14 things you must do before your holiday

Off on holiday soon? Make sure you're ready by checking out these top tips.

If you’re currently walking around singing ‘We’re all going on a summer holiday’ in preparation for jetting off to sunnier climes, we're very jealous. But if you are about to head off on holiday, there are certain measures you should take to ensure you have the best – and safest – time possible.

1. Travel insurance

Perhaps most importantly, ensure you have a travel insurance policy in place. Travel insurance doesn't have to be expensive (although cheapest isn’t always best) and it’s important that you have it. After all, should your holiday get cancelled for any reason, or you become ill abroad and need treatment, you’ll be the one forking out for it unless you have a travel insurance policy in place.

Just ensure you read the terms and conditions carefully to spot any exclusions and to make sure you know exactly what you’re covered for.

2. Get an EHIC

If you’re travelling to Europe, it’s also worth getting a European Health Insurance Card which is completely free to apply for. It’s valid for up to five years and gives you access to the same state-provided healthcare you would receive if you were a resident of the European country you’re visiting.

Be warned though, you shouldn’t use this in place of travel insurance as it won’t provide as much cover as travel insurance. For example, it won't cover you for the cost of being brought back to the UK should you need to be, or for being rescued when you’re stranded in the mountains of a ski resort, or if you lose your luggage.

3. Check your passport

Many countries require you to have at least six months – some even 12 months - left on your passport before you can travel. So do check your passport well in advance.

You should also ensure the name in your passport matches that on your travel documents. It might sound daft, but if you’ve recently got married and changed your name but haven’t updated your passport you might come a cropper!

4. Get a visa

Similarly, also check whether you need to get a visa to enter the country you’re travelling to.

This can take several weeks to obtain so it’s worth doing this well in advance – don’t leave it to the last minute. Find out more here. And there's no need to pay expensive fees to a company to do this on your behalf.

5. Tell your bank

OK, you might feel like your bank already knows too much about you, but if you’re jetting off somewhere, it’s a good idea to inform your bank and credit card companies if you’re planning to use your debit or credit cards while you’re on holiday.

That way you’ll reduce the chance of your bank cancelling your card because they believe it’s been used for fraudulent overseas transactions.

6. Sort out your travel money

Exchange rates can vary dramatically from place to place, with airports, hotels and high street banks generally offering much less competitive rates than those from currency specialists.

This means that if you’ve left it to the last minute, you’re more likely to be using one of these uncompetitive places. So make sure you plan ahead and shop around first. Find out more in Five ways to get the most holiday cash.

And if you’re planning to use debit and credit cards abroad, be aware you’re likely to get charged for the privilege. Fortunately, there are a number of cards that will side-step these fees – find out more in The best debit cards to use abroad and The best credit cards to use abroad. Alternatively, you may be better off using a prepaid currency card.

7. Think about mobile costs

The price of sending a text, making a call and even receiving a call on your mobile phone can be very expensive when you’re abroad. So consider carefully whether you really need to make any calls while you’re away.

If you do, ensure you take precautions and have a read of Cut the cost of using your mobile on holiday.

8. Plan your route to airport

Getting to the airport can be pricey – particularly if you haven’t planned this in advance. Take the time to shop around and look at all the options.

If you’re hoping to travel by rail, consider other train routes rather than the express services which are far more expensive. Taking a train that stops at several stations might take longer, but it’s also likely to save you several pounds. What’s more, if you book your tickets earlier, it’ll be cheaper than buying them on the day. (Plus you won’t have to worry about getting caught in a queue and missing your plane!)

Meanwhile, easyBus offers single fares to Luton, Gatwick and Stansted from just £2. Just make sure you book your seat well in advance.

9. Arrange parking if necessary

If you’re driving to the airport, you’ll need to pay for parking so it’s a good idea to check out websites such as Purple Parking, parking4less and aph.com to find the best priced parking spaces near the airport.

Some homeowners near the airport may also be renting out their driveways at reasonable prices to holiday makers, so check out websites such as ParkatmyHouse to find out more.

10. Get vaccinated

Before you jet off, you should also ensure you have had the correct vaccinations. So pay a visit to your doctor to check whether or not you need any for your particular destination. You should do this about a month advance as some vaccinations need to be carried out a few weeks before you leave. Be warned that you may also have to pay an advice fee.

11. Think about your home

You should also give your home some consideration – particularly if you’re planning to be away for a while.

If you know your neighbours, it’s a good idea to ask one of them to drop by a few times and check everything is in order, pick up the post, and even draw or open the curtains. It can also be worth setting a timer on a light so that it comes on for a couple of hours in the evening to deter burglars. And don't forget to cancel any deliveries, such as milk, newspapers and food.

12. Print out your boarding pass

If you’re flying, many budget airlines now charge you for checking-in at the airport and printing out your boarding pass. So ensure you’re prepared and check-in online and print out your boarding pass at home to avoid these fees.

13. Gather together important documents

It’s a good idea to make copies of all your important documents such as your passport, hotel reservations, flight details and insurance details. Leave a copy with friends or family and take another with you – keeping it separate from the real documents.

14. Pack!

Finally, make a list of all the things you’ll need on holiday and then get packing! Using a checklist should ensure you don’t forget anything!

This is a classic lovemoney article that has been updated

More on travel and holidays

Get a great travel insurance deal

The cheapest places for a summer sun holiday

Foreign currency exchange: don't get ripped off on your holiday money

How to beat sneaky budget airline charges

How to get travel insurance if you have a pre-existing condition

Five reasons your travel insurance won't pay out

 

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