01 June 2015

Things you mustn't forget before going abroad

Whether you’re getting ready to head off on your summer break, or just looking forward to a long weekend away, these 7 checks will help make sure your holiday goes smoothly – and doesn’t cost you any more than it should.

Dig out your documents in good time

Do you know when your passport runs out? The last place you want to discover that it’s expired is when you’re standing in the queue at the airport, so always ensure you have documentation (including visas, if required) for the country you’re visiting well in advance of departure.

It usually takes at least 3 weeks to get a new passport and the priority services that can get you one sooner will cost you more, so it’s worth checking a couple of months before you travel. If you’re hiring a car, check you have a valid driving license.

Buy travel insurance

Skipping on travel insurance represents an unnecessary financial risk, with a stay in hospital potentially costing hundreds or thousands of pounds depending on your destination.

The travel association estimates the cost of treating a broken leg in the USA at £40,000, whilst an air ambulance home from the Canary Islands costs £16,000, and wouldn’t be covered through the basic state medical care that a European Health Insurance Card entitles you to (if you’ve remembered to apply for one). Insurance also covers incidents before you’ve even left, like having to cancel your holiday because you are made redundant or a family member is taken into hospital.

Check your car is fully covered

If you’re taking your car abroad, it’s essential to check your insurance cover applies in the country – or countries – you will be visiting. If you don’t have specific overseas cover, you may only be covered for third party damages, and although extending your insurance costs more, it will invariably be cheaper than having to negotiate the price for repairs when you’re abroad.

Breakdown cover can be another vital support if something goes wrong, and it’s important to make sure that your policy covers you for the EU as well as the UK.

Play your cards right

As a rule of thumb, the UK Cards Association recommends using debit cards to withdraw money from cash machines when abroad (as the fees and charges are usually less than for credit cards). On the other hand, if you are making a purchase, it’s usually best to use a credit card, as commission fees are lower and you have greater protection against fraud.

Ensure your bank has your most up-to-date contact details

To ensure your trip is as hassle-free as possible, your Bank or Building Society will often monitor your transactions through fraud detection systems. If they do identify unusual activity on your account, they may attempt to contact you to check if you recognise the transaction.

This contact is normally text or a call. It’s important your Bank or Building Society has your most up-to-date mobile number, so they can get in touch if needed. Find out how Nationwide could contact you.

Some banks require you to log your travel notification with them, so please check with your bank before setting off on your travels.

Get the mobile bolt-ons you need

New EU regulations mean that calls and texts within the European Union are far more affordable than they used to be. However, it’s worth checking that the country you are visiting is actually a part of the EU before you travel. Calls from non-EU countries can still be very expensive, as can using data to look things up online, find your way using a navigation app or download emails.

Before leaving, always contact your operator and sort out the best bolt-on options for your contract, to keep your bills under control. If you don’t wish to use your mobile internet abroad, make sure your data roaming is switched off.

Ensure your home is secure

In the mad rush to get to the airport, don’t forget to double-check doors and windows are locked, and set your alarm. If you were to suffer a break-in while you were on holiday and you hadn’t secured your home properly, your insurance may be invalid. Make sure you cancel any milk or grocery deliveries too – not only are they a waste of money but left lying around they advertise your home as being empty.

To help save unnecessary bills whilst you’re away, turn off appliances (except your fridge/freezer) and turn off your heating and hot water if required. Remember to store barbecues and garden furniture in a shed or garage. If anything is stolen that you didn’t lock away, you might find your insurance claim rejected.

Want to find out more about how we can help you make the most of your holidays in the future? Take a look at our travel section.

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