It’s that time of year: everyone’s either jetting off somewhere warm, or emerging from their latest holiday bubble, back to face reality.
If you haven’t left yet, Fiona Klonarides suggests you get packing. There’s an art to holiday preparedness and we all know seem to know someone who booked a fly-drive holiday across Spain and forgot to take their licence – or worse still, left behind their vital medication.
Follow this guide to good holiday packing and you can leave your friends, family, work and worries behind and enjoy every second of your holiday.
Well before you leave…
Is your passport valid? (In some countries it has to be valid for a good six months after the date of the trip). Another tip is that if your passport is coming up for renewal, it’s worth getting a biometric one (try comparing the biometric v. old passport “EU queue” at Stansted on a busy evening and you’ll see what we mean). Biometric will speed you through the shorter queue, faster.
Do you need a visa, if so, how long does it take to get one?
No longer really “optional”, now that we live in a time of erupting volcanos and political unrest, travel insurance is vital. In fact don’t leave home without it – and the printed out paperwork – and do check the small print carefully – preferably before you depart. It’s also worth noting the number and country code you’ll need to call in an emergency. On one Ryanair insurance document I printed out recently, the number was a Romanian call centre – of all places.
MEDICAL EHIC CARD
It’s a good idea to get a European Health Insurance Card (your NHS card won’t work as a substitute) if you’re holidaying within Europe – more information here: http://www.nhs.uk/nhsengland/Healthcareabroad/pages/Healthcareabroad.aspx
Need Malaria tablets or some kind of jab? Don’t leave those things until the last minute, the last place you want to end up in is a far away hospital where you don’t speak the language.
Get refills before you leave, and get them in time in case the chemist has to order them. Medications in the UK aren’t “automatically” obtainable in other countries, and brand names are often completely different. A foreign doctor may not even recognise the name of the “brand” medication, he’ll need to know what the medication actually is. Fill up before you leave and always carry it in your handluggage.
It’s best to bring essential in mini travel sizes and don’t forget the sun cream. If you’re staying at a resort with no car, there’s nothing more annoying than finding the sun lotions have all sold out at the mini-market which means you’ll spend the second day of your holiday nursing sunburn.
Check with your provider how much calls will cost to make and receive – roaming charges can be astronomical.
Enjoy your barefoot, beachfront wedding…
If you’re heading off into a Barbados sunset for your once-in-a-lifetime beachfront wedding, you need to bring all the documents required or you could be having a row instead of exchanging vows barefoot on the sand. Barbados (all territory rules vary, so check) doesn’t require any residency period but you’ll need to contact the Ministry of Legal Affairs to obtain a Marriage License (the Ministry is closed weekends and public holidays). You’ll have to possess passports, birth certificates – originals or certified copies – decree absolute(s) if one or both of the couple are previously divorced, Marriage Certificate and partner’s Death Certificate if widowed. And just when you thought that’s the end of the list…a Deed Poll certificate if your name has been changed.
- Print off boarding cards – Jet2 and Ryanair will slap you with a hefty £40 per person fine to print them out at the check-in desk…or you’ll have to scurry to the nearest internet hub and try to print them out there (losing your place in the queue).
- Driving License – Take the green part and the photo card
- Place all important documents in your handluggage or handbag, and keep copies at home. Better still, scan them and email them to yourself.
- Leave emergency contact details for friends and relatives
- Take important phone numbers with you.
- You can also get a SKYPE phone number that people can call you on in most parts of the world, online – they’ll be charged local UK rates for example, calling your UK SKYPE phone number while you’re in France.
- If you happen to be going somewhere where there’s a risk of political instability, earthquakes or a tsunami, for example, or which has an existing Foreign Office warning of some sort already on the FCO.gov.uk website, it’s not a bad idea to register with them at: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/staying-safe/Locate/ so that you can be accounted for if anything happens.
- Try and stick to the weight allowance – you don’t need a one season wardrobe for a one week getaway; if you’re going somewhere warm, you can handwash most items and air dry them.
- Try and stick to the handluggage or luggage allowances imposed by your airline – going over can cost a lot.
- Spread items across the family’s bags so if one goes missing you still have something to wear.
- Tiny travellers – do they get a luggage allowance? Check first, if not you could be charged extra.
Pre-book your car hire in UK, it works out far cheaper and you’re guaranteed a car on arrival. You can also buy the insurance online when you book and make sure you have a credit card, ideally, as you may not be able to pay with your debit card – at Malaga, for example, none of the car hire companies except one local (expensive) company accepts cash or a debit card – it has to be a credit card or you won’t be driving anywhere.
If you’re planning on driving to different destinations, it may be best to buy a map of the location before you leave – finding one at your destination may not be as easy as you think, especially on a Sunday.