To help you have a safe holiday, here are top ten things you can do before you travel. They include tips on getting travel insurance and looking after your passport. Always keep your passport safe and up to date, as you never know when you'll need it.
Top ten things to do before you go
Before you leave make sure you:
- check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) travel advice on their website or call 0845 850 2829
- get travel insurance and check that the cover is appropriate
- find a good guidebook and get to know your destination, including its local laws and customs
- make sure you have a valid passport and necessary visas
- visit your GP at least six weeks before you go to check whether you need to take any vaccinations or extra health precautions
- make sure your travel organiser has a policy for refunds and for bringing travellers home if the company goes bankrupt (this should be backed up by an organisation offering financial protection)
- if your travel involves using airlines unfamilar to you, check their safety and reliability with a reputable travel agent
- make copies of your passport, insurance policy plus 24-hour emergency number, and ticket details - leave copies with your family and friends
- take enough money for your trip and some back-up funds, for example travellers' cheques, sterling or US dollars
- leave a copy of your itinerary and a way of contacting you, like email, with family and friends
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office website also produces specific travel advice for:
- gay and lesbian travellers
- young travellers
- sports travellers
- short-break travellers
Be smart about your passport
Before you leave, make sure that you have:
- filled in details of your next of kin on the last page of your passport
- noted down your passport number and date of issue and put these in a safe place, not with the passport itself
- got another form of photo ID to take with you
- checked that any children travelling on your passport will still be under 16 by the time they return (if not, they'll need their own passport - a child one if they will still be under 16 when they set off, and an adult one if they will already be 16)
You should also check when your passport is due to run out and whether it is nearly full. Some countries will not let you enter if your passport has less than six months to run. The rules vary by country. For example, South Africa will turn people away if their passport has fewer than two blank pages left.
If your passport is in its last year or nearly full, you should check the rules of the countries you plan to visit before booking. You can ask your travel agent or check with the embassy of the country concerned.
If you need to renew your passport, the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) add any time left on the old passport to the new one. This can be a maximum of nine months.