If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to travel more, then you’re hopefully in for an exciting year. But whether you’re a seasoned traveller, or you’re venturing off solo for the first time, we know that planning even the most longed-for holidays can bring its own anxieties. From insurance to home security, here are some simple tips to help you feel prepared, so you can start your trip relaxed.
Make sure your passport is valid
Ok, first things first, and it may sound obvious, but before you even start making travel arrangements, make sure you have a valid passport. If your passport is due to expire soon (it is recommended that you have at least six months left on your passport before it expires), then it’s time to apply for a new one. According to gov.uk it can take around three weeks to get a new passport, but it could take even longer at busy times, or if the Passport Office needs more information from you. You will need your passport to make certain bookings, and if you’re applying for a new one it will not have the same number as your old one. Avoid that heart-in-mouth, gut-wrenching feeling and allow plenty of time to get your passport sorted.
In an ideal world we’d all plan ahead, but real life has a way of sneaking up on us. If you find you need a passport urgently, then don’t worry, there are various fast-track options open to you, such as a one-week or online premium service, but do bear in mind that these cost more than the standard services.
Take care of medical matters
When holiday season hits, you obviously want to be on top form, so make sure you set off with a clean bill of health. The NHS has a wealth of health advice and resources aimed at travellers. If you think you need travel vaccinations, and it’s always best to check, the NHS also advises that you aim to see your doctor or a private travel clinic at least eight weeks before you’re due to travel.
Make sure you have requested any repeat prescriptions that you’ll need while you’re away, and it’s also a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor if you have any special medical needs or conditions, or even any niggling health concerns you want to discuss. Your local pharmacist will also be able to advise on medical-kit items to take on your trip.
Organise travel insurance
According to the Association Of British Travel Agents (ABTA) many of us are travelling abroad without the insurance we need. In the 12 months leading up to May 2018, up to 38% of British people either travelled with no insurance at all, or took part in activities which may not have been covered.
We all hope that nothing will go wrong on our holidays, but if it does it can be very costly to put things right, (and who’s got the money for that once you’ve shelled out for your holiday) especially if we need medical assistance abroad. With policies widely available at reasonable prices, it seems like a good investment to make sure you’re covered. Plus, it’s not just for the really big stuff, policies can also cover flight delays, cancellations and even lost or delayed luggage.
Here are a few important things to consider:
- Make sure you have comprehensive cover, including health insurance, for the countries you’ll be visiting. If you hold a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), bear in mind these expire every five years so make sure yours is up to date.
- Tell your travel insurer about any pre-existing conditions you have. If you don’t, then your insurance could be void. If you have an annual policy you also need to inform your insurer about any changes.
- Check that you are covered for any activities you may be planning. That cycling trip, sailing lesson, or daredevil bungee jump may seem safe enough to you, but make sure your policy covers it.
Leaving your home secure
No matter how much you like going on holiday, it can feel nerve-racking to leave your home unattended. The best thing you can do is to take sensible precautions and then try not to worry about it. Hopefully your thoughts and senses will soon be full of new experiences, leaving you little time to worry about home, but there are lots of things you can do to avoid drawing attention to the fact that you’re away.
As well as leaving a set of keys and your contact details with a neighbour, ask if they can help out with a few simple things such as putting the bins back in place after your rubbish has been collected, or stopping your post and junk mail building up in your porch.
You can also help keep the place safe by not leaving spare keys outside under plant pots and garden gnomes as that’s one of the first places a would-be burglar would look. Lock garden furniture and ladders away in the shed (as intruders often use these to climb up and access windows to break in, or just get a better view of what’s inside), plus, leave a couple of lights on a timer to come on in the evenings.
If you’re the kind of person who worries you’ve left the cooker on (yep, us too) then why not write a list and tick things off as you go e.g. windows locked? Check. Timers set? Check. Passport packed? Oh…
Keeping yourself (and your stuff) safe
The world is always changing, and while that makes travel really exciting, there’s no point in taking unnecessary risks. If you fancy visiting somewhere, you can always check with the Foreign Office to view the latest travel advice and how it might affect your plans. You can even sign up for travel alerts for countries of interest. And if you did unfortunately run into problems abroad, there’s also loads of helpful advice on there to help you deal with things. So, now that’s all covered, all that remains is to get packing, and we’ve got just the list of gadgets to help keep your luggage safe on your travels.
Now you’ve you got your pre-travel routine down, is it time to book your next adventure?