From New York to New Delhi and the south of France to South America Edwina Ingham, Cabin Crew Member for Virgin Australia, has always been a passionate traveller. Before joining Virgin Australia, Edwina began her career flying internationally with Emirates out of Dubai. We caught up with her on a layover in Newcastle to chat about tips for hassle-free holidays.
1. Planning your trip
“When it comes to your itinerary, don’t over commit yourself,” is Edwina’s advice. She says building some spare time into your itinerary will help alleviate the stress that can come with travelling and leave you free for unexpected opportunities.
Once you’ve decided on a destination, one of the first things you should do is check their visa and passport conditions; “the application process for passports and visas can be lengthy depending on where you’re travelling” says Edwina. “And some countries require a minimum of 6 months validity on your passport from the time you return home so check these things early to be prepared with plenty of time.”
While less important when travelling to first world countries or popular tourist resorts, Edwina recommends using review websites to research accommodation. “Aside from helping you find the best deals, you will get an insight into what other travellers have experienced pretty quickly.”
3. Get travel insurance
“One thing I’d never be without is travel insurance. Things happen, luggage gets lost, flights get cancelled and people miss their connecting flights or tours.” Edwina says she’s seen too many stressed and disappointed travellers to ever leave home without it; “travel insurance isn’t always as expensive as you think and can end up really saving you.”
Travel insurance helps cover the cost of accidents and medical expenses, theft, disruptions to your travel plans that are outside of your control and even your delayed or lost luggage. Phoenix Health have partnered with Travelcard to offer members hassle-free travel insurance that pays benefits in real time – find out more here.
4. Pack smart
“When you’re purchasing a suitcase or backpack, consider its weight as it will eat into your baggage allowance. Edwina also recommends packing according to your destination, “if you’re planning on being on the move a lot through Europe which often has cobble stone streets, a backpack might be easier than a suitcase on wheels for example.”
So, what’s the item she always packs? A pen! “It might sound simple but when travelling internationally the flight crew will distribute arrival and departure forms in flight so being able to complete these before landing will streamline your airport exit.”
5. Download an exchange rate app
There are several apps with similar functions that enable you to convert Australian dollars to the local currency. Edwina is currently using XE Currency; “download the app before you leave home and make it available offline. This way you can access it without WiFi or service and always know what you’re paying.”
6. Beating jetlag
“Jetlag generally only becomes an issue if you are travelling more than three time zones in 24 hours but can take up to 3 days to get over,” Edwina notes. “Some people say travelling West rather than East is also easier on the body.”
Her advice; “drink plenty of water in flight. Take an empty plastic water bottle and ask the cabin crew to fill it up for you. Eat as healthy as possible and don’t always rely on in-flight meals as these can be loaded with salt.”
Naturally try and get as much rest as possible and if you’re travelling a long way from home consider building some down time into your itinerary after arriving at your destination to recuperate.
7. Stay informed
While it’s tempting to switch off completely, take note of travel warnings and keep up-to-date with the news. Edwina suggests researching your destinations before travelling to be prepared for any specific customs or laws you’ll be expected to abide by, “for example flying drones in some places will land you in hot water and chewing gum is banned in Singapore. I’ve also found the majority of places like mosques and churches require visitors to dress conservatively and cover their shoulders and knees.”
“It’s important to always trust your gut and if something doesn’t feel right, listen to your intuition.” That said, Edwina’s advice is to go with the flow and embrace any unexpected detours as part of the adventure; “don’t forget to breathe and enjoy the moment. You’re on holidays after all!”