Get set for your summer hols

About to set off on a summer holiday? Our last minute checklist tells you how to save time and money.

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Check your passports

You won’t be able to leave the country if your passport is no longer valid, so now’s the time to check the expiry date.

Your passport should be valid for at least the duration of your holiday. Some countries also insist on validity for six months from the date of travel. You can find further details on the government website.

You should also make sure that you have a biometric passport – with an embedded chip that contains your personal details – if you are travelling to the United States without a visa.

If you need to renew your passport and there are at least three weeks until the date of travel, you can apply in the usual way, either at the Post Office or online.

If you need a passport more urgently, there is a Premium one-day service or a Fast Track one-week service.

Do you have insurance?

Your dream holiday could quickly turn into a nightmare if you do not have appropriate travel insurance.

It’s a good idea to take out insurance as soon as you book your holiday in case you need to cancel before the date of travel, but it’s never too late.

Just make sure the policy includes your chosen destination and that the cover limits are appropriate.

It’s also important to declare any existing medical conditions, or you risk invalidating the cover so it would not pay out in the event of a claim.

MoneySuperMarket figures show that 12% of holidaymakers do not declare a medical condition and could end up forking-out thousands of pounds in the event of a claim.

Check in online

Many airlines these days encourage online check in, which is often quicker than checking in at the airport. Plus, you can usually select your seat.

Some airlines also charge a fee if you check in at the airport, so you will save money if you go online.

If you check in online you also get the chance to review the number of bags on your booking and add any more if necessary. Again, it is typically cheaper to check in bags online than at the airport.

Beware the baggage allowance

Rules on the number, weight and size of hold and cabin bags varies from airline to airline. But you could pay a high price if you don’t know the rules.

Many airlines, for example, charge extra if you exceed the weight allowance.

Book the airport car park

You will often pay a premium if you leave the car parking arrangements to the last minute. You might also have less choice over the car park – and the distance from the airport.

Motorists who plan in advance therefore usually bag the best deal.

Sort out your travel money

Don’t wait until you get to the airport to exchange your currency because the rates are usually poor.

With a bit of forward planning you should be able to find a better rate and so boost your holiday spending budget.

This is more important than ever given the recent weakness of sterling on the foreign exchange markets.

It’s also worth taking the time to choose the right debit or credit card for your holiday.

Or, check out one of the growing number of pre-paid cards, which can be useful if you want to lock into an exchange rate or stick to a holiday budget.

Hire a car

You don’t have to arrange car hire before you go, but it’s almost always cheaper than waiting until you arrive at your holiday destination.

If you’ve got time to search for a good deal, you could potentially save hundreds of pounds. You are also less likely to get caught out by restrictions on mileage and the number of drivers allowed.

Watch out, too, for extras such as car seats and firms that ask you to return the vehicle with an empty fuel tank as there are no refunds for any petrol still in the tank.

When you pick up the car, the car hire firm will probably offer excess waiver insurance, which covers the compulsory excess if the car is damaged or stolen, even if it’s not your fault.

More than a third of drivers (36%) buy an excess waiver policy from the rental car company, even though it costs up to 70% more than a specialist insurance policy bought in the UK, according to research by iCarhireinsurance.

So if you want excess waiver insurance, buy a standalone policy before you go.

Secure your home

You’ll probably do three or four trips around your home making sure you’ve locked all the doors and windows before you set off – and it’s worth thinking of other ways not to make your absence obvious.

Cancel any milk or vegetable deliveries and ask a neighbour to pick up any post so that it doesn’t collect in the letterbox or on the doorstep.

You could also ask a neighbour to park on your drive, if you have one. You can also buy automatic timer switches so the house looks occupied.

And don’t post your holiday details on social media before you go. Wait until you get back to upload your holiday snaps.

Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

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