Planning a holiday is exciting. But it can also be hectic and perhaps just a little chaotic. Especially if you like to book last minute to take advantage of late deals. Or just because you like the extra sense of adventure of dropping everything and jetting off.
Whatever your preferred approach to arranging a holiday, there is a lot to think about. Not just when it comes to packing, but all the admin like sorting out how you get to the airport, asking someone to look after your pet dog / hamster / goldfish, pausing your milk and grocery deliveries.
Safe to say, with so much going on, it’s easy to overlook something. We’ve all been there. The question is, how important is the thing you’ve forgotten?
That’s where prioritisation comes into its own. Some things are annoying and highly inconvenient to forget. But you can live without them, or replace them. Other things, well they might be more terminal to your plans. Or, they could potentially leave you facing serious problems further down the line.
Here are four things you should put at the top of your priority list whenever you are planning a holiday.
Check your passport expiry date
This is one that catches out more than a few holidaymakers. And it’s something you need to be even more aware of in the wake of the pandemic, especially if you haven’t travelled abroad in a couple of years or more. If your passport is out of date, you won’t be able to travel. And if you realise too late, you won’t have time to get a new one.
For parents with children under the age of 16, bear in mind that their passports need to be renewed every five years, not 10. If they haven’t been used in a while, they could be expiring sooner than you think.
Not only do millions of people forget to buy travel insurance when they go abroad, a sizeable proportion simply choose not to bother. While there is nothing stopping you going on holiday without travel insurance, you’re taking a huge risk.
All it takes is one accident or a member of your family falling seriously ill. Foreign visitors to nearly all countries have to pay for medical care. If it’s serious enough to need hospital treatment, that could cost you thousands of pounds. Tens of thousands, depending on where you are and what treatment you need.
That’s the sort of thing that can turn a holiday into a real nightmare. But with travel insurance, you’ll have emergency medical costs covered. Is it really worth the risk of going without?
If you are on prescription medication for any kind of medical condition, it is essential that you take what you need with you. If you run out or fall ill and need your meds, there’s no guarantee that you will be able to get what you need.
For one, you’d probably need a prescription. And two, pharmaceuticals are often sold by brand names rather than by the generic name of the drug itself. Brand names differ from country to country, so there’s every chance what you need would be lost in translation.
A roaming package for your mobile
This one could easily catch you out if you haven’t travelled to Europe since before the pandemic started. Back then, when the UK was still part of the EU, mobile phone operators were not allowed to charge for roaming, or using mobile networks and data while abroad, anywhere within the EU bloc.
But since Brexit, UK mobile operators have been allowed to charge for roaming in Europe again. Three, Vodafone and EE have all introduced flat rates of £2 a day to use your normal tariff data, calls and text while on holiday in the EU. While that might not sound too bad, the real risk is if you then exceed your tariff limits while abroad. Using your mobile can then become seriously expensive.
Your best bet is to buy a special roaming deal in advance, either from your normal provider, or buy a different SIM. A pay-as-you-go international SIM with unlimited data could well turn out cheaper over the course of a two-week holiday than the roaming charges the big three carriers are imposing.