Travel Prep Checklist
As many of us haven’t flown abroad for quiet some time (thanks Covid), travel is looking a little different than it used to. A few Brexit-related changes have come in, which when coupled with the various impacts of the pandemic and general industry progression, means we need to make extra sure we’ve planned ahead.
To help, we’ve pulled together a comprehensive guide of the key things to consider before travelling. Read on to ensure you’re fully prepped!
Check official websites
Things are still in a state of flux, so it’s a smart idea to check official advice – like the gov.uk destination advice and their foreign travel checklist when you book a holiday; three weeks leading up to it, and then again a week and night before – yes, things can change that frequently. You can also set up an email alert for your destination country. All of these will keep you up to date on any key issues you need to know about, as well as COVID-related requirements.
Is it even a holiday if you don’t have at least a minor panic about your passport? Except now’s not a great time to need to get a new one, as you’ll need to leave extra time to renew it – it can take up to 10 weeks because of a spike in demand. So check that you know where your passport is, and it has plenty of time before it expires. A good rule of thumb is to ensure there’s at least six months of validity from your intended return date. This also applies to enter the EU. Also note that the EU requires your passport to be valid for 10 years or less from the date you travel, so check that too. And you now need to ensure it’s stamped on arrival at your EU destination and on departure! Take a look at the gov.uk website for further details here.
Of course we would say this, but as there are more moving parts in travel these days, it’s even more wise to spend the few extra quid on travel insurance. That way, potential issues along the way like missed flights, lost luggage and medical expenses won’t come out of your pocket. Keep the claims hotline and the emergency number saved in your phone in case you need it on your travels. Find out more about Switched On Travel Insurance here.
Mobile data roaming
Now that we’ve left the EU, we don’t have the same cost protection for roaming abroad. So check with your phone operator how much they’ll charge for your destination – this can vary depending on your phone contract. We’ve changed our own follow-up rules on roaming too, so from 1st July 2022, means that ‘welcome’ texts and a £45 spending cap have been scrapped – although some providers might keep it anyway.
EHIC or GHIC
If you’re travelling to the EU or Switzerland, make sure to take your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). If it’s valid, it’s still usable and will entitle you to state-provided emergency healthcare, similar to what locals receive. If you don’t have a valid card, apply for the new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) – this will do same job, and may apply to more countries in the future. Either way if you have a Switched On travel policy and use the EHIC or GHIC to access healthcare while you’re away, we’ll wave the excess on any resulting medical bills.
If you’re travelling to EU countries, you won’t need a visa if you’re only there for 90 days in a 180 day period. Otherwise, follow the government travel advice link above to check if you need a visa for your destination – you might need to kick off that process well in advance. Some destinations, like the USA where you need an ‘ESTA’, might only need a couple of weeks though, but best to be well prepared!
Three things to be aware of if you’re planning a road trip: firstly that car hire prices have rocketed in these post-pandemic times, as many firms sold off their stock while we were grounded. Until they grow their fleet again, book early to secure your hire, get the best prices, and build the cost into your trip.
Also, you’ll need to make sure your driving license is a-ok for driving at your destination. In the EU, you can use your UK licence – just remember to carry it with you at all times when driving.
If you’re driving your own car abroad you’ll either have to have a number plate that includes the UK identifier with the Union Jack, or a UK sticker on it (so not a GB one) and bring your log book along for the ride – you’ll need to keep it with you. And depending on the country you’re driving in there are specific requirements so make sure to check your destination’s rules well in advance.
Because airport staff are extremely stretched at the moment, give as much notice as possible if you or someone in your travel group needs special assistance. This is available to the elderly, disabled, or people with autism or dementia. You’ll need to ask at least 48 hours before travel. Check with your airline what the process is for arranging this.
Check hand luggage details
As airlines charge for flights with price comparison sites in mind, they’ve limited the luggage included in their cheapest air fares. The standard is becoming nothing larger than a backpack, so that you need to pay extra to bring an overnight or cabin bag, even if you don’t check it in. Unless you’re the world’s leanest packer, check your ticket and your airline to make sure you can take (and bring back) the luggage size you need.
Get to the airport early
Nearly there! After planning it so well, don’t get caught out by missing the flight. Staffing levels look to be problematic for at least the rest of 2022, so leave more time than you would normally – three hours ahead of your flight time might seem excessive, but it’s not if there’s a long and slow security queue. Check with your airline as to what they advise.
Wherever you plan to head this year don’t forget to pack Switched On Travel Insurance for total peace of mind. Switched On’s policies are packed with features including automatic protection for COVID-19 related issues, a 24 hour emergency helpline and there’s no age limit on Single Trips. Plus we consider all medical conditions. Find out more here.