want to do is look up interesting cafes or the most Instagrammable walls and views for that perfect holiday shot that would look amazing on your social channels. Yes, those can also be considered to be important things you need to do, but if your passport has expired there’s no way you’re getting on that plane. No need to worry though, here are my 8 important travel tips you should check off before you travel anywhere.
1. Your Passport
Yes this is the most obvious one out of all of them and probably one of the most important ones: make sure your passport hasn’t expired! Passports last for a very long time, so unless you travel regularly you are likely to forget when it is about to expire – until you book a holiday and then go frantic when you need to spend even more money to get your passport renewed. Hands up who’s been there?
Another reason why you should check when your passport expires is that most countries prefer you to have six months remaining on your passport from after the return date of your trip. Sounds silly to have to renew it when you’ve got so much time left on your passport, but it’s best to do it rather than be stopped from going on your trip.
And lastly, if you change either your first name or surname you should renew your passport too. This way you have a formal form of ID with your new name on, which will make things a lot easier in the long term.
2. Travel Insurance
Whenever I travel I make sure to have travel insurance, not only as a just in case of an emergency, but I also make sure I have gadget cover so that all my electronics: my phone, laptop, camera and so forth. I can guarantee the day I don’t have insurance I’ll regret it.
However if you live in Europe (and Switzerland) and are planning to go to Europe or any country in the European Economic Area (EEA) you can register for a European health insurance card which gives you access to health care at a reduced rate or sometimes free.
If you live in the UK there is more information here.
Visas are easily forgotten about when you’re excited to go and travel somewhere you’ve never been before. It’s another boring admin part of planning a trip, but it’s very important if you want entry into certain countries.
If you live in the UK you can check if you need a visa here.
However if you want to travel to the United States you need to complete an ESTA application which costs $14 per person and needs to be approved before you can enter the US.
4. Travel Money
Of course the two obvious options are cash currency or using your debit / credit card, however depending on your bank you could be charged when using it in a foreign country, so cash seems to be the cheaper and easier in most cases. Also, if you plan to use your bank card you should phone your bank and let them know, otherwise your card could be blocked.
On the other hand, I have heard of debit-like cards that you can top up with however much you like and use it without paying a fee. Instead the use your card to pay and the amount you are charged depends on the rate of exchange on that particular day.
If you have ever used one please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you about your experiences with them.
Just like with visas you should check if you need a vaccination for the country you plan to visit. You need to do this ASAP as some vaccines need to be done weeks in advance in order for them to be effective.
6. Flight Allowances
Unless you’re booking a complete holiday package through a company (like Virign Holidays or British Airways just to name a couple) then you don’t need to worry too much about your luggage allowance, although you might want to check weight restrictions on the airlines websites. However if you are going on a budget flight, whether that’s through the airline’s website or a third party website, you need to check if the flight cost includes luggage as sometimes these are extra costs. You don’t want to get to the airport and be informed that you have to pay for your luggage before your holiday has begun.
Additionally, on some airlines food is not complimentary, so you will either have to pay for something that’s not that tasty. So make sure you check this before hand. If in doubt by yourself some snacks at the airport – this way you don’t get hangry on your flight.
7. Customs & Laws
When going to a foreign country it’s always a good idea to check local laws and customs. For example you should cover your shoulders and midriff if you want to enter an Italian church, or in Dubai you should dress modestly when you’re out and about and wear a headscarf when visiting mosques. This way you are respecting the countries cultural / religious customs, and means you can explore and learn more of what the country has to offer.
It’s always an idea to plan your trip. You should see the amount of planning I do for a holiday. I’m constantly writing things down that I hear or read about, making notes about what to do where, scouting interesting cafes and restaurants, how to travel… you name it!
I always find that even if you are someone who likes to be spontaneous when travelling it’s still a good idea to know how to get to certain places, the best way to travel and a few token bits of information what will help your relaxed experience.
Do you have any travel tips that you think I should add? Please leave a comment below 🙂