This is a post for all of the forgetful, lastminute.com people out there. I’m mega organised, to the point where it gets weird – and it’s genuinely not unusual for me to be swimming in “to do” lists before I travel. I’m so organised that an Australian hostel we’re staying at in November actually emailed me and said “wow, you’re the most organised backpacker we’ve ever spoken to”. I’m not sure if I should be proud or ashamed of that, I’ll let you be the judge. Though whilst being organised is a great skill to have, I always am a bit envious of those who can pull off ‘spontaneous’ in style. I’m so far from spontaneous it’s actually become a bit of a running joke between Darryl and I. At this point you might be wondering just how organised I am – so here’s an example for you. We booked our holiday in the first week of January – and by the end of February I already had the entire itinerary typed up on Excel (bear in mind we don’t go until November). This spreadsheet is the mother of all spreadsheets and includes details so extensive – I’ve even listed the luggage allowance for each flight. Call me crazy, but at least I’ll be able to squeeze every last memorable second out of our holiday.
#1 – Research, Plan and Book
It’s pretty obvious really – research what you want to do, plan how you’re going to fit it in and book it immediately. Whether it’s a flight, a trip or a hotel – prices and availability change like the wind, so don’t risk missing out by leaving it too late! If we were heading out there for six or even twelve months, of course we wouldn’t plan to this extent – but with only 28 days to see three countries, I refuse to be casual about things. We’ll probably be completely exhausted with what we’ve got planned, but there is no way in hell I am going to fly to the other side of the world and waste the whole four weeks trying to decide what to do and when to do it.
#2 – Make Sure You’re Covered
Travel insurance is a must – do not tempt fate by skipping the insurance in order to save a few pennies. I know someone who recently went abroad without it and lo and behold, ended up in hospital. It’s really not worth the risk. Also if you’re travelling within Europe, make sure your European Health Insurance Card is in date and with you at all times. Finally, if like me you’re going somewhere that requires a visa – get one – because you’re not getting into the country without it! As an extra, it might be worth extra insuring any items of significant value in case they go walkabout.
#3 – Bring All Confirmation With You
Whether it’s your travel insurance, hotel confirmation or even your visa – make sure you have a copy of the booking confirmation with you when you travel. By having a copy of the confirmation either in your luggage or on your mobile phone, it will keep you covered if you ever receive the dreaded “But madam, we don’t have your name on our file” line. If you remember to take it with you, it’s at that point that you can be smug about it and say “well if you’d kindly look at my confirmation, you’ll see that I am in fact on the file”, as politely as possible of course…
#4 – Currency
So we’re going abroad for 28 days, are we going to take 28 days’ worth of money in three different currencies and just carry it in our hand luggage? No. Not unless we want to risk being mugged and losing every penny. Instead, look into travel money cards in order to limit the amount of cash you take. Though don’t rule out taking some cash with you as you never know when you might need the odd few pounds/dollars/rupiah – you get the picture.
#5 – Think Ahead
What’s the weather going to be like? Are there washing facilities there? Is there a safe in the room? What are you going to do about food? All of these points, among plenty more, are seriously worth thinking about. If you go to Thailand for a month with a week’s worth of clothes and book a hostel with no washing facilities, you may have a problem. If you go to Australia with winter clothes during their summer – because remember, it’s in reverse over there – you’re going to have an even bigger problem. Being organised in this sense is absolutely crucial and will save you an awful lot of time, effort and stress.
Hopefully these little pointers will help all you unorganised people out there! What travel plans have you got in place for the upcoming months?