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Top Tips to Create the Perfect Holiday

Feb 29, 2008
Start your holiday with a happy and healthy smile rather than an exhausted grimace. Our holidays should be some of the most enjoyable times in our lives but they can become the most stressful, like moving house or changing jobs.

Lack of preparation, tiredness, delays, long queues at the airport, unexpected security restrictions and anxiety all contribute to this stress, particularly at the start of our holiday. We've also got to deal with the constant pressure to enjoy every minute.

Luckily there are many ways to reduce this stress. As with most things in life, it's all in the planning. I have put together the perfect holiday plan to help you take off to a safe and stress-free start.

1. Make a holiday checklist and include absolutely everything you need to do.

2. Check the expiry date on all travellers' passports, and visa and vaccination requirements a few months before travelling!

3. Organise your travel insurance, currency and necessary health insurance a couple of weeks before departure so there's no last minute panic.

4. Book airport parking in advance so that you know where you're going and that your space is guaranteed. Consider 'meet and greet' parking services where you will be met at the terminal building by a driver who will park your car for you.

5. Phone your airline and airport in advance to get the latest security and baggage requirements so you don't have any nasty surprises.

6. Plan your journey to the airport a few days before travelling, including your route and timings. Allow time for meals!

7. Check-in online if possible to minimise the stress of queuing and seat allocation - you can be assured that your whole family will be sitting together on the flight.

8. Pre-book a day room at an airport hotel if you and your family have a long journey to or from the airport. This will give you a chance to unwind and prepare for the next leg of your trip.

9. If you're flying early in the morning, book an overnight stay in an airport hotel the night before. You can relax, have a good dinner and start your holiday early. Stay overnight on your return journey if you'll be arriving late at night to ensure you're not tempted to drive when tired.

10. Book an airport lounge to escape the hectic terminal building. This is an oasis of calm for agitated families and anxious flyers, with complimentary drinks and snacks, TVs and flight information screens, toilets and showers (in selected airports).

11. Nervous flyers should eat a nutritious meal before flying to keep blood sugar high and reduce stress and tiredness. Avoid caffeine and alcohol which can add to the 'jitters' and feelings of loss of control. Other relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, listening to calming music or aromatherapy oils may help. Allowing plenty of time for your journey helps to lessen anxiety too.

12. Get most of your washing and packing done with a few days to spare. And write your baggage labels in advance!

13. Make sure your hand luggage is well-organised. Pack snacks, books and magazines; toys, iPods and games consoles; spare clothes for babies and children; wipes and tissues; secret treats and comforters for little ones; passports, tickets, driving licence, and all other necessary travel documents.

14. On the day of travel, check relevant travel updates and leave plenty of time for the journey.

15. Agree a meeting place in the airport if anyone gets lost.

Once you've followed this plan you can sit back, relax and wait for your holiday to begin.
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