With Summer holidays fast approaching, it’s exciting to imagine yourself by a pool with a refreshing drink in hand. Take some time for a little advance planning, to make your trip even more enjoyable. We’ve rounded up a checklist to help you prepare for your Summer holiday, so that you’ll love your holiday even more.
1 – Plan where to go
Deciding where to go is one of the most fun parts of travel planning. It can be hard to choose somewhere that suits everyone, so villa holidays are a good compromise where people can do their own thing and come together at mealtimes. To help with travel planning, I like to read blog reviews, and Pinterest is a great source of inspiration. Villa Plus, whom we’ve teamed up with to bring you this guide, have some great destination suggestions on their site and 30 years experience of providing handpicked villas across Europe as well as bilingual in-resort staff. I’m particularly drawn to their villas in Corfu, Kefalonia and Menorca – the nearby beaches and tavernas look so tempting! Their villas with gated pools would provide real peace of mind to families with young children.
2 – Get your travel documents in order
Check that your passport is up to date – for some countries such as Kenya your passport should be valid for a minimum of 6 months from the date of entry and you need two blank pages in your passport. UK nationals can check travel requirements for each country at Gov.UK and also apply for a free European Health Card, aka the EHIC on the NHS website. Beware of unofficial sites as some charge illegal application fees for this complimentary card. If necessary, renew your travel insurance. You may need extra cover if you are going to participate in activities such as canyoning, scuba diving or jet skiing, so always check the small-print. Make photocopies of all your paperwork and leave one copy at home, taking the other with you or save an electronic copy to your phone.
3 – Look after your health
Check which vaccines or medication are needed, several months in advance, at the Travel Health Pro website. If you take medication, make sure that you have a sufficient supply for the duration of your stay. However, some countries have a list of controlled medicines such as painkillers, so it’s wise to consult the embassy website of the destination, to keep any medicine in the original packaging and bring a copy of the prescription. Consider packing a small first aid kit, together with mosquito and insect repellent depending on your destination.
4 – Get shopping
Now for the fun part! Stock up on sunscreen and other items that are likely to be pricey or hard to find in your destination. For your hand-luggage, travel-sized toiletries are essential, or invest in travel-sized containers under 100ml and decant your favourite products into them. It’s also worth buying your own clear plastic toiletry bag, no larger than 20cm x 20cm. It’s worth purchasing any items that might be hard to find in your destination, like contact lens solutions and soap free shampoos. Make your holiday feel more luxurious by investing in comfortable noise-cancelling headphones if you have a long flight ahead.
5 – Prepare your tech kit
It’s worth taking a universal adapter, and an e-reader is a good alternative to heavy books and magazines. It’s essential to charge up laptops, tablets and phones before you go as if you carry them in your hand luggage, you may be asked to switch them on when going through security and you’ll need the phone charged for your e-ticket. Check your data roaming package before you travel and consider purchasing an add-on to keep costs to a minimum. For cameras and phones, clear some space for new photos in advance by downloading your existing photos and videos to your computer or an external hard drive. It’s easy to forget and you don’t want the time-consuming task I was faced with on a recent trip, deleting phone videos just so that I could take new photos and send emails!
6 – Pick up currency in advance
It’s generally a lot cheaper than buying in the destination so find the best rates online. Many will deliver currency to you, or you could consider a prepaid card loaded with currency, or a credit card designed for overseas travel. On a side note, let your bank know that you will be away, so that they don’t query your overseas transactions, thinking that fraud is being committed on your account!
7 – Check the weather forecast
Look at websites such as World Weather Information Service or Wunderground, available online and as a phone app. Just be aware that the temperature forecast on any site won’t necessarily give you the whole picture. For example, you might be travelling to a tropical country during monsoon season, so look at sunshine hours to get a full impression.
8 – Get packing
Make a packing list or use an online template for your destination. Light layers are key, as it may get cold in the evening in Mediterranean countries, as well as a hat and sunglasses. Don’t forget to pack walking shoes or sandals if you have an active holiday in mind. Remember that all hand-luggage toiletries must fit into a clear plastic bag, not exceeding 20cm x 20cm. Check your luggage allowance online, and buy a small digital luggage scale to weigh your case at home. That way you can make sure that you’re within your allowance, rather than taking the risk at the airport. If you do need extra luggage, it’s generally much cheaper to book it in advance online than at the airport.
9 – Work out your route to the airport
If parking at the airport, make sure to pre-book your space online. Allow extra journey time, in case of any traffic jams. Have a look at how to get from your arrival airport to your holiday destination and book car hire or airport transfers in advance.
10 – Ensure peace of mind
Set up an out of office reply on your emails, and compile a list of useful numbers in case of any issues, such as your bank and phone provider. Consider a house sitter to look after your home while you are away. Organise pet care. If going away for a long time, redirect your mail or ask a neighbour to pick it up and pay bills that will be due. Finally, turn off any heating, set your alarm system and light timers and lock your doors and windows securely.
We hope you’ve found this checklist useful to prepare for your Summer holiday, and wish you a relaxing trip!
Do you have any tips that you would suggest to those preparing for their holidays?
In association with Villa Plus, the leading provider of quality European holiday villas