It’s time you got ready for lift-off: How to prepare for a post-lockdown break with this four-step checklist
- Check the expiry date on your passport and European Health Insurance Card
- Be wary about letting travel insurance lapse or you could face a high renewal fee
- If you plan to rent a car when abroad, check your driving licence is still valid
Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at an important holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week: How to get ready for a post-lockdown break.
They are called ‘the new Martini set’ – travel-lovers so desperate to get away that, as the famous drinks advert once promised, they’re ready to go ‘any time, any place, anywhere’.
With bags packed and passport at hand, all they need now is for the lockdown to end.
Raring to go: Getting everything in order now means you won’t be caught out when holidays resume
‘We know plenty of people who miss travel so much that they don’t care where they go for their next holiday,’ says Michele Robson, of luxury travel blog Turning Left For Less. ‘They just want to be on one of the first planes to take off when travel restrictions are lifted.’
When that will be remains uncertain. In the meantime, travel experts suggest this four-step checklist to ensure you are ready for when the world reopens.
First, check your passport. Many countries will let you in only if it has at least six months before it is due to expire. From January, EU countries may also turn away UK residents if their passport is more than ten years old – many are valid for up to ten years nine months.
Check the expiry date and also its issue date to see how long it lasts and how old it is. If necessary, search ‘passports’ at gov.uk to renew it online for £75.50, or pay £16 extra for the ‘check and send’ service at post offices. Both are available during lockdown, although turnaround times may be longer than the usual three weeks.
Passports for under-16s have to be renewed every five years.
Next, check the expiry date on your European Health Insurance Card. The EHIC gives UK citizens free emergency medical care in the EU until the end of the year, while negotiations continue to see if this can be extended indefinitely.
The cards expire every five years (end dates are on the front) and some 450,000 a month are likely to become invalid between now and January. It’s free to renew (or get your first one) by visiting ehic.org.uk.
Check the expiry date on your European Health Insurance Card – the cards expire every five years
Be wary about letting travel insurance lapse, especially if you have a holiday booked for later this year or in 2021.
High renewal quotes are being reported for those whose annual policies expire during lockdown, while new plans are being issued with extra exclusions so future claims relating to coronavirus are likely to be refused.
However, big names including Aviva, Direct Line and most comparison websites have stopped accepting new travel-insurance customers so it may be difficult to find an alternative provider.
Despite a high renewal quote, paying up means your holiday is still protected and you benefit from cancellation cover if you are unable to go due to non-coronavirus ill-health or other reasons right up to your departure date.
If you have a holiday booked and rely on travel insurance offered as a perk with your current account, it will be risky to switch accounts until you’re sure you can find alternative insurance elsewhere.
If you plan to rent a car when abroad or are taking your own to Europe, check that your driving licence isn’t about to expire.
Renewals cost £14 and can be done online through gov.uk or use the Post Office ‘check and send’ service for £21.50. Post offices can also let you know if you will need an international driving permit, which they can supply for £5.50.