On July 7, 2016 I received an e-mail notifying me that I had won a trip for two to London. I had one year to take the trip, and the time is finally here. I will be in London from May 1 – May 7. My trip includes airfare, hotel, breakfast, some tours, an English tea, and more. It’s the middle of the night as I write this post because I am too excited to sleep. I have been buying travel supplies and packing. But I wanted to share with you some of the things I have learned through this process.
- Have your passport before you enter to win an international trip. Once I won and accepted, I had to fill out forms including my current passport information within the week. Obviously, if you didn’t already have a passport this would not be enough time to obtain one. That may mean you would have to forfeit the prize. Luckily, I had prepared myself by applying for a passport at the beginning of that year “just in case” I won a trip!
- Read your passport. There is a lot of information about how to fill it out properly, about international travel and who to contact if your passport is stolen. One piece of great advice is to make copies of the data page and keep them in different places just in case.
- When to expect your details and trip itinerary. Even though it has been almost a year since I won the trip, I did not receive my finalized travel and booking information until one month before the trip. This may vary depending on the sponsor, but just know it may not be something you will receive immediately.
- Check your reservations for accuracy. When I received my plane reservation, I noticed that they had spelled my last name wrong. Of course, I would not get too far if my identification card and plane reservation names didn’t match. I simply contacted the travel planner and they quickly made the correction.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for needed alterations of the schedule. The worst they can say is no. In my case, I wanted to stay a couple days longer in London to make sure I had enough time to see everything. I asked if they would still cover the airfare, and the response was yes if it was equal to or lesser than the original airfare plan. It ended up being to our benefit. Since the tickets were cheaper by extending the trip, the sponsor ended up including more fun things for the days they covered. I will simply have to pay for another hotel for those remaining two days.
I am looking forward to sharing the outcome of the trip with my readers when I return. Perhaps I will learn a few more lessons, but hopefully it will just be great fun and memories to report.