18 things to organise before your holiday

The build up to a holiday can be quite stressful. Often we worry about remembering to do everything before we go, convinced we'll forget something. So it’s ideal to have a list of things that we need to sort out before our departure date.

Here’s our guide to the top 18 important things you’ll need to organise:

  1. Passports
    Check your passport is up to date and has sufficient time left on it to cover your trip. If you need to renew it, do so as soon as possible - while fast tracking a passport at the last minute is possible, it’s more expensive and certainly more stressful. You do not need to wait until it has almost expired to renew; you can renew your passport whenever you like.
  2. Visas
    Don’t forget to check whether you require a visa, and if you do, check how to apply.
  3. European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
    The EHIC enables you to access state-provided healthcare in all European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland at a reduced cost or sometimes free of charge. If you are a UK resident you can apply for one free of charge online or at the post office.
  4. Travel insurance
    Travel insurance is a must and the EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance. Book your travel insurance when you book your holiday – if you take more than two trips per year it’s probably better value to buy a year’s policy. Don’t forget to notify your provider of any existing medical conditions – this may make your policy more expensive, but failure to do so could invalidate your policy. Make sure you have the right cover for the activities you will be doing, winter sports etc.
  5. Vaccinations
    When booking your holiday, check whether you need vaccinations and arrange these in plenty of time for your holiday - some vaccinations need to be done about four weeks in advance of travel.
  6. ATOL certificate
    By law, all holidaymakers who have purchased their holiday from a UK-based travel operator must be issued with an ATOL certificate - there are three types of ATOL certificate: Flight-inclusive Package, Flight-Plus and ATOL Protected Flight Only, so make sure you get yours, and take it with you. Your certificate confirms that your holiday is protected and who is protecting it, so you'll need it if something goes wrong with your holiday while you are away.
  7. Notify your bank
    To avoid problems when using your debit or credit card abroad, notify your bank of the dates you’re travelling abroad. Banks have been known to put a freeze on an account if they think there’s suspicious activity going on. Find out if your bank imposes a charge for using your card abroad – if it does, consider signing up for a card that doesn’t impose charges abroad.
  8. Animals
    If you have pets that need looking after while you are away, book the kennel or cattery as soon as you book your holiday. Good kennels fill up fast, particularly during the peak holiday seasons. If your favourite kennel/cattery is booked, ask friends or a vet to recommend somewhere. Alternatively, use a pet sitting services where your pet can stay in your own home, or go to stay at a pet sitter’s house in a ‘home from home’ environment.
  9. Home alone
    If your house is going to be unoccupied while you're away, ask a member of your family, a friend or a neighbour to check on your property. Getting someone to leave a car parked on your drive will also make it look as if someone is at home. If you can’t find anyone to look after your property, you could use a professional house-sitting organisation, such as
  10. Check your car
    If you’re planning to drive to the airport, make sure you check your car before setting off. Ensure your oil and water levels are topped up and you have the correct tyre pressure. Fill up with fuel and plan your route in advance. Carry a map or satellite navigation in case of an accident or road closure that may force you to take another route.
  11. Foreign currency
    To get the best possible deal of your foreign currency, shop around and buy your foreign currency before you get to the airport.
  12. Copies of documents
    Take photocopies of your travel documents with you or scan them and store them safely online, so that should your passport or other documents be lost or stolen, you have copies that will make getting replacements easier.
  13. Baggage
    Excess baggage charges are expensive and can make a significant dent in your holiday spending money, so always check your allowances before packing. Baggage allowances vary from airline to airline, so if you’re travelling with more than one airline, check allowances carefully – what is acceptable for one airline may result in excess baggage charges on the other. Also, don’t assume that this year’s allowances are the same as last year’s.
  14. Airport parking
    Book your airport parking when you book your holiday. Don’t leave booking your airport parking until the last minute. The later you leave it, the more expensive it will be. Whatever you do, don’t just turn up on the day and pay the gate price. Don’t forget, if you’re using meet and greet parking, you’ll need to book at least 24 hours in advance.
  15. Driving abroad?
    Some countries require that you have an international driving licence, so don't forget to check whether you need one.
  16. Car hire
    Now that the paper part of the UK driving licence has been scrapped, you’ll need a code which allows you to share the information that was once stored on the paper part: penalty points, categories allowed etc.
  17. Mobile phone
    To avoid costly mobile phone bills when you return from holiday, make sure you switch your data roaming off. Before you travel, call your network service provider to see if they can offer any short-term deals on overseas calls, texts and data.
  18. Up-to-date travel advice
    Keep an eye on news about your holiday destination. The latest travel information can be found on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s website – the FCO strives to ensure the safety and protection of all British citizens and Help Me Park, as a Know Before You Go partner, recommends visiting their website to check out your destination prior to travel.