If you’ve never been one to spend time planning your travels – or are a bit rusty in your planning skills thanks to being grounded by the pandemic, we thought it might be helpful to review some of the basics you should keep in mind to make your next trip as smooth and enjoyable as possible. After deciding on a destination; how you’re going to get there; where and how long you want to stay there; what you want to do there; and how much you want to spend, here are our top seven bits of advice in pulling it all together:
Take Advantage of Flexible Ticket Policies re COVID-19
Given the exceptional times we’re all living through, reserving your future plane ticket with maximum flexibility and minimum worries is the smartest option. Normally, the cheapest fares have not allowed changing dates or cancelling travel without significant penalties (being able to do so was possible only by paying higher fares). But many air carriers and other transport companies (ourselves included) now offer maximum flexibility for changes or refunds at no extra cost if, for example, you’re affected by new lockdown, quarantine, or entry restrictuions, or test positive for COVID-19. (For details as they relate to Iberia, click here.)
Check Current Measures & Restrictions
Due to the fluid situation regarding the pandemic, as a traveller you are responsible for being aware at all times of any up-to-date entry and exit restrictions before making your trip – for example, if you must undergo a COVID-19 test; have a vaccination certificate; fill out a required health form; obtain a QR code; or undergo quarantine upon arrival at your destination or upon return home. Therefore you need to check the official sources of the corresponding local authorities to confirm all the information and thus be able to travel without inconvenience. To get started, here is our own guide to various measures and restrictions in place in Iberia destinations; you’ll then want to corroborate the information provided on an official site linked to your destination(s).
Consider Buying Travel Insurance
Now let’s turn to several non-COVID-related tips. Obviously, life’s vicissitudes have always existed and will always exist, and so we’ve found it’s well worth paying a small extra price to take out insurance on any trip, whether domestic or international. This will ensure that should unexpected circumstances arise, such as the need to cancel your trip or come back early, that you’ll be fully covered. And furthermore, your belongings and health will be protected whilst travelling; should accident or illness strike while you’re away, medical treatments, hospitalisations, and evacuation will likewise be fully covered. Your peace of mind during holiday or business travel is therefore assured.
Make Copies of Your Most Important Documents
For security reasons, creating duplicates of the information and personal documents relating to your trip (such as passports) will speed things up considerably should you run into problems whilst travelling – for example, if your originals are lost or stolen. You can make physical photocopies and leave them in your hotel safe, and/or or take photos to email to yourself or save in the cloud, thus allowing you to have the necessary information at your fingertips if needed.
Consult a Good Travel Guidebook/Site/App
Discovering destinations on the go and by happenstance isn’t a bad way to handle quick local getaways, but for longer, more complex itineraries, you’ll want to research your destination(s) with paper, online, or app-based travel guides in order to make the most of your visit. A good guide – whether paid or free of charge – will provide recommendations on what to see and do; where to stay, eat, and party; cool events not to miss; and background on your destination’s history and customs. That way you can make the most of your hard-earned holiday.
Research Transportation Options at Your Destination
Knowing how to get around a destination – especially if it’s an unfamiliar one, and even more so if a different language is spoken there – is key to maximising your enjoyment of it. Is it a city with Metro rail, bus/tram service, bicycle-rental schemes, car-sharing services? Or a more rural/remote area where you’ll rely on rental cars, long-haul buses, motorhomes, boats, and ferries? In addition, some transportation arrangements – especially intercity – will need to be booked ahead of time. Be sure to get your ducks in a row to avoid confusion and inconvenience once on the scene!
Save Useful Phone Numbers
Often overlooked by travellers when planning a trip, but extremely useful if an emergency strikes: write down (on paper and/or your mobile) the numbers for your destination’s emergency services (police, fire, and so on) as well as that of your country’s embassy or consulates. It also doesn’t hurt to jot down the numbers for your relevant travel vendors, such as airlines, hotels, car-rental agencies, and so forth. In a pinch, having these right at hand can be a life-saver!
Yes, it’s all a bit of a handful to keep straight, but ever so worth it in creating an experience of a lifetime. So get started planning by browsing for flights to your dream destination – and let the memory making begin!