As we enter the spring and summer months it’s time to start thinking about those weekends away and holidays abroad. Keep reading to find out more about my travel essentials and how to keep the art of travelling as hassle-free as possible.
Travelling is considered to be one of the best things you can do for the mind, the body and the soul. In addition to this, we are often encouraged to engage in travel to widen our horizons, experience new cultures and see new things. It is during these travels that we make some of our greatest memories and greatest discoveries.
There are millions of people around the world that fall victim to the travel bug and can’t wait to set off on their next adventure. But, what about the others? Those who love the idea or travelling but find the prospect and the actual act of travelling to be a source of anxiety?
There are many people nowadays who suffer from travel anxiety and quite often it can put the breaks of the many adventures they dream of having. I know first hand that anxiety can be over-whelming and often discourage people from heading off to see the world. Everyone should have the chance to see the places they wish to see and have the chance to relax away from home. But, what do you do when a relaxing holiday presents you with nothing more that stress?
In my experience the most effective way to dispel travel anxieties is through proper planning and organisation. We can never guarantee that things won’t wrong of there won’t be a little stress along the way but, there are certainly many things within our control that can our trip more enjoyable and hassle free.
1. Do Your Research
The first (and in my mind the most important part) of travelling is doing your research. This means ensuring that you know where you are going and (to the best of your knowledge) what it will be like. It’s a given that there will always be instances where hotels or resorts don’t live up to the images plastered across their websites but, there are lots of sources out there to help us get a better understanding of the place we are going to. The internet is a wealth of information to put your mind at ease. Websites like TripAdvisor or Holiday Watchdog are great for getting reviews and “real time” images of a venue or area. However, do take these with a pinch of salt! There will always be people who will say negative things about anything and don’t necessarily provide an accurate representation of the place. Try and suss out if the bad reviews are just people being negative for the sake of it (perhaps trying to scope a freebie or refund) or if they are genuine warnings to travellers. Look at the overall ratings given to a place by travellers and consider if the percentage of positive outweighs the negative. I enjoy popping onto TripAdvisor before I book a hotel to see if it is what I am looking for. I also find the comments to be a great for getting bits of advice from fellow travellers. In my recent visits to Malta and Crete I learnt what the best bus and train links to use were, where the best local shops could be found and the best times and ways to book restaurants in the hotel. In stays in Scotland I found that recent travellers comments told me about roads or places that were shut for maintenance of works. As someone who can suffer from terrible travel anxiety knowing these little extra bits of information about the area and hotel really helped me to plan ahead and avoid being caught off guard.
It’s also worth making sure you research how you will get from all your different As to Bs. This could be from the airport to your resort or the best ways to get around the area you are staying within. In many cases visitor centres and hotel concierges will be able to help you with this but – for the sake of reducing anxiety – take time to look for bus timetables or train links.I often print these off and take them with me so that I never feel stuck.
2. Create An Itinerary
Once the planning stage is complete I like to create my own travel itinerary; a step-by-step outline of the journey. Many may laugh at such “OCD tendencies,” but I’ve always been thankful in the end when I have all the information I needed at hand. To start. I include information such as:
- Route to airport, taxi pick-up times and/or car-parking bookings and prices.
- Time of arrival at airport.
- Flight times and gates (if known).
- Luggage weight allowance, drop off times and penalty charges.
- Flight departure times and length of journey.
I will also include details of travel from A to B, the address and contact details of my hotel and the number of a local taxi firm if all goes wrong on arrival. I also ensure I have these details for the return part of my journey as well so that when I am finally on my vacation I don’t have to think about any of these things while I am there.
I then like to plan out how I will spend my days during my time away. This section of the itinerary can be a little more flexible – I (or those I am with) might change our minds about what we want to see and do when we arrive. This is alright and is an organic element of travelling I love. But, pre-departure I like to have some ideas of a starting point or places I would like to see. I also find it useful to make sure I know how much these things will cost of if there are are any offers available at the time.
