Travel During The Off-Season
Travelling during the off-season seems easier said than done, especially if you’re planning to visit Disneyland with children. Parents and guardians can now be liable to fines if they’re found taking their child out of school for unnecessary reasons - in this case Disneyland is deemed one of them. Nevertheless, there is a way around this and it’s by taking your child to Disneyland during a bank holiday weekend or when there’s a planned inset day that happens on either a Monday or Friday. As this would mean a three day weekend which allows a weekend away without the hefty price tag. Schools should display their yearly term-dates and inset days in advance on their website. If not, then another option would be asking the school directly and in most cases they will be more than happy to comply.
Save Money on Disneyland Tickets & Deals
Before you buy tickets to Disneyland it’s worth researching what rides certain parks have on offer, to which you can plan how many you could go on. For example, if you’re with a three or four year old then certain rides and attractions have certain height restrictions to which staff abide by very strictly. From there, if you plan to go on around 20 rides then plan how quickly you could get through these rides - would you need a two day ticket or a three day ticket? Additionally, I’ve seen numerous discounts on the Disneyland website, most deals revolve around 2 days stay for the price of 1 - take advantage of these! At the moment there’s a special offer where adults can get into Disneyland for children’s prices. If you do decide to stay in hotels surrounding the park then there are even more deals including free breakfasts for children throughout their stay as well as discounts of up to 25% off.
Plan, Plan & Plan Even More!
As mentioned previously, if you’ve decided what rides and attractions you’d like to see then it’d be worth researching into whether it’s worth getting a FastPass. If you’re only in Disneyland for a day or two then see whether it’d be cheaper getting a FastPass to get you onto all the rides you’d like - they start at £39.58. This price may be cheaper than spending money on another night at a hotel, the costs of food as well as if travelling on certain days may cost more. Research into what rides would be open during your visit to avoid disappointment - Disneyland clearly states on their website which rides will be closed for specific days. Furthermore, research into what parades and characters you’d like to visit and what time they take place - from there you can plan around this while making sure you get the best seat in the house to enjoy them!
As much as Disneyland hotels offer the full experience for those wanting to experience the magic of Disney in all forms - it comes with a hefty price tag. For those who have their heart set on staying in a Disney hotel then look into the best deal for your stay - free breakfast, character breakfasts as well as discounts on your stay altogether if park tickets are included. However, when I was in Paris and Orlando I stayed off-site to firstly save money as well as being able to see the city without the constraints of being within a certain area. As I only visited Disneyland and Walt Disney World for a day it worked out a lot cheaper when taking into consideration the price of the hotel, transport to and from the park as well as transport options to get to the airport.
Free Breakfast & Bringing Snacks Into The Park
Most hotels do offer free breakfast for guests staying, which can either be a continental breakfast or a full cooked breakfast (most of these hotels will offer buffet breakfasts). In most cases you’ll have breakfast included within the price of the hotel, which is an added bonus, since breakfast will most definitely fill you up for the first part of the day. When I stayed in Paris, I used the baguettes, cheese and ham provided at breakfast to make my own lunch as well as my family quickly catching on and following suit. Disneyland allows visitors to bring in their own food and drinks with exceptions on alcoholic drinks as well as food that needs to be heated or unprepared. Visitors are allowed to bring in sandwiches, small fruit bags and anything that their heart desires that follows Disneyland’s rules. When I was in Paris for my birthday I saw a family of around 20 bring out a slow cooker with as much food as the eye could see. I mean I’m not judging - you do you, but that really is a genius idea, especially with so many people.
Buy Souvenirs Before You Go
Visiting Disneyland means the unfortunate trip through the numerous gift shops placed around the park and strategically located outside the exit of rides and attractions. I splurged on a piece of clothing as it was my birthday and it set me back €40-50 but to this day it’s still my favourite jumper and has lasted well. However, small toys, plushies and even small items such as pens can cost visitors an arm and a leg - especially with children being the masters of persuasion and begging. If you use websites such as Amazon and eBay, then you can find items such as autograph books, frames as well as even personalised t-shirts for as little as £5. In shops such as Primark the whole family can get outfits for Disneyland at a price that will definitely won’t break the bank.
Bring A Small First Aid Kit & Other Essential Items
As much as this tip may sound extreme - do you know how hard it is to find plasters throughout Disneyland? Throughout the whole park there isn’t one shop that sells a small pack of plasters as they’re located in pharmacies outside of the park such as Val d’Europe (which will also cost a small fortune to get there and then back into the park by taxi). Plasters can cost as little as 70p in some shops and can even be bought in discount shops with Disney-themed plasters too. Children love running around, it’s all fun and games until they fall over and wobble over to you screaming in pain - if you had a plaster on you it saves the hassle of making your child wobble around the park trying to find one. Paracetamol costs around 30p in supermarkets and after a long day at Disneyland you may need it especially if you’ve spent all day there. Make sure to bring sunscreen with you if you’re spending all day in the heat, especially if you haven’t bought one which only needs one application to last the day. Even wet wipes save the day when children enjoy their food so much that it goes absolutely everywhere and even for a simple clean up after touching everything. A small sick bag does the trick too, even for me, as some rides are simply just too much for us all and leaves us feeling worse for wear afterwards.
Carry Reusable Water Bottles
Not only is carrying water important for those spending all day in the scorching sun to keep hydrated but also doubles up as a light refreshment throughout the day. There are tons of drinking fountains around Disneyland which beats paying the extortionate prices for a small bottle of water or even a soft drink. It’ll also save time going into certain shops and restaurants for a simple drink and most importantly it saves the environment! The amount of plastic wasted from those visiting Disneyland is ridiculous as well as those deciding to leave their waste all over the floor for others to step and trip on.
Bring Your Own Stroller/Wheelchair
Bringing your own stroller may seem completely obvious but for some the idea of lugging their stroller all the way to Disneyland seems like too much of an effort. Especially for those staying off-site who may have to use public transport to get into Disneyland - I understand how much of a nightmare than can be especially early in the morning. However, once I tell you the prices of renting out a stroller this will definitely make you think twice. The price to rent out a stroller for the day currently stands at €20 with a €75 deposit as well as the fact that by the time you get there they may all be rented out. The same price applies to wheelchairs - €20 with a €75 deposit.
Check The Weather Before You Go
As much as this tip might seem ridiculous in the sense of saving money, it’s very important as in the park umbrellas and ponchos will cost you more than loose change. If you check the weather beforehand, which can either be done by asking someone at reception or using your phone, you can see what you’ll need to pack instead of buying it at the park. If it’s sunny and hot then make sure you bring water, sunglasses, sunscreen and aftersun. On the other hand, if it’s raining and cold then make sure you wrap up warm and bring an umbrella or a poncho.
Using Public Transport Instead Of Renting A Car
For larger families it may seem the best option to rent a car while you’re at Disneyland but for those travelling by themselves or with a small group then I’d advise taking the cheaper option of public transport. Parking at Disneyland can be a tiresome effort as well as an expensive one, with prices ranging with the different parks but it can be as much as €45. Then from there it’s a long walk into the park - in Paris it took me around 20 minutes to get from the car park into the actual park as we used a coach service.
Annual passes are one of the best options for saving money at Disneyland and they’re not too expensive either. For Disneyland Paris an annual past costs as little as €179 which allows visitors 150 days throughout the year to visit. However, there are other options which are more expensive but offer discounts at shops, hotels, restaurants, PhotoPasses and even extra time in the park before it officially opens. The most expensive option is €449 but comes with a range of incredible benefits as well as allowing visitors to come and go whenever they please within the year. As a ticket to Disneyland Paris currently stands at £94.11 for a Super Magic Ticket (2 Parks/1 Day) - you’d only need to go twice to Disneyland to get your money’s worth.
If you have your heart set on getting professional pictures during your trip to Disneyland, then it’d be worth investing into a PhotoPass. As one photo currently costs €16 which allows a digital print for the visitor as well as giving a choice of frame, you’d only need to get 4 pictures taken to get your money’s worth as the PhotoPass is currently priced at €59.99 which allows visitors to get their photos digitally rather than in physical prints. It’s a win-win situation as you can develop these photos once you return home from your visit for as cheap as 40p a print as well as not having the task of carrying around the photos all day.
Disneyland Gift Cards
Gift cards make a wonderful present if you’re given money for Christmas and don’t know what to do with it - it doubles up as cards that your kids can spend in the park. Once the money’s gone - they know that they can't buy anything else so it makes them choose their souvenirs wisely. Additionally, in Disneyland parks there is a small fee for those wanting to withdraw money from ATMs so instead visitors should purchase a Disney gift card directly from one of the shops. Not only does this eliminate the small fee charged by ATMs but allows a budget for spending to take place. If you only put a certain amount on these gift cards, then once they run out you’ll know where your spending stops and can save money for your next trip to Disneyland.
Check Your Receipts
I’m sure we’ve all glanced at our receipts after spending money in Disneyland, to check how much our bank account will suffer after buying just a simple hamburger and a drink. Regardless, there’s an option to get discounts at specific retailers but the only downside is that you will need to purchase these goods on the same day. A small discount is better than no discount - especially if you plan to get a few souvenirs from Disneyland.
The Best Things In Life Are Free
Throughout Disneyland there are lots of different freebies that are mostly unknown to visitors. The first being a birthday badge or a first visit badge which you can get as soon as you enter the park in City Hall - it also doubles up as a souvenir. Watching the parades is also another free option which saves standing in the heat in endless queues but allows you to sit down, eat a quick snack and have a quick drink while enjoying everything Disneyland has to offer. Additionally, there’s small pieces of candy and sweets being offered if you go into the many sweet shops and places around Disneyland. It might be small but in all honestly it’s better than nothing when needing to satisfy a sweet tooth. During special events throughout the year there are free face painting opportunities and even crafts for kids to enjoy for free.
Disneyland offers all visitors the opportunity to connect to their WiFi which isn’t half bad - it’s fast, allowed me to check my emails as well as make FaceTime calls to my family and friends. For those who don’t have data roaming options with their phone plan then free WiFi not only saves money but would allow your battery to stretch out throughout the day. There’s apps available for each park you visit - which include an interactive map which uses your location to tell you the rides nearest to you and their current waiting times.
