There are so many things to think about before you head away on your family holiday. Have you packed your clothes, toiletries, essential travel documents? While these obvious ‘to-dos’ will be on your check list to get yourself organised, there are some other pretty important things to do before going away on holidays (that you probably haven’t though about).
Sounds obvious, I know! But you would not believe how many people have been caught out thinking that their passport was ok, when if fact, it wasn’t. There is nothing more stressful then finding out a few days before (or the morning of) your big trip that you won’t be going anywhere!
A little research goes a long way! Know at least something about the destination you are going to. Unless it is a destination you will know without doubt you will go back to, it would be such a shame to get all the way there and miss out on activities or experiences that you only found out about after getting back. TripAdvisor is a great place to start for ideas, reviews and recommendations. Research also helps you to avoid potentially awkward, embarrassing or even dangerous situations. If you are travelling to a destination with completely different customs for example, you need to know the do’s and don’ts in order to stay respectful and safe.
Making sure all your travel documents are organised makes for a smooth, stress-free trip. When planning a holiday through a trusted travel-agent, this will pretty much all be done for you. Here at Inspired Life Travel, I can create an amazing and memorable holiday experience, taking all the hassle out of holiday planning. However, if you are organising your trip on your own, then it is paramount that you have all your documentation in the one place, including everything from flight and hotel information to tours and restaurant bookings. You can either set things up in a spreadsheet with email confirmations printed out separately, or input information into an app (such as TripIt) to save on the extra paper.
Smartraveller is an Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) initiative that provides the latest up to date information about more than 170 destinations worldwide, to help Australians avoid difficulties whilst overseas. They have advice on safety and security, local laws and customs, entry and exit requirements and information on health issues. In subscribing to their service, you input information to receive updates and advice that is relevant to your country of interest and particular travel plans/arrangements. By providing further information about the particulars of your trip, their registration service helps you to be more contactable in case of an emergency or disaster such as a cyclone, for example.
Banks are very efficient nowadays with putting an immediate block on credit cards if they suspect fraudulent activity. Overseas transactions are an immediate red flag that credit cards might have be stolen or compromised. Give your bank a quick phone call to let them know where you are headed, so they have it noted in your records where you will be. Your banking app or online banking system may even allow you to log your travel details directly (without having to call). You don’t want to be caught out with no access to money, especially in a foreign country.
If you have a medical condition, are carrying certain medications or travelling in the later stages of pregnancy, you will need to have with you a doctor’s certificate. Some medications are considered illicit substances in foreign countries, so it’s best to do your research and chat to your doctor about any medications that you require whilst away so you don’t get into a potentially compromising situation. Airlines have different policies regarding how many weeks into the pregnancy you are allowed to fly, so check with your particular airline and carry the relevant documentation that states how far along you are.
Do your research and chat to your doctor about the benefits as well as the possible risks and side effects of vaccines recommended for travel. Have as much information you can, so you are able make an informed decision about the vaccinations you and your family get (if any at all). Also, in some cases childhood vaccinations like measles can be administered prior to the routine schedule, if travelling to certain destinations.
If you’re heading away for any longer than a few days, it’s a good idea to notify your local post office so they can hang on to your mail until you get back. An overflowing mailbox is an obvious sign to passers by that the homeowner is away. Alternatively, if you have a good relationship with your neighbour, get them to collect it for you on a regular basis.
There’s no point in spending money where you don’t have to. You won’t be around to collect any magazine or newspaper subscriptions anyway, so put them on hold while you are away. Likewise, allowing memberships such a gym, swimming or other kids activities to continue while you are gone, is just throwing money away!
Make sure you’ve downloaded all your apps for travel before you go and have a bit of a play around with them too. This saves time and fussing about if you’ve already got them up and running. There are some great apps available for travel including Google Maps, XE Currency, Rome2rio and Google Translate.
Travelling with children? If you are travelling during the school term, you will require pre-approval from your child’s school for the period of time they will be away. Under normal circumstances, getting approval will not be a problem. It is a legal requirement that students’ whereabouts is accounted for, so definitely let the school know. Regarding preschool attendance, some preschools offer the benefit of reduced rates for long-term blocks of absence.
If you know in advance that there will be a local, state or federal election happening whilst you are away, you can vote early. This can be through a postal vote, at a local early voting centre or by voting online. There is also the opportunity to vote for federal elections whilst overseas at selected Australian Embassies, Consulates and High Commissions. If you are going overseas for a substantial block of time or indefinitely, you can also apply through the Australian Electoral Commission to have your name removed from the electoral roll for a time period or permanently, if appropriate.
Just in case there is an emergency or accident, it is best to let family or a trusted friend know where you are going to be and when, so they can get in contact with you easily.
Write down a checklist of everything you will need for your trip away, so you don’t forget anything. Make sure to do this ahead of time, so you can revise and add on as appropriate.
Don’t get caught out with a flat battery! Make sure all your electronics are fully charged and ready to go, including phones, iPads, laptops, cameras and video cameras. Make sure you put a power board aside as well (ready to pack). At your holiday accommodation there may be few power outlets, so having a power board allows you to charge multiple devices at once. Obviously you’ll also need an compatible travel adaptor, if you are travelling internationally.
There is nothing worse than coming home to a fridge full of rotten, mouldy, foul-smelling food. Give it an overhaul and get rid of any perishables that won’t last the duration of time you will be away.
Go around the house and make sure all bins have been emptied and rubbish has been thrown out. Stinky rubbish left lying around will surely give you a horrible smack-in-the-face welcome home (that won’t be so welcoming)!
There’s nothing more dampening of a holiday than bored and nagging kids! Keep them entertained with a Busy Bag filled with a collection of hands-on activities and toys. Head to your local Kmart or dollar shop to fill up a bag before you go. Ain’t got time for that? I’ve got a few Busy Bags on hand that are packed and ready to go (for kids in the 4-6 years age bracket). It’s got a huge bunch of things that they are sure to love! Shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to purchase one!