Don`t underestimate the power of a good old-fashioned list. Concentrate on the essentials first:
- Passport. Is it up to date? Check that you have it on you before leaving home.
- Plane tickets. Are they safe in your bag or on your person?
- Holiday insurance. What exactly does it cover? Is it the right policy?
- Your home. Is it properly secure? Is someone coming to check on it while you`re away?
- Have you arranged to collect your travellers` cheques and foreign currency?
- Suitcases. Are they properly packed and weighed? Remember that excess baggage charges can be quite hefty.
- Is the hotel booked? Do you know your check-in time?
- Is transport to and from the airport taken care of?
Having taken care of these essential items, you can focus on things that aren`t as important but are going to make the journey a lot easier:
- Do you have entertainment for you and the children, such as newspapers, books, games consoles, iPods and laptops?
- Have you packed food for the plane?
- Have you planned any holiday activities or decided what you`re doing on the first day?
Good planning can help you to a certain extent, but eventually a problem may arise that cannot be foreseen. It is easy in this situation to panic, a reaction that usually creates more problems than it solves. This can be made worse by the fact that you are often in an unfamiliar environment when travelling, perhaps in a country you have never visited before.
However, any psychologist will tell you that during a state of panic the average person can begin to act irrationally. If you allow the panic to take hold, your decision making can become compromised and make a bad situation worse.
If this happens, it is critical to try and remain calm. Do whatever it takes to take a five-minute break from the problem to allow the adrenaline and anxiety to disperse. You could take a brisk walk, sit down alone somewhere for a few minutes or do some breathing exercises. Do whatever it takes to settle you down and return you to a state of mind where you are able to think logically.
Remember that help is at hand when you are travelling, whatever the problem. Airline stewards and holiday reps will always try to assist travellers with problems. The local embassy or consulate will usually also be able to deal with most issues.
Sometimes the beginning of a trip can be the most difficult time and UK airports can be quite stressful. However, if you arrive early enough you can usually avoid any problems with queues, allowing you to start your journey calmly and without any trouble.