Read Up On Reviews
There’s nothing worse than going into a restaurant, having the worst meal imaginable and then having to pay an extortionate price for it. Luckily websites such as TripAdvisor come in handy here as hundreds of people have reviewed specific restaurants around Disneyland, with comments on the service, food and overall price. A quick search will be able to tell you if it’s worth it and more importantly if you’ll be getting the most for your money. There are hundreds of different forums within the website which helps if you have a dietary requirement or any allergies - people are more than happy to help other visitors to Disneyland who have been in the same position.
Even though I’ve visited lots of different countries, experienced different cultures as well as doing activities I could’ve only dreamed of - having a bucket list reminds us all of our achievements throughout our life. Searching through hundreds of different lists allowed me to make my own bucket list - with the main goal of completing mostly all or if I’m lucky all of them before I die. When I’m older I’ll be able to look back upon my list, with many of the goals crossed out and be able to see the highlights of my life. My bucket list does include personal goals as well as travel based goals. Throughout the upcoming years ahead I will update this blog post and my bucket list when I complete a specific goal - adding the date I completed it on.
Travel insurance, the one thing that us travellers always buy with the idea that it's an added layer of protection in case something unfortunately goes wrong during our holiday. However, a large number of people are unsure as to how they would go ahead and claim back on their travel insurance policy if they fall victim to theft, lost baggage or a delayed flight. Knowing how to claim on your travel insurance is important not only because it will reimburse money spent on medical bills or on the replacement of items but will avoid being stranded in another country.
What Can You Claim On and How?
Even though there's tons of different insurance providers offering a wide variety of insurance cover for specific incidents - the main features covered will include medical and personal injury, lost or stolen baggage, theft of personal items, cancellation or abandonment of a holiday as well as delays within the airline.
Claiming On Your Travel Insurance
What Happens If I'm Not Satisfied?
If you're not satisfied with the outcome of your claim, then firstly request a final letter of response from the insurance provider you took our your travel insurance with. This will outline their reasons for rejecting your claim as well as the date it was rejected. From there you can then take it to the Ombudsman, if you live in the UK, or a place such as Citizen's Advice or similar. An Ombudsman's job essentially is to resolve a complaint before it escalates and goes to court. The Ombudsman may take a while - I'm currently in the middle of a claim which has been going on for 3 months as I needed to provide additional information as well as the Ombudsman having thousands upon thousands of claims that need investigating. If you're then not satisfied with the service as you're unable to gain help then you can complain to the Ombudsman once again and from there research other organisations that may be able to help with your claim.
Before visiting New York, I spent hours and hours searching through different travel websites, blogs and forums to determine how much my trip to New York would cost me. Not only are there a range of different factors such as accommodation and flights but also other factors such as spending money, attractions and landmarks as well as many more! Even the smallest of things such as travel insurance can't be overlooked especially when travelling internationally, these prices seem to increase dramatically compared to visiting a country in the EU. I kept every single receipt from the moment I booked my flights and hotel to the moment I got on the plane at JFK which marked the end of my trip. There are 7 different factors which compiled my budget:
Flights to New York can be very cheap or very expensive depending on where you live - domestic trips are obviously going to be a lot cheaper than international flights. Luckily for me I was able to book return flights with British Airways, which included reserving a seat as well as purchasing WiFi for an hour, which cost £562.72. The flights itself was booked in September 2018 for July 2019 and as I travelled outside of school holidays as well as before Independence Day, my flights were reasonably cheaper compared to flights during late July and throughout August. I chose to go World Traveller (Economy) which allowed three bags: a small handbag, a small suitcase which counts as hand luggage and a larger suitcase (hold luggage). British Airways were absolutely incredible for both flights, I would recommend them for travelling comfortably for long-haul flights as well as their unbeatable prices. If you want to find out more information regarding my flight then click here to see my TripAdvisor review.
As New York attracts millions of tourists throughout the year, room rates can change depending on the month, season or if there's any holidays such as Independence Day or Thanksgiving. While searching for accommodation in New York I started by using the site Booking.com to narrow my search down for a hotel in New York rather than a hostel or apartment. From there I narrowed my search down to hotels that were located in Manhattan and those which were located near Midtown Manhattan as it would be in the centre of everything. From there I was still left with a long list of hotels each with their own unique selling point and ranging prices. From there I done my own research into the hotel's reviews from TripAdvisor, to which I'm so glad I did since some hotels may look absolutely spectacular but once you dig a little deeper this image quickly vanishes. Some hotels were reviewed to have bed bugs, guests being overcharged as well as having an unforgettable stay for the wrong reasons. I finally decided on the hotel I wanted to stay at: The Hilton Garden Inn/West 35th Street which cost £1058.26 which was per person, as there were two of us travelling. This price was based on a 9-night stay which included a double room with two double beds, an enormous bathroom and the room itself being spacious with lots of different amenities. The hotel prided itself on its 3-star rating as well as being part of the Hilton chain, a reputable chain that has hotels located all across the globe.
Transport was one of the cheapest factors I considered before even travelling to New York. While planning my itinerary I looked at where the location of certain shops, landmarks and attractions were and from there I researched how to get there from The Hilton Garden Inn. Another reason why I booked The Hilton Garden Inn was the vast variety of transport options, with Herald Square/34th Street being a stone's throw away from the hotel as well as having 8 different subway lines passing through the station. I had planned to buy a MetroCard with a 7-Day Unlimited Ride connected to it, which originally set me back $33 + $1 New MetroCard fee. I got more than my money's worth with my MetroCard as I was taking on average 5/6 journeys per day, doubling the amount I had paid for the card and saving me the hassle of topping up my card per ride. The card itself costs $1, which can be refilled throughout your time in New York. I also added extra credit to my MetroCard when travelling to New Jersey for the day to visit Newport Centre. Additionally, as I had travelled to and from the airport via the AirTrain and Long Island Rail Way (LIRR) that set me back an additional $13 per journey, dependant on the time of day I was travelling as well as my final destination. I only used the New York Subway, the LIRR and AirTrain throughout my trip with no private taxis taken - which brought my total for transport at £70.50.
One of the most important factors travellers should consider before booking their flights and accommodation for New York, or any holiday in general, would be purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance is so important as it prevents travellers from being out of pocket as well as being covered for their gadgets, baggage, flights or anything that may misfortune travellers throughout their trip and most importantly their health. As I say, you cannot put a price on health, but while buying travel insurance I was more than happy to pay £24.67 which was a Single Trip Insurance which covered mostly all of the factors mentioned above. I'm more than glad that I purchased travel insurance as while I was in New York I contracted a UTI (Bladder Infection) which left me in agony and unable to walk properly around 4 days into my trip. I paid upfront as I would then claim this money when I had returned from my holiday but it cost me $155 to see a doctor and from there $80 for antibiotics. I paid £24.67 and I'm in the process of reclaiming my money back rather than being £190 out of pocket if I hadn't purchased insurance.
Attractions & Activities
Attractions and activities can range in price depending on the budget of the person travelling as well as what they plan to do throughout their stay in New York. For example, if a traveller wants to see an NBA Game tickets can range from $25-40 for a seat whereas a ticket for a baseball game at Yankee Stadium can range from $15-230 depending on your choice of seating. The same rule applies for those wishing to visit a range of different museums while in New York, some museums such as The American Museum of Natural History operates on a pay-as-you-wish basis meaning visitors can pay anywhere from $1 to $30 if they wished (or even more). The 9/11 Museum & Memorial is a must see in New York and prices start at £20.78 if bought beforehand allowing visitors to skip the queue or buying tickets on the day for $26. Some attractions are free such as visiting Times Square, The Staten Island Ferry as well as visiting Central Park. However, those who may want to go on walking tours, those wanting to go up the Statue of Liberty and those wanting to spend more time sightseeing than shopping will spend more on activities and attractions. In total I spent £100.26 on attractions and activities in New York, which include visiting Central Park Zoo, The Empire State Building, 9/11 Museum & Memorial and The American Museum of Natural History. All tickets were booked in advance via GetYourGuide where you're able to buy tickets that allow visitors to skip the line as well as being able to modify or cancel these tickets before or during your trip.
This is the part of the blog where I hang my head in shame while I type out how much I spent during my time in New York. As I had planned to go absolutely crazy in New York on shopping I made sure that I'd sorted my clothes out before going to New York and donating some to charity as well as figuring out my size in the US (as it's very different than the UK). I went to every shop imaginable - from Bath and Body Works to Macy's to then TJ Maxx to get unbelievable deals and then to China Town to get souvenirs for my friends and family. It's all fun and games picking up items and putting them in your basket until everything has been rung up and the cashier declares your total is $112.32 - where did it all go wrong? I only picked up 15 shower gels, 32 hand sanitizers, 4 candles, 2 bottles of perfume and.. oh, I did buy a lot.. Throughout my stay in New York I spent the grand total of £479.85. Some people may not shop that much while in New York, this price applies to those who shop everyday and want to buy designer goods that are discounted in shops such as Macy's and TJ Maxx.
Food & Drink
It's very hard to determine how much travellers should budget when travelling to New York for food and drink. There are people who don't mind a $1 slice of pizza and a $3 hot-dog whereas there are others who prefer to dine in more fancier and therefore more expensive restuarants. I had three meals per day, breakfast, lunch and dinner and sometimes a quick snack. In this section of my budget I included snacks bought from Target and Walgreens to put in the fridge of my hotel room such as soft drinks, water, cookies and chocolate. It's also important to note that I turned 20 during my trip to New York, which meant I wasn't able to purchase or consume alcohol as the law restricts the age to consume and purchase alcohol at 21. Every person has different tastes in food as well as some having dietary requirements which makes it hard to pinpoint a budget for food and drink. I budgeted $50 per day:
TOTAL SPENT FOR 9 DAYS IN NEW YORK: £2,536.88 (Approximately $3,140)
As this was my first trip to New York I had planned that I would spend a lot, especially with accommodation and shopping, as I wouldn't have a chance to return back for the next few years. Nearly half of the money spent consisted of paying for the hotel, which would've been a lot more if I had decided to travel alone, as well as a huge majority being taken by purchasing flights. I'd chosen and preferred to fly with a airline such as British Airways as they provide a high quality service and I knew I would be in good hands. Others may prefer airlines that costs less whereas others may pay for more expensive airline tickets if they want to travel in style and luxury.
