Take the stress out of preparing for your exotic holiday with this guide
So you've booked the time off work, sorted out your accommodation and paid for your plane tickets. Looks like you're all set for that once in a lifetime trip! But before you go, there are some last minute tasks that you shouldn't forget about. Here is the definitive checklist you need before jetting off on your exotic holiday. Tick them all off, and you can relax, knowing your dream trip will go without a hitch.
The boring (but crucial!) stuff
The first things you should pack are your passport, relevant VISA documents and any proof of insurance or health care entitlement you might need in an emergency, such as a European Health Insurance Card. Also make a note of any key contact numbers you may need, such as the local embassy, travel information bureau and your emergency contact. Laminate these documents or keep them in a plastic wallet and keep this on you at all times—relying on your phone might not work if it gets stolen or runs out of battery.
Get your finances sorted
Have you got your travel insurance in place? You never know what could happen when you're abroad and having good insurance could save you thousands of pounds in airfare and medical costs should the worst happen.
Europ Assistance has helped many people in very difficult situations on holiday. One customer from Austria had suffered a fall while climbing in Phuket, Thailand, and the team at Europ Assistance worked tirelessly to arrange flights to Austria as soon as possible so that she could have the operation needed on her leg in her home country. They even arranged for a nurse to fly with her and worked with the Austrian consul and local border control to make the journey as easy as possible.
Of course, don't forget about local currency! Shop around different exchange rates to make sure you're getting the best deal on your travel currency and don't leave it until you get to the airport, where it is very likely to be the most expensive deal of all. Alternatively, a pre-paid card might limit the exchange fees you'd have to pay and avoid the security risk of carrying lots of money around with you.
Your destination of choice might not be the safest of places, so make sure research and check if it's recommended for foreign travellers. Take advice on the neighbourhoods to avoid, or at least limit your time spent in danger hot-spots. If you don't already have a bag that goes around your waist, invest in one—don't use a rucksack! Keep it in front of you at all times, and don't put valuable items in your pockets. A good rule of thumb is to leave anything at home that you would be gutted to lose.
Vaccinations are a must for some countries, and they may take some time to organise. Start booking appointments at least six weeks before your departure date. Don't forget suitable repellents for dangerous or just irritating insects that might spoil your trip—you can now get wipes as well as sprays.
Sun protection is crucial too: an SPF with factor 40 or 50 may seem excessive, but even a small amount of sunburn can cause skin damage and increase your chances of skin cancer. Make sure you practice good hygiene wherever you are, but particularly in countries where the water or food supply may be contaminated. Pack a water bottle with an internal filter, as well as medication for headaches and upset tummies.
Upgrade your tech
Smartphones are a godsend for the savvy traveller—but only if they work properly! You must remember to pack a portable charger (and adapter) and take it with you at all times. Splash out on a hard-wearing "shatter-proof" phone case too, especially if you're having a more adventurous holiday. Smartphones can also be a magnet for thieves, so you might consider leaving your main device at home and packing a cheaper, pay-as-you-go device. In any event, have a back-up means of communication just in case your phone gets stolen. These so-called, old-fashioned "brick" phones are cheap and their battery can last for days—or even weeks!
Have the right info
Finally, be armed with the right information. Have a guidebook AND app in case one gets stolen—the same goes for your translation aids. You may not be able to buy internal travel or sightseeing tickets when you get there, so check if you need to book in advance. Go back to basics and have paper copies of your routes, travel times and necessary addresses. Be prepared for anything!
Now that you're prepared to go on your holiday, check out our top tips for space-efficient packing.