Travelling is always exciting but it can also sometimes be stressful, but the more you travel, the more you become aware of little hints and tips to make your holiday easier. Here’s five tips I’ve come up with during my various travels that I wanted to share.
Create an itinerary
It may seem a bit nerdy, but an itinerary is a must for any trip. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy – a simple Word document printed out or saved to your phone is fine. Put everything you need to remember about your trip in it – from the time of your flight and what terminal you’ll be using, to the hotel name and address, and anything you’ve planned in advance such as events, pre-booked excursions and public transport journeys. Listing everything you need to know in one place means that you’re not hunting for various emails or pieces of paper while you’re away. It’s particularly useful for multi-destination holidays. In 2014, we went to Copenhagen, Stockholm and Reykjavik as part of one holiday and without an itinerary it would’ve quickly become very confusing!
Avoid pricey airport grub by taking your own
Airports are always going to be expensive and if you’ve got an early morning flight you might be tempted to just buy some food when you get there. Airport security rules mean you’re unable to take liquids through in hand luggage – but there’s no such rule for food. Pack your butties, crisps, biscuits, fruit etc and save yourself a small fortune. Airports don’t particularly advertise that you can bring your own snacks in as they obviously want you to buy them there, but why waste money at the boring old airport when you can save it for your destination!
Google Maps is your friend
Most travellers switch off their mobile data while abroad to avoid being hit by huge data roaming charges when they get home. However, sometimes if there’s somewhere you’re desperate to visit while you’re out and about on holiday but you’re unable to find the location of it or if you’ve got yourself horribly lost you may find yourself tempted to switch the data on. But there’s no need to – Google Maps works offline! You can just turn on your location software and you’ll be able to find yourself on the map. As you’re not using mobile data to help it pinpoint your location, it might take slightly longer to find where you are, but it will load. It’s also worth bookmarking some locations on Google Maps such as your hotel or restaurants you’ve booked so you can quickly see where they are.
Only check in a bag on the way home
Budget airlines are a great way to make flying affordable, but it does mean you have to pay for added extras – one of which is hold luggage. If you’re planning on bringing goodies back (in particular, bottles, glass and alcohol) it could be worth paying to check in your bag only on the way home. Take a rucksack or a small wheeled trolley bag that’s small enough for hand luggage and check it into the hold on the way home. The prices can vary depending on airlines and also how far in advance you request to add a hold bag, but it’s a good way of keeping your travel costs fairly low but allowing you to bring back some of the local beer you loved or the spirits you want to share with your friends.
Take your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
Travelling within Europe? Make sure you’ve got yourself a European Health Insurance Card. If you’re from the European Economic Area (ie the EU countries plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein), the UK or Switzerland this little card is a must-have. It allows you to get state healthcare in other EEA countries for free or at a reduced cost and it costs you absolutely nothing. It’s not an alternative to travel insurance as it doesn’t cover extras such as emergency transport back to the UK but it’s something you should have with you when you travel. If you don’t have one, you can get one for free from the NHS website in the UK. No one likes to think about the possibility of getting hurt while on holiday, but it’s something you should be prepared for just in case the worst does happen.
Image info: taken in Prague, January 2016.