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Travel checklist: five practicalities to prepare before packing

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Checklist for travelling abroad

Choosing, booking and planning a holiday is an exciting prospect. We all look forward to some well-earned time off and the chance to relax, spend time with loved ones, experience new things and explore different destination. However, before we get carried away with booking cheap flights or cheap hotels and choosing what to pack, there are a number of practicalities that should get dealt with first, if the holiday is to be as relaxing and beneficial an experience as possible.

1. Travel insurance

Always ensure you have a policy in place for the duration of the holiday – this needn’t be overly expensive, but do make sure it covers your individual circumstances. Even if you consider the holiday to be ‘low risk’, this should not be left undone. All kinds of difficulties could arise, from illness to industrial action that could scupper your longed-for time away. Travel agents should be able to advise as to the level of cover you will require.

2.Passport and visa

It seems an obvious thing to check, but so many of us don’t, which can cause heartbreak and havoc at the airport or cruise terminal. Make sure your passport is in date and that you have arranged all necessary paperwork, including visas for the country you will be visiting. Again, travel agents will know which countries require visas and other paperwork prior to entry. Leave yourself plenty of time before the holiday to sort out these vital pieces of admin.

3. Vaccinations

Book an appointment with your doctor about a month before your holiday, if you are visiting a country that requires you to be up to date wit your vaccinations. This is not worth ignoring – the temporary discomfort you may feel while having an injection is nothing compared to the inconvenience and pain of falling seriously ill while abroad. While on the subject, check the country’s policy on health care with the travel market. Do you need to arrange a European health insurance card? Or documents evidencing private health insurance?

4. Currency

Shop around for the best exchange rates to get the most out of your money while abroad. It is usually much better to sort this out in your own locality, as it can be very expensive to change money at the airport or cruise terminal. Check that your credit cards work overseas and you might like to let your bank know that you are going away, so that they don’t cancel any transactions you carry out abroad due to mistaking them for fraudulent activity.

5. Travel and parking arrangements

Finally, work out how you are going to get to the airport, cruise terminal or central London hotels. Public transport? Taxi? Your own vehicle? if you opt for the latter, it is wise to book long term parking, or make arrangements to leave your vehicle somewhere safe. Make sure you leave enough time to get to the airport – and factor in extra time for unexpected delays and problems along the way. If things run smoothly and you have extra time at the airport, you can always browse the shops or sit with a coffee, watching the planes take off and land.