Whether you’re a first time flyer or someone who’s taken hundreds of flights, I think we can all agree that the process of getting through the airport and onto the plane can be stressful at times. Since airports can be very busy some passengers may feel overwhelmed and stressed when going through procedures such as checking in, going through security, finding your gate number and then making sure you board your flight on time. No one wants to do the walk of shame onto the plane after their names have been blasted throughout the airport for a last call.
Before Getting to The Airport
Before travelling to the airport there are numerous steps to making sure you can have a hassle free holiday and making sure that you have all bases covered in the event of an emergency. The first step would be making sure that you know your luggage restrictions, whether it be for hand luggage only or checked luggage, since airlines will charge you extra for an overweight bag. While checking your luggage restrictions it would be useful to check that you’ve packed everything you may need, even the smallest of things such as earphones or plug adaptors, I couldn’t imagine a four hour flight without my earphones. The most important items would be your passport, travel insurance and if required an ESTA or Visa. It would be advisable to double check what method of transport you’re going to use to get to the airport, whether it be public transport or a taxi service, to make sure that you have train tickets or confirmation from the taxi company to make your trip to the airport stress free.
There are three main ways to check-in at the airport. The most useful and efficient one would be to check-in online, with the advances in technology airlines allow passengers to check-in and gain access to their boarding pass ahead of time to save them the hassle in the airport. However, if you don’t have access to a printer or smartphone then there are two more ways of checking in at the airport - self-service kiosks or check-in counters. There are now numerous kiosks at the airport that allow passengers to check-in at the airport and from there print off their boarding passes at no extra cost to them. Different airports require different forms of information such as your booking reference number or the credit card you paid for the flights with to allow you to check-in and gain your boarding passes. If you’re not good with technology or don’t want the hassle then you can always go up to the check-in counters at the airport but be wary as there may be long queues if people have the same idea as you. Either way there is a specific time limit which allows a passenger to check-in - if you’re checking in online or in person but depends on that specific airline. A handy tip would be to research this before going to the airport as you’ll know how much time you have and can reach an estimate as to when best to get to the airport.
Another step that comes under checking in would be checking in any luggage you want to put under the plane for your journey. This would require the passenger to go either to the automated check-in facilities for luggage or to go to the check-in counters at the airport. Before checking your bag in it would be handy to check you have all of your essentials on you - your passport, ESTA/Visa, travel insurance documents, phone and any medication you may need. Airlines will scan your bags through an airport scanner so once again it would be handy to read up on what you can and cannot bring onto a plane. The obvious being weapons and flammable items but some other items such as liquids and gels over 100ml if they’re in your hand luggage. There is also the issue of size and weight - there are a wide range of different requirements for both hand luggage and checked luggage - if the bag is overweight or is bigger than the size dimensions listed then you will have to pay. Each airline has their own requirements so once again check ahead of time.
One of the most nerve wracking procedures for me at the airport is going through security - I have no idea why, I don’t have anything on me that I shouldn’t and I’m completely innocent. After reading that sentence back I can understand why I’m always asked to step aside and searched. There are numerous signs around the airport, which should be just past the check-in area, to guide you to where the security area is. In most airports there’s areas for which passengers can put their liquids into plastic bags which are transparent so the contents can be seen. If needed you can take a moment to gather your belongings ready for the x-ray machine to save you the hassle once you get there. Once past this point you may be asked to show your boarding pass or scan it under a machine to allow you entry. If you scan your boarding pass and it doesn’t let you through the main reason may be that you’re too late and automatic measures stop you from going through any further.
Once you’ve shown your boarding pass a member of staff will guide you to a queue. Don’t worry if the queues seem really long - it takes around a minute to get through security and there are usually lots of staff members on hand to help. Once you get to security area, before the metal detector, make sure you take everything out of your pockets that may trigger the metal detector or require the staff to search your body. Place your liquids in your plastic bag as well as your handbag or luggage in the box provided to you and then walk through the x-ray machine. If the staff members say nothing then you’re free to collect your luggage and then move on, if the staff members tell you to step to the side then you will be searched and if nothing is found you will be sent on your way. If you are searched then you will have a member of staff from the same sex doing it and it will be as simple as a pat down of your body. The worst part about this for me is that I’m very ticklish - smiling and laughing while being searched has never worked out in my favour. Numerous times I’ve had my hand luggage searched and drug swabs have been taken - nothing has been found though! If this happens to you then do not fret - this happens to many passengers while travelling and in most cases it’s a random check on passengers bags. Once you have gotten through the x-ray machine and security then there’s an area for you to gather your belongings and sit down before venturing through the airport.
After going through security the next step would be simply to relax, grab something to eat and do some shopping. Different airports have different facilities but most airports have numerous screens which will inform you what time your boarding gate will be announced and from there the actual gate number. In most restaurants there will be screens located inside or just outside - allowing you to grab a bite to eat without the stress of thinking you may miss your flight. There are lots of seating areas at the airport as well as complimentary WiFi allowing passengers to check their emails or update their Facebook status that they’re going on holiday. Some airlines email you when your gate has been announced or notify you through their own app - a handy feature but to be safe I’d always check the screens before making my way to the gate. Once your gate has been announced you should make your way to it, these gates can close up to 15 minutes before departure (even though you’re in the airport and through security).
Once you’ve reached the gate it’s handy to check on the screens that this gate is going to your chosen destination. There have been instances where gates have changed and some passengers have been left behind as they hadn’t realised this and were left sitting in another gate. A member of staff will ask you to provide your passport and boarding pass, to which you’ll then be allowed to sit down and wait to be asked to board the plane. If you’re travelling on a long haul flight then passengers may be called in terms of groups - the last being economy and the first obviously being first class. Either way the group number or letter will be clearly stated on your boarding pass. If you’re unsure then don’t hesitate to ask a member of staff as they’re there to help. You will then be directed through a chute connected to the plane or you may have to walk to the plane itself and walk up a flight of stairs.
Once You’re On The Plane
Once you’ve got onto the plane the first person you’ll see is a member of the cabin crew who will check your boarding pass and direct you to your seat. Once you’ve found your seat waste no time in putting your larger hand luggage in the overhead lockers and sit down. One of the things I hate is standing behind someone who takes hours to make put their luggage in the overhead lockers and creates a queue behind them. Once you’ve sat down, fasten your seat belt and make sure smaller hand luggage is stowed below the seat in front of you. The cabin crew will walk throughout the plane to make sure everyone has their seat belt on and all necessary items are stowed away before informing passengers of the safety procedures. These procedures are very important, such as putting your phone on aeroplane mode to making sure passengers know what to do if there’s an emergency landing, so make sure you give your full attention to the cabin crew. The sign for the seat belts will be turned off and the food carts will start their journey throughout the plane around 20-30 minutes from take off. This allows passengers to walk around and also use the toilets while on-board. Before disembarking the plane make sure you have everything you need. Enjoy your travels!
We've all been there - you're confident and proud of your packing skills to only realise that your suitcase won't shut. I've been there. With me having to sit on friends and families suitcases to make sure they close shut with the silent prayers that their suitcase doesn't bust open and the contents fly everywhere. We've also all been there when we've brought too much, we all have the sweats going up to the counter to have our bags dropped off and praying that the attendant won't announce my bags are overweight. Luckily for me she's talking about the bags and not me. With these packing tips you'll wonder why you never thought of these before and will have no more worries about items fitting in your suitcase or it being overweight.
Making a Packing List
As simple as it seems making a list can be one of the most helpful tips when packing for a holiday. Write down everything you may need from clothes to medications and toiletries. I would firstly write down how many days you're travelling for as well as the climate of that certain region or country. From there you can decide what clothes would be appropriate to take with you. From there you can work out how many toiletries you'll need - I'm sure you don't need a whole bottle of shampoo and conditioner for a three day vacation. That's why shops sell travel bottles - they're reusable and can save a lot of weight when travelling with hand luggage or checked luggage. You can also take this list away with you so when you're packing your suitcase to return home, you can make sure you have all items you came with. I've left so many iPhone chargers in hotel rooms since I simply overlook it when packing to return home - it also prevents me from charging my phone on the way back home. Try making 40% last for a four hour journey when you've download a film and two episodes of Ru Paul's Drag Race to watch while on the flight.
Know Your Limits!
It would be advisable to check with your airline how much luggage you're allowed and it's weight, whether it's hand luggage only or whether you're allowed to put a checked piece of luggage under the plane. For example, some flights with EasyJet only allow a customer to bring just a suitcase or weekend bag within specific measurements as well as a small purse or bag. There is no weight limit but you need to make sure that you can lift the bag above your head when putting it in the overhead lockers. However, with airlines such as British Airways hand luggage is limited to 23kg on long haul flights as well as 23kg for checked luggage. Limits and sizes change with airline, it would be better to check and buy a scale to weigh your bags rather to pay extra to have your bag accepted onto the plane. Something no one wants to fork out for since these prices can start from £30 for one piece of luggage being overweight.
Wear Your Heaviest Clothes
If you're travelling to somewhere cold, for me this was Iceland, wear everything that would take up the most space in your suitcase. When I travelled to Iceland I wore a vest top, a hoodie, a thick jacket as well as snow boots since these items would've taken up all the space in my suitcase alone. Even putting my gloves in my pocket saved extra space in my suitcase as they were quite thick. But don't go too overboard like one passenger did where they bought a jacket that held all of their items to prevent them from going over the weight limit and save space in their suitcase. Just use common sense, whatever seems the heaviest and takes up the most space - consider if wearing it would be an advantage.
Leave Extra Space in Your Suitcase
We've all done it, packed everything perfectly back into our suitcase when returning from holiday to then look and see loads of small gifts and presents still needing to be packed. When travelling leave some room for souvenirs or gifts, you'll accumulate more than you think! The tip above applies once again - even if you wear a jumper on the way home and from that have space for items you've bought. If you've bought smaller items such as snow globes or magnets, put them in the pockets of your hoodies in your suitcase or put them inside a t-shirt that can be rolled. This barely takes up any space and allows your valuables to be safely protected when you return home.
