General Travel Tips
I have grouped together useful travel tips on one page.
School holidays really ramp up the costs of a holiday. So what can you do to keep costs down? Try the following tips (or leave the kids at home).
- Book early – Tour operators need your money, so if you book and pay well in advance then there are special deals on offer, such as free kids’ places. Booking early also means that you’ll get your resort of choice. If you are flexible and you don’t care about having a family room, last minute bookings can save you money, but could result in an unhappy experience
- Be clever with your dates – You may be tied to school holidays, but don’t just go in the first few weeks. Check the dates for the whole of the school holiday period. Don’t just do the traditional Saturday to Saturday, go and return on Wednesdays if you can
- The first weekend of summer is not a good time to go away unless you like people watching. I did it once to experience the airport and you can tell who is not going to have a relaxing time away
- Be flexible – Self-catering? All-inclusive? Spain? Portugal? If the weather is the most important thing to you, shop around for the cheapest country. You don’t have to go where everyone else goes. A great 3 star hotel could be a better bet than a poor 5 star. Look at the facilities offered at 4/5 star hotels. If you’re not going to use them all, then look at a hotel with less to offer but with superior service.
Plan Your Honeymoon
OK, perhaps you’re just thinking of chilling out on the beach and nothing else (well nearly nothing else). However, this trip is the start of your new life together, so make it special. Also, planning can help you to save money, which is handy when you’re also paying for a big wedding.
However, don’t overdo the planning by having an itinerary for every minute of the day. Spontaneity is romantic. This trip is for both of you, so you should both be involved in the planning. The groom can still keep the destination a secret even with checking that the bride gets to do what she would like to do while away. Also you don’t have to be together 24 hours a day, so have some time apart as well.
The most important hotel booking? The wedding night! Are you sure that you have somewhere to stay after the reception?
- Passports – Some couples may get carried away and book the trip with the new married name. Don’t! If the passport doesn’t match the flight ticket you won’t fly. Also if this is your first trip booked by the groom does he know his bride’s full name as recorded in her passport?
- Don’t wait too long to book – I had a client who took 4 months to make his mind up about booking the hotel for his honeymoon. He finally said ‘book it’ and it was too late. If you have found the ideal location book it as soon as possible. Top honeymoon destinations are like wedding venues, they fill up well in advance. You can only book flights eleven months in advance, but some hotels can be booked a couple of years ahead
- Don’t leave right after the wedding – Of course this doesn’t apply if you’re getting married at your honeymoon destination! After your wedding you’re going to be on a massive high. So just take some time to gently come back down to Earth. The day after the wedding is a massive shock to some as after all that planning and being the centre of attention, it’s all over
- Remember your sense of humour – Relax and let some things go. Don’t let the beginning of married life be marred by a few mishaps. Complain if needs be, but don’t go over the top
- Don’t book a twin bedded room! – Are you sure that you’re getting the right type of hotel room?
- Pack ahead of time – Use a check list and pack all you need for your honeymoon before your wedding
- Tell everyone that you’re on honeymoon – This probably won’t get you a free upgrade on the flight, but the hotel, cruise ship, restaurants, etc. may be able to add something extra to your experience
- For trip ideas check out www.honeymoons.com and honeymoontravel.net/destinations.html. American websites just seem to be so much better at presenting honeymoon ideas.
Travel Stress Tips
A lot of people don’t take holidays or short breaks often enough. In fact, I’ve come across people who never get away. Many that do manage to get away are now taking their work away with them.
This means that they don’t get a break as they’re still in the work mind-set that they’re trying to get away from. Taking a good amount of time away from the stresses of daily life gives you the break that you need to refresh your life and to be better equipped to handle whatever your boss, colleagues or customers give you.
There are super exclusive resorts that offer the perfect stress relief break, but they do charge a premium. So how do you find a stress free holiday when working to a budget? Here are my top ten tips.
- Use a travel researcher to do all the hard work in finding you the right holiday
- Luggage can cause your stress levels to rise as you manhandle it to the check-in desk, then wait at the luggage carrousel for it to (hopefully) come back to you at the other end. Use a company that will send your luggage away so that it’s waiting for you at your hotel, and will then send it back home for you
- Use a chauffeur to take you from your home to the airport. Or use a ‘Meet and Greet’ parking service. Then you don’t have to worry about parking your car, or finding it again. Also, use an airport lounge to get away from most of the other travellers and their noise.
- There are few days in the year when you should not travel. The first few days of any school holiday are chaotic. I tried it once to experience it. Never again. Try to fly outside school holidays if you can. If you can’t, then stick to the middle range of dates
- Don’t forget to check school holiday dates for other countries. There’s no point in avoiding UK school children, if you end up surrounded by kids from another country. USA Spring Break means thousands of excited and drunk American teenagers/early twenties in resorts in Mexico and other Caribbean destinations. Here, sleep is not an option
- Keep away from the main resorts and head out to small villages. Here the pace of life will be slower and there is less chance of staying near an all-night disco
- If you are worried about ‘foreign food’, then contact nearby restaurants a few weeks before you go. Explain that you have a special diet and ask if they can cater for it. Most do when given enough notice
- A weekend break can work wonders (if you leave the laptop and phone behind) so just head off to another location in the UK if you really can’t get away
- If you have to take your work phone with you, use an answering service to screen your calls. They can then leave you a message at your hotel or send you a text/email so you can call back when you are ready (and you won’t get calls in the middle of the night if you are quite a few time zones away)
- Finally, just make sure that you get away!!
While you’re away, you will probably be more relaxed than usual and more trusting than you would be back home. Ensure that you don’t have your trip ruined by falling for these common scams.
- Always ask for ID – When you are approached by anyone claiming to be an official, always ask for ID
- Hide Luggage Labels – When at your departing airport, you don’t want anyone to know your home address and when you’ll be back. Some of my clients use my company’s address instead (the label is marked ‘care of’). So if lost luggage does need to be delivered somewhere, it can come to my business. The client’s address remains private. Can your travel company offer this? You could also use your work address. Always ensure that your contact details are also inside you case as external labels are easily lost
- Never except anything from a stranger – Such as drinks in glasses or open bottles. Don’t carry anything back home to post unless you can open the package or letter. This also includes the offer to share a cab
- Watch out for distractions – This type of robbery comes in many forms. You could even provide the distraction yourself just by being unaware of your surroundings. Always keep an eye on your belongings, even at airports. If anything unusual happens around you, such as a fight or somebody cleaning something off your clothes stick, your hands in your pockets after securing any bags. Get away as quickly as possible
- Hire Cars – always check cars thoroughly before driving them off the forecourt. Take pictures if possible, including the hire company’s representative. If you are arriving at night an overnight stay in an airport hotel could be a lot cheaper than being charged for a scratch that you didn’t see when you collected the car. Make sure you know if you are to return the car full of fuel, or empty. You may feel that filling the car up away from the airport and topping up just before you return the car is a good idea. However, it’s easier to use a receipt showing a large amount of fuel than one with a few litres if you are fighting a claim against being over charged