Holiday planning

10 things you must do before you go on holiday

16 November 2018 | Updated 17 February 20206 min read

Aerial view of two cars driving on a coastal road in the USA

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

Credit: Annie Spratt | Unsplash

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that dampens your pre-holiday excitement quite like the realisation that you can’t find your passport or that it’s out of date.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

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 so make sure you look at the fine print in their baggage policies.

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

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

Even with a Brexit deal, the future of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is still uncertain. That said, you are still entitled to its benefits during the transition period (until December 31, 2020).

Make sure you have an in-date 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 still 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

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.

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

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

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