Carry a Bag of Essentials With You
If you're allowed to keep your hand luggage with you throughout your journey - which can be small suitcase or a weekend bag - put your essentials in it and an outfit if your checked luggage is lost or misplaced. For example, I'd keep a bra, change of underwear, leggings, a t-shirt, socks, a toothbrush and toothpaste as well as a hairbrush in my hand luggage so I'd be able to live out of my hand luggage until my checked luggage turns up. This happened to a family member of mine when we travelled to Iceland - she had her child with her and the suitcase with all the clothes and nappies went missing as well as the pram breaking upon touchdown. An absolute nightmare when you're abroad with a young child without nappies, clothes and other essentials especially when you haven't packed an extra bag.
Roll Your Clothes!
This idea is simply brilliant - instead of folding your clothes, roll them. This is a game changer in the sense that you won't believe how many clothes you'll be able to fit in and you'd be able to see what clothes you're bringing with you from a quick glance. Rolling your clothes will also reduce the chances of them creasing - another handy tip would be to use vacuum bags if you really want to save even more space and reduce the likelihood of creasing even more. Even though you obviously can't fold shoes, you can put socks in your shoes to keep their shape as well as save more space in your suitcase. If you have a pair of sandals or flip flops then simply place them either side of your clothes along the edges of your suitcase - you won't even know that they're there!
Try a Test Run
If your airline requires you to place your hand luggage in the overhead lockers then make sure you can actually lift your suitcase above your head. In some videos I've seen airlines asking passengers to make sure they can lift their own bag before boarding the plane - something you don't want to do when you're just about to board your flight and go on holiday. If you can't lift your luggage over your head then go back and review what's weighing down your suitcase. If you find a heavy item that's causing the problem then go ahead and see if it's worth wearing it on the way out there. The same tip applies for when you'll be dragging your suitcase around the airport as well as on the way to your accommodation. If you find it difficult to do this then it may be worth investing in a suitcase with four wheels to spread the weight of your luggage as well as making it easier to transport.
If you're travelling with a hidden disability or condition, travelling may require extra support for some. The sunflower lanyard is a symbol to which allows members of staff, either working at airports or at train stations, to recognise that they may need additional assistance during their journey. By wearing a sunflower lanyard an individual is allowed to go throughout their journey independently but has the option of knowing that members of staff are on hand throughout your journey to support them. In a sense passengers can notify staff discretly that they may have anxiety, ADHD, dementia or a visual impariement as well as any other conditions. This allows privacy for the person wearing the sunflower lanyard as they do not need to state or disclose their condition but the sunflower lanyard represents this. Members of staff are notified that people wearing a sunflower lanyard may need assistance and have been trained to recognise that a passenger may need additional help throughout the different parts of their journey.
The best part about the sunflower lanyard is that it's completely free and reusable, they can be used on other journeys throughout airports or train stations and even in supermarkets such as Sainsbury's. Wherever you go the sunflower has become a symbol for hidden disabilities, something that is important for passengers with hidden disabilties since they can range from being a physical condition to a mental condition that could cause distress or make a journey stressful. As I suffer from anxiety this lanyard brings me extra comfort and security knowing that if needed help members of staff would be there to assist me throughout my journey. I've had panic attacks in the airport before as well as feeling extremely anxious, with no members of staff being able to help me, but now since I have a sunflower lanyard this represents that I may need additional help throughout my journey. This simply could be redirecting me to a shorter queue through security or assistance while boarding the plane. My only problem with this sunflower lanyard is that one size does not fit all - different people may need different forms of help and assistance throughout their visit, it depends on what disability the passenger has. Additionally, in the past I have had panic attacks on flights where I've cried for two hours straight, my body was shaking and even passengers intervened to see if I was okay - no members of staff on the plane intervened at all even though they could see I was physically distressed. I wasn't wearing a sunflower lanyard at the time but I still expected some form of assistance as it made the journey a horrible experience for both me and other passengers on the plane.
How to Get a Sunflower Lanyard
There are a range of ways to get a sunflower lanyard or another object to represent hidden disabilities, you can either pick them up at the airport or have them delivered to your home address before you fly. The airports and train companies offering this lanyard currently are:
More information can be found here:
Before booking up a hotel I read reviews and see what people think about the hotel and their experience there. Even for certain excursions and services I read reviews to see whether or not it would be a worthwhile experience for me as well as seeing if it's worth the price advertised. There are hundreds of websites dedicated to storing reviews so that they're readily available whenever someone wants to read them. My favourite website for reading and posting reviews would be Trip Advisor, I have used it for many years and have avoided certain places that look attractive and stylish but end up leaving people upset and unsatisfied with their stay. There are other websites that I frequently use such as Trust Pilot and Booking.com as well as reading the reviews while on Google Maps. Even though reviews can be helpful, some reviews become biased on experience and for situations and events that the place simply couldn't help. For example, if the hotel is in a busy area then it may have good transport links but the obvious being that it may be a little loud at times, especially if there's a special occasion and event in that specific country. This blog post lays an outline as to how to write a review that includes details that will help other travellers and will put out a fair opinion on the hotel you're visiting.
In this sense you may note down whether it's walking distance from any popular landmarks as well as noting down the transport links available. You may include your experience getting to and from the hotel, if you used public transport and if you got a taxi from the airport you could also include how much the fare cost. It would be helpful to add photos from outside the hotel room, in Paris from my hotel window I could see the Eiffel Tower, which added more value into my review as it gave me beautiful views throughout my stay. Reviews that I enjoy reading are ones that state if there are any shops nearby and any popular restaurants, from there it allows other people to research this restaurant and see if the shops around them would suite their needs throughout their stay. It's very important to explain the surrounding area it's in as well as explaining whether or not you felt safe in that particular area especially if you were walking there early in the morning or late at night.
When checking in make sure you make note of the time you got to the hotel, if you arrived at the hotel too early and most importantly before the check-in time then don't be surprised if the hotel turns you away and asks for you to come back later. In some reviews people may express anger and frustration that their rooms were not ready when they arrived but some fail to state that they arrived too early, if they had arrived after the check-in time and their room was not ready then that's simply a fault on the part of the hotel. Throughout your check-in process it would be handy to note whether the staff at the reception were friendly to you as well as if the process of checking in and out was simple and quick. In some lucky occasions some travellers review that they were given a free bottle of champagne and chocolates upon arrival but some people may be disappointed that this didn't happen to them upon arrival. The reason behind this being is that hotels like to celebrate special occasions such as wedding anniversary's and mile stone birthdays. If you do receive anything from the reception desk as well as if you find anything in your room, it would be helpful to other travellers to write down the reason you received these complementary gifts so that other travellers don't have high expectations when arriving as well as from there leaving a bad review for the hotel. If you do check-in late at the hotel then it would be important to note whether the hotel has a 24 hour reception or whether it's open until a certain time. This saves travellers the hassle and fuss of trying to ring up a number to get the key to their room if the reception closes before their arrival.
In most reviews the first thing you will read is whether or not the bed was comfy, the million dollar question, which for some people is a make or break as to whether they stay at that hotel. Travellers may complain that the bed is too hard or too soft but when writing a review all you simply need to note is whether the bed was comfy, hotels can't cater to everyone's mattress preferences. Another handy tip would be to describe the decor, if you like it then that's great - there will be other people who have similar tastes that will also enjoy it. If you don't like the decor then you must have a reason behind it such as if the wallpaper is ripping or if there's chippings on the desk included with your room. You can't simply write that you hate the rooms decor simply because it isn't to your taste, once again the hotel cannot cater to everyone's tastes so they try their best to find a middle ground for their customers. If you have a TV in the room then it would be helpful to note down what channels come with it and whether any of them included English speaking channels or channels that you're able to watch and understand. The room sizing is also an important part of a review but it's important to note what hotel room you have booked, if you have booked up a standard room then the room will have enough space for one or two beds, room to put your suitcase as well as having room to move around - don't expect space to start doing cartwheels and running around. Did the room you were staying in have features such as a wardrobe or a place to hang up your clothes as well as a safe to store your valuables? (most hotels include a safe within the wardrobe). If on the hotel website the hotel clearly states that they don't include a safe in the rooms then there is no need to express your disappointment in a rude way. The option would be to recommend to the hotel and other travellers that the hotel doesn't include a safe in the rooms, which would be an option for the hotel to consider, but mentioning that the hotel clearly states this on their website. If you're staying in a hot country then it would be important to state whether the hotel has air conditioning and whether this was enough to allow you to stay cool throughout your stay as well as if it was loud. The reason behind this being that some people are very sensitive to noise and may not be able to sleep if they can constantly hear the sound of an air conditioner in their room. Photos are one of the most helpful part of a review since travellers can clearly see what a review is referring to - if there's dirt in the room and showing the facilities within the room. Even though adding photos from the view from your room is helpful to some travellers, it's important to note that you are staying in one room with one set view, other rooms may have an even better or worse view. If you want to help other travellers then you can add a handy tip such as, if you want a good view of the London Eye then I would recommend requesting a room with that view or on the 7th floor.
Most hotels offer small shampoos, conditioners, shower gels and small packets of soap to their guests, this would be handy to include in your review whether the hotel provided any of these things (which would benefit travellers that are travelling light). Some travellers may review that there wasn't enough towels in the room, a fair point to make, but it's simple to get more towels - phone up or go down to reception and politely ask for some more (problem solved!). If you're staying in a 4 or 5 star hotel then you may be lucky enough to be supplied with gowns throughout your stay, many people may find this appealing as the star rating of the hotel reflects on the necessities and items within the room. One of my favourite products that I found in a hotel room was sanitary bags, something that most hotels don't offer, but this small touch made me feel a lot more comfortable and gave me a hygienic way to dispose of my sanitary products. The most important review of a bathroom would be whether it's clean - we all have different standards of what clean is - but the bottom line is would the bathroom and shower be clean enough for use and would you be comfortable using it. It would be important to note whether the hotel supplies you with a hairdryer, which is normally located in the bathroom, since then it saves travellers bringing their own. However, when I've read reviews that a hotel includes a hairdryer, this hairdryer has turned out to have very little power and to be very weak - making it unusable since I have very thick and long hair. Shower pressure is another thing that many people consider important in a review, especially since some people may be concerned about their water usage to help the environment whereas others prefer a higher and stronger water pressure when using the shower.
