Sep 20, 2012

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Don’t get lost in a holi-daze!

You’ve booked the perfect getaway, the kids’ cases are packed and they are ready waiting in the car, the dog is settled at the kennels and you’ve switched off all the electrics in the house. Your other half hands you your passport and you think you’re ready to set off – until you check the expiry date and it’s a year out of date.

Don't forget the travel essentials

If this has happened to you, you’re not alone. New research by TravelSupermarket has revealed that almost half (47%) of British holidaymakers get so excited about their upcoming break that they forget to pack essential items.  In their rush, 14% of Brits forget plug adapters, 12% overlook their phone charger and a further 12% don’t remember to pack their sunglasses. Despite already owning the items, they are then forced to pay expensive airport or resort prices to replace them for their trip.

And, it’s not just bad packing that’s costing British holidaymakers a small fortune as 7% of Brits have had to pay for a last-minute passport after discovering that theirs was out of date while another 4% have even turned up to the airport a day early or a day late.

What’s the reason for such carelessness?

Simply – lack of preparation. Our research found that 24% of us leave our packing until the day before we jet off, making it much easier to panic and to forget much-needed items. An additional 5% of Brits even leave our packing until those precious last few hours before we leave.

Kevin Pratt, 50, Hertfordshire “An out-of-date passport almost ruined my holiday”

Kevin Pratt

Kevin Pratt

When Kevin and his partner Naomi booked their family holiday to France over the summer, they never dreamed about the stress they would face leading up to their departure.

“We were packing a week before we were due to leave and checked Naomi’s passport. It was out of date but we thought it would be okay and we’d get an emergency passport sorted.

“But there was no emergency routine and we had to try and get an appointment with the IPS (Identity and Passport Services). The office opened at 8am and we rang every day. Unfortunately, as we were ringing in the peak summer holiday season, everybody else who was ringing was in the same boat and we just couldn’t get through.

“We were due to fly on the Saturday and on the Tuesday we were told we there was an available appointment in Belfast on the Monday. We weighed up the options and thought that I would take our two daughters as planned and Naomi would fly out the following week – you start thinking crazy things. I even sent an email around work trying to sell the holiday.

“Amazingly, on the Thursday we got through and made an appointment in London for the Friday. By 6pm Friday evening Naomi had a passport and we flew out at 10am the next day.

“I would tell anyone not to leave finding and checking your passport until the last minute. Plan well in advance, the shorter the time you want a turn around on waiting for your passport, the higher the charge. Instead of the standard £72.50 charge, a new passport can cost between £103.00 and £128.00, showing that it pays to plan ahead. Also, while adult passports last up to 10 years, children’s last five years. So you need to check theirs more regularly.

“It was such a stressful time and it took a few days to recover when we arrived, but it all worked out in the end.”

For more information on passport renewal, visit the Direct.gov website.

Don’t come home to an unwanted surprise

But it’s not only packing that is tripping British holidaymakers up, what we are leaving back home also causes problems. For example, 21% of Brits have returned home to a stinking fridge after not throwing away short-lived food, and 12% forget to take out the bins leaving a stench upon return. More seriously, 11% have forgotten to lock windows and doors – something that could invalidate your home insurance if you are burgled.

Talking about the research, TravelSupermarket’s travel expert, Bob Atkinson, said: “Holidays are a great way of getting away from it all and a time to leave your worries at home. Unfortunately it appears that many Brits are leaving a lot more at home. While a forgotten phone charger or travel adapter shouldn’t ruin your holiday, you don’t want to waste precious holiday time scouring local shops for a replacement and if you forget a few items, it can really eat into your holiday budget. Spending a few minutes double-checking you have everything might seem like a waste of time  as you rush off to the airport, but it could save you a lot of hassle as well as vital  spending money, while you are away.”

To get your holiday off to the best start, follow our tips below so the only thing you’ll have to worry about is catching a great tan!

Must-do holiday preparation

  • Make a packing list – or download TravelSupermarket’s handy downloadable list – to make sure you don’t forget a thing
  • Make sure that you’ve secured your home and let neighbours know you’re going away
  • Switch off all plug sockets at the wall
  • Check that you know where every family member’s passport is and that they are in date well before you travel
  • Ensure you’ve had all the necessary vaccinations  for the country you are visiting, and make sure you’ve sorted visas before you go.

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