Planning your Trip
When planning your flight from Heathrow, here are some of the things to keep in mind to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible.
Double Check Essential Items
When flying overseas, whether for business or pleasure, always do a double check of your essential travel items. Forgetting your passport, visa, travel tickets or credit card is never a good idea, so make sure you have them before leaving home.
Have you taken out your travel insurance? Ideally, you should get this sorted out as soon as you book your flights from Heathrow because you can then get cancellation cover in case you need to cancel the trip. And if you wait until you are overseas before you remember, you may find it harder to buy a policy because many insurers will only sell you a policy before you leave home.
Sort Out Your Cash
The most important part of any trip - your spending money!
Travel money is something to think about well in advance of your trip, however if you turn up at Heathrow and want to change up some pounds into another currency, you'll have no problem as there are plenty of places you can do this.
However, the rates may be worse at the airport compared to changing your money online before you go. Always try to compare the exchange rates and the commission to find out where you can get the most for your money so you have more to spend while overseas.
Another thing that you may not have considered before is travellers' cheques. These are not used as much as they were a few years ago, but they have a few benefits. The main benefit is that if you lose them, you can cancel them and pick up some more almost anywhere in the world, which makes them an excellent source of backup funds.
Save Money On Your Trip
Saving money is always a concern when you go overseas. But once you have already bought your flight, accommodation and travel insurance, what else can you do to save cash when you go away? A few ideas include:
- Find out if you can buy a tourist pass if you are visiting a city. These often provide free or reduced entry to the major attractions as well as free travel on public transport.
- Seek out Wi-Fi hotspots by using a free Wi-Fi app on your phone. That way you can save money on roaming costs.
- Find out if you can get a tax refund on any of the items you have bought while on holiday. You will often find tax offices located at international airports where you can show your receipts and get your tax back.
- Research discounts in your destination for students, children and the elderly, and keep an eye out for discount vouchers for food, accommodation and attractions in your destination.
- Save money on eating out by sticking to set menus at midday. These are often cheaper, and then you can have a cheaper snack in the evening after filling up at lunchtime.
List Your Important Numbers
It's always a good idea to keep a list of important numbers on you when you travel overseas. These could include the numbers of:
- Your travel insurance provider
- Your debit and credit cards should you lose them
- Family and friends
- The British embassy in your destination
Also make sure you provide someone back home with the number of your hotel or villa so they can get in touch with you if something happens to your mobile phone.
Know What NOT to Pack
When you are packing your bags, it's a good idea to be aware of what you should not pack in your hand luggage to help when you go through security.
Make sure any liquids are kept in containers of no more than 100 ml maximum, and don't carry too many containers because they should all fit into one small plastic bag. Exceptions are usually made if you are taking food or milk for your baby, but you may be asked to taste it.
If you are taking any medicines, make sure the security staff know about these. You may require a doctor's authorisation for some medications and prescriptions.
Then there are all the things that you must not include in your carry-on luggage because they are considered dangerous, like explosives and sharp items. For a full list, see the Civil Aviation Authority website.
Don't Miss Your Flight!
Always check the condition of the traffic before you drive to the airport, and give yourself plenty of time to arrive. Ideally you should arrive three hours before the departure of your international flight. By leaving in good time, you reduce the chances that you might not make the flight due to a problem with your car or bad traffic.
If you are travelling by public transport, check for any potential delays well in advance so that you can leave earlier if necessary. You may even want to stay in a nearby hotel overnight so that you can quickly travel to the airport without worrying about transport delays.
And before you leave home, always check that your flight has not been delayed or cancelled, otherwise you could end up spending a long time waiting at the airport.
Things to Do Nearby
If you get the chance to explore the area for a day or two either before you depart or after you arrive at Heathrow, your best bet is to head into London. There are many things to see and do here, and you can find a good list of them by reading this guide.