Jetting off to foreign climes can be exciting but let's face it - the getting there part isn't always fun. Whether you're facing a long haul or are wondering how to keep the little ones quiet on the plane, here are a few of essential items you'll need to make the journey as pain-free as possible.
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On the plane
There are three things that can affect your enjoyment (or not) of your flight - comfort, health and entertainment.
Unless you are lucky enough to be travelling first class, staying comfortable on a plane isn't always easy. But a few little extras in your hand luggage can make all the difference. If you're on a long-haul or night flight, for instance, a warmer piece of clothing will mean you're not shivering from the air conditioning, especially if you are attempting to sleep.
Food and drink are, of course, a must for the whole family. While you are no longer permitted to take liquid in your hand luggage, there's no restriction on empty bottles and these can be filled with water from drinking fountains once you're through security. Similarly, bring your own snacks, either bought from home or at the airport, to nibble on between airplane meals, or you'll end up paying a hefty price for that packet of peanuts.
After all the excitement of take-off, kids (and adults) can become easily bored if there is no in-flight entertainment so bringing something to keep them occupied is a must. While older children and teens can immerse themselves in an iPod or a book, it's important to bring something for the young ones to enjoy. A selection of new but easily-packed toys or games will help the long hours to fly by.
While airports understandably have various restrictions and rules with regards to security, when it comes to your personal items, it's all down to you.
A lock on your suitcase and tags detailing your destination address will give your luggage the best chance of getting there in one piece, while a money belt is useful not only for keeping essential documents on your person but also for heading out and about when you're exploring somewhere new.
For your destination
It doesn't matter whether you are winging it, going self-catering or have booked into a luxury resort, there are often those little things that you wish you had brought from home.
If you've booked into a self-catering cottage or apartment, for example, plug socket adaptors will allow you to enjoy a few home comforts, while a handy little LED torch is essential for finding your way around after that first night out.
Duct tape and a Swiss Army knife are also useful, if not essential, items to take away. Should some over-exuberant baggage handlers get a little rough with your luggage, duct tape could save you a bundle in new, expensive, airport-bought bags, while the Swiss Army knife needs no explanation - just don't put it in your hand luggage.
A basic first aid kit will always come in handy, particularly if you have children - plasters, antiseptic cream, insect repellent, painkillers, anti-diarrhoea tablets and rehydration powders, and calamine lotion and sunblock should ensure the usual emergencies are catered for.
What's the item you never travel without? Leave your comments below...