You must have read a few Travel Blogs by now, certainly the ones I have seen, have seen have all began actually in the country, region, city, town or hotel where the blogger is writing about; but I contend that holidays start a long time before you actually get to your destination. Let me explain; about 6 months ago early one morning my wife Florie was sifting through her emails, of which, over half are from tour companies, cruise lines, or last minute holiday sites and the like, and as she does all the time. She cried “Oh Donald, listen to this.” and proceeded to read out another advert for a cruise, verbatim from the site, “Oh that does sound good doesn’t it?” Now, that’s where I made my mistake because I wasn’t really paying attention, as Florie does this all the time, and I say yes whenever she gets to the end of a sentence so I said yes; “Should we book it, it is excellent value for money and we haven’t been to a lot of these places?” Now frankly, I didn’t want to admit I hadn’t listened to her so I said yes. 20 minutes later she was sat back in her chair with a big grin and an excited look on her face and bubbling over with glee like a 14 year old girl going to her first dance, not the mature retired lady I married some years ago; “It’s going to be a lovely relaxing time for a whole month seeing those beautiful ports of call in Canada!” “Pardon?” I said, wishing I had paid attention earlier.
That is the very time the holiday starts, that moment when the germ of an idea grows in your mind and enthrals you to put your plans into action and from that time, it is there filling your mind with images and thoughts of what you can do when you go away and what a wonderful time you will have and there are no shortage of holiday apps to get information from, now is the time to get information about your holiday. However, I had just found out that I was going to Canada on a ship for a month, and that meant that there were preparations to be made, no, not at that minute, but checks and arrangements are to be completed before we leave; I will take you on my personal journey through to just before we left and the secret of not forgetting anything is – make a list.
The first thing I checked on the list was travel insurance, whatever your journey is going to be, a week in Spain or a world cruise, when things go wrong a good quality travel policy is a must, whether it’s to claim for lost baggage or for medical treatment to save your life, it is essential that you check your policy wording, I know it’s a bore, but it is in your best interest to make time to read it.
- If you have a yearly policy when does it run out?
- Does it cover you for all your activities, do you need to specify anything first?
- Do you know what is and isn’t covered?
- Have you made a note of or put the emergency contact number, of the company, in your phone?
- It is worth checking if like us, you are away for quite some weeks.
- Does your insurer need to be notified?• Will they cover your home when it’s empty?
- Are your valuables covered away from home on this policy or do you need them covering on the Travel policy?
- Is where you’re going dangerous or infectious?
- While we are on home security and you are all fired up about your holiday – do you need tell everyone on Social Media what you’re doing and that your home will be empty for a few weeks complete with dates?
I know this bit is boring but these check lists are worth doing while you have time to alter things instead of two days before you leave when you can’t get time off work to correct anything.
I put post on my list because I wanted to relook at what mail I am getting now, some years ago when we were planning to go on a very long holiday so we started to reduce the rubbish we were getting through the letterbox so we didn’t just bin it like normal, we wrote on everything we didn’t want ‘Gone Away return to sender’ and put it back in the post box, letters from companies we didn’t want any more, we contacted them and asked them to remove us from their mailing list; this took six months to for the rubbish to dry up but it was worth it as we now only have real mail, bills and the like and just two magazines that we want so now when we go away for weeks at a time we don’t get a mountain of unwanted mail behind the door when we get home. At that time I also checked on how much email I needed and started unsubscribing from all those I didn’t have a need for so I have a manageable inbox now and I recheck this from time to time for spam etc., there is nothing quite so galling as waiting for dozens of unwanted emails to download when you are on time or data limited connection on your travels some cruise ship have expensive slow internet connections so it is important that you are only downloading what’s important to you. You might consider creating a dedicated holiday email address and only pass it on to the people you want to hear from, although we don’t get them, don’t forget to cancel the papers while you’re away.
Now my Florie is one who takes lists to the next level; she likes to make a list of everything she is taking for her the list making is starting to live her holiday before she gets there, what clothes to wear, will it be hot or cold, will this outfit be better than that, do the shoes match, does she have enough layers for changeable weather and, which case is it going in! I’m not suggesting we all do this but the principle is sound, don’t just put the whole of your drawers and wardrobe in your cases, below are a few ideas.
