Your essential guide to a stress-free getaway: Holidays are exhilarating but if you find preparing for them daunting, follow these top tips from our experts
Stuck to the fridge before every holiday when I was growing up was my mother’s clothes menu. It was a list of the days away and the clothes and accessories she planned to wear each morning and evening. I thought everyone’s mother wrote one.
Now I do exactly the same, and it is quite simply a brilliant time-saver.
I research the destination, temperatures and likely restaurant venues, then write up my menu and pack outfits in order so I can just take out that day’s clothes from the suitcase.
Make a list of essentials and check it twice for a stress-free holiday (file photo)
With the menu I can co-ordinate shoes and accessories that might work across the holiday and keep the packing light in the knowledge that every dress and jacket will be worn.
Does anyone else not unpack? This also saves time and you’re ready to leave at a moment’s notice – albeit with a stuffed dirty laundry bag to fit in.
Wendy Atkin Smith, managing director of cruise firm Viking UK, is a big fan of packing light too.
She says: ‘If possible, I carry only hand luggage. You have to be ruthless when packing, but let this be front of mind while doing so: you can wear things more than once!
‘When I’m travelling on a Viking ship I make use of the free laundrettes, and the ironing service is a real treat, making my outfit repeats effortless.
‘If possible, I carry only hand luggage,’ says Wendy Atkin Smith, the managing director of cruise firm Viking UK (file photo)
‘If packing light doesn’t come naturally to you, during the holiday I would suggest making a list of the things you wish you’d brought, and at the end a list of what you haven’t used. Save it until next year’s travels and you could be packing light in no time.’
The anxiety we feel before going on holiday centres on forgetting the essentials, says Nicky Kelvin, head of The Points Guy UK.
He adds: ‘To ensure you have everything you need on every trip, build a list of those essentials in the cold light of day when the pressure of a trip is not upon you.
‘I keep my list of 12 essentials in my iPhone reminders, and it’s the last thing I check when I finish packing and again right before I leave the house. Once you’ve used the list once and been on a trip with it, you can be at ease knowing you’re all set for the future, from medicine and sunglasses to gym kit and charging pack.’
Nicky Kelvin, head of The Points Guy UK, keeps a list of 12 travel essentials in his iPhone reminders (file photo)
Why drag a suitcase to an airport at all? asks Neil Simpson, The Mail on Sunday’s Holiday Hero.
He says: ‘Stride past check-in queues and go straight to security. Then ignore baggage reclaim at arrivals and go straight to your hotel, where your case will be waiting. After your holiday, leave your luggage at reception and fly home in style.
‘How? By using a baggage delivery service. Couriers collect your case from home and deliver it to your hotel. Then they bring it back again. The super-rich have done it for years but prices are falling and it can cost just £30 to deliver luggage to hotels across Europe. Firms such as The Baggageman, Luggage Mule, Send My Bag and Sherpr can give quotes.’
With a bag delivery service, couriers collect your case from home and deliver it to your hotel (file photo)
A debate that rages even among experts is when is best to book your next holiday.
Steve Heapy, chief executive of Jet2holidays, is emphatic in his message for 2022: book early.
He says: ‘There is an enormous amount of demand for next summer, meaning that the best rooms in the best hotels in the best destinations are going to be snapped up. The last-minute deal will be more difficult than ever to find.
‘Do your research and book with a company you can trust – far too many companies have let down their customers over the past couple of years. Look for ATOL-protected holiday packages.’
Get ahead with your travel preparation, say the expert advisers at Travel Counsellors.
A spokesman says: ‘Paper is key at the moment – don’t underestimate the need for downloading to paper for swift airport transition. Always check passport validity, as Europe takes passport validity from the date of issue, not expiry.’
Travel Counsellors warns: ‘Ring your bank and let them know you’re away to avoid cards being blocked’ (file photo)
Alex Polizzi, pictured, recommends holidaying close to home if you want to make the most of a short time away
Travel Counsellors also recommend using a different email address for each adult and child for Covid test results, as it’s a real time and stress-saver when recording results or proof- of-vaccine status.
They add: ‘Do ring your bank and let them know you’re away to avoid cards being blocked. Ensure you book your airport lounge in advance, as due to Covid many are operating at reduced capacity and fill up quickly.’
And a final pre-flight plan means you’ll have a smooth start to your holiday: ‘If you’re landing late, book your first evening meal at your destination – there is nothing worse than arriving late, unpacking and being left to then sort dinner.’
And if the idea of holidaying abroad is simply too much, take heart from hotelier Alex Polizzi, best known as Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector, whose most recent venture is The Star at Alfriston, East Sussex.
She says: ‘If you want to make the most of a short time away, pick somewhere no more than an hour’s drive from where you live. Minimise travel time and maximise holiday time by booking somewhere lovely that you have never got round to because you consider it to be too close to home.’