Yummi Talwar from VFS Global, one of the world's largest outsourcing and technology services specialists, shares insights in the run up to one of the busiest periods in the UK-India and wider travel corridor over the festive season.
As heavy rains batter the British Isles, many Indians will be looking at the festive period as their next opportunity to soak up some sun and travel to warmer climes. Many will also travel to visit families in India, Kenya and other parts of the world.
December undeniably remains one of the busiest periods for holiday travels. With so many people planning to travel during this time, how to make the most of your holiday without overspending?
Here are some tips on how to make the most of your festive travel…
1. Booking Flights and Accommodation: Timing is Key
When planning a trip during the festive season, timing your bookings can significantly impact your overall travel experience. Start monitoring flight and accommodation prices early on. Generally, booking your flights and hotels well in advance can save you money, as prices tend to rise closer to the festive dates due to high demand.
For travel starting in mid-December, you’re most likely to find deals around early October. If you're flexible with your travel dates, you may be able to find better deals later on. For example, flying on Christmas Day or New Year's Eve is often cheaper than flying on the days leading up to or after the holiday.
2. Visa and Documentation: Check in Advance
If you're planning an international trip during the festive season, ensure you check the visa requirements of the destination you intend to visit. Obtaining a visa can take time, so start the application process early to avoid any last-minute hassles. In addition, Premium Lounges in visa application centres (VACs) can make the experience at centres more comfortable.
Additionally, double-check your passport's expiration date; some countries require a certain number of months' validity beyond your planned departure date.
3. Cyber Threats and Online Security: Stay Vigilant
In this digital age, ensuring your online security while traveling is paramount. Be cautious of cyber threats such as phishing scams, fraudulent websites, and unsecured wi-fi networks. Cybercriminals are often more active during the festive season, so it's important to be extra cautious especially when using your credit and debit cards online.
Use a reliable virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your online activities and avoid accessing sensitive information on public wi-fi. Keep your devices updated with the latest security patches and avoid clicking on suspicious links or providing personal information to unknown sources. You should also use a strong password for your email and online accounts and enable two-factor authentication wherever possible.
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4. Gifts and Souvenirs: Know the Limits
When traveling during the festive season, you might want to carry gifts or souvenirs for your loved ones or to share the joy of the festivities with others. However, some countries have strict limits on the value of gifts that can be brought into the country without paying duty. Familiarise yourself with these regulations to avoid any customs-related issues. Consider lightweight, easily packable gifts that adhere to these guidelines and reflect the culture and traditions of the destination you're visiting.
You can usually find information about gift restrictions on the website of the country's customs department.
5. Be flexible with your plans
Things don't always go according to plan when travelling, especially during the festive season. Flights can be delayed or cancelled.
It's important to be flexible with your plans and have a backup option in case something goes wrong. For example, if your flight is cancelled, you may need to rebook on a different airline or take a train or bus to your destination.
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Yummi Talwar is COO – Europe & CIS, VFS Global, the world's largest outsourcing and technology services specialist, serving 67 sovereign governments worldwide.
*Info: VFS Global/India