THE SERIOUS STUFF
The basics are to make sure that your passport is up to date, arrange a visa if required, get travel insurance and arrange any necessary immunisations.
You will need a current 10 year passport.
Make sure it is not defaced in any way and that the picture is recognisably you.
Some countries require the following:
1) the passport to have been issued at least 6 months prior to your trip.
2) the passport remains valid for a minimum period after entry into the country, this is usually 6 months.
3) the passport to have a minimum of two empty pages to physically stamp your passport on entry and exit.
You can renew your passport at any time, you do not have to wait until it expires.
Apply for your passport at least 4 to 5 weeks before you travel and if you are over 16 and are applying for an adult passport for the first time then allow at least six weeks.
This is because the U.K passport service has to confirm your identity before issuing your first passport and will need you to attend an interview.
You can pick up a passport application form from the Post Office.
If you have recently changed your name or plan to do so, you will have to change the name on your passport.
If you don’t, you may be unable to travel abroad as the name in the passport must match the name in which you booked your trip.
If you plan to change your name due to marriage or civil partnership, you can apply for a post dated passport in your new name to come into effect on the day of the ceremony.
This can be done up to three months before the big day, but you will not be able to use it before that date.
When you apply to change your name, your current passport will be cancelled and a new standard ten-year passport issued.
NOTE – This will cost the same amount as a standard renewal which is currently £77.50 so even if you have recently got a passport in your old name you will have to pay again.
Be aware that some countries will not issue visas for post dated passports. also, any visas in your old passport may become invalid. You should check with the consulate of the country concerned.
For detailed information on applying for or renewing a passport, go to www.direct.gov.uk which is the U.K governments official website or to www.ips.gov.uk which is the Identity and Passport Service. Both are excellent and give clear advice on every aspect of the procedures involved.
For UK residents, go to the website of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office www.fco.gov.uk for advice on visa and other entry requirements for your destination.
Some countries have strict rules on what you can take in and out and the best site I have found for comprehensive information is www.visahq.com which has an easy to read database on customs regulations for all countries.
Look at comparison sites like www.moneysupermarket.com for ideas.
They will ask you the following:
1) What type of cover do you want?
The choices are annual multi trip, single trip or backpacker/long stay.
Consider an annual multi trip as it can work out cheaper even if you are only planning one trip.
Just check what countries it covers and how many days per trip is allowed.
2) Which country or countries you are visiting.
3) What cover you require. Basic medical is standard but you might also want baggage cover, cancellation cover and winter sports.
For each person that needs cover you will need to give their date of birth and gender.
After answering these questions a list of policies will come up with details of countries covered, premiums payable and details of basic cover.
You can click on each to get more detailed information.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
Emergency medical cover and hospitalisation
24 hour assistance helpline
Cancellation of trip
Replacement of lost or stolen possessions
People over the age of 70 and those with a long term/chronic illness may find the premiums higher.
Dangerous sports or activities including skiing off piste may require specialist insurance.
This will depend on which country or countries you will be visiting, if you are only travelling to countries in northern and central Europe, North America or Australia, it is unlikely that you will need to have any vaccinations.
If you are travelling outside these countries, it is likely that some vaccinations will be required.
A good site is http://www.travelturtle.co.uk/ which provides detailed advice on what inoculations you will need for certain countries.
Make an appointment with your health clinic or G.P at least eight weeks before you travel as some jabs need to be given well in advance and may involve more than one injection.
They will need to know your destination(s), when you are travelling and how long for. Also inform them if you are likely to be staying or working in any rural areas.
Not all travel vaccinations are free, and not all will be available from your GP.
If your GP cannot provide the vaccinations that you need, they should be able to refer you to a specialist travel clinic.