There are some people who make travelling look such a breeze, they give the impression that they just threw a few things in a suitcase, jumped in a taxi to the airport and VOILA!
Good for them, but I am a worrier. I need to know that everything has been taken care off and that I am fully prepared and organised. This frees me up to have a really good time on holiday, so I consider my planning time well spent.
I reproduce my holiday planning checklist below and hope it helps you as much as it does me!
Choose and book your holiday
For details on how to do this please see 7 Things To Do Before You Book Your Holiday
Note – Most tour companies require the full holiday payment at least 8 weeks before departure. They will also need the passport and insurance details for everyone in your party.
Your travel documents are usually sent about 2 weeks before departure.
3 months to go
Start a holiday folder and put in all documentation as it arrives. Put all passports in there now to avoid panic later!
Start a holiday fund. Even if you have already paid for the holiday in full, you will need to put by for spending money and also emergency money in an accessible bank account.
You may also need to have a pre trip budget for the following;
Passport,visa,insurance and any inoculations required.
Internal transport in this country.
Phone credit top up.
Luggage, clothes, toiletries etc.
Anything on your packing list that you don’t have or that needs replacing like batteries,adapters etc.
(For more details on holiday outgoings see Holiday Budget Checklist )
Make sure your passport is up to date, arrange a visa if required and if you already have one then make sure the details are up to date!
Ensure you have the relevant travel insurance.
Print off visa and travel insurance details and put with passport and other documents.
Contact your health clinic to arrange any immunisation needed.
If you are a U.K citizen going to mainland Europe you can get an EHIC card which entitles you to free or reduced healthcare, go to ehic.org.uk for details.
Check with your home insurers if they need to be informed if the house is empty for a certain period of time.
If driving abroad make sure you have all the relevant documentation.
2 months to go
Pay for the holiday in full and make sure the travel agent or tour company has all passport and insurance details.
Organise airport parking and any internal transport such as coaches and trains.
Train tickets in the UK can be pre-ordered and paid for online and you can reserve seats and arrange to pick up your ticket from a nominated station.This will be cheaper than buying them on the day of travel.
1 month to go
Book any taxis or lifts with friends.
Organise the care of any pets and plants.
For any bills that are due when you are away arrange to pay them before you go. If the funds will not be available until a certain date e.g pay day then contact the company to see if they will agree to a standing order or direct debit to come out the following day.
Alternatively, ask a trusted person to do it for you.
3 weeks to go
Make sure you have enough prescription medicine to last the trip. If you are flying and need to take it on the plane ask your G.P to write a cover note for you.
Decide how much spending money to take and in what currencies.
Order any foreign currency, pre paid cards and travellers cheques.
I find the Post Office is very good, they always have a good selection of foreign currency on hand.
If you are paying by credit or debit card, you will need some form of identification.
Note – I got my currency from the Post Office and kept the receipts so that when I returned, anything I had not spent could be exchanged back.
2 weeks to go
When you receive your travel documents, look through carefully and check pick up times, flight times etc.
Write out your packing list. Is there anything that is missing or needs replacing? Make a note of these.
Look at Holiday Packing Checklist for ideas.
Make sure all items are easily accessible for when it comes time to pack.
Get out your suitcase and any hand luggage. Ensure all zips, locks and keys are working.
Have a shopping trip to buy anything missing from your packing list.
Contact your mobile phone provider and check that your phone will work at your destination and see if there are any special overseas tariffs you can add.
Start a holiday notebook and put in the following:
Details of passport, visa, travel insurance,flight numbers and times,hotel names and contact numbers.
Bank helpline number and other important phone numbers in case you lose your phone.
List of addresses for postcards.
Buy a guide book and make a list of all the things you would like to do and go to the area on Google Map and look at the distances from your hotel and transport links.
This will help to plan days out as well as giving you a chance to get familiar with the area.
Use your notebook to make an outline itinerary and make notes of things like museum opening times,local restaurants and the nearest subway or metro to your hotel.
Look on the destinations tourism website to see if there are any special vouchers or city passes available.
For instance, when I went to L.A it saved me a lot of money to get a Go Los Angeles Card which for a one off fee gave me entry to multiple attractions and worked out a lot cheaper than doing it separately.
These can be ordered and paid for online and either shipped to you or can be picked up when you arrive.
For more details see Making a Holiday Itinerary
1 week to go
Get a haircut especially if going somewhere very hot. In Tunisia I would have paid good money for someone to shave my head!!
Make sure you have printed out confirmation emails for accommodation, transport and anything else you have booked online.
Make sure all bills are paid or arrangements are in place.
Pick up currency if not done before.
Make sure you have emergency money in an accessible account and enough money on your credit card.
Defrost fridge and use up as much fresh food as you can.
Put by the clothes that you want to take so they do not get caught up in the laundry. Make sure all items are clean and do not have missing buttons etc.
2 days to go
If you are not confident with your camera have a play about and get used to the settings. This could make all the difference to your holiday snaps!
Download music to your phone or mp3 player.
Buy any birthday/anniversary etc cards and post or give.
Leave a note with a trusted neighbour for unexpected deliveries/post build up.
Check if there are any birthdays in the week that you come back and make a note so you can maybe buy them something when away.
Check the exchange rates for each currency you will be using. Make mini converters and put in your notebook.
This means you do not stand in a shop trying to work out what 20 zlotys is and if it is good value.
Do any last minute shopping.
Buy a phrase book or go online and copy a few handy words and phrases into your notebook.
Get phone credit.
One day to go !
Make sure all cameras, camcorders, phones etc are fully charged and that camera memory cards have plenty of space on them.
Get U.K money from ATM for taxis, journey snacks etc.
(Keep this in a separate purse or wallet from the foreign currency.)
Take any pets to kennels or friends.
Double check your travel arrangements and look on airline site to make sure there are no delays.
Day of departure
Empty all bins and put all rubbish and perishables in an outside bin.
Unplug all electrics except fridge.
Turn off central heating.
Make sure all windows and doors are locked.
Go and have fun!!
NOTE – If you have any queries regarding baggage restrictions,flight details or airport check in times go to your airlines website for details.
NOTE – Go to your airports website for information on terminal layouts and facilities,flight updates and car parking.