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10 Smart Travel Tips For A Stress-Free Holiday

10 Smart Travel Tips For A Stress-Free Holiday

Most people love the idea of a holiday but dread the thought of planning it. Whether it’s booking flights, coordinating logistics, or last minute packing, the pre-travel part can get a little stressful at times. Key to avoiding all this anxiety is to take a step-by-step approach and get organised in advanced.

If you’re keen to make your next getaway as smooth and stress-free as possible, consider the following 10 tips before you jet off.

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Keep your options open

Whether it’s flights or accommodation, never book the first thing you see. Browse in incognito mode to avoid cookie tracking and the consequent price spike from suppliers, and make friends with comparison websites. When booking for hotels, use a site like Booking.com to lock down several free-cancellation options. This gives you some flexibility to change or cancel a hotel when an impromptu sale or discount pops up for another hotel a few weeks later. Whilst Airbnb is also a fantastic go-to, the platform generally requires immediate payment, which makes it less flexible – so only opt for this option if you’re 100% certain on a place to stay.

Get savvy with your researching

Guilty of doing the bare minimum when it comes to researching your travel destination before flying out? Rookie error! To maximise your holiday experience, it’s worthwhile checking out travel and food blogs for recommendations on local gems off the beaten path, the best places to eat and tourist traps to avoid. Similarly, do the due diligence in checking for travel discounts and special offers – if you can save some money, why not? Travel deals websites like Scoopon offer holiday packages that include flights and accommodations with occasional additions like tours and activities, ideal for those who want to avoid the hassle of planning everything. Always double check the terms and conditions to ensure you are aware of what’s included and most importantly, what’s not.

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Tick off your pre-departure to-dos

Draft up an essential to-do list and ensure you tick every item off before departure. This includes checking visa and passport requirements for the destination you’re heading to, buying travel insurance, notifying your bank of your travel arrangements (to avoid credit card disappointment), and saving emergency numbers in your phone. If you’re taking leave from work, ensure your out-of-office message has been set up in your emails and that close friends and family are aware of where you’re heading off. These tasks may seem pesky but once ticked off, can help prevent unpleasant and unwanted situations.

Create an itinerary (and include the details)

Avoid the ‘wing it’ mentality and dedicate time to creating a proper travel itinerary. You don’t necessarily need to stick to it word for word once you’re at the destination, but it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan to fall on if your spontaneous adventures don’t work out. At the bare minimum, include details of where you’re staying for each day, a list of key activities you have planned and transport logistics on how to get from A to B. The time you spend organising yourself before you leave will result in time saved upon arrival at your holiday destination. The last thing you want is to have wasted 2 hours getting lost because you forgot to research how the local transport system works.

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Organise your finances & get the right credit card

Different people have varying preferences when it comes to money and travel – some prefer cash whilst others love card. It’s worth researching the destination to see what the local preferences are – some countries are more cash-driven than others. There’s long been a debate over cash vs. card, but your best bet is to have both. If you’re thinking of bringing a credit card, the 28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard is a fantastic travel option to consider as there are no annual fees, no currency conversion fees, and no international transaction fees on purchases. If you have connecting flights or long layovers, consider converting some cash for those destinations too.

Download the right apps

Leverage technology to your advantage and download apps that are designed to make your travel experience easier. Apart from the essentials like Uber and WhatsApp, there are some hidden heroes to be discovered. Google Translate works wonders when you come across foreign text – simply take a photo and the app will instantly translate the text into your language of choice. Tripit is another handy one – the app utilises all of your booking confirmation emails (hotels, flights, attractions, restaurant reservations) to generate an itinerary for you.

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Sort out your Wi-Fi needs

In the increasingly connected world we live in today, Wi-Fi access has become a non-negotiable, especially when traveling. Depending on where you’re going, internet access and availability may vary. For most destinations, there are generally two options – you can get a local sim card with data usage included or a pocket Wi-Fi. Ensure your phone is unlocked before you jet off and turn on global roaming just in case your Wi-Fi plans don’t work out. Whilst using data via global roaming can amount to a pricey bill, having the option to turn it on is still recommended in case you need the access during an emergency.

Pack for the expected and unexpected

No one likes to think about worst-case scenarios but it’s handy to pack with a backup plan in mind. If possible, pack all of your valuables in your carry-on and always include a contingency pack. This pack should include a toothbrush, essential toiletries, phone/laptop chargers, spare underwear, and a change of clothes – all will prove to be a godsend if an unforeseeable delay pops up or your checked luggage goes missing. Also, bring a few spare shopping bags so you can separate your dirty clothes from the clean ones. Avoid over packing, especially if you’re heading to a shopping destination.

Update your digital storage

If you haven’t already, download Dropbox or Google Drive – the best apps for online storage. Scan your passport and save a digital copy, along with your travel insurance confirmation, flight and hotel bookings, and any other important travel documents. No one wants to lug around folders of paperwork, so get digitally savvy and ensure you’re covered by getting organised ahead of time. For safe measure, you can also email yourself copies of the above.

Plan ahead to prepare for your arrival back home

Nothing is more stressful than returning from a relaxing holiday to a messy or dirty house. Avoid this by making the extra effort prior to departure. Do a thorough clean of the house the day before you leave, so that you’ll come home to order as opposed to chaos. If you’re living alone and about to go overseas for a long time, it’s also worth hiring someone to come by to collect the mail every week and maintain your garden. Look to online marketplaces and apps like Airtasker to easily outsource the job.

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

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Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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