This Ramadan, if you’re heading out of the country for a nice break, do remember to tie up any loose ends at home much in advance to make your holiday more enjoyable and stress free. You can follow our tips below to get things organized and manage your holiday finances and documents like a pro.
Get your passports and papers in order
“Of course my passport is currently valid, right? RIGHT?
But where did I keep it? Why isn’t it in the same drawer as my spouse’s passport?”
These are last minute questions that can dampen anyone’s pre-holiday excitement. Most countries require a minimum period of six months to be left on your passport from your date of entry. Hence, checking your passport a couple of months in advance is imperative. Also be sure to match your name to your passport when you book tickets .
Other papers to sort out well in advance would be your visas, driving license, insurance policies, car hires and hotel confirmations.
Quick tip: Take a digital image of the most important documents you are carrying, such as your passport and visa on your mobile phone. This is very important in case you are to lose these critical papers.
Don’t forget travel insurance
Getting travel insurance is always a good idea. For a remarkably low cost you can get covered for trip cancellations in case you fall sick before you go or for medical treatment overseas should you need it during the holiday. In case of any emergencies, most travel insurance policies also help you get back home as well as cover any lost and stolen baggage.
If you are planning to get adventurous during your holiday with scuba diving or sky diving, be sure to check with your provider if these sports are covered in the policy you have opted for.
If your holiday destination is somewhere in Europe, you could apply for the free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). With this card you would be entitled to the state healthcare at your holiday destination either for free or cheaper than private treatment. It is valid for five years in all European Economic Area countries, including Switzerland.
Quick tip: Planned more than one holiday this year? An annual travel insurance policy may work out cheaper than single, shorter ones.
Currency and money matters
Wherever you are planning to go, you will need some of the local currency of your holiday destination. Hunt for a provider who can offer you the best rate. If you leave it to the last moment, you could end up paying a pretty high rate at airport or train station exchange shops.
If you are not comfortable with handling big bundles of cash, you can use your credit or debit card on your trip. But do remember that you would be required to pay your card provider a foreign exchange fee and processing fee. Prepaid cards are another option and can in fact help you stay within the budget you may have allotted for the vacation.
[Related: How you can use your card while travelling]
Quick tip: Be sure to inform your bank and card provider that you are going on holiday. Otherwise they may block your overseas transactions for security purposes.
Hiring a car
Planning to self-drive during the trip? You can hire a car online even before you travel. Be sure to compare as many car rental companies as you can before you settle with one, as the rates and add-ons can vary drastically.
Quick tip: Do apply for an international driving license much in advance. You can visit any RTA center in Dubai and submit your passport copy, your Emirates ID copy, UAE driving license and passport size photographs. The international driving license will cost you AED 150 and is valid for one year.
Incoming and outgoing calls, SMS, data usage and even listening to voicemail abroad – all of this can be very expensive on your UAE number. If you don’t plan to switch off your home number while travelling, invest in an international roaming package to bring down costs.
A better idea though, would be to buy a calling card or a local SIM card in the country you are going to. Generally all you need to get a new number is a copy of your passport. However, be sure to provide your documents and buy the new connection from an authorized place only.
Quick tip: Keep a handy list of useful numbers and emergency contacts both on your mobile phone and in paper. And don’t forget to carry your handset charger!
Health and safety
Do you need any vaccinations for where you’re travelling? Be sure to find out.
Also check the news and travel advisory boards for security concerns. If there is any talk of civil or political unrest, terrorist activities, epidemic – it might be safer to postpone or cancel your trip.
Quick tip: Arrange vaccinations with your doctor a few weeks beforehand as they can take a while to take effect.
Preparing for the airport
Think about how you’re going to get to the airport in advance. If you are taking a taxi, book the cab a day before. If your friends or relatives are coming to see you off, be sure to inform them of the exact time you need to reach the airport. If you are planning to drive down, figure out where you’ll park your car for the days you are on holiday and what it will cost you. You can check the prices of short term and long term parking at the Dubai Airport here.
Another important thing to do before you leave home is to check your baggage allowance and weigh your bags. Excess baggage, if not pre-booked, can be very costly at the time of departure. And no one wants to start a holiday by throwing out their personal items at the airport. Also remember that it is inevitable that you’ll be bringing more back home with you than when you left – whether it’s duty free goods or holiday mementos – make sure you have room for it.
Quick tip: Check in to your flight online to get your boarding pass even before you reach the airport to save some time.
Secure your home
Check and double check your entire house before you lock your doors.
- Are all electrical points switched off?
- Have any home deliveries been cancelled?
- Are water taps shut properly or will you find your home flooded when you are back? [Related:
Avoid your home flooding while on holiday]
- Is your piped gas switch turned off and all the knobs on your stove clicked shut?
- Who’s going to water the plants?
- If you have pets have you decide where you’re going to keep them?
Quick tip: Don’t forget to take the garbage out. You don’t want a smelly “home sweet home” on your return!