by Nick Trend, The Telegraph, June 14, 2018
"Passport, tickets, money” was the old last-minute adage travellers used to reassure themselves they were all set. It won’t quite do today - at least not if used at the last minute. Mostly because, if you want to have a reasonably smooth and enjoyable journey, so much now needs to be done well in advance of departure.
Fail to plan and you will probably end up paying more, risk being separated from your travelling companions on the plane, or - worst case scenario - screw up your trip altogether. So, for those heading off for a summer holiday in July or August, now is the time to go through the list.
It normally takes about three weeks to renew a passport - a month is safer. So it’s worth taking out of the drawer and checking it now. In emergencies, there are are faster one-week and one-day services if you need it more quickly, but they cost about double the normal fee of £75.50 - see gov.uk/renew-adult-passport.
You can check the entry requirements for the country or countries you are travelling to at gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice. For most European countries passports only need be valid for the duration of your stay. But many other destinations must be valid for three or six months beyond the departure date of your return flight.
I now never worry about travelling with cash ready do use on arrival. It is so easy and so much more flexible to take notes out of a cashpoint on arrival. Different card issuers charge different rates, however, and only a few offer a charge-free service.
I have an account with Monzo (monzo.com) which has no fees for overseas spending or cash withdrawals - up to a limit. Metro Bank (metrobankonline.co.uk) offers a similar deal, but only in Europe - charges apply in other destinations.
The timing for advance online check-in varies widely, sometimes depending on whether or not you pay an extra priority fee. EasyJet allows online check-in from a month before departure. For those passengers who don’t pay extra, Ryanair has recently cut its window from four days to 48 hours, so assuming you are away for longer than that, you will also need to remember to check in for your return flight while away.
With BA, economy class passengers can check in only 24 hours in advance of departure. With all airlines, check-in as early as you can - especially if you haven’t paid extra to choose your seats since there’s always a risk that you won’t be seated together if you are among the last to check in.
The details of reciprocal health arrangements with other EU countries post Brexit have still not been formally confirmed, although it looks likely that some kind of deal with be done. But until we leave the EU at the end of March next year, UK citizens will certainly still be entitled to free or reduced-cost medical treatment in other member states.
You need an EHIC card to prove that entitlement, however. If you don’t have a valid card it should be ordered at least seven days in advance of travel from the official website (ehic.org.uk) - this is a free service, so beware of unofficial sites which do try to make a charge. If you leave it too late and have to travel before your EHIC arrives and you then need medical treatment, a Provisional Replacement Certificate can be issued to prove your entitlement to the EHIC scheme - the number to call in that situation is 0191 218 1999. Full details are on the website.
The EHIC card covers only medical treatment and is only valid in EEA (European Economic Area) countries. Even here it is not a replacement for travel insurance which gives important additional cover for medical repatriation and other emergencies such cancellation costs, missed departure, theft and loss and so on.
Of course, you get the best cover and the best value out of your premium by taking out a policy as soon as you book, but if you haven’t, buy it now, and consider an annual multi-trip policy which will cover you for all your travel during the year. Our guide to choosing policies is at telegraph.co.uk/tt-travelinsurance.