Facilities & Services
Many travellers overlook including the different types of facilities and services in their review mainly because they never used them so they thought not to include them. Even if you don't use the facilities such as the spa, swimming pool or Jacuzzi, another traveller may benefit from knowing that these facilities are at the hotel especially if they're staying at the hotel for long period of time. The utter most important part of a review that my eyes scan for first is whether the hotel offers WiFi - either paid or free. If the hotel offers free WiFi then I expect it to cover most areas of the hotel, including my room and the dining areas of the hotel if I chose to use them. If the hotel offers the option of paid WiFi, in which you decide to purchase and use, it would be helpful for you to give a comparison of whether the paid WiFi had a better speed and whether it was overall worth the cost. If you have housekeeping then most likely you will bump into them throughout your stay or when you're walking through the hotel. Did the housekeeping replenish all the items that were used up, such as toilet rolls and used towels, or did they miss it out? If they did miss it out then once again it's important to review this in the sense that this could've been a one off and an error as well as commenting whether you got the problem resolved. Then the person reading the review can sum up whether the hotel does this constantly or whether it was a one off incident. A small majority of hotels don't offer parking, which is stated on their website, but many people forget to research this before their stay and sometimes forget they have booked a rental car. If the hotel does offer parking then you can include the rates of parking that the hotel charge and the location of the parking. For example, some hotels may offer parking underneath the building whereas others may have a car park located opposite the hotel or in some cases even down the next street.
As much as price isn't an issue for some travellers as paying more may mean a more luxurious hotel as well as a higher star rating. However, price is an important factor for a number of reasons and it must be reviewed carefully. The reason behind this being is that if you state that you paid an awfully high rate for the hotel room, state the dates you stayed there and how long ago you booked the hotel room - if you book during the summer holidays and a few days before the trip then prices will be at an all time high. This would be a chance for you to help travellers save money by stating the best seasons to travel as well as including how you booked a room - if you book through the hotel it might be cheaper and the hotel may include some free gifts as well as offering you a code to get discount on your next stay. When reviewing the price it's important to work out whether the star rating, facilities and services offered by the hotel as well as the room itself matches the price you're paying for the room per night. If you're paying a very small price then don't be surprised when the star rating matches the quality of the room as well as the facilities and services offered.
Most hotels offer a free continental or cooked breakfast, in some cases you may be lucky and receive both, which is becoming more frequent and common among hotels. The price of the breakfast is usually included in the room rate, which is an added bonus, but it's important to note if there was a wide variety of food that would suite everyone's tastes. If you are offered a free continental breakfast then you may receive nothing more than cereal, toast and yogurt, which is standard and reasonable since you're enjoying a free breakfast from the comfort of your hotel. If you do decide to eat the breakfast offered then state what food items were offered as well as whether they were replenished. Some hotels unfortunately stop replenishing food items after a certain time, which leads me to the point of mentioning that reviewers should state what time they went down to breakfast. If you were the first one to go down to breakfast when it opened then you'll get first choice of the food and have more choice whereas if you go to breakfast minutes before it's over then don't be surprised that there's little options available. If you do have to pay for the breakfast then you can really go into detail to whether the breakfast was worth the money since you're paying for it. In my opinion if the breakfast is included within the room rate I don't like to complain as this I'll eat anything that's included within the price of the room - I'm grateful that it's free as it saves me money throughout my stay. If you decide to have dinner at the hotel the same rules apply, comment on whether you enjoyed the food and whether it was worth it when in contrast to the prices they charged.
If you did have any problems at the hotel it's important to highlight it - to show how the hotel dealt with it and to see if the solution was quick and efficient. Did they sort the problem out? If they did then highlight the member of staff that was helpful enough to help you resolve your problem as well as in what way did they solve your problem. If they didn't then highlight the steps you took to get your issue resolved and what the hotel said in response to that. If you include in your review that you had a problem in most cases the hotel will reply to your review where you can reach out to them and explain your situation. Hotels do this as they don't want negative feedback on their hotel for problems that could've been sorted while the guest was staying there. If there's anything that you think the hotel could improve on then give them constructive criticism as to what they could do to make the next guests stay even better than yours. Hotels often appreciate customer feedback as they're constantly striding to provide the best experience for their guests and keep them returning.
The last part of your review should sum up your experience at the hotel. Did you enjoy your stay? If so then highlight the main reasons as to why you enjoyed it and if not then highlight the reasons that your stay wasn't as good as it could've been. Would you end up coming again? Another point to conclude on would be to praise the people that prided themselves in putting your satisfaction and enjoyment as their priority throughout your stay. One kind message goes a long way and the person working at the hotel, whether it be a member of staff or housekeeping, would really appreciate your kind words.
Air travel is extremely safe mostly due to the rules and regulations brought around by airline companies for passengers to follow during their flight. From simple requests such as asking passengers to keep their seat belt on throughout the flight to safety briefing cards in the seat pockets. These following tips can make your flight safer as well as giving you peace of mind if anything were to happen. In any case this can make any anxiety surrounding flying lessen and will help with nerves throughout the flight.
If you sit in an emergency exit row of the plane you may be told by flight attendants that you will be needed in the event where an emergency occurs. However, there are limitations to the person that gets to sit in the emergency exit rows as they must be willing to perform acts such as being physically capable of performing procedures such as opening and operating the exit row door as well as being above a certain age. If you're not sitting in an emergency exit row it would be handy to know where your nearest emergency exit is, the reason behind this being that if the plane fills with smoke you won't be able to see where the exit is and how long it would take to crawl there. It would be advisable to remember what row your seat is in, this allowing you to calculate how long it would take to get to the nearest emergency exit if your visibility is impaired.
As much as everyone loves looking their best for the airport and their flight, which I will never understand since I prefer comfort over looks, you'll end up regretting it if an emergency occurred. Shoes such as heels are one of the worst choices to wear on a flight for two reasons: if there was an emergency you wouldn't be able to get far in heels as well as having your feet burned when you've turned to walking barefoot on whatever ground you have landed on. Even shoes such as flip flops are not the most sensible choice of footwear while flying, the main reason behind this being the same as wearing heels, you're not able to get far in them especially in the event of an emergency. Other fashion choices that I wouldn't advise would be wearing shorts as the reason behind this being if you had to use the slide to exit the plane then your thighs will be burned if you're one of the last to exit the plane and if it's extremely hot that day.
Safety Briefing Video & Card
I know for a fact that most people on a plane are either talking to their friend, trying to update their Facebook status before they go into the air or just generally zoning out while flight attendants explain safety procedures. As much as we all find this boring, how do we think the flight attendants feel, but there is a reason for this repetitive briefing. Each plane has new safety requirements, whether it be the change of where the emergency exits are located or where your life jackets are located, it's important to listen to these safety announcements. Especially in the spur of the moment your thought may be impaired as an emergency is obviously unexpected but the priority would be to either know how to exit the plane, how to adjust your oxygen mask or to inflate your life jacket. When the flight attendants recommend wearing your seat belt throughout the entire flight, they're not saying this just for fun, there's more chance of turbulence happening than any other emergency.
Well-being & Surroundings
Every passenger should be well rested so that if there was an emergency they would be alert and be able to clearly listen to instructions given. I don't mean that passengers should have a full 8 hour sleep before flying as sometimes that isn't possible, I mean to refrain from drinking too much alcohol before or on their flight. Alcohol doesn't help someone having a clear head in the case of an emergency but it even can delay other passengers from exiting the plane. If you've had a bit too much to drink the last thing you would want is for someone to force an oxygen mask over your mouth even though it could be the thing that saves your life, leading to other passengers and flight attendants having to work a lot harder to ensure passengers safety. Drinking alcohol will also lead to dehydration so a cheaper and preferable choice would be to drink water - it would keep you hydrated and even better it's good for your body. When flight attendants say that they're not serving you anymore alcohol, respect their decisions, they risk their lives to save yours in the event of an emergency. If you're on a long haul flight and you're using your own devices to occupy your mind, it would be important to keep an eye on the screen in front of you as any important transmissions will be shown on the screen. If you're listening to music it would be advisable to turn your music down for just a minute so you can listen to what's being announced, it could be something small such as the plane hitting a small bit of turbulence or in a worst case scenario asking passengers to prepare themselves for an emergency landing.
If there was an emergency on a plane and everyone had to evacuate you'd have around 40 seconds to get from your seat to exiting the plane altogether. I always carry a small cross body bag which has everything I need in it: my passport, identification, bank cards and my medication. I carry this bag on my body throughout the entire flight as if there were an emergency then I would have everything I need on me and I could leave the plane as soon as I was able to. If I moved some of my important possessions such as my medication or my passport into my hand luggage, such as an suitcase in the overhead locker, then I would either have the choice of exiting the plane with nothing or risk my life by staying to get my personal belongings. Clothing and other belongings can always be replaced, there's nothing more important than your life, in this sense it's your favourite pair of shoes or your life - an easy choice.
Even though this is easier said than done since it's hard to stay calm in the event of an emergency, it would help the situation. Panic can impair thought and this makes you more likely to make mistakes, mistakes that could delay your evacuation from the plane or adjusting your oxygen masks, a small mistake could cost you your life. If you've listened to the safety instructions then you have nothing to fear, there is always the safety card in the seat pocket that clearly shows and describes what you would need to do in the event of an emergency. Flight attendants have been trained for every possible situation and have passengers safety as a priority so there is completely nothing to worry about. There is a much bigger chance that you'll be involved in a traffic accident rather than one involving flying, there are rarely any major accidents.
Asides from the obvious: making sure that you have everything packed and getting to the airport on time, there is a lot more to do that is overlooked. In my previous blog post: Keeping Your Home Safe While On Holiday there was a lot of information solely regarding tips on how to keep your home safe while on holiday, there is a lot more preparation to be done. Whether it's making sure that you have all the important documents you need to travel or sorting out your finances, these important procedures cannot be overlooked.
