Preparations for any trip should start right here!
Whether you're travelling independently (planning everything yourself) or going on a package tour (see our guide on booking one), this section will ensure you have everything sorted before leaving home. If you are booking your flights and accommodation yourself, find out how to go about doing that and which agents to book with - select from the navigation bar above or just keep reading and click through each page.
Although you can often purchase travel insurance from the company you book your tour with, it is nearly always cheaper to look elsewhere. Of course, if you are organising the whole trip yourself then you will need to do this anyway. There are many online companies competing in the market for travel insurance, keeping premiums low. Find out what to look for in a policy and which companies to get quotes from here.
Whatever trip, however you go about organising and booking it, there are some things that you must consider before jetting off. Some countries won't let you in without a visa and be sure to check that your passport is valid. It is surprising the number of people that think a passport isn't necessary when travelling within the EU - it is, the UK government says so! Anywhere outside the UK requires a passport for entry, and some countries are so strict that they demand a minimum of 6 months validity on your passport - check this a good couple of months before you go to allow time for a renewal application, unless you want to pay double for an urgent 'express' application. See the UK Passport Agency website for details.
It is important to consider travel health before you leave and find out what risks you will encounter and how to minimise them. It's not just the exotic destinations that require vaccinations against disease. For example, you should also check to see if your destination country is affected by malaria and what course of action to take. If you are going to an EU country, remember to take your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which you will need to get reduced cost or sometimes free health care in certain countries. The card can be obtained free at the Post Office or online here.
Depending on where you are going and what you plan to do, you may find it necessary or useful to have certain clothing or equipment for your trip - read about this here.
You will need to decide how to get the local currency - either before you go or once you arrive. You can get travellers cheques before you go and change them abroad, or if ATMs are common then simply use your cash card as you would in the UK but you will likely incur a charge. Wherever you go, taking some foreign currency with you is a must. The best way to do this is by pre-ordering online at Travelex and picking it up at the airport - it's commission free. Alternatively, you can get your currency delivered to your home (again commission free) with the Post Office.
How are you getting to the airport? Either drive and leave your car at a long stay car park, or use public transport if you don't have too much to carry! Find detailed information for your departure airport here.
Finally, it's always a good idea when travelling independently to plan a rough itinerary before you go to give you some idea of what you can fit in and in what order etc. You should make reference to the Destinations section for country-specific information.Now either click through in page order using the 'next page' buttons, or jump straight to where you want using the links at the top of the page.
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