We all know the feeling – getting to the airport, then a wave of panic comes over you. Did you remember your passport? What time's the flight? And where on earth did you put the kids?
Never fear – we’ve come up with a list of (nearly) everything you need to remember while getting ready for your holiday.
Part one – Getting your house in order
Speak to your card company
Let your credit or debit card company know that you’re going to be out of the country, so using your card abroad won’t cause problems later on.
Pay bills in advance
Work out what bills will be due while you’re gone, and pay them off in advance or set up a direct debit.
Turn everything off at the wall
If your home is going to be empty, make sure you’ve turned all your electronics off at the wall (except the fridge and the freezer, of course). If your heating is on a timer, make sure you switch that off, too.
Clear out the fridge
Go through your fridge, and chuck out anything that’s going to go off while you’re away – you don’t want to come home to a smelly fridge.
Find a place for your pets
Find out if a friend, family member or neighbour can look after your furry friends while you’re gone. If that isn’t an option, look into local kennels and catteries – ask people for recommendations, or find one with good reviews online.
Let a neighbour know
Tell a neighbour or a good friend the dates that you're going to be away.. Give them information on how to contact you if there’s any kind of emergency, and a spare set of keys just in case.
Part two – Personal planning
Check your passport
Check everyone’s passport expiry dates – some countries refuse entry to tourists whose passports are less than six months from expiry.
Applying for a brand new passport can take at least six weeks, while renewing a passport takes three weeks – so don’t leave it to the last minute.
Passports can be renewed or replaced at any time. It costs £72.50, or £82.25 through the Post Office’s Passport Check and Send service
Book travel insurance
Travel insurance gives you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that if something goes wrong, you’ll be covered.
Sort out your travel documents
Besides your passport, there are loads of other documents you’ll need to bring with you.
Visiting Europe? Don’t forget your European Health Insurance Card
Just remember that it’s not a replacement for travel insurance.
If it’s a driving holiday, find out if you need an International Driving Permit.
Bring photocopies of every document with you, and email a digital copy to friends and family. It may seem a bit drastic, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Buy your travel money
Don't pay over the odds for travel money at the airport. Plan in good time and get foreign currency sorted as soon as possible.
For a look at the current exchange rates, try the Post Office Currency Converter
The Post Office Travel Money Card Plus is also an alternative to carrying around a stack of foreign currency.
Tell your mobile operator you’re on holiday
To avoid major roaming charges, let your mobile operator know that you’re going abroad. Many offer reasonable international tariffs for people on holiday, so find out what’s on offer.
Download some travel apps
Grab all the translation, currency and location guide apps you can before you go. The Post Office Travel Essentials app offers currency conversion services. It's available for free on Android or iPhone
If you'd like to know which other apps to choose, read our guide – 9 great apps for travellers.
Part three – Packing
Weigh your luggage
Make sure you know the airline’s weight limits for hand luggage and checked bags. Pop your bags on the bathroom weighing scales before you go.
Find out the rules and sizes for hand luggage with your airline. If your hand luggage is too big, you’ll have to check it in – and that usually means an extra charge.
Bring the right toiletries
As well as the basics, don’t forget things like glasses, contact lenses and any medicine.
Just remember that you can’t bring any liquids over 100ml in your hand luggage. It’ll save you chucking your fancy shampoo and conditioner into the bin the airport.
Pack electronics and chargers
Make sure you’ve brought your phone, laptop or tablet charger (if required).
Remember your international plug adapter – and if you don’t have one, nip down to the pound shop before you fly. It’ll save you paying over the odds when you get to the airport.
Bring entertainment for the kids
Before you head to the airport, pack a few things to keep the little ones busy.
Books and audio books, music, portable games consoles or travel board games – whatever will keep them occupied and keep you sane while you’re trying to get to your flight.
Part four – The itinerary
Find out flight times
Print off boarding passes and carry them with you, and make sure you know when your flight departs and when you need to check in. Then throw in plenty of extra time for getting there and unexpected delays.
Check in online the night before
Find out whether you need to check-in or your flight online – some airlines charge you to issue a boarding pass.
Double-check hotel check in times
Find out the check-in times for your hotel – if you get there early, you may need to wait for them to get your room ready.
Find out if they’ll hang onto your luggage in the meantime – then you can explore without carrying your bags around with you.
Book airport parking
If you’re driving to the airport, get parking booked and paid for in advance. Airport parking is an expensive business – so look into reputable parking services a bit further away from the airport, or book with the Post Office.
They can be a big saving compared to parking right by the airport, and service usually includes a shuttle bus to and from the terminals.
With everything planned, packed and prepared there’s plenty of time to daydream. Have a great holiday!
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