Whether you’ve bagged yourself a great last minute deal or have been planning a holiday for months in advance, it always pays to be organised.
Whilst things like clothes, toiletries and a good book can be picked up at the airport or even when you reach your destination, the items in our checklist either can’t be left late or will end up costing you if you do.
With your passport safely tucked away in its hiding place at home, it’s easy to miss that it might have expired or is due to expire before you jet off on your holiday. The key things to remember before going away are:
- To allow entry to and exit from many countries you must have 6 months left to run on your passport
- If you do need to renew your passport in the UK, you should allow 3 weeks
Don’t panic – if you have left it late and still need a new passport, you can book an emergency appointment at your local Passport Customer Service Centre and pay up to £128 for the privilege (compared to the standard cost of £72.50)
Visit the Gov.UK website to find your nearest Passport Customer Service Centre and full breakdown of costs and services.
2. Get currency
Whilst it is possible to get hold of currency at an airport or even at your final destination, it’s well known that to get the best exchange rates, currency should be arranged beforehand.
• Cash: research online to find out who’s offering the best exchange rate and taking the lowest commission. Some online companies post the cash to you, whilst others allow collection from your point of departure. As exchange rates are changing all the time, there’s no guarantee how much you will save but TravelMoneyMax from money saving expert’s Martin Lewis is a good website for quickly comparing all the main online bureaux de change to find who’ll give you the most foreign cash after all charges and exchange rates. Ideally, a mix of cash and cards is a good option in case of emergency; providing you with a backup to fall back on.
• Cards: If you’ve left plenty of time before your trip, check your existing credit and debit cards to see whether they offer a good rate of exchange (and any extra fees). You may want to compare travel credit cards tailored toward spending abroad to see if there’s one better suited to your needs which could save you some money too.
• Pre-paid travel cards: available online, these allow you to load a card up with a pre-determined amount before you depart. As well as being a secure way of handling currency, they can also help you set a holiday budget as you decide how much money goes on the card.
3. Let your bank know you’re heading abroad
This ties in with your travel money, but once you’ve decided on how you plan to spend whilst away, let your bank know where you’re going so they don’t put a hold on your cards and stop you accessing your money.
4. Airport parking
If you’re flying off on your holiday and driving to the airport, you’ll need to arrange parking for your car whilst you’re away. Again it usually pays to book this in advance to get a better price and ensure you’ll have a spot, but if you’re short on time you can usually just turn up at the airport, park and pay any charges on your return. Some sites claim savings of as much as 10-25% just by booking in advance, so it’s worth comparing a few sites to find the best price.
Parking is usually offered at the airport, but take a look in areas surrounding the airport where private companies will look after your car in a secure lot and ferry you to your departure gate in a shuttle bus. These off-site car parks can often work out cheaper than parking at the airport but remember to allow time for your transfer between the car park and the airport.
5. Travel insurance
Whilst there’s not usually a financial benefit of booking your travel insurance in advance, it does leave plenty of time to compare policies to make sure you’re getting the right level of cover e.g. how much they will pay out if you’re delayed, if you get injured or if your luggage is stolen/damaged. However if you do choose to go on a spontaneous holiday; you can get travel insurance right up until the moment you go. Travel insurance comparison website are helpful to give you a snapshot of the deals available, including excesses (the amount you have to pay before making a claim).
You might have a European or worldwide travel insurance policy with your bank account, but more and more travellers are discovering the cover offered is usually limited so it’s worth checking the small print before you go away and buying a standalone policy if needed.
If you are travelling to Europe it is worth applying for a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) While this doesn’t replace travel insurance it can help if you need state healthcare while traveling in an EU country. Make sure you apply through the UK government website, as some other sites apply an unnecessary charge for the service.
6. Secure your house
It can be an easy one to forget, but leaving your home unsecure whilst you’re on holiday not only leaves you at risk from burglary but could also invalidate any buildings or contents insurance claims you may need to make during the extended period you’re away.
Before you leave, do a quick check to make sure all windows and doors are securely closed, garages or sheds are locked up and valuables left behind such as laptops or tablets are hidden out of view. For added security, you may want to put a light on a timer to come on automatically during the evening so it looks as if someone is in and get someone to collect your post so that it doesn’t pile up on the floor.