Holidays are that time in your life when you finally get a moment to really relax and unwind. Unfortunately, however, those all too fleeting moments of relaxation are often preceded by an inevitable last minute panic, as you struggle to remember everything that you’re supposed to get done and pack before you set off.
If you’ve already booked your 2014 holiday, therefore, now’s your chance to get a head start, by making sure that you’ve got these 5 must-haves sorted before you travel.
- Visas and passports
When it comes to booking a holiday, paperwork is usually the last thing that you think about. Trying to gain access to a far flung foreign locale isn’t as easy as you might like, however, if you don’t take the time to make sure that you have all of your paperwork in place.
It’s best to get the essentials sorted as soon as you possibly can. Take the time to look through your own passport and those of the people travelling with you, just for peace of mind, to make sure that they are valid. And don’t forget, most countries will only permit your travel if your passport is valid for at least 6 months after the date of your return.
When it comes to visas, each country has its own quirks. It is best, therefore, if you’re a UK citizen, to check out the Government’s travel advice service, to ensure that you’ve filled in all the relevant paperwork, and met the required terms, before you set off.
Whether you’re travelling alone or with your family, your collective health should be at the top of your list of concerns before you travel.
If you’re travelling within Europe, there are unlikely to be any required vaccinations. Travel further afield, however, and the landscape shifts dramatically. If you’re travelling long haul, it’s best to visit your GP and consult with him/her regarding what vaccinations you may need and book follow up appointments for immunisation there and then; it will certainly save a lot of last minute rushing around.
While ensuring that you’ve had the right vaccinations before you travel is important for health reasons, if you’re travelling between certain countries, there may also be a requirement to prove that you’ve had certain vaccinations when you’re crossing borders. In Ecuador, for example, you will be required to produce a valid Yellow Fever vaccine card if you’re entering from Peru.
- Holiday insurance
Some unenlightened souls see holiday insurance as an optional, luxury expenditure. Ignoring the possibility that either you or your family could fall ill, be injured in some way or have your luggage stolen, for example, really is, however, an irresponsible approach to looking after your own wellbeing and that of your family.
Whether you’re travelling within Europe or further afield, holiday insurance should be right up there at the top of your list of must-haves. By purchasing holiday insurance though a reputable company, such as Thomas Cook Extras, you can rest assured that their trained advisors will be able to help you to choose the right, cost effective holiday insurance package that suits your particular requirements.
- Something to keep the kids entertained
Holidays are a relaxing time. And they’re certainly supposed to be a time when you and your family enjoy each other’s company, while creating memories together that will last a lifetime.
The reality, however, is that, even with the best intentions, hours spent travelling together, especially if you’re flying long haul, can begin to take their toll on even the most tight knit of families. And that’s why it’s important that you make sure that you pack a few bits and pieces that are going to keep your kids entertained on those long journeys.
Whether it’s a hand held games console, a few good books, a portable music player or an iPad, remembering to pack these items is sure to make your holiday run that little more smoothly.
- Guide books/travel apps
With all the admin and organisation that’s required before a holiday of any kind, doing your research about the destination to which you’re travelling often gets left until the last minute.
With long car journeys and plane rides ahead, however, these are the perfect occasions to flick through your guide book or travel app, to find out a little more about the hidden gems that await you and your brood.
Taking care of the little things
While sorting out visas, vaccinations and holiday insurance may not be as tantalising as daydreaming about sipping cocktails on a white sand beach, a little time invested now will certainly pay dividends once you set off for your 2014 holiday. It really is the only way to ensure that you have that relaxing break that you’ve been dreaming about for months.