MAKING THE leap from your local train or bus network to Gatwick Airport for the first time is never easy. The truth is, travel can be daunting. Whether you’re off abroad to visit family, for your job or for a little dash of Mediterranean sun, there’s a great deal to plan.
From your tickets and your luggage to your international rights, it never hurts to come prepared. Here are three travel tips to make your first journey overseas as simple as possible.
1. Know your rights
Legally speaking, travel can be fairly complex, so it’s important you head out with your own rights in mind – particularly when it comes to visas (currently, British citizens need a visa for a total of 33 foreign countries). Do your research beforehand to find out whether you need to prep for entering your intended country, and fill in any and all necessary forms as soon as possible.
It is worth investing in travel insurance too, should anything go wrong while you’re staying abroad. The right travel insurance will cover almost everything from medical expenses to emergency shelter.
As for flight complications and cancellations, there are specific companies that can help with legal issues, such as Flightright. EU regulation on airline travel is almost always in the customer’s favour. Be sure to research compensation in the event of overbooking, delay or cancelled flight.
2. Get data!
If you’re a regular smartphone user, talk to your mobile phone provider and get roaming data for your phone whilst abroad. Travelling for the first time is challenge enough, but travelling without 3G in your pocket? Your smartphone is a Swiss army knife; it’s a dictionary, a translator, a camera, a map, a live messenger. With it by your side, you’re all the more capable and prepared for the trip’s hurdles.
Top travel apps include Google Translate, which now comes with a handy live picture translating service which is useful for restaurant menus; language learning app Duolingo; and Tripit, a document service which sorts all your travel info and itineraries into one handy digital location. No matter where you are in the world, or what you’re doing, a smartphone will always be useful, especially when hooked up to an Internet connection. Many phone providers offer free or discount data roaming these days for customer convenience.
3. Keep your luggage to a minimum
As tempting as it can be to bring along three separate party dresses, an iron, your favourite pair of heels and a jar of Marmite to your first trip abroad, it’s often best to keep your travel luggage to a minimum. In fact, if you can manage it, try to avoid suitcases altogether and just stick to your hand luggage. The lighter your luggage, the easier it will be to stay organised.
Like anything in life, travel is a matter of preparation – legally, practically, logistically. With the right resources on hand it can be a walk in park.