Essential Travel Tips

Before you go

Check the formalities and details:

  • If you wish to travel abroad you must hold a full ten-year passport, even for a day trip. Apply in good time to the UK Passport Office. For further information call the Passport Service on 0870 521 0410 or visit www.passport.gov.uk.
  • Ensure your passport is valid for the duration of your trip. Some countries have an immigration requirement for a passport to remain valid for a minimum period (usually at least six months) beyond the date of entry to the country.
  • As soon as you have booked a holiday take out a good insurance policy to cover unforeseen cancellation as well as eventualities while you are abroad. Make sure you are fully covered by declaring all your existing medical conditions, and that the policy is suitable for your needs.
  • If you are planning to be away for more than 30 days, check that your home insurance policy will allow you to leave your property unoccupied for that amount of time before it becomes invalid.
  • Make photocopies of your important documents, especially your passport, before you travel. It is often a good idea to keep one set with you and leave a second set with a friend, neighbour or relative back home.
  • Take with you the emergency contact details of your travel insurer, your bank and your credit and/or debit card providers.
  • Check the flight times on your ticket as some minor flight changes may have occurred since your booking.
  • If you have a mobile phone, you should contact your network provider to ensure that your mobile is enabled for international roaming and can be activated from the country(ies) you are planning to visit. Check international call charges and, if ‘Pay as you go’, that you have enough credit to make calls.
  • Many countries, including the UK, quote an initial ‘0’ in the area code when telephone numbers are given out (e.g. to call someone in London from France, you should dial 00 (International Access Code) 44 (UK Country Code) then 207 and then the person’s number, e.g. 00 44 207 xxxxxxx.
  • If you require assistance at the airport, contact your tour operator or airline who can make the necessary arrangements. Please be aware that airlines now require you to provide either a disabled badge or a doctor’s certificate confirming you need assistance.

Your holiday checklist

British holidaymakers wasted £350 million of spending money last year buying essential items they had forgotten to pack. This checklist should help you remember the most important items:

  • Passport (and a copy)
  • Travel tickets
  • Travel insurance policy
  • Booking invoice
  • Travellers cheques and currency
  • Driving licence (if you intend to hire a car)
  • European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
  • Any necessary medication
  • Travel adaptor (for chargers and electrical items)
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Camera
  • Mosquito repellent, sun cream and sunglasses, if applicable
  • Map and/or guide book

Money matters

With the wide variety of payment methods now available, it can be a good idea to use a combination of credit or debit cards, cash and travellers cheques for your spending needs. If you do this, it is worth remembering a few important points:

  • Never carry more cash than you need or is covered by your travel insurance policy.
  • If possible, make use of hotel safes for your extra cash and travellers cheques.
  • Make a note of the serial numbers of your travellers cheques, keep it with you, and leave a copy with someone else.
  • If you have credit or debit cards, these could prove useful for many purchases on your travels. You should advise your credit card provider that you plan to be away and that there might be higher than usual levels of spending on your card. You may also wish to request an increased credit limit for the duration of your trip.
  • You should check the expiry dates of your cards, just in case they expire while you are away.
  • Do not assume that your cards will be accepted everywhere, and be prepared for the fact that there could be a minimum charge for using your credit card.
  • When you are out and about, use a money belt or a zipped inside pocket for your cash and cards.
  • Do not keep your cards, cash, passport and travellers cheques together in one place, just in case you lose them or they are stolen.
  • Remember that some countries may have national holidays while you are visiting, and banks and shops may therefore be closed.

How EHICPlus Travel Insurance can help

If you are covered by EHICPlus Travel Insurance and become ill or injured during your trip, here are just some of the things we will pay for:

  • Rescue services to take you to hospital.
  • The cost of getting you home to the UK if you are unable to use your return ticket.
  • Emergency medical treatment in a state hospital.
  • Hospital benefit towards incidental expenses for each day you spend in hospital.

EHICPlus Medical Assistant helpline is available 24 hours a day to provide advice and guidance to you and your relatives, friends or employers if you are unlucky enough to be taken into hospital.

Lost luggage

On arrival at your destination airport, any lost or damaged luggage should be reported immediately to the airline handling staff and to any holiday representative you may have. It is essential that you complete a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) before leaving the airport and retain a copy as evidence for a claim. If you need to make a claim on your travel insurance policy, the policy booklet will explain the procedure to follow.

Driving in Europe

Driving through Europe used to involve miles of arduous travel. Now good roads and capable modern cars have shrunk the distances and you can comfortably motor around the continent in a matter of days. Even so, any motoring holiday or adventurous drive across Europe still needs thoughtful preparation.

Plan ahead:

  • Consider a pre-trip service for your car to minimise the risk of an annoying and inconvenient breakdown abroad. Check the condition of the tyres, including the spare, and consider replacing them before the trip if the tread is down to 3mm or less.
  • Make sure you are covered by breakdown assistance cover. It’s not a legal requirement, but is common sense.
  • If your car has a satellite navigation system, check whether it has mapping for outside Britain. If it doesn’t, it is probably worth investing in the appropriate additional CDs or computer software before you go.
  • If you don’t have satellite navigation, consider hiring a system – it makes navigating abroad a lot less stressful. Alternatively, check out some of the excellent route-planning sites on the Internet that let you pre-plan a door-to-door route across Europe, and print it out to take with you. Pack up-to-date maps too, just in case you need them. Take the right documentation:
  • Anyone driving abroad must carry their driving licence. The laws on using UK driving licences abroad changed in June 2015, and you might now need to provide a code as well as your photocard licence. See the Government site on Driving Licence Changes for more information.
  • Insurance green cards are no longer necessary for EU countries, but may be required for some non-EU countries – check which ones on the Association of British Insurers website.
  • Your UK motor insurance policy gives you legal cover to drive in other EU countries. However, it only ensures third party cover, and even with a comprehensive policy some insurers may not cover accidental damage that occurs abroad.
  • Take your insurance certificate and the vehicle registration document (V5), or good copies. If it is a company car, or a leased or borrowed one, you also need a letter of authorisation from the owner stating that you have their permission to take it out of the country.

Your driving checklist:

  • Driving licence
  • Insurance certificate
  • Vehicle registration document (V5)
  • GB identification
  • Headlamp beam converters
  • First aid kit
  • Warning triangle
  • High visibility reflective jacket
  • Spare set of bulbs