Passport & Paperwork
Whether you're travelling on an hour long flight or a twelve hour one, there are two things you will need to get on a plane: a passport and boarding pass. People will read this and think how can anyone be so forgetful to leave their passport at home, well it isn't just making sure you have your passport - it's making sure that it's in date (as well as making sure it doesn't expire while you're abroad). It's important to check whether the country you're travelling to requires travellers to have a visa (without one you will be denied access to the country). Make sure that you have selected the right visa to travel under, whether it be a tourist visa or a visa which allows an individual to work in the country for a specific amount of time. If you do plan to rent a car at your chosen destination then it's important to bring your driving license, you'd be surprised at the amount of people that leave it at home as they simply don't want to lose it.
Whether people forget to purchase travel insurance or whether they regard it as not a necessity, travel insurance is one of the most important things to purchase before your flight. Travel insurance can cost as little as £5 depending on your age and medical history as well as being dependant on the country you're travelling to. If you purchase travel insurance make sure to read what the policy covers as some policies don't cover gadgets and adventurous activities. You'd be surprised how many policies don't cover the basic necessities such as whether you'll get reimbursed if you lose your cash or your luggage. If you have any medical conditions then you are obliged to state them when buying insurance, if you buy the insurance and fail to declare any illnesses or medical conditions then you may not be reimbursed when claiming for hospital costs. If you're purchasing a single trip policy then make sure that you have selected the correct date from when you're departing for your trip and when you arrive back. If you've purchased an annual travel insurance then make sure that by the time you arrive back from your trip your policy will still cover you.
Prescriptions & Medications
Whether you're travelling for a few days or a few weeks, then the most important thing to make sure that you have packed in your suitcase is any medication you have been prescribed. It would be advisable to bring other common medicines such as paracetamol, Feminax (if you suffer from period pain and cramps) as well as anti-diarrhoea medication (this includes Dioralyte as it replaces water and body salts that have been lost). It would also be handy to take any medication that will help take the edge off from a cold or the flu, even if you're travelling to a hot country you may still catch it. I was stuck in Cyprus once with what I thought to be a throat infection and had to take what seemed like a shot of brown acid to resolve it, I would've much preferred to treat it with a medication I had brought along. At the pharmacy in Cyprus there was a major problem which was the language barrier, I couldn't read the instructions for the medicine since they were all in Greek, I just hoped for the best. Sadly when I returned to London I was told that I'd had tonsillitis, what fun. Whatever medications you decide to bring with you to your chosen destination, make sure that they're legal in that country. This may sound silly but there was a case of a woman from America being detained and placed in a jail cell for nearly 20 days for bringing Adderall into Japan. Even though it's commonly used in America to treat attention deficit disorder, it's classed as an illegal amphetamine in Japan and as they were sent to her it was assumed that she was smuggling them into the country.
Make Copies Of Everything
The most important documents to photocopy would be:
Knowing Luggage Restrictions
Many airlines have similar baggage restrictions, with most short haul flights (under 4 hours or less) restricting passengers to only bringing a small suitcase (hand luggage) and one smaller bag that they can carry on their person. The dimensions of this hand luggage are quite specific with each airline giving dimensions and the weight on their website as well as clearly stating what happens if passengers exceed this. Before you make your way to the airport it would be best to make sure that your suitcase is within the dimensions for your specific airline and make sure that it's not overweight - the main reason being that in most cases you'll have to lift it over your head into the overhead locker space. For long haul flights each bag will most certainly be weighed and tagged, when I was travelling back from Florida my large suitcase ended up being 3kg over weight. This leaded me to then wearing the heaviest of clothes that I had bought to the airport and all the way home - I'd rather this than paying the fee for an overweight bag (which can be as much as £65).
Sort Out Your Finances
If you decide to travel with just cash, then make a plan of where to store your money as well as making sure that you have a debit or credit card with you so that you can withdraw from if somehow your money is lost or stolen. It would be sensible to invest in a prepaid travel money card, such as Revolut or one from the Post Office, these cards allow the user to put as little or as much as they want on it. When they use this particular card in other countries they won't get charged a foreign/international fee. When I travel I carry 70% cash and then 30% will be put onto my Revolut card (as well as having my debit card with me). If you do plan to use a debit or credit card then I would suggest informing your bank that you're travelling to a specific country or location so that they don't get alerts for any suspicious activity or temporarily block your card. When I was booking up excursions for my trip to Rome in March my card was temporarily blocked since my bank detected that I was making a lot of purchases to which were for outside of the country. I simply had to text back my bank with a code and they unblocked my card but while abroad some people may not be able to call or text their bank provider.
If you're travelling the last thing you want is to return to a home that has been either vandalised or in a worse case scenario broken into. Rather than sharing images from your holiday on social media you'll be trying to come to terms with how this happened and trying to get back what you can from your insurance provider. All of these tips are quite simple and most people forget that these small things can allow you to have a stress free holiday knowing that your home is secure.
Asking Someone to Watch Your Home
One of the simplest and easiest options would be asking a neighbour, friend or family member to keep an eye on your home while you're away (whether it be for a two day holiday or one that lasts for two weeks). In most cases you will be able to return the favour when your neighbour, friend or family member goes on holiday and it gives you the peace of mind knowing your property is being monitored. The neighbours surrounding me are quite old and don't go on holidays that much anymore so to say thank you I usually return the favour by buying them a box of chocolates.
A safety measure that I never thought of until I recently started travelling was to unplug all appliances that I wouldn't use while abroad. For example, most people turn of their TV by the remote and leave it on a standby mode, this is still draining power as the appliance is still plugged in to the socket. Even a WiFi router is something most people overlook when travelling since most people use WiFi up to the moment they leave for the airport or train station. A WiFi router can be hacked easily, whether it be an easy to guess password or whether the router is weak, this puts you at risk when you return as criminals can monitor your internet use and gain passwords and credit card details when using online services. If you unplug your WiFi box this means there is no chance hackers can get access to your WiFi box since it won't appear online. The same principle applies to garage doors openers, they can easily be hacked into and allow your garage door to be opened, which not only allows criminals access to your car but some garages are connected to the insides of houses. It's surprising and scary that these hackers can gain access to your garage in minutes and in some cases seconds.
Don't Announce You're Going Away
As much as we all love seeing people's posts on Facebook stating that they're enjoying a cheeky margarita in Gatwick's North Terminal with the overuse of emojis in their post, this is announcing that you have an empty house. Some people don't realise that social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram are available for anyone and everyone to see if your account isn't private. There is more than enough time for you to post images and tell the world highlights of your holiday when you return. This is the most common mistake people make as most people are delighted to announce that they're going to enjoy two weeks in the sun while they know most people have to work, oh how I envy them. But unfortunately some people return to see that they have been burgled or even have had their property vandalised, that I don't envy.
Make Sure Everything is Locked Properly
No I don't mean the front door, I'm not that stupid. Well I mean do lock the front door but there are other measures you can take to make sure your property is locked and secure. Windows can be locked by simply shutting them but some windows come with a key which make sure that these windows can't be opened at all. Another safety precaution would be to make sure that you haven't left a key under the doormat or under a pot next to your front door. Even a lock box could prove to be the demise for your home, even though some lock boxes have a specific combination to get into them, I wouldn't put it past determined burglars trying different combinations each day to get in. Some lock boxes aren't secure at all as they can be easily broken into by simply smashing it. If you do want a lock box then make sure it's of high quality and durable to protect your keys.
Make it Look Like You're at Home
Before anyone says anything, I don't mean copy the part from Home Alone where Kevin makes the Jordan cutout dance around the room to deter Marv and Harry. The first thing to do would be to focus on the exterior, if you have the same washing hanging to dry outside for five days then it does look like the house is empty. If you need to let washing dry then bring the clothes horse inside. If you have a front garden then make sure it's mowed and there isn't weeds growing left right and centre as this gives the appearance that there hasn't been anyone inside for a while. If you have flowers planted then ask your neighbour or a friend to come round and water your plants so that they don't end up dying, this is especially useful during the summer when there is barely any rainfall. Most people tend to shut their curtains while they're away since people won't be able to look in and see their precious 42" TV in their living room. As much as this is a good idea in concept and plays well during the night, it does look a little unusual during the day and if this remained the same for a couple of days. If you really want to make sure that your home is protected then it might be worth investing in motion sensor lights which as the name says light up when someone steps in the proximity of the lights. Many people use these either on their back door or the front door as burglars may be startled if they're suddenly highlighted for the surrounding neighbours to see what they're trying to do. Investing in CCTV cameras is another good idea, both a deterrent for burglars as well as being useful as evidence if your home is burgled as it would provide a clear views of who broke into your home as well as what they made off with. A clever investment would be buying lights which can be controlled from your phone or tablet, this meaning you could adjust the lights in your house depending on the time of day. For example, you might turn on the kitchen light in the morning and the light in the living room in the evening but at night all lights would be turned off. This gives the impression that people are in the house constantly hence the lights being on.
Place a Hold on Newspapers & Mail Deliveries
Not only does an overflowing mailbox signify that no one is home, it also allows people to reach in and take your mail. This mail may include personal information and allow people to view your bank statements, if someone stole mine then they're more than welcome to see how much I spent on food last month. Even when I have been home some delivery services have left items in pots outside of my house meaning anyone would be welcome to take it. If you have deliveries coming then make sure to use the option of delivering to a neighbour or stating that you'd pick it up from the depot when you return. Royal Mail currently offer a Keepsafe service which means Royal Mail will keep your mail and then return it when you're back. Prices range depending on the amount of days you're away, the shortest being 10 days and the longest being 100. This option would be more efficient when used for a longer holiday, if you're travelling for 5 days then it would leave you without mail for another 5 days after you have come back.
Don't Leave Valuables in Sight
A simple and easy way to prevent burglars from feeling tempted to burgle your particular home would be to hide your valuables. Even if someone did break in would they really spend the effort to search and search for a laptop or a tablet? It depends. I've heard stories of people being robbed of everything, even their kettle, which shows the pure desperation of some people. Regardless, a safe would be the safest option as you can store a lot of valuables such as jewellery and cash into something that is heavy and takes a lot to be broken into to. When I go abroad I try to put everything out of view and I put these valuables in places no one would think to look.
