Every mum’s holiday dilemma – you are desperate for two weeks off BUT your heart sinks at the amount of organisation required beforehand to get everyone out of the door and off on holiday with (more or less) everything you need.
Having just got back from a two week holiday in Greece (where there were no riots or currency problems despite all the gloomy predictions) I thought I would pass on how I made it with my sanity just about intact.
No, I don’t mean getting up at 5am to catch your flight, I mean start thinking about everything that you need to do before you leave as far in advance as possible. It is vital to MAKE A LIST. It may be boring but it’s the only way to make sure you have thought about everything and, even more importantly, done it.
Here are some of the key items on my list..
1) Check passports – do they need renewing?
2) Get EHIC cards, or, if you have them already, check the expiry dates. These are really useful and you should carry them with you all the time. They would have saved us a £300 ambulance charge as well as hassle when my son broke his leg in Germany a few years ago. But I had left them at our lodgings…
Find out more and apply online here: http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/EHIC/Pages/about-the-ehic.aspx
3) Travel insurance – again a must. My son’s medical bills came to several hundred pounds and we were able to claim it all back. Copy all the travel insurance documentation and take at least two copies with you packed in different cases.
4) Holiday money– decide how you are going to pay for meals etc when you are on holiday; we decided to take cash this time; if you do the same, make sure you build in the time to go to the high street to get a good rate. M&S is usually good – no commission if you use your M&S card or cash. Much better than a last minute airport bureau de change!
5) Plug converters – make sure you have enough of these – one each is good. In France last year, we all ended up sharing one which was not good. What with mobiles, MP3s, DS, PC etc, it makes life much easier if everyone has their own.
6) Baggage – check that you know the size and weight restrictions; invest in a handheld luggage scale – really useful and will save you spending out on excess baggage fees.
7) Mobile phones – check what your supplier’s options are for using your phone abroad. You may need to sign up for special rates before you go to avoid a big bill
1) Make a packing list for everyone – you can reuse it every year which takes some of the stress out of the whole process.
I created packing lists for all of us a few years ago and they have been really useful. They remind me of stuff like cream for my children’s prickly heat etc; start the lists early, keep them handy so that you can add to them as you think of what else you need to take.
2) Children’s (new) clothing – get your children to try on their summer clothes and shoes. You can guarantee that at least one child will have grown out of their swimming costume and flip-flops or, in my daughter’s case, EVERYTHING!!! Ideally, you need to do this a few weeks before to give you time for a few clothing trips.
3) Wash as much laundry as you can before you go – firstly you will probably need to pack quite a few of the clothes in your laundry basket and, secondly, you are bound to come back with piles of dirty clothes, especially if staying in a hotel, so it is much much better to come home to a nearly empty laundry basket. Add laundry detergent to your pre-holiday shopping list – you don’t want to run out when you are half way through that daunting holiday dirty clothes pile.
4) Sounds crazy but clean the house the weekend (or week) before – this sounds counter-intuitive but I thoroughly vacuumed and dusted everywhere and tidied up as much as possible the weekend before we went. And it was just so nice to come home to.
5) Pay all the bills – especially the credit cards! You do not want to come back to interest payments on any of your cards. Also, make sure that you have enough credit to cover you for holiday expenses – you don’t want to have your card refused in a restaurant. Who wants to spend their holiday washing up?!
And, if you can, top up your current account in case you need cash in a hurry. You can always put the money back in your savings account if you don’t use it.
6) Check your fridge – you do not want to come back to a fridge full of furry stuff that used to be food. Clear out your fridge a day or two before you go and make sure that everything in it has a use by date for after you get back.
7) Entertainment – on the journey and on holiday
VERY IMPORTANT!!! Bored kids in a car or aeroplane or any other form of transport is not good. About a week before, I get my two to sort out what they want to take and then do a quick check when they are packing to make sure that they have remembered chargers and that they have enough to keep them going. We haven’t succumbed to an iPad each yet (too expensive!) but it is tempting when you see what a comprehensive entertainment station it is. If you haven’t flown EasyJet or Ryanair before, bear in mind that there is NO in-flight entertainment!!! Apart from a good laugh at the price of the food – that’s how much for a Kit-Kat??!!
Make sure that all entertainment and snacks for the journey are easy to grab. We put ours in a plastic bag in an easy to reach location in the hand luggage and then grab the bag before stowing our cases in the overhead lockers. This is equally useful for ferry rides etc. If you are travelling by car, just make sure the entertainment bags end up in the car rather than buried in the boot!
8) Travelling snacks & drinks
I failed miserably on this one this year as I packed nothing at all for our EasyJet flight so had to pay dearly for everything we ate. Of course, you can’t take drinks on the plane because of the 100 ml liquid restrictions but you can take snacks (to Europe anyway).
When we drove through France last year, I had a good supply of small bottles of water and (non-melting) snacks. Helps alleviate the boredom of long-distance travel if nothing else.
Add travel snacks to your pre-holiday shopping list. If you are flying, remember to take boiled sweets or a pack of lollies for take-off and landing. Helps alleviate any earaches from the pressure changes.
9) Lists of useful numbers – having had my handbag stolen on holiday a few years ago (with all our passports, credit cards and money) I am now a little paranoid. I have several lists that I print out and take with us:
a) Passport details
b) our mobile IMEI numbers
c) useful telephone numbers such as the mobile company, lost credit card line for each credit card etc.
Once you have created all these lists, you just have to update them every year which doesn’t take long.
10) To do list for return – if you want to clear your brain for your holiday, make a ‘to do’ list for when you get back so that you don’t have to keep remembering home stuff on holiday. My list contained things like ‘buy fountain pen’ (for my daughter for Year 5), and ‘arrange gas fire service’. Not exciting stuff but I knew I would either forget about them or think about it all on holiday from time to time.
11) Think about what you are going to eat when you get back!!!
All too easy to forget but you are going to have to come home at some point and you can guarantee it will be when the shops are shut.
Depending on when you think you will get home, you will probably need to think about an evening meal and/or breakfast. Make sure you have bread in the freezer, as well as something you can cook easily from frozen.
But milk is always a problem as it just doesn’t keep in the fridge and takes ages to defrost from the freezer. Having read about Cravendale and how long it keeps, I am definitely going to put Cravendale milk on my pre-holiday shopping list. Finally we will be able to enjoy a nice cup of tea when we get home! And it will be great to be able to have our usual cereal and muesli in the morning.
ENJOY YOUR HOLIDAY!!!!
This is my entry for the BritMums Come Home to a Cuppa Linky Challenge, sponsored by Cravendale. If you want to enter as well, click on the picture above. Everyone who links up gets a voucher to try a 2-litre bottle of Cravendale. And 5 lucky bloggers will win a year’s supply of Cravendale milk!