It’s finally the heat of summer! Good, old June has rolled up on our calendars once more, making way for tank tops and sun lotions. Well, if you live anywhere outside of London, that is, because all we get here are less clouds and more rain! But anyway, the perk of June is that most of us begin planning holidays and beach retreats. Dreams slowly surface of careless, sunny days next to the water, where a good book and a cold drink are the only worries you’d possibly have. So, inspired by this, today’s article is designed to allow for your ideal trip to happen smoothly. Being a forgetful bunny is something I, myself, suffer from, so the importance of good prep is always priority numero uno.
Here are ten of my tips for a better holiday preparation!
1. Checklist everything!
In fact, make a checklist of the checklists you need to make! Okay, maybe that’s a bit excessive, but a few simple reminder notes are always welcome. I normally make a clothing list, an equipment list and a necessities list, because those make a nice foundation for eliminating any mishaps and forgotten chargers! But go nuts, twist your lists around the specific holiday requirements you have and start filling those out.
Bonus tip: Start your checklists early! I begin mine a whole month before departure, just to make sure I have enough heads up if purchases need to be made, or if specialised equipment has to be acquired. Giving yourself space is the best addition to a complete checklist.
2. Weigh your suitcase.
Most airlines allow for 20 kilograms of luggage, and that sounds like a great, big variety of stuff. Absolute mountains to pack, right? But consider this – a suitcase could weigh up to 7kg, which pretty much takes up a fourth of your overall allowance. Now, most of you could easily skip this step if all you’re packing are bathing suits and kaftan dresses, cause those are like negative weight. But should you plan on carrying diving accessories, wetsuits, shortboards or any potential objects that could end up shifting the scale – I’d recommend knowing your numbers.
Bonus tip: Soft suitcases with aluminium handles are some of the lightest ones on the market and they are largely available in travelling stores. If your present luggage bag ends up being a hefty bite, save it for smaller trips and invest in a skinnier one. They are also better for bulky packing in the winter ski season!
3. Check the health boards.
Sometimes there could be a flu that you need to be aware of, or a specific virus making its way around your holiday spot. So to avoid catching it, make sure to read up on any news or information concerning outbreaks in the area. That way, if you need a quick boost to your immune system, there’s plenty of time to supplement with vitamin C. Alternatively, depending on how exotic you’re aiming for, check if any vaccinations need to be made. Equatorial regions tend to have a slight bug and mosquito problem, which is another point to bare in mind. Nothing ruins a good trip more than itchy spots all over your body! Plus, they don’t tan well. Do a bit of research and save yourself a basket of unwanted trouble. Seriously.
Bonus tip: A good place to do research is the Travel Health Organisation website, which has live outbreak alerts and country-specific data. Check it regularly before the trip and all should be swell.
4. Get yourself a countdown.
Countdowns are great should you need a gentle reminder of time. If you’re going on a physically challenging trip, such as a hiking trail or a long sail, a great idea would be to bulk a little and prep your body for the strain. Keeping an eye on your regime is made much easier by paying attention to the weeks or days that you have left to train. Trying to chisel the perfect beach booty? Great! Set regular goals in your countdown and experience first hand just how motivating they can get.
Bonus tip: The best place to keep said countdown is an in-your-face spot, which means either cell phone or desktop computer. For my mobile (Android), I normally use Countdown Days by SMSROBOT LTD. It has very nifty widgets and looks pretty!
5. Leave a key behind.
This tip is more concerned with the safety of your home while you are away than anything else. Call up your best bud and ask if they could harbour a key to your house or flat, just in case any documents have to be acquired during your holiday or if you are waiting for an expensive package. It also allows them to water your plants, DVR your favourite shows and make sure everything stays nice, clean and safe!
Bonus tip: When I say leave them a key, I do not mean hide it under the mat or over the door frame, okay? That is the absolute opposite of safe and beware of the claws! Hang it on a pretty keychain, maybe the one you got from Italy when you were on that family retreat, and hand it over in person. There, emergencies avoided!
6. Spring clean.
Talking about house and garden, why not have a little clean-up in the week before you leave? That saves a tonne of trouble when you get back, because the last thing you’d want after a long flight and heaps of heavy luggage dragging… Is to come home and worry about the laundry and dishes. Do future you a favour and keep things presentable. The next time you shout home, sweet home, it’s gonna be for a happy reason, not a daunting one.
Bonus tip: If you’re willing to take the extra step, get all washing machine and home clothes on stand-by. That minimises the efforts even further!
7. Get your tech in check.
If you’re like me and one camera is never enough, or maybe there’s an entire bag dedicated to electrics and accessories, then make sure to double up. Stock up on extra batteries, film roll, brush up on your lenses and screens, make sure everything has caps and appropriate cables. Any power banks that you like to carry around should be fully charged and ready, tripods should have their plates and screws, water housings should be sparkling clean. Those are the basics, don’t be afraid to spread your wings and be the tech geek, I know you can be. Just make sure no necessity is left behind.
Bonus tip: I use a USB cable with multiple extensions such as this (put here for demonstration purposes, I actually own a different one) with my power bank. It saves you trying to untangle all of your larger, separate cables on the go and they are usually very light and compact!
8. Budget planning.
You’re already splashing out on a great vacation and an exotic location. There’s no need to splurge beyond the point of no return, because that would only cause you stress along the way. So, in order to prepare for the trip, do a little finance maintenance. Calculate the maximum you’re able to spend on the entire duration of your holiday, and then split it around your days accordingly. Some days might need more, others could need less, it’s up to you to decide. But, for anyone wanting to be mindful of their savings – this tip is a must.
Bonus tip: Portion your money in envelopes labeled with the days they correspond to. Don’t unseal a new envelope unless its day has come. Doing this creates an amplified sense of boundary, which is helpful when keeping on a lower budget. Obviously, shall emergency cash be needed, rip those things up, but in other scenarios – stack them tidy in your luggage.
9. Familiarise yourself with customs.
Knowing the local community can make your holiday much more rewarding and joyful. A habit perfectly acceptable in England could be offensive in Thailand or Greece, even if it happens to be a minor one such as pointing a finger. Do you slurp your food or do you eat quietly? Should you be barefoot or are shoes a sign of respect? Different cultures might have different answers to those questions, so sit down one morning, sip a cup of coffee and spare a few minutes for some healthy research.
Bonus tip: Basic interactions are also a good area to explore. What I mean are things like how much to tip your waiter and how to compliment your butler. When you make other people happy, simply with professing knowledge of their culture, you will make yourself happy, too.
10. Weather check!
I left this tip for last, because it seems very obvious to me. I’m going to Cuba in September, so it should be hot, right? Or I’m heading for some ski adventures in December, the Alps always have snow. Here’s where you could very easily slip into disaster. For example, summer means hurricane season for a lot of tropical and equatorial areas, so it would be a grand idea to have a look at those rain prognoses! Heading for a snowboarding feat could be hard if it has ceased to snow or there are raging storms. Connect this tiny research exercise with my previous tip and you’ll be good and ready for a great holiday.
Bonus tip: Sometimes, weather forecasts could be very vague if you’re having to check them months in advance. What I do in these cases is pay a tiny visit to TripAdvisor and read up on other people’s experiences in that time of the year. Maybe they could prep me even better for what’s to come.
Well, here we are at the end of my tips. Hopefully these inspired you even a little bit to go book a gorgeous holiday right this instant! Everyone deserves a time to enjoy themselves and relax away from the world. You should do the same!