Jul 19, 2012

Posted by in Features, Top 10s, Trip Advice | 3 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 have seemed far-fetched, recent research from e.on has revealed that almost one in 10 UK holidaymakers have left a loved-one at home in their rush to catch a flight. A further 17% said that they have left behind important travel documents such as passports and almost one-in-five have forgotten their luggage.

While the above figures may sound shocking, it shows how easy it can be for pre-holiday stress to make us forget even the most obvious and important items.

But if you’re planning on going on holiday soon and suddenly fear the worst, don’t despair. We’ve put together this handy checklist to make sure you’re got everything covered before you set off.

Summer holiday checklist

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

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that dampens your pre-holiday excitement quite like the realisation that you can’t find your passport or that it’s out of date.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 Ghana 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.

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. Check out MoneySupermarket’s shopping channel to find the cheapest place to buy them.

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, charges £35 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 £105.

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

The e.on research also revealed that more than 13% of people forgot to properly secure their homes before they went on holiday, leaving them vulnerable to thieves.

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.

For more helpful tips read Mark Hooson’s article ‘Five ways to protect your home before your holiday’ to make sure that you’ve got everything covered.

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

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, go to our travel insurance channel where you can compare a variety of policies and get the best one to suit your needs.

If you do find yourself in an unfortunate situation such as with a cancelled flight or lost luggage, the European Commission has launched a new app for travellers to check their rights while still on holiday. It’s called ‘Your passenger rights at hand’ and is available on the iPhone, iPad, Google Android, RIM BlackBerry and Microsoft Windows 7 phone.

7. Sort out your travel money

Not organising your travel money till 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 TravelSupermarket’s foreign currency channel.

An alternative to cash is to get a prepaid card. This works as pay-as-you-go 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. To make sure you don’t get caught out, read Clare Francis’ article ‘Beware hidden charges on prepaid cards.’

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, and has a representative APR of 12.9% which is significantly lower than the 17.32% average.

Read Laura Howard’s article ‘The best credit cards for your holidays’ 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 card 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

Don’t forget to organise care for the furry member of your family while you are away. The e.on research showed that 13% of respondents have left the house holiday-bound without organising pet care or even food for a pet.

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 in the peak time for holidays and, therefore, you could turn up to find there are no cars or little choice.

To find more tips on car hire while on holiday, read Cathy Toogood’s blog post on TravelSupermarket, ‘Save on your summer car hire.’

  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.

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