Feb 6, 2017

Posted by in Money Saving Tips, Top 10s, Trip Advice | 14 Comments

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10 things you must do before you go on holiday

Many of us will remember the classic moment in the film ‘Home Alone’, when Kevin’s mother realises that, in all the hustle and bustle of going on holiday, she’s forgotten her eight-year-old son.

While this may seem a little far-fetched, if you aren’t prepared, pre-holiday stress can make you forget even the most obvious and important items.

So, to help you if you’re jetting off soon, we’ve put together this handy checklist to make sure you’ve got everything covered. Then all you need to worry about is whether to hit the beach or the sights when you arrive.

1. Dig out your passport and make sure it’s in date

Dig out your passport

It might sound simple but there is nothing that dampens your pre-holiday excitement quite like the realisation that you can’t find your passport or that it’s out of date. Checking it a couple of months in advance is something few of us would think about doing, yet it’s imperative you do – otherwise your holiday could be over before it’s even started.

Be aware that there are also some countries that require your passport to be valid for a particular period from your date of arrival. For example, the United Arab Emirates, Kenya and Turkey all require a minimum period of six months to be left on your passport from your date of entry. To check regulations for the country you are visiting, simply go to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office  website.

If you have any questions about applying for a new passport, read our blog post.

2. Check you have the essential documents for your trip

Whether this is entry visas or your driving licence, your boarding pass or hotel confirmation, get organised and put them all together in a plastic folder.

It’s also helpful to take a list of useful numbers, for example emergency contact details if your mobile phone or debit or credit card is lost or stolen. Making a note of your passport number is also important in case you were suddenly to find yourself without it.

3. Make sure you know your luggage allowances – even if you have flown recently


Over-packing and being stuck at the check-in desk with luggage that’s too heavy can really start your holiday off on the wrong foot.

In this situation you’ll either have to try and disperse some of the weight by putting it into your hand luggage (if you have room) or pay extra. So before you go, make sure you have weighed your case.  You can buy handheld digital luggage scales for just a few pounds.

If you do decide you are going to need to take extra luggage, pre-book it in online in advance. All airlines have different regulations but Ryanair, for example, charge up to £40 to check a 20kg bag in during the peak season if you book online – whereas waiting until you got to the airport would set you back up to £60.

Finally, to make sure you don’t forget anything, check out our packing lists on TravelSupermarket for both adults and children.

4. Make your home secure

Nothing will snap you out of your post-holiday high like coming home to discover you’ve been broken into. Double and triple check doors and windows and make sure you cancel any milk or grocery deliveries. Ask a family member or a trusted neighbour to regularly check on the house and remove any mail from behind your front door. It may also be worth considering investing in light timers.

Remember that if you were to suffer a break-in while you were on holiday and you had not secured your home properly, your insurance could be deemed invalid – so taking the time to do this really is important.

5. Check your route to the airport and pre-book a parking space

Driving to the airport

Both before you set off and while you are driving, listen to the radio for traffic alerts. Make sure you have planned your route and allow extra time in case of disruption.

If you are planning on parking your car at the airport, make sure you book in advance to get the best price.

6. Take out travel insurance and get an EHIC if you are going to Europe

Making sure you have an in-date European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will ensure that if you were to get ill while you were away, you would be entitled to either free or subsidised health care.

The EHIC is free to apply for, so don’t be misled by websites which charge a fee. Just go to the NHS website where you will be able to apply for your free card.

While it’s important to have an EHIC, it isn’t a substitute for travel insurance. Getting cover will protect you against a variety of potential things that could go wrong and threaten to ruin your holiday such as lost or stolen baggage, delayed flights and medical charges not covered by the EHIC.

To get the best possible deal on travel insurance, compare policies on a comparison site to find the best one to suit your needs.

7. Sort out your travel money

Travel money

Leaving your travel money to the last minute is another mistake which could cost you. If you are planning on taking currency, the cheapest rates will be found online, which you can either arrange for delivery or pick up. Find the best rates by comparing online on MoneySavingExpert’s TravelMoneyMax.

An alternative to cash is to get a prepaid card. This works on a pay-as-you-go method and you simply load a certain amount of money on to the card and then if you want to top up, you just go online or ring up. It’s a great way to budget, however some of these cards do come with hidden charges.

If you are planning on using your credit card while abroad, avoid huge charges by applying for a credit card that is specifically designed for overseas usage. For example, the Halifax Clarity Credit Card charges no fee for overseas usage.

Read Mark Hooson’s article Take the right kind of card on holiday with you for more information.

8. Tell your bank before you go abroad

It’s important that you contact your bank to let them know that you are going abroad and that you may want to use your debit or credit card while you are away.

This is because any sudden overseas activity can cause them to become suspicious and without warning your card could just be stopped. Also be sure to take an emergency phone number to contact them, just in case.

9. Sort out pet care

Sort out pet care

Don’t forget to organise care for the furry member of your family while you are away. That way, you can sit back and relax while you’re away knowing that they are being looked after too.

10. Pre-book your car hire

If you are planning on hiring a car when you go on holiday, pre-booking is the key to save money. It’s especially important as we are now entering the peak time for holidays and, therefore, you could turn up to find there are no cars or little choice.

  1. is it better to pay in sterling or euro’s with debit cards

    • Thomas says:

      Always pay in sterling and let your bank apply the charges/rates. If you pay in Euro you have no idea what the merchant’s bank is charging you or what exchange rate they are using.

      • Thanks Geoff and Thomas for your comments.

        When travelling in Europe, be wary of dynamic currency conversion. This is where you get the option to pay in sterling, however the rates of exchange are often unfavourable to the consumer. We’d always recommend paying in the local currency.

  2. Ya mam way says:

    I think that you need to sort out what luggage alonce then remember to way it before you go so when you are at the airport you don’t need to take things out and send them home so that’s a good idea.

  3. Anonymous says:


  4. Charlotte says:

    you should also to set your lights at different times each day as In home alone 1 the burgalers track what time the lights come on each day ( solar lights best option)

  5. You should make sure you are in comfortable clothes because there’s,not a worse thing sitting all dying in horrible scratchy clothes

  6. Eloise says:

    Re: pets, dogs especially – find a local company/person that arrange to have your dog stay at someone’s house. Make sure it’s one that let you meet the ‘host’ a few times so the dog gets to know them. Much more pleasant experience for the dog.

  7. Shirley Bannister says:

    How can I check that I have the correct credit card password

    • Hi Shirley

      If you mean pincode for using in a machine or ATM then you need to contact your card issuer and they can organise a pinc ode to be sent to you.

      If you mean for access to an online account then again speak to your card issuer and they will advise you of the options that you have for your card.

      Kind regards


  8. Shirley Bannister says:

    I meant to say “pin number”.

  9. sushofficial says:

    I guess one essential is a passport cover may be leather or simple transparent which protect it from wear and tear and travel agent sticker.

  10. Pauline Kelly says:

    Is it better to pay for my hotel in Majorca before i go by debit or credit card or on arrival but euro, sterling or cards?

    • Hi Pauline

      Have you booked direct with the hotel? Have they quoted you in Euros?

      If the answer to the above is yes then pay the hotel direct when you arrive. If you pay by card then ensure you know what card charges are made by your card issuer. Many charge for transactions. You can check that kind of info here;


      Alternatively buy currency from a best buy issuer here in the UK and take that with you or load onto a pre-paid card in Euros and use that to pay the bill.

      Do NOT in any circumstances if the transaction is in Euros accep the hotelier converting that to sterling at the point of card payment. It will cost you more when it reaches your card.

      Kind regards


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