Travel Checklist for Overseas Travel Plans

For many traveling is a hobby; for some, it is a passion! Well, if you are a travel bug, you know what to do and how to prepare for a local travel plan. But, things are not the same when it comes to planning a trip abroad, to a new destination.

So, let us proceed to take a look at a basic travel checklist you need to follow to avoid any kind of inconvenience or unpleasant experiences. Focus on:

• Getting ready all of the travel documents needed for a safe and comfortable travel, such as passport, visas or any other proof you will be required to produce in the country you are planning to visit.

• Try to start planning early and have enough time for ticket bookings; travel agencies come in handy in this job.

• Collect information about the currency used in that country so that you can be prepared to spend easily while shopping or sightseeing.

• In case you are not aware of the language spoken there, you can take the help of travel guides or local travel agencies.

• Calculate your expenditures in advance and take enough money with you. In this, you need to include travel insurance, food and accommodation, any kind of emergency, and so on.

• Avoid the common mistake that most tourists commit- never dress up like a typical foreigner or a newly landed tourist- this can create problems for you. For example, you may be cheated or even looted if you pose yourself as an affluent visitor.

• Note down essential contact numbers to get the help in case of an emergency like cash or credit cards stolen or lost.

• Try to get prior information about the local laws of the place to avoid facing any kind of legal action at any time during your trip.

Apart from these guidelines, certain fundamental tips are given by experts to make your trip not only comfortable but also a memorable and joyous one. They are:

i. Make your baggage light and convenient to carry

ii. In case you are traveling with a kid or an elderly person, then don’t forget to carry their specific items- you never know when and where you might need them!

iii. Put an identification tag on your entire luggage to retrieve them in case of theft or misplacement.

Travel Planning Tips

Travel planning has been gradually shifting from the domain of experts to the domain of an ever-growing amount of travelers’ experiences, and it will continue to grow in that respect in the years to come.

With the advent of the Internet, most travel bookings and travel research have moved into the online space. Guidebooks are excellent resources on the road, but they quickly become outdated when the Internet is constantly updated with newer and more accurate information. User-generated sites such as wikitravel.org are updated by locals and travelers as soon as new restaurants, hotels, and bars open, and these people also are able to “vote” with the information they put online. Other booking sites now rely on the reviews of other travelers, and services like Twitter allow instant broadcasts of what travelers’ are experiencing. With all of these resources available, online travel planning is the best method. Here are some of the best sites to use:

o Wikitravel.org is one of the best travel sites on the web. Modeled after Wikipedia.org and easily searchable by location, and offers the most up to date information available.
o The Thorn Tree travel forums moderated by Lonely Planet are legendary. Tens of thousands of travelers that have almost certainly seen and done whatever trip you are planning are more than happy to lend a helping hand.
o Kayak.com is an airfare search aggregator, covering most of the world’s major airlines. It will find the best prices based on your travel preferences, then take you to the site of the carrier to easily book your flight.
o Hostelworld.com is the king of cheap accommodations. With over 10,000 network hostels, the website has budget locations all over the planet, all searchable and ready to book online.
o Couchsurfing.org is a fantastic website both for connecting with locals while traveling and securing free accommodation. The website allows people to host travelers all over the world for free, and they often serve as tour guides and the perfect local guidebook for a place.

A lot of the above websites have the common factor of user-generated content. This is increasingly becoming the determining factor for travelers. The reasoning is that most magazine and guidebook reviews are paid, so reviews posted by other travelers are inherently more trustworthy. Taking a look at a guidebook published 6 months ago on a city like Buenos Aires and comparing it to the Wikitravel.org page is like night and day. The old methods of travel planning have been replaced by the immediacy of the Internet and the amassed knowledge of other travelers. As more and more people gain Internet access, even remote places will have locals that can dispel myths and misconceptions about travel in their hometowns and areas.

This spread of information will make travel planning easier and easier, and also more accurate. I have planned all of my trips abroad using solely the Internet, and it is by far the most efficient method.

London Travel Plans

Local Authorities now require that a Travel Plan (otherwise known as a Green Travel Plan) be submitted with a planning application for many types of development in order to ensure that the new business or facility actively looks at ways of minimising traffic impact.

This will usually aim to reduce single occupancy car journeys by staff travelling to work. In some cases a customer travel is also included within the document.

London Travel Plans required by Local Authorities within the Greater London Area must be written in accordance with Transport for London and the Mayor of London’s specific Travel Plan Guidance.

There are also a group of west London Boroughs who deal with Travel Planning together under an umbrella organisation called Westtrans and Travel Plans in those Boroughs are dealt with by Westtrans officers.

