13 February 2013

10 Essential Travel Tips

The following tips are pretty basic things that one may sometimes forget to check in all the excitement of going on holiday!

Even an experienced traveller could sometimes get caught out and then your plans will go totally haywire.

1 - Ensure that your passport is still valid for at least 6 months after your return date.

2 - Ensure that you have enough BLANK pages in your passport,  as required by the country that you intend visiting.
One hears so many stories of travellers being sent back home because they do not have enough blank pages. Imagine!

3 - Check whether you require a visa or not and then apply in good time.
I once applied for a Schengen Visa a few months before I was due to fly. The only reason for this was that my work schedule ahead was going to be very busy and I wanted this "to-do" chore off my list. I considered the Germans extremely efficient so thought there would be no problem. Waiting in line, everybody ahead of me had forgotten something and they were turned away. My turn and all my documents were in order but I was told that I was too early!! Show me this clause on your web site, I said. No - it's not on the web site, they answered. So then WHY can't you take my papers now? You are too early was the only answer they could give me although their web site stated nothing in this vein. Needless to say, I was very disgruntled and decided that the Germans are not so efficient after all. I wonder if they updated their website?

4 - Book flights early in order to get a good price. However, if your dates are flexible, it is sometimes even better to wait for those great specials e-mailed to you by your local travel agent. Get on their mailing list - it could save you money.

5 - Always store your passport in a safe place. Silly tip - NO!
 I have a friend who "lost" her passport the day before her international flight was due to take off. This resulted in untold stress in order to get another document within the space of 24 hours. Luckily, the authorities took pity on her and did issue a replacement . However, you cannot bank on this happening in all countries and you could end up sitting at home with a glum face and an empty bank account..

6 - Get a copy of your "Prescription Medicine" from your local doctor and keep it handy. Pack prescription drugs in your checked-in baggage and only keep enough in your hand luggage for your trip + 1 day in case of delays.

7 - If you are prone to bronchitis, gastro or any other ailment requiring an anti-biotic, always take this with you on your trip. There is nothing worse than getting ill in a strange place, having to find a doctor who speaks English and having to pay your hard-earned Forex on a medical bill. I always always pack in a variety of medicines/creams etc  that we use locally - saves time and money if you suddenly need an anti-histamine or Imodium.

8 - For fairly crease-free clothing, I pack in plastic Supermarket bags. You can label the bags with a black marker so you know what is in each bag (if they are not clear plastic) This method has worked so well for me that I rarely even bother to unpack - it's all in separate bags, ready when required.

9 - Plugs - make sure you have international adaptor plugs for your camera, mobile phone, laptop, hairdryer etc. None of these items will be of any use, if you cannot plug them in when you reach your destination.

10 - Leave a copy of your travel documents at home with somebody in case you have a mishap of any sort. The information will then be available after a quick call or e-mail. I certainly cannot remember my passport number - can you?

Enjoy your travels!

© Judelle Drake

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