Avoid these last minute holiday disasters

Harvey Jones

If you're heading off on holiday shortly, beware last-minute mishaps. If you forget to pack your passport, visa, travel insurance, driving licence or spending money, your plans for a stress-free break could be ruined. This checklist should help your holiday get off to a flying start.

Take vital documents

Make sure everybody in your party, including young children, has valid passports and visas. If you're flying with a budget airline, remember to print out your boarding cards or you could face a hefty penalty at the airport.

 

Check travel plans

Take all your booking confirmation slips, hotel details, airport transfers information, tour operator contacts, and any pre-booked tickets to events and days out.

 

Buy travel insurance

More than four million Britons will travel to Europe without insurance this year, but they risk a big bill if they have an accident or fall ill while away. One in four wrongly think that the free European Health Insurance Card is enough, but it only offers limited protection. Only travel insurance will refund your costs if you have to cancel your curtail your holiday, say, following illness or death in the family.

 

Order travel money

Don't buy your travel money at the airport, or you'll pay rip-off rates. For each £360 you convert, you will get £25 less than if you had bought in advance on the high street, according to Debenhams. The best rates are available online, through services such as ICE, Travelex, the Post Office and Thomas Cook. Home delivery costs up to £5, but is often free if you order more than £500.

 

Warn your bank

If you plan to use your debit or credit card while away, tell your bank. If it spots a string of overseas transactions, it may suspect your card has fallen into the hands of fraudsters, and put a block on it. Remember that using your debit card or card overseas can be expensive, as you rack up foreign transaction charges, especially if withdrawing cash on a credit card.

 

Cover your car

If you’re taking your car to the continent, tell your insurer. It will typically charge an extra fee to extend your comprehensive motor cover overseas, around £20 to £25 for a fortnight. You should also arrange overseas motor breakdown cover and learn the rules of the road. Many countries insist you pack visibility vests, headlight dimmers, a first-aid kit, warning triangle, GP sticker, spare bulbs and in France, a personal breathalyser.

 

Those little essentials

Don't forget your spectacles or contact lenses, and any leads or rechargers for your digital camera, mobile phone, laptop, iPad or Kindle. Check your mobile phone company’s overseas roaming rates, to see how much you pay.

 

Check your home insurance

Make sure your home insurance is up to date, and take your policy number and contact details. If a friend or neighbour is looking after your home, give them your insurer’s details in case of an emergency.

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