I then keep this itinerary and all my pre-booked trip details etc. in a nice travel wallet/document folder.
3. Plan Your Travel Bag
The next thing I like to get organised before I fly is my travel bag.
More often than not I will travel with carry-on luggage but whether this is the case of not I like to ensure that my “handbag” or “travel bag” is equipped with everything that I might need for my time in the airport or during my flight or journey. I also like to make sure that I have what I need in the event that any of my luggage in hold goes missing – I would hate to have an incident like this ruin my holiday. I like to use a rucksack or a large over the shoulder bag for travelling – something that is easy to carry, has plenty of room and is easy to navigate through. This is something people often don’t think about but, rooting through your bag for passports or boarding passes when you are in a moving line can become very stressful, very quickly. So, pick something with ease of access and several compartments. Plan ahead where you will keep each item and return it to that place instantly after you have used it.
So, what do I include inside my travel bag?
- Passport, Tickets, Boarding Passes and Travel Documentation (I always make sure I have copies of my travel insurance and hotel information as part of my documentation.)
- Phone Charger and Emergency Charging Pack
- Sunglasses, Prescription Glasses and Contact Lenses Case (If you wear contacts don’t forget your contact lenses case. This will be important if decide to go for a sleep on route and need to remove them to do so)
- Perfume and Deodorant (To let you feel as fresh as you can when you travel)
- Small Toiletry Bag (Containing: Tissues, Wet Wipes, Plasters, Hand Cream, Lip Salve, Mini SPF and Paracetamol. Miniatures like shampoo etc also if needed)
- Small Make Up Bag (I try to travel light with my make up these days to avoid the stress of changing bottles into the liquid allowance bags and to keep my bags clutter free. I have loved using the Charlotte Tilbury Look in a Palette products for travelling. They contain an eye-shadow set, bronzer, highlighter and blusher all in one. It has certainly become a travel essential for me.I also have a travel make up brush set to keep this hassle and fuss free too. )
- Kindle (I also ensure I have the charger for this as well in case I am delayed anywhere or my bag goes missing – a good read next to the pool is a must for me!)
- Swimsuit, Light Play-suit or Sun-dress and Spare Underwear (These may seem like random choices but, if your suitcase goes missing there are brilliant essentials to have to ensure you still have something to wear to start your holiday).
4. Have Contingencies
I think it’s always important to prepare for the unexpected as much as you can – “reduce the risk,” as my mum would say!
Think about the basic things that could go wrong or could cause you stress during your travels and have plans in place for dealing with them. If you don’t like the airport and your plane time is delayed – what will you do? Why not make sure you have your kindle prepped with plenty to read, have a film pre-loaded ready to watch or have some extra cash to treat yourself to a coffee or meal.
Worried you forget something or leave something behind? Have some emergency cash in case you leave your essentials at home (e.g. a phone charger or swimsuit) and pick them up at the airport before you leave or in local stores on arrival. You may find yourself paying a little more than you would have liked doing this but having the extra cash to hand (and a plan) to do so will help ease any worries.
Perhaps the idea of arriving at a horrible hotel fills you with fear? Well, before you go why not survey the others in the surrounding area to know what/where else is close to hand and available. It may even be worth seeing what their availability is like before you travel. I know for me it’s really all about having “plans” or “back-up” options in the back of my mind that help me relax
5. Be Positive!
In all likelihood your travels will go smoothly and you will enjoy each stage of them. Try to focus on all the good things that will come out of you trip. But, take the time to plan ahead and prepare. Think about what worries you have and the steps you can take to reduce those anxieties in a way that suits you. Don’t worry about what other people will say instead focus on yourself.
Why not talk it out with those you are travelling with and see how you can support each other? After-all, that’s what friends and family are for.
Remember, travelling should be something that brings joy into your life – don’t let nerves or natural worries keep you from living life to the full!
Happy Travels Everyone! x