It’s that time of year when most of us are heading off on holiday. I love jetting off to new countries and since you’re a reader of Elle’s blog, I’m guessing you do too.
There are a few things I always do before visiting a new place and I’d like to share them with you to make your holiday planning that little bit easier. So here’s my list of seven things to do before you get on that plane.
1. Compare holiday deals online.
There are so many websites now where you can search for cheap flights, hotels or package holidays, so don’t just book the first thing you see. A little research could save you so much money – money you could spend on great experiences while you’re away. Some of my favourites are Expedia, booking.com and lastminute.com. AirBnB is also good for affordable accommodation.
2. Research the country you’re travelling to.
Find out about the climate, culture, which immunisations you’ll need beforehand (if any) and whether you can drink the water there. The last thing you need is to make yourself sick hundreds of miles away from home, or to be caught in monsoon season with nothing to wear but your bikini top and hotpants.
3. Get your travel money.
Find out which currency you’ll need for the country you’re travelling to and buy it in advance. Like holiday deals, you can compare exchange rates online to find who’s offering the most for your money. In general, I’ve found that the worst place to change your money up is at the airport – their rates are terrible and if you don’t already have your travel money before you fly, it’s often better to wait until you reach your destination to change it up.
4. Learn a few useful phrases.
You don’t have to be able to speak the language fluently, but it’s helpful to know a few basic words and phrases so you’re able to speak to the locals. It shows that you’re willing to make an effort – I’ve found that it makes people warm to you a lot more than if you just expect them to speak English. Not everyone can (or is willing to) so it’ll be easier for you to buy things in shops and ask for directions if you know a little of their language.
5. Find out the best places to stay/eat/visit.
There’s nothing better than word of mouth, so if you know someone who has already visited the place you’re going to, ask them for their recommendations – what was their favourite restaurant? Which attractions are the best? Is there anywhere off the beaten track or less touristy that they think you should definitely explore? If you can’t find anyone in ‘real life’ who’s been there, take to the internet. Sites like Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet can be so helpful when planning a getaway.
6. Make a list of everything you need to buy.
Once you’ve researched the place you’re travelling to, write down everything you’ll need to take with you. Then go and buy anything you don’t already have. But travel light – you really don’t want to be lugging a massive suitcase or heavy rucksack around with you. Try not to take anything you won’t use or wear. Pack clothes you can mix and match to wear again and again: things which can be dressed up with a pair of heels for the evening and dressed down with some sandals for the beach or sightseeing during the day.
7. Pack a carry-on.
You’ll need to take some hand luggage on the plane with you, especially if you’re flying long haul. Essentials include your passport and boarding pass, some money, a good book, snacks, the address of wherever you’re staying, any medications you take regularly and anything you can’t live without if the airline loses your luggage. For this reason you should also include a change of clothes (or at least underwear). It’s also a good idea to pack some things like hand lotion, chapstick, a toothbrush, face wipes, make-up, deodorant and a travel pillow to make your flight more comfortable.
I hope these tips have been helpful and reminded you of a few things you may have forgotten or not even thought of doing before you travel. Wherever you’re off to this year, I hope you have a safe and fun journey and come back home with a plethora of happy memories to last a lifetime.