Travel tips for home and away

Group on holiday

Travel experts Emma O’Boyle, from TripAdvisor, and Gill Williams, editorial head of, share their top tips for having a relaxing holiday.

Going abroad


1. When to travel

You can save money by booking a holiday out of season, or booking well in advance. Emma O’Boyle recommends, ‘Taking a holiday during ‘shoulder periods’ can be a good way of saving money. Shoulder periods are the months either side of peak season. You can avoid the uncomfortably hot weather, crowds and high prices, yet still enjoy some beautiful temperatures.’

2. Guidebooks
Buying a guide book on where you’re going will give you loads of helpful information on what sights to see, the best and cheapest places to eat, local transport and much more. O’Boyle suggests ‘Ask friends for recommendations or use the internet to find a hotel that matches your criteria. You can find honest reviews online from travelers in your age bracket, looking for the same type of holiday, meaning you’re far less likely to end up at a hotel full of rowdy teenagers. Choosing a hotel is very personal and what one person likes another may hate so don’t always rely on the hotel’s own description.’

3. Research
Using the internet to check what the weather’s like before you leave means you can avoid taking things you don't need. ‘Don’t over pack. Go online before you travel to check local weather forecasts and conditions and pack appropriate clothing and footwear’, Gill Williams suggests.

4. Copy documents
Photocopy your passport and other important documents in case the original gets lost or stolen and remember to take details of your travel insurance policy with you. You can find a travel insurance broker from the British Insurance Brokers’ Association.

5. Inform family
It’s a good idea to give close family or friends a list of your travel plans and any contact details, in case of emergency.

6. Save space
A great way to save space is to take two or three items and roll them up tightly. Try putting socks into shoes to save space and keep the shoes shape.

7. Travelling with medication
If you take regular, prescribed medication of any sort, it's worth getting your doctor to write a letter explaining why you're carrying it. The threat of terrorism has made many international customs officers very cautious, so this letter could save you from a lot of delays and awkward questions.

Unfortunately, this is outside most regular GPs items of service, so they may charge you a small amount for writing it.


8. Luggage
Check restrictions with the airport before travelling to see what you can and can’t take in your hand luggage - now most liquids have to be packed in a clear container. Pack anything you’ll need in your hand luggage like a book, travel game or medicine. ‘If you are flying, always carry essential medication in your carry-on hand luggage rather than the hold – just in case the flight is delayed or the airline loses your suitcases’, says Williams.

9. Long flights
Let the airline know if you have any specific needs like a vegetarian or kosher meal. You may want to ask for an aisle seat so you can get up easily when you want. ‘Let your airline know well in advance if you need assistance at airports,’ advises Williams. ‘Corridors can be long - up to 20 minutes walk at many international airports.’

10. Be active
On longer flights it’s important to have good circulation to reduce the risk of opens link in new window Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), which is caused when poor circulation results in blood clots.

How to improve circulation while flying:

  • Walk up and down the aisle every hour
  • Point and flex your toes while sitting down
  • Rotate your ankles clockwise and anticlockwise
  • Wear compression socks
  • Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water

‘On a long flight, be sure to wear support anti-DVT socks. You’d be amazed how many airline pilots wear them secretly!’ – Gill Williams.

Staying at home

11. Sun, sea and sand
Why not go for a British beach break? 70 English beaches were given
opens link in new window Blue Flags in 2011.

12. Transport
For easier, affordable transport, National Express offer up to a 50% discount if you are 60 or over on their coaches. You can get an opens link in new window annual senior railcard for £28 with National Rail. ‘Consider travelling by train. It’s restful, you can get up and walk about and they’re city centre to city centre so you don’t have long transfers at either end,’ says Williams.

13. Accommodation
Plan your trip ahead and research for the best travel and accommodation options. O’Boyle advises, ‘If you have any particular requests, such as special dietary requirements, wheelchair access, or would like to bring your dog, call the hotel in advance. Most hotels and B&Bs will be very pleased to accommodate you.’

opens link in new window For more help, download our Planning a holiday information sheet (PDF 135KB)

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