- Sponge bag things appropriate for you; have you booked a luxury hotel or somewhere you need to take a bath plug with you?
- Do you need mosquito repellent or bite cream?• Have you got a couple of plasters or bandages?
- Do you need something to make you GO or something to make you STOP
- Be careful of taking pain killers with you as some countries have restrictions.
- Layers of clothes are always useful in changeable climates.• Do not take knives scissors or anything that could be used as a weapon they won’t get past security at any port or airport.
- Put sprays or tubes of toothpaste in sealed plastic bags in case they get knocked or squeezed in your luggage along with sun-creams and hand sanitizer.
Within hours of booking our holiday Florie was trawling the shops for those travel sized items needed as well as every store and ladies dress shop in a 30 mile radius of our home to buy the odd outfit that she hasn’t bought in the last 10 years of our heavy holidaying.
With still some weeks to go my travel list says check money; the question was, how will we pay for everything? When we checked all our debit and credit cards we found that only one could be used outside the UK without any charges providing we cleared the balance each month, so it was a no brainer, we increased the credit limit on that card to cover our needs while away and set up auto payments from the bank; we will get some cash out before we leave to cover incidentals and that should sort it for money, if you’re taking cash with you think about using a cash belt or other hiding place, we have the emergency number for our credit card in the phone just in case.
We now jump forward to two weeks before leaving and I have got to Fridge/freezer on my list, I plan to empty them and turn them off while we are away; not essential but it gives me the opportunity to give them the yearly clean, it is half empty now so I am planning our meals to this end when I go shopping, this week it cost me only £20 for the week. For the last few days I have noticed a small but growing pile of things for the holiday in the corner of the bedroom. Only four days to go and the car lays full of diesel outside the house ready for the journey down to the port on Wednesday; Florie and I are snapping at each other as we feel the stress of holiday preparation taking hold, for even with lists and plenty of time you do feel the pressure, with us it age as well we are at the stage of going into a room for something and forgetting what it was, so lists are essential for us.
A friend is kindly having my house plants while I’m away, so I will take them round to his soon. In the spare room lays my shoulder bag now full of sunglasses chargers and leads for cameras phones and ipads also writing pads & pens and a hard drive with a lot of films on, for if the evening entertainment isn’t up to much on the ship, and a large bottle of drink for the evenings so I can sup something while watching the films, Florie doesn’t drink.
It’s Saturday morning and we are due to leave on Wednesday, all the insurances I checked are OK; the pile in the bedroom has grown to a small mountain, the two cases are still under the bed quaking at the prospect of being stuffed with a small mountain.
We chose to get suitcases that have strong solid sides and no zips, we have seen many small airports in the tropics and indeed in the UK where luggage is unloaded onto trolleys in torrential rain and it got saturated and I once saw an article on the web demonstrating a professional thief getting into a zip case in literally a second, no they didn’t undo the lock they went straight through the zip; we chose cases that didn’t have things that sticks out too much handles, wheels, tags etc., if you’re taking rucksacks or holdalls at least make sure that all the ties are secure and as short as possible so they don’t catch on anything as they go through baggage handling and use locks where possible.
It’s Sunday morning, I have got the cases out from under the bed and calmed them down ready for packing, and on our settee lay the list along with Passports and Driving Licences (useful for ID purposes abroad) a print out of the tours we will go on and the tickets for the cruise; the fridge/freezer is nearly empty so all we need to do now is pack one of the cases which Florie is the best one to do that.
It’s Tuesday now, we have checked through the important papers we need for the cruise and packed the second case; we are finishing the food off in the fridge and I will switch it off when I finish this leaving the doors open; I locked all the windows before tea and I will switch off all the electric sockets before we leave for the port down south tomorrow morning, we have emptied the rubbish into the bins outside and the so that’s us watching the TV tonight and an early night ready for a good start tomorrow. I don’t know what my internet connections are going to be like aboard our ship, if it’s not very good you will hear from me in a month’s time, if it’s OK then I will update you as often as possible.
Goodbye for now