Look at What Your Home Insurance Covers
If you haven't got home insurance then I would strongly advice investing and purchasing it. Even though some people have purchased home insurance I can tell many people wouldn't know what their policy covers as well as being unsure of the procedure they would take if their home was broken into. Most policies cover the standard rate of protection which allows customers can claim for damaged or stolen goods such as furniture and electrical items. However, some insurance companies may not except claims for more expensive items such as jewellery and pieces of art. If you're unsure then either call up your insurance provider or read the small print and policy details that should've been provided to you when you took out the insurance. If you do come home and your home has been burgled then the first thing to do would be to call the police and report it and then within 24 hours you should put a claim in for your insurance provider. Even though you might be in shock over what has happened, it would be advisable to make sure you try and find receipts for what you've lost and take photographic evidence as some companies may require this.
Since the main airline I travel with is easyJet, I've sat through the numerous speeches on the plane regarding the benefits of getting an easyJet Plus card as well as seeing people take advantage of these perks at the airport and on board the flight. The price of an easyJet Plus membership is currently at £199 per year which had risen from the previous price of £170 per year. To take advantage of the benefits an easyJet Plus card entitles members to, it means that members must carry their cards with them when necessary. Unfortunately if members misplace their card then they will need to pay £15 for a replacement card to be sent to them.
London Gatwick to Amsterdam:
Amsterdam to London Gatwick:
Final Total: £75.98
There are many benefits to becoming an easyJet members, as shown above, which would prove to be more financially beneficial to people that travel with easyJet frequently. As shown above, if you were to take full advantage of the benefits offered by this card then it may only take 3 return journeys (6 flights) to get your moneys worth. If you also want to travel comfortably than the easyJet Plus membership is for you since benefits such as Speedy Boarding and Fast Track Security make your airport experience less stressful. Personally I would have invested in an easyJet card if I had found out about it prior to booking my holidays as I would've taken 18 flights with easyJet by next June. If I paid at least £10 for a seat and £5 for Fast Track Security per flight, I would've saved nearly £100 from just getting a free seat and being able to through security quicker. This doesn't even take into account the Earlier Flight for Free and if a seat was priced at £29.99 per way.
More information about easyJet plus can be found here: https://plus.easyjet.com/benefits.aspx
Finding and booking up accommodation can be one of the most time-consuming and painstaking processes when booking up a holiday. For me, extensive research is done into what facilities the hotel offers, where the hotel is situated and most importantly the price. However, some people may find themselves booking accommodation last minute by booking last minute flights with the realisation that they have nowhere to stay. Either way finding accommodation can be very stressful and take more time than you'd like, in some cases people take weeks to find accommodation they like. With these apps finding accommodation has never been easier, it's essentially stating what factors are important to you and then these apps find results accordingly (based on price, distance from the city centre/airport or rating).
The name of this app couldn't explain its purpose better, it's a website in which lists different types of accommodations across nearly 230 countries. This making it one of the most extensive and useful apps available at the moment. It's main listings regard hotels as there are 1.5 million hotel listings worldwide but there are a range of different property types such as hostels, apartments, holiday homes and guest houses. There are specific factors in which narrow down the search for the perfect accommodation, in which the individual has full control over. These factors include budget, location, score, star rating and traveller rating. The app goes into even more detail by breaking down the specific ratings given to a property by asking individuals who have stayed there to rate the property on service, cleanliness, comfort and facilities. Through the app you have all the specific information of the properties such as check-in and check-out time, something some properties don't clearly state as well as images of the room/place you had booked. Rather than going through other websites or a Google search all of the information is easily accessible all in one place.
For the people that like to live life a little more spontaneously there's a specific app for you. HotelTonight allows the user to book up a hotel at a discounted rate for the same day or after as well as allowing the user to book up to 100 days ahead. In some cases some people may be stranded, such as at an airport, which may mean they need to find a last minute deal (luckily enough through the comfort of their own phone when using HotelTonight). Discounts go as low as up to 70% from the original face rate as well as having different options to choose from: lowest price, top deals and premium. If you're in a rush to find somewhere for the same day then this app is ideal since HotelTonight simply outline why they like it (the main features of the hotel) as well as an overview of the amenities that the hotel offers. The app also outlines what the individual would need to know: the check-in and check-out time as well as if the hotel requires identification upon check-in. The layout of the app is simple: type in the location in which you want to stay in as well as when you want to check in, then review the numerous amount of results with the prices being clearly stated and the face rate of the room originally. I couldn't recommend this app more if visiting to London since the sheer amount of hotels can be overwhelming as well as the hefty price tags which come with it. I've seen hotels as cheap as £150 per night in areas around Central London, which have been previously priced at £250 per night.
With 36,000 hostels in 170 different countries the option of staying in a hostel is becoming an alternative and cheaper form of accommodation for many travellers. Many people may assume that staying in a hostel means that you have to share a room and bathroom facilities with a range of people, that is simply wrong. Looking through the different options on the Hostelworld app, there are a range of different options to pick from: whether you want a private bedroom as well as whether you want to sleep in a mixed dorm. Using the app is the easiest way to book a hostel since you simply type in the location you want to stay in as well as how many guests will be staying. Each hostel has an individual description by Hostelworld themselves as well as an overview of the property itself. My favourite part of the app is the added details such as what the hostel offers as well as events that you can attend which you can book with the hostel. If you're going to somewhere new then this is a way to get out of your comfort zone as well as having a chance to experience new things with new people. The app also features extensive reviews from people who have stayed at that specific hostel, with 10 million reviews in total this makes this app useful when looking for hostels around the world.
Whether you're wanting to earn extra money while you're away on holiday or searching for a holiday home or house, Airbnb is the perfect app. With over 4 million vacation homes in 191 countries you'll be spoilt for choice with the different range of options within each country. It's a cheaper form of accommodation if you're travelling as a group and in a sense it makes a holiday memorable since you can all eat together and spend time together rather than having to go your separate ways to your hotel rooms at the end of the day. When I travelled to Australia me and my family done this and it made life a lot easier and it ended up being a lot cheaper than any hotel in the area we stayed in. The app gives you a choice to "Tour the home" by giving pictures of the interior and exterior which allows the user to see exactly what the home offers. The app also gives ideas for experiences around that specific location, ranging from concerts to photo shoots. Through the app you'd be able to speak directly to the owner, whether it would be enquiring about facilities of the home or asking where they'd leave their keys upon arrival, this is a convenient and reliable feature.
As much as I wished the name of this app meant you could literally surf using couches, it's not too far from the reality. This free app allows users to search couches to sleep on couches in over 230,000 cities as well as offer their couch to travellers around the world. Just like the price of the app, the whole idea behind this scheme is that people offer their hospitality and couch for free since hosts aren't allowed to charge their guests. Even though the idea of this may come across as unsafe, there are references from genuine people who have stayed at their hosts home. These reviews give praise on their friendliness, flexibility and whether their hosts were fun and reliable. Through the app different hosts state the rules of their household and what they can offer. Other information also includes what the hosts can teach the guests as well as the countries they've stayed in with other hosts. With over 160,000 hosts in London, this app is guarenteed to find you the best accommodation with no price attached - something handy if you're trying to travel on a budget as well as learn about the area you're staying in with your host essentially being a free tour guide.
Even though these safety tips are mainly used when staying in hotels, they can also be used when staying in different types of accommodation such as hostels and rental homes. Most of these points seem obvious but some people forget to do even the simplest of things whilst on holiday, something in which could even put your life at risk.
Showing ID When Checking In
One of the most standard procedures when checking into a hotel is showing photographic identification (Photo ID) to prove that you're the person as to whom the booking is under. When handing over your ID make sure you pass it to the receptionist rather than leaving it on top of the desk where everyone around can take a look at it. When the receptionist hands whatever forms of ID you've given back to you make sure every form of ID was handed back to you.
Some people may forget that some hotels may need to see the bank card that the room was booked with, which may be left at the desk after being checked. Then make sure that you put these forms of ID away in your bag, I've seen countless numbers of people leave their passport at reception and had gone to walk away before a receptionist had reminded them of what they had left.
Using a Safe
Before going away make sure you research whether your hotel or accommodation includes a safe, it's more likely that these will be found in hotels and full lockers will be found in hostels to hold your belongings. This can easily be done by searching the name of the place you're staying at and then going directly to their website or on websites such as Booking.com or Trip Advisor. Through these websites you can see what facilities your specific accommodation offers and from this you can then plan where to leave your valuables while there. If your hotel doesn't include a safe then get a lock for your suitcase if in worry, even if you do have a safe I still keep a lock on my suitcase, since everyone that works for the hotel isn't always as honest as they seem. Most hotels don't accept liability if a guests valuables are stolen through no fault of the establishment, hotels may only take responsibility if valuables are damaged due to an act of nature (natural disasters such as earthquakes or floods).
Don't Open The Door To Anyone!
If staying at a hotel, especially if you're alone, don't open the door before first checking through the peephole. If someone claims that they're the hotel staff then open the door with the security chain still on, so even if you found out they were lying they still wouldn't be able to gain access to your room. If someone knocks on your door and claims to be staff from the hotel and you're ever in doubt, call down to reception and ask if there's any reason for their staff to be knocking at your door. Anyone could claim that they're staff working at the hotel or even try to claim that they're housekeeping, once they get into your room you have no idea what could happen and what their intentions are.
Knowing The Fire Escape Route and Plan
Upon arriving at your hotel room you will clearly notice that there's a detailed plan of the floor you're staying on, with your room being highlighted and the map telling you your nearest fire exit. Even though many people may look at this and have a clear indication as to where the fire exit is because there are big green signs saying "FIRE EXIT" pointing to what direction you should be going towards to escape. What about if there was smoke in the corridor? How would you be able to see where you are if you have to end up crawling towards the fire exit? Make sure you locate where the stairs of the hotel are since lifts are to be avoided when in a fire as well as knowing how long it would roughly take to get there from your room. If you're staying in a hotel that has a lot of floors, try and get a floor that's situated near the bottom of the hotel. Even though you might miss out on the spectacular view it does mean you're a lot more likely to be safer in the event of a fire. If you were on the 4th floor of a hotel and couldn't use the corridor of the floor you're staying on to escape, what other route could you take? If the fire and rescue services came then they'd be able to rescue you through using a fire ladder. If you were situated on the 31st floor then this would make it near impossible to help you get evacuated from the building.
