They say that there are only two types of people in this world; those who hate packing so much that they allow it to dent their enthusiasm for a trip. And then, those who savour every moment of filling their suitcase, viewing it as an integral part of the adventure. We know which side we’d rather fall on.
Even if you do enjoy packing and get started on it weeks ahead like us, it can still be all too easy to forget some essential items. Whether you’re a seasoned traveller, intrepid explorer or flying for the first time, here are 5 things you should never forget when travelling.
PASSPORT, VISAS AND OTHER IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS
First things first, you won’t be going anywhere without your passport or travel documents.
Though we might sound like we’re stating the obvious, we’ve been scarred too many times by complacency. So, remember to always have a valid passport with you, making sure it’s up to date – rules state that your passport should be valid for at least 30 days from the date of exit, but it’s recommended that you have at least six months on your passport before it expires. In some countries, a visa is also required, so check it before you go; this is particularly pertinent with Brexit approaching and rules regarding travel on the continent set to change.
It can be all too easy to misplace the documents needed for your trip. As such, it’s sensible to make photocopies of everything you’re carrying, such as your passport, identification card, or driver’s license, just in case. If your bag is stolen (a worst case scenario, we know) be sure to store those copies on Google Drive or similar so that you can have remote access to them.
FIRST AID KIT
Regardless of your travel destination and the level of scrapes you anticipate getting into, it’s advisable to carry some sort of medicine bag or first aid kit with you. Particularly in the age of coronavirus, it’s wise to ensure you have some spare facemasks, hand sanitiser, disinfectant wipes or spray and a thermometer with you.
Other travel essentials to include in your kit include diarrhoea medicine, antihistamine, and something to treat fungal infections or wounds. If you have allergies or a chronic disease, be sure to pack your medication and ensure you have enough supply or the duration of your trip.
If you’re going abroad and have prescription drugs or medical equipment necessary for your ongoing treatment – for example, syringes, needles, or an insulin pen – ask your doctor for a certificate confirming the disease and your prescription. A prescription given to you by your doctor in your country is valid in all EU countries. However, a medicine prescribed in one country might not be available in another, or it may have a different name.
It might be an idea to have your medical documents and any letters from your GP translated into the language of the country/countries you are visiting to ensure smooth sailing at customs and at any borders. The translation experts at Translation Sheffield recommend seeking a credible translator who specialises in translating medical records specifically, for accuracy and ultimately, peace of mind.
N.B If you’re travelling overseas with your medication, check if there are any restrictions on medication. Some countries have extensive lists of medications that are not permitted. Do make sure you keep your medicine in its original packaging, wherever you’re travelling.
PHONE AND ACCESSORIES
The smartphone; perhaps the greatest travel buddy of all time but also a device sure to steal your attention from that once-in-a-lifetime sunset.
Yep, we know for unbridled travel, unplugging and staying screen free is the dream. That incessant search for wifi and a plug to charge your phone can be painful and get boring quickly. However, that little portable computer – as we like to call it – can make for a richer, smoother travel experience. It’s a travel guide, currency converter, map, pocket mirror, translating service and even a credit card, all in one place, if you have the necessary apps downloaded.
Yep, it’s the essential travel item. However, a smartphone would be nothing without its accessories; that all important spare charger, a travel adaptor plug with a USB port, a waterproof phone case to prevent disaster should you get stuck in a downpour and a portable power bank too.
And finally, let’s not forget your selfie stick – that once-harmless request of asking someone to take your photo could now be a risky proposition in the time of the coronavirus. Best to stay safe and sensible, we think.
A POCKET GUIDE BOOK GUIDE WITH A MAP
We know we just extolled the virtues of your phone being a travel guide and map all in one. Sometimes, though, you just aren’t going to be able to get on wifi. For us, a pocket guide with one of those pullout maps, old fashioned as they seem, is essential for those stepping off the beaten path. Enough said.
It’s always a great idea to have some cash with you in the currency of the country you’re travelling in. Many travellers swear by prepaid debit cards, such as Monzo and WeSwap, which grant flexibility with finances, a little more security, a convenient way to monitor your spending and dodge some withdrawal fees too. You can simply load up the card with your spending money for the week and use it accordingly; Monzo allows withdrawals of up to £200 a month fee free, while a Starling debit card with similar perks charges absolutely nothing for use abroad.
The app which runs alongside a prepaid travel card is particularly useful for travellers. Here you have the option to ‘freeze’ your account at the click of a button, ideal for those times when your card may or not be lost or misplaced. Another click can have any transactions blocked. Travel credit cards are also a wise move for those often on-the-go, as they offer protection on purchases made abroad as well as a safety buffer in case emergency funds are needed during your trip. Having money in multiple accounts when abroad is generally a prudent move.
THE BOTTOM LINE
With the excitement of the upcoming trip taking over, it can be quite easy to forget about some of the more practical considerations. This where a packing checklist comes in handy. Just make sure that the iron and other appliances have been turned off, the garbage is thrown away, and the flowers and your pet are properly looked after. Also, check a few times that the door is definitely closed! Then, and only then, can you set off.
Finally, don’t forget to bring a good mood with you. Bon Voyage!