Once the flights have been booked and the hotel paid for, you can get properly excited for a holiday. It's now a solid plan and not just a flash-in-the-pan, kinda-something-I-wanna-do idea anymore. But when you're going cross-continent there is a lot to consider...
Going to a brand new continent, filled to the brim with food, people and cultures you have never encountered before is exciting. But, how are you actually getting there? I don't mean by plane, train or automobile (lol, if you're going to a different continent by the latter two, good luck), but rather, what do you need to do in order to prepare for a long-haul trip?
I'm preparing for a trip to Bali in April and, having never been to Asia before, it's a minefield and a half. I am SO excited, but a lot more prep is going into this trip than a standard weekend away to Europe.
Here is a little checklist to make sure your preparation is as smooth as freshly shaved, beach-ready legs:
Use your friends
"It's all London, baby!" If, like me, you live in this multi-cultural city, chances are you have made friends from all corners of the Earth, who will have a wealth of knowledge you can fully exploit. The amount of information I've asked of my friend from Malaysia, who has traveled all across Asia, is unreal. From water quality to estimated taxi prices, it saves on SO MUCH Googling and you may find some extra little nuggets of info that you wouldn't have got online.
There are a few things to consider. Firstly, check the layover time. Anything over four hours can be a drag, especially if the stay is overnight. One friend spent 7 hours overnight in a Greek airport, which could have easily been avoided for an additional £50. Unless, ya know, you're open to splashing out even more on a hotel, once you inevitably given up on those rock hard airport chairs. A comfy bed, they do not make.
If you do have a long daytime layover, see if you can do a bit of sightseeing. Have a Google: check if the city is easily accessible from the airport and if you need a visa to enter the country (i.e. leave the airport). If the answer is yes to the first and no the second, grab your camera and venture outside of terminal 2.
Lastly, check the suitcase limit on both flights. On large international flights, the accepted weight may exceed the amount allowed on your smaller connecting flight and you will run into additional charges. This can easily be done online during, or after, booking.
Some countries recommend you receive certain injections before travelling to specific regions. For example, when staying by a rice field for a long period of time in Bali, it is recommended you get your jabs for Japanese Encephalitis (that is not some sort of STI, FYI). Some injections are required at least a month, or two, before you travel, so give yourself some time and do your research.
It's worth booking an appointment with your doctor to chat through what they recommend, as they can give some pretty good advice. My doctor advised not to pick up my prescription for a particular injection until two hours before my appointment, and not to listen to the chemist if they advise I just pop it in my fridge at home.
Also, see if you can find out what injections you had at school. If you're in your early 20s, you may still be covered by the tetanus and diphtheria jabs you had in your Year 8 assembly hall.
Bask in the glory of being free from those pesky, carry-on only liquid restrictions. It's hard enough sticking to the under 100ml rule already, let alone being a make-up wearing woman. Try being a contact lens-wearing asthmatic who loves good nails, bright lips and soft skin. Its like a game of Tetris and, sometimes, somethings gotta give (sorry shampoo, its gonna be a 'hair up all holiday' kind of trip).
Post-conditioner and toothpaste, head to the chemist and grab mosquito spray, Savlon, anti-septic gel and hand sanitiser. These little bottles will come in SO handy, even if you do end up smelling of lemon all holiday. Better that than being eaten alive and getting Malaria, eh.
Beware of the time difference
Speaking of meds, a little tip for right before the trip: if you take the pill, prepare some alarms on your phone. The time difference will f up your pill taking, and therefore your cycle. Obviously, when you're fifty thousand feet in the air with your phone on airplane mode, God knows what the actual time is. Set your alarm for 24 hour intervals, taking into consideration when your phone will automatically change time zones, once you've landed.