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packing_tipsWith summer steadily approaching many of us are already thinking about hitting the gym, to make sure that when the sun comes out to play, you know, you look your best. This is closely followed by thoughts of distant lands, somewhere to escape to, to get some rest and relaxation and to forget about the everyday troubles that plague our minds when we are in Blighty. So whether it’s backpacking across Thailand, raving it up in Ayia Napa or perhaps island hopping in the Caribbean, once you’ve checked if your passport is still valid, researched and booked your vacation, you are almost good to go. What’s left? I hear you cry? Packing of course! This can make or break even the most thoroughly researched trip because forgetting your favourite pair of kicks or flip flops can put the meticulous outfit planning to waste

Luckily for you, you can find out the smart way to pack right here and guarantee, when you land you will have all you need. Unless of course your luggage doesn’t arrive, then that may be a problem. One way of avoiding this is to carry a change of clothes in your hand luggage.

What kind of traveller are you?
Are you a faultless flier, one that has all their information printed out the week before departure? Or a mad dasher, one that leaves everything to the last minute, throwing things into a suitcase when you are meant to be enroute to the airport? Everyone has their own way of prepping for packing that works for them. Whichever you are, there are tools you can use to make things easier.

Check!
First things first, you will need a list; this will help you to remain organised and have a clear idea of exactly what you need. Obvious items include your passport, clothes, travel insurance and spending money. If travelling within Europe, you will also need an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) – which is free! This is proof that you are eligible to receive the state offered medical care for a reduced cost or sometimes even for free. Make sure you have the correct paperwork, such as a visa, to enter your destination if required. The same goes for vaccinations as side effects are likely with many of these. So ensure you have had them well in advance of your departure date.

Next is packing. If possible, try to use a light-weight robust suitcase that is expandable. To maximise space, roll clothing to reduce air pockets, so that you can fit in every last piece you plan on wearing. If you find that you are nearing your weight limit, put your toiletries in your hand luggage, as these can be deceptively heavy but check you’re allowed to carry that size on the plane or buy them at the airport. For all you shoppers out there, remember to allocate space for holiday purchases, as you do not want to be landed with an excess weight fee.

Final bits and bobs
So once you’re packed, contact your mobile service provider to check international roaming rates. Most providers charge to make and receive calls, one way round this (only applicable to those on the BB hype) is to send messages via Blackberry messenger. Which costs exactly what it does at home. Zilch! Check the weather, you may need to take a jacket or hoody, depending on your style.

These are in ideal conditions, but with a lot of packing happening the night before due to work/life commitments; here is some travel essential checklist to help you on your way.

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Checklist
• Passport
• Flight booking details or boarding card
• Clothes
• Spending money
• Travel insurance
• Toothbrush
• Adapter
• Mosquito repellent that contains DEET
• Anti bacterial rub
• Anti-diarrhoea tablets
• Rehydration sachets
• Sunglasses

Top Travel Tips
• Check that your passport is still valid – do you need a visa to gain entry to the country?
• Photocopy all important documents – passport, travel insurance
• Lie in – if you tend to be the last one to the airport, checking in online 24 hours beforehand frees up time
• If you are jetting out to sunnier climates, remember to take sun block (use it whatever your complexion, as skin cancer does not discriminate),
• Boiled sweets or chewing gum – to alleviate the pain of popping ears
• Brush teeth with bottled water
• Avoid having drinks with ice

Useful websites
• Vaccinations – NHS.uk
• Passport information – direct.gov.uk
• BAA.com to see if your flight is leaving on time –Heathrow and Stanstead
• LondonGatwick.com• Know before you go – fco.gov.uk
• Money saving expert.com – Find bargain priced travel insurance
• Postoffice.co.uk – a good place to start when looking for a decent exchange rate

Words by Natalie Vincent

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