All London Boroughs are aiming for the same result’ to cut traffic and congestion within the city and reduce the need for parking by encouraging staff (and sometimes customers) to use public transport, walk or cycle. The art when writing a Travel Plan is to demonstrate you are helping to achieve these goals without committing your client to expensive measures both short and long term.

This requirement has been in place for a number of years now and the content and quality of Travel Plans, particularly in London, are now given much more scrutiny than in the past. Often within London, a developer is seeking to reduce parking on their site or in some cases provide no parking at all and in these situations a bespoke, practical and well written plan can be key to achieving planning permission.

The challenge in all cases is to balance the commercial demands of the business whilst formulating a robust and detailed plan which is frequently key to securing planning permission. For example I recently dealt with a new hotel with zero on-site parking. This meant that both staff and guest travel to the site needed to be actively addressed through a range of specific measures to discourage car travel.

In contrast I recently dealt with a hotel which had free on site parking. In this instance I had to devise a travel plan which demonstrated active steps to reduce the demand for those parking spaces over the initial period of 5 years.

Both sites were covered by the same overall London-wide policies but the individual site issues dictated that the plans were very different. In both instance I managed to reach a solution which met my client’s commercial needs and satisfied the Local Authorities’ requirements.

The different approach and requirements in each case demonstrates that a template is a misnomer. In my opinion the templates that are available are likely to result in clients being signed up to costly and impractical measures. In terms of cost, as the plans are monitored for at least 5 years, the management costs going forward can also be significant if not considered at an early stage.

In my experience travel plans prepared at the application stage are all too often a standardised document which is not fully considered, with the result that developers inadvertently agree to a range of measures in order to get planning approval. Those measures may be inappropriate, expensive to implement and difficult or costly to monitor.

The examples cited above demonstrate the importance of producing a plan which is specific to the site and to the end user, not least to prevent the added cost of having to re-writing the document. In both of these cases the original developer obtained agreement to a draft which, if implemented, would have resulted in significant costs for the end-user.

In order to meet the requirements of the client and to satisfy the Local Authorities it was necessary to re-write the documents in a way which delivered practical and value for money measures for my client but also satisfied the requirements of the Local Authorities. I like to think that my experience in this area helped to achieve a result which all were happy with.

Green Travel Plan Advice

A Green Travel Plan should deliver economic, practical and easy to manage measures both now and in the future. The majority of individuals that usually require a green travel plan are commercial developers and businesses. A plan should typically be:

economic to implement ‘day one’
cost effective for future management
include practical, well thought out measures that work

What’s the difference between Green and Workplace travel plans?

A Green Travel Plan (also typically known as a Workplace Travel Plan) is an obligation imposed by local authorities through the planning process typically by way of panning condition attached to a planning consent or by a S.106 agreement. It may also be introduced as a requirement during the application process.

In addition a Travel Plan is often a requirement of a BREEAM assessment process.

The Green Travel Plan sets out a suite of actions and measures intended to promote travel to the site by sustainable transport methods such as bicycle, bus or train rather than private car.

So I have a Green Travel Plan, what happens if I don’t follow it?

Most local authorities will require occupiers to monitor the effectiveness of the plan to ensure measures are being implemented and targets set in the plan are being met. The aim should be to demonstrate ongoing improvement.

Some local authorities now have sustainable travel officers whose sole duty is to promote sustainable travel and to monitor plans to ensure compliance.

Ultimately the local authority does have the power to take Enforcement action against you if you are not implementing and monitoring your plan. The council has the power to issue of a breach of condition notice to require you to comply with the requirements which could ultimately lead to prosecution and fine if you still fail to comply.

What Actions and Measures do the plans typically include?

They are sometimes produced to include high cost and complicated measures such as staff showers, public transport information and ticketing systems, subsidised public transport, cycle parking and staff loan schemes. Whilst it’s important to be mindful of the commercial necessity to obtain a consent, more simpler and cost effective measures should be considered as well, such as; free internet access to travel guides; website links to local travel information; car sharing schemes and on site maps of bus and train stations.

A plan should be produced to minimise the cost to the clients of delivering their plan whilst balancing this against the local planning policy requirements and need for a consent in a timely manner.

What will my Green Travel Plan cost?

Every plan is different based on the local policy requirements, the site constraints and the commercial pressures. Each should ideally be produced on a site specific basis. It is important to appreciate that a well considered and written plan allied to skilled consultants negotiating terms with the local authority will save you more money than you will ever spend on preparing it. Conversely, one poorly written will cost you money ‘day one’ and for many years to come as you continue to spend money and management time on costly and unwieldy measures.