Never Say Your Full Name or Room Number
When checking in to a hotel many people may say their full name to allow the reception staff to find their booking. I would never do this since you never know who is listening, I would usually say "Hi, I have a room booked for Miss McLaughlin" and then the reception staff would then look for my reservation accordingly. I have never been in the situation where someone has had the exact same surname as me and they're checking in on the exact same day as me. If they did ask me for further clarification I'd announce the number of nights I'd be staying for rather than my first name. Another thing that hotels commonly do is openly announce your room number, if someone has your room number as well as your name they could easily impersonate you and say that "I'm Miss McLaughlin in Room 98 and I've lost my key for the room". If the hotel did announce openly what your room number is ask for another room. Hotels have never announced my room number openly, they usually write it on a small bit of paper used to hold my key card.
What To Do Whilst Inside Your Room
Aside from the obvious which is to enjoy your stay as well as making sure you have a comfortable place to sleep and shower for your stay, it's important to make sure your room is secure and safe. While in your room make sure the door is able to lock properly as well as making sure that when you're ready to call it a day the extra security feature such as a deadbolt or a security chain is in use. They aren't just there to look pretty, they are an added form of security to make sure the room you're in is secure. Electronic cards are most commonly used in hotels these days as they're deemed to be the safest option compared to keys. This is because each time a guest leaves their room and returns this specific key card back then this key card is completely wiped and replaced with a different code which allows the next guests to use it. If you're staying on one of the floors towards the bottom of the hotel then make sure your windows can be locked and they're locked at night, if they're near the street then thieves may see the perfect opportunity to get inside of your hotel room. The only time I would leave my windows open is when I'm in the room and usually I'd leave them open up to the moment before I go to bed to allow fresh air to get into the room.
Be Prepared For Anything
When staying in a hotel room the most important thing to do is make sure you have all your valuables in one place so if you needed to leave the room then you would have everything. I usually keep my handbag next to my bed with everything inside that I'd need for the next day, which can also be used if I needed to make a quick escape. In my handbag I keep my wallet, keys, passport and any other small items of importance. Keeping a pair of shoes next to your bed is advisable, like you would do with slippers while at home, so if you did need to leave then you wouldn't be running out of your accommodation bare foot. As much as some people would say the chance of something happening to them while abroad is one in a million, it's common to find people waking up in the middle of an earthquake or being awoken by the fire alarm blaring through the hotel.
Leaving A Note On The Nightstand
As mentioned in a previous blog post, Making an Itinerary, I explained that I keep important information regarding my whereabouts for the next few days: what activities I'll be doing as well as the times in which these activities take place within my hotel room. If an itinerary is not your cup of tea then most hotels provide a notepad and pen in which you can write down your whereabouts for the day so if you didn't return for some apparent reason then the hotel would have a rough idea of your location. This gives the police a helping hand and a map as to where I was during different times of the day, making it a lot more likely that I would be found. Even if you don't want to use the notepad and pen for this reason, it's a good idea to note down emergency numbers you may need such as for the police and ambulance since the area codes and numbers are different for each country.
Research The Hotel & Area Beforehand
Before booking a hotel or any sort of accommodation you first have to narrow down what part of the city you want to stay in. There are a number of different factors that deter people from certain places such as noise, crime as well as the prices in which certain areas charge due to their popularity (such as a city centre). If you google a specific area within a city it'd be easy to find whether that area is safe and whether the crime levels are high. It's important to find out if there's good transport links such as a metro station or a bus stop nearby, especially if you're travelling back to your hotel after dark. For example, in Barcelona our hotel was located within a minutes walk of a metro station as well as being in a well lit location as there was a lot of street lamps down these roads. It's important to look at the situation within that country: whether there is a terrorism threat and whether the area is a good place to visit for tourists. On websites such as gov.uk they advise tourists as to whether or not to travel to specific areas within a country. For example, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise people from travelling within the West of Egypt unless travel is essential (a holiday is not recommended here).
Before travelling the most important thing to do is photocopy any important documents you’ll be taking with you on your trip. The most important documents you’ll carry is your passport and in some cases a visa. Countries such as Spain, Turkey and France have strict laws which states that everybody in the country, tourist or citizen, needs to have identification on them at all times (which for a citizen would be a citizen card or driving license whereas for a tourist it would be a passport). Some people carry their passport with them but others take a photocopy with them, either way a photocopy left at your accommodation is the safest way to make sure your have your passport information if you do lose it. Instead of photocopying my bank card, which would indeed be a golden ticket for anyone that may find it if misplaced, I note down some important information such as my full name and the expiry date on the card. If this got into the wrong hands then it would be fine since my full card number isn’t on there as well as my CVV number. However, I’d still be able to give my bank some information regarding the name on the card and when it expires, so I’d be able to cancel it if I misplaced it or it had got stolen. Even though I don’t photocopy documents such as tickets for certain attractions, I make sure I have a printed version as well as a digital version on my phone to prevent losing them. If I lost the physical copy then I could cancel it through my phone and if my phone had died with the ticket on it then I have the physical copy to hand. Another document I photocopy is my driver’s license, since it’s another form of identification to prove who I am. Before travelling make sure you have valid health insurance and be sure to have the documents supporting the fact that you have it. I photocopy important information from the fifty pages I was sent, which was a great way to spend an hour of my life I’ll never get back, nevertheless I was able to photocopy my policy number and the key details of what my insurance covered. A holiday can be ruined with a hefty medical bill placed on you for what can be the smallest of injuries or a small dosage of medication.
A previous blog post I wrote, Making an Itinerary, outlines the reasons as to why I make an itinerary as well as how I make my own form of one. In my itinerary I outline key information I’ll need such as what I’m doing each day as well as my plans for transportation - whether I’m using private transportation or directions as how I’ll get to my accommodation using public transport. The main reason for making an itinerary is so if there was anything to happen such as a natural disaster or I went missing then by leaving a photocopy of my itinerary in my hotel room then I would’ve left a literal map to where I would be.
Directions From The Airport To Your Accommodation
As much as I praise technology for making my life a lot easier, it can be very unreliable during the times when you most need it. Before travelling I decide whether it’ll be more quicker and cheaper to either get private transportation to my accommodation or whether to use public transport. If I get a private transfer I’ll make sure I have documents to hand regarding my pick up time as well as the driver who will be picking me up (which usually includes their registration plate for safety reasons). I’ll also take a picture of this on my phone so that if my hands are full and I can’t be bothered to fumble through my luggage then I can look at this while walking off the plane when I land. If I decide to use public transportation to get to my accommodation I write out directions from where to go as well as what lines to take. For example, if I got off at Heathrow Airport I would write down that I need to take the Piccadilly line to Green Park, where I would then get off and get the Jubilee line to my designated stop. When travelling anywhere I always take the full address of my accommodation with me, to help get directions if lost or to give to a taxi driver rather than trying to remember where I’m staying. By doing this there’s no way you can get overcharged by taxi firms, since you’re giving them the exact name and address which also means there’s no way you can get lost.
Emergency Phone Numbers
Something I carry even when leaving my house even for a few hours, let alone travelling to another country, is emergency phone numbers in which I carry a physical copy in my diary as well as on a digital page on my phone. If I’m travelling with friends or family I’ll make them my emergency contacts for the time while away since it’ll be more likely I’ll need to call them if we get separated or to see where they are. When travelling abroad I research the phone numbers for emergency services, which include police, ambulance and fire brigade since they’re different from the phone numbers where I live. Phone numbers that are also important are for my bank since I may need to notify them immediately if my card gets stolen so they can cancel it as well as notify them that I’m travelling abroad (so they know the transactions are mine, not fraudulent).
Personally I feel more prepared knowing the area I’m staying in before even booking my hotel, by making sure it’s a safe neighbourhood and to make sure that it’s located near a metro station or bus stop. This making me feel at ease since from previous experience abroad I haven’t got back to my accommodation any earlier than 8pm as I’ve been out all day sightseeing. An extra step I take to prepare myself before travelling to a country is to research the etiquette and customs of a country so I can try my best to follow these respectfully. For example, if I planned to travel to India then I would find that their customs differ to British ones since in some places it is considered proper to eat with your hands rather than cutlery as well as making sure to use your right hand rather than your left. Even though this differs from what I do, I must make an effort to respect the customs and etiquette of the country I’m visiting. Another important feature of research which is a must for everyone is to find out whether you need a visa to enter the country as well as making sure you’ve declared everything correctly such as your full name when booking flights to declaring if you have convictions or a criminal record (if applying for a visa). It’s also helpful to make sure you research the climate of the country you’re travelling to so you can pack accordingly. This information is easily available by simply typing into a search engine “What’s the weather like in (city) during (month)?”.
The language barrier is one of the most difficult things to be faced when abroad, from trying to ask for directions to ordering food, it can be confusing and time consuming. I download a range of language apps before travelling, most importantly Google Translate, in which I note down important phrases such as “I’ve lost my passport” and “How much is that” to other phrases such as “Thank you”. Some people may assume that everybody understands your home language but this is simply not the case abroad, especially in smaller towns and markets.
In my hand luggage I carry around a medical card which lists what medication I’m currently on as well stating if I’m allergic to anything. This is because if I need to be taken to hospital and have fainted or am unresponsive then there is a record for doctors and nurses to help me get treatment as quick as they can. Before travelling I make sure I have enough medication to last me for my holiday as well as a little extra in the extreme case that my flight ends up being delayed or cancelled and it takes a day or two extra to get home. When travelling I make a cheap first aid kit for travelling, which can be bought, which includes plasters and bandages as well as alcohol free wound cleansing wipes. This is carried in my hand luggage and in my handbag when I’m out throughout the day. It has been used a numerous amount of times, for example when I went out for an excursion in Greece I lost my footing and ended up grazing my knee when climbing up to see The Temple of Poseidon (it’s rock ground that’s very uneven).
Tips and tricks for all aspects of travelling, most of which include saving money.