A break can be a welcome relief from the stresses of daily life. But before you switch into holiday mode, make sure you have everything organised. From passports to travel insurance, there’s a lot to remember, so to make sure you don’t forget the essentials, we partnered with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on their Know Before You Go initiative to bring you this handy checklist.
Take your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
If you are travelling in the European Economic Area (EEA) this lets you access local healthcare services for a lower cost. The card is free, and can be obtained at your local post office or online.
Research local laws and customs
Do your research before travelling and not only could you avoid getting into hot water because of unfamiliar laws, but you’ll get more out of your trip. It might be worth investing in a guidebook before travelling, as you may not always have internet access once you’re away from home.
Be aware of luggage laws
Double check your airline’s restrictions for luggage. Rules vary between airlines on what size and weight is acceptable, but their website will be able to inform you of any restrictions (such as liquids).
Pack your medication
Not only should you pack enough for your trip, but also a little extra in case you face delays. If you can’t get hold of enough to last the duration of your holiday, make sure you’ll be able to access it in the country you’re visiting and make plans in advance. Always keep medication in your hand luggage, in its original containers, and include a note from your doctor or a copy of your prescription. It’s also important to be aware of any restrictions there may be on medications in the country you’re visiting.
Work out how much money you’ll need
Work out your immediate expenses and take enough travel money to cover your needs. It’s worth investigating whether you will have access to additional funds while away, such as via local cash machines.
Check your passport basics
Your passport should be in good condition and have space for your visas. Some countries require you to have at least six months left before your passport expires in order to be granted entry, so check the renewal date before you book. Make two photocopies and leave one with family or friends at home and take the other with you, storing it separately from your passport so you can access your information if the original is lost or stolen.
Be prepared when travelling with pets
Travelling with your pet doesn't have to be stressful. Many cats and dogs can travel to EU countries with their owners, provided they are microchipped, vaccinated and have their own pet passports. If you can’t take your pets with you, be sure to make arrangements well in advance and make sure that their vaccinations are up to date if you’re putting your dog into kennels or your cat into a cattery.
Secure your home
Keep your house safe while you’re away. Double lock the windows and doors and, if you can, set your lights to a timer. Cancel any daily subscriptions, and have a friend or neighbour visit to check everything’s in order and gather up the mail if you’re planning a particularly long break.
Take out travel insurance
Make sure that you and any belongings you’re taking are insured before you set off on holiday, and check that your policy gives you all the cover you need. Remember that if you hope to try extreme sports or winter sports such as skiing, you may need additional cover.
Research any travel risks
It’s worth being aware of any potential hazards, such as natural disasters, health risks or crime. The FCO provides great advice on most destinations, as well as tips on preparations to make before going abroad.
Check if you need vaccinations
Check with the FCO about whether you need any vaccinations for the areas you're visiting. Be sure to leave plenty of time, as some vaccinations require several shots a number of days apart, and also be aware that you may be charged for certain vaccinations.
Find out about visas
Some countries require you to obtain a visa in order to enter. Before travelling, visit the FCO site, choose the country you're visiting and check the entry requirements from there.