Amidst the changes that the Covid pandemic brings to travel in 2021 and the preparations for travel it requires, it’s still important for travellers to check other preparations that aren’t Covid related. From passport validity and visas to checking the prices of phone calls on your phone plan, each traveller will have a checklist of things to prepare before they take off.
For some, this anticipation and organisation is a great part of the excitement pre-travel. For others, this is where having a travel agent is crucial for that traveller’s peace of mind. Whatever kind of traveller you are, booking with a travel agent can be a great help when it comes to preparations for travel. They can help you go through your checklist and ensure you have everything you need for your holiday. They can also answer any questions you have, big or small, and are just a phone call away from the moment you book to the moment you come home.
Whether you decide to go for a trusted travel agent or you want to book independently, knowing what you need to check before you travel is important so you can head off on your great holiday stress-free.
From big things to small things, here are some of the preparations for travel that you may need to check for your next awesome holiday.
Check Your Passport is Valid
This may seem obvious, but there are certain rules you may need to check against your passport depending on your specific destination. Especially since Brexit, there are different limits in different destinations for what is considered a valid passport (you can find out more about the changes in travel since Brexit in our article).
Though this will vary based on destinations and they may have different requirements for a valid passport, finding this information out is very simple. Your travel agent can help you confirm this information if you’re uncertain, but to find all the information you need yourself, you can visit the Foreign Travel Advice page.
The Foreign Travel Advice page will be a huge help in a lot of preparations for travel, and it will also tell you how long you need left on your passport for it to be valid. If you’re travelling to a European country, you can also use the government’s Passport Checker to see if your passport is still valid for your destination.
On a British passport, you need at least 6 months left on your passport and it must have been issued within the last 10 years, but this time frame could be different for your destination.
For example, in Australia, the US, and Canada, your passport just needs to be valid for the length of your stay, however, in New Zealand your passport must be valid for a month from the point you leave New Zealand. Most countries will have a validity requirement based on point of entry, but countries like New Zealand are worth keeping an eye out for to make sure.
This is an area where having your travel agent as a second pair of eyes is great because they can double-check for you if you’re uncertain about the information you have gathered on your own.
If you do need to renew your passport before travel, be aware that you’ll need to do this before you book your holiday, as your new passport will have a different passport number which could cause some issues if you’ve already booked with your old passport.
Check if You Need a Visa
Just as with passport validity, you can check whether or not you need a visa on the Foreign Travel Advice page as this will be determined by your destination’s requirements. When you do look to see if you need a visa, there are a few other questions to keep in mind as preparations for travel to your specific destination.
- Do you need a visa for the time you intend to stay? – generally, if you don’t plan to be in the country long-term, you won’t need a visa.
- What type of visa do you need and what are the requirements to qualify for this type of visa? – perhaps you need a family visa, a working visa, or a journalist’s visa.
- How do you apply for a visa and how long will the process take?
- What do you need to apply for the visa?
- How much will it cost?
You may not be able to find all of this information on the Foreign Travel Advice site, but your destination will have relevant information on an official tourism site.
It is also worth keeping in mind that during the current pandemic climate, some countries that require visas will only let travellers in on certain visas, like a working visa, so you’ll need to check this as well. Your travel agent should be up to date on requirements like this.
Check What Other Documentation You May Need
Passports and visas, though the biggest things to check before booking, are not the only things you may need to check the validity on before you travel. There are other bits of information you’ll need to consider before you set off or before you book, depending on what kind of holiday you’re taking and what you plan to do.
These things may become clearer after you’ve spoken to a travel agent or tour operator about the holiday and decided what it is you want to do, where you want to go, and for how long. Here are a few things to think about as you’re getting ready to book:
- National Identity Cards and Healthcare Cards – in the EU this is important, as you may have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which you will need to change for a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) when it expires.
- Pet Passports – if you intend to take a pet with you, don’t forget to ensure your pet’s passport is also valid for travel and they have any vaccines they may need.
- Vaccinations and Medications – there may be certain vaccinations you need to travel to certain countries. If you, or someone you’re travelling with, require medication while you’re away, you need to ensure your medication is allowed in the country, and ensure you have enough to last your trip away. If you don’t have enough, you’ll need to contact your GP.
- Driving Restrictions – this includes having a valid driving license, having GB plates on your car, or maybe a DVLA driving record if you intend to rent a car in your destinations.
- Phone Policy – a small one, but it’s worth checking your phone contract policy to see what is covered when you’re abroad and how much it may cost if something is not covered in the contract.
- Travel Insurance – though this is not a requirement, having good travel insurance is important. The specific travel insurance contract you choose will depend on a few different factors, such as where you’re travelling, the restrictions there, the length of your stay, and what you plan to do (if you’d like to learn more about why you need travel insurance and how to find good travel insurance for you, check out our articles).
Again, these are all things that your travel agent can help you with if you’re uncertain about anything, so don’t feel shy to pick up the phone and ask. They may also be able to tell you about any preparations for travel to your destination that you’re not aware of.
Restrictions to Check
Whether they’re Covid related or not, there may be certain travel restrictions that destinations have in place. These will be on the Foreign Travel Advice page and are updated live.
These could include Covid restrictions, warning for certain areas, endemics, substances that aren’t allowed in certain areas (alcohol or substances in certain medications), etc. Though these are not necessarily things you may have to prepare for before you travel, they are good to be aware of when you’re planning your trip.
When in Doubt, Book with An Expert
These are all routine things that you’ll need to check for each holiday, and they are all relatively simple to check when you know where you’re going and where to look, but even some regular travellers like the support and helping hand of a travel agent to book with and act as a second pair of eyes.
Travel agents and tour operators make the booking process simpler and more stress-free for travellers and allow you to enjoy the excitement of booking without worry. The benefit of having an expert on your side to check you’re prepared for travel is an awesome asset, so we highly recommend booking with a travel expert for peace of mind.
When you book with a Protected Trust Services (PTS) member, you are guaranteed an experienced travel expert that we trust with complete financial protection, so you can trust them too. So, if you’re ready to book a great holiday soon, don’t forget to get in contact with a PTS member offering 100% financial protection through trust. Or, if you’d like assistance choosing a lovely PTS member to book with, you can contact PTS directly at 0207 190 9988.
And if you’d like to learn more about your consumer protection with PTS and how the Package Travel Regulations protect your holiday booking, check out our pages.