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Jul 10

Holiday countdown – protect yourself and your home before you go

Reading Time: 8 mins

We’ve done all your holiday organising for you! If you are planning a summer holiday, check this list and make sure you’ve got everything sorted before you go away. No nasty surprises will await you when you return if you follow these ideas.


The holiday essentials

Travel insurance

Travel insurance can be really cheap and save you a lot of money if something goes wrong when you’re away. As with all insurance there’s lots of competition so always shop around for the best deal, click here to compare prices. There are all kinds of policies to choose from – single trip insurance, annual multi-trip and family insurance – so read the cover details and pick the policy that best suits your needs. Look at our full article on travel insurance to find out what should be covered and which policy is best for you.


Documentsbefore you go

Make photocopies of your passport, ticket/flight details and insurance policy (don’t forget the all-important 24-hour emergency number) and leave a copy with family or friends. Check your passport expiry date and make sure that it’s valid for the whole trip – oh and try to store it somewhere you’ll remember so there’s no last minute panic when you’re about to leave for the airport!

Online Check-In

Most airlines now have an online check in feature, which means that you can check in before you arrive at the airport.  Instead of joining the queue, you can check in from the comfort of you own home, and sometimes you can even pick your own seats. If you check in online, you MUST bring a printed out copy of your boarding pass with you to the airport. If you don’t you will have to check in again, and some airlines will charge you up to £40 to reprint your ticket.

For some airlines online check in is an optional extra and is free of charge, but for others such as Ryanair, its a requirement as after 1st October 2011 they are getting rid of all of their check in desks. This means that before you travel, you will have to print off both your outgoing and returning boarding passes.

Every airline has a different set of rules about online check in, so to simplify matters, here is a list of some of the most popular:

before you goRyanair – You can check in online 15 days days before, and up to 4 hours before the flight departs on the day of the flight. Ryanair will charge you £6 each way to check in online, and if you don’t, or if you lose your boarding pass, the replacement fee at the airport is £40 per pass. If your holiday is less than 15 days long, then make sure you print of your return journey pass or you will be stuck looking for a an internet connection and printer while on holiday.

British Airways – They offer a free online check-in service to all passengers, up to 24 hours before departure. They also offer you the choice of downloading your boarding pass to your mobile phone. For more information visit their online check-in guide.

easyJet –  Online check-in is free of charge and available to all passengers, up to 60 days before departure.

Flybe – Online check-in is available from 36 hours before departure for all customers, there is a £10 fee if you need a ticket reissued.

FlyBMI – Online Check-in is available on bmi operated flights only from 24 hours up to 30 minutes before your schedule departure time.


Health cardbefore you go

If you’re travelling within the EU, get a European Health Insurance Card for free or reduced emergency medical care. You can apply for one online here. This card will only entitle you to state-provided healthcare and you may have to make a contribution to the cost of your care e.g. for medicine and the bed. It’s NOT a substitute for travel insurance – you’ll still need insurance to cover any contribution which cannot be reimbursed and other eventualities not covered by the EHIC. N.B DO NOT BE FOOLED by scam artists who are trying to charge people for this card (as you can see in this rip-off blog here). This card is FREE. You don’t have to pay a thing for it.


Packing tips

  • before you goCheck the exact baggage allowance details (for both hand and checked baggage) with your airline.
  • Label your bags on the inside and outside – write your name, email address and mobile number.
  • Wrap shoes in plastic bags to stop them marking clothes. Put any toiletries into a separate bag with a good seal – you don’t want to have to deal with shampoo all over your clothes on the first day of your holiday!
  • Try to get the smallest of everything – if you’re taking it as hand luggage you’ll need to. Remove any sharp objects – even nail clippers could be confiscated.

before you goThe EU liquid policy states that any liquids, gels or pastes taken as hand luggage must be put in separate containers with a maximum capacity of 100ml. This means that anything like face cream, perfume, toothpaste and mascara that you want to take on board must be put into small containers or they’ll be confiscated. You’ve also got to carry these products in a separate clear plastic, resealable bag – which can only be 20cm by 20cm. You can find these bottles in high street shops such as The Body Shop and Superdrug, supermarkets,  and airports.

If you can’t bear the thought of being without your make-up or hand cream you can buy travel-sized beauty products from The Body Shop and Superdrug. Boots have their own line of airline approved toiletries, and they stock everything from suncream to deodorants and empty plastic bottles.

Buy all your other holiday gear at bargain prices now with our Holiday Shopping List.


Keep your home ticking over

before you goThe plants

Don’t let your precious plants wither and die whilst your away – if you can’t give them to a friend to look after head down to B&Q. Indoor plants can be saved with the Plantminder which you can buy from B&Q. This handy gadget is a self-watering irrigation system that keeps plants watered for up to three weeks. These mini cones are perfect for small pots on your window sills and desks – get a pack of three for £7.28.

The pets

your houseIf you have fish they can be fed with a slow release food block but for other animals that need more care there are a couple of options. Lots of people use kennels but they do tend to be quite expensive and you may not like the idea of moving your pet away from home to an unfamiliar environment.

Getting a house sitter instead is a brilliant way to keep your pets at home and make sure your home is safe too. You can pay a house sitter to stay at your house during your holiday and look after your pets and water the pants. Trusted Housesitters is one company that offers a pet sitting service or look on Jobsgrapevine for posts made by potential house and pet sitters. Another option is to post an add on Gumtree – just click here to put your message on the site and wait for housesitters to contact you.

Don’t forget that if you’re travelling within the EU you can take certain pets with you – take a look at The Pet Travel Scheme for all the details and advice.


The mail

before you goA huge pile of unopened mail on your doormat is a big giveaway to any thieves that you’re not at home, so give a friend or neighbour a spare key and ask them to collect them from your house every couple of days.

Another option is to use the Royal Mail Keepsafe service. This service costs £11.25 per household, for 17 days, but if you are away for longer than that, they can hold it for up to 66 days for £36.95. All you need to do is give them a week’s notice, with the names and signatures of anyone whose mail you want to hold back and they will keep your mail back then deliver it when you return.



before you goFirst things first make sure everything’s locked and turn all appliances off (except the fridge and freezer) if you have your heating on a timer turn that off too – there’s no point paying to heat an empty house.

Get timer switches for selected plugs and time them so that a few lights go on in the evening to trick any thieves into thinking someone is home.

Get strong locks for all your windows and doors. Wickes has a wide selection of locks for doors and windows. You can buy different locks specifically designed for certain kinds of doors and windows so always look at the product details to check its suitable. This lock is ideal for garden sheds or external gates and costs £11.21, this Auto Deadlocking nightlatch can be used for added security on glass panelled doors and costs £45.13.

  • before you goConsider setting up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme. Contact 0207 035 4848 or go to the Neighbourhood Watch website.
  • If you do get someone to look after the house whilst you’re away show them where to find the gas mains and fuse box are.
  • Cancel any orders for things like milk or newspapers.
  • NEVER leave a message on your answer machine saying that you’re on holiday – it’s a big invitation to burglars.
  • Watch what you say on Facebook and Twitter. If you’re concerned, don’t post holiday pics or tales of your adventures until you come home.


Be prepared

Check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s travel advice section to keep up to date on any security issues. They give some great tips on ways to keep safe, local laws and customs and entry requirements – so read up on your holiday destination before you go.

Get hold of a good guidebook so you can get to know a bit about your destination. Go to Amazon for a bargain but check that it’s a recent edition. A good guide book will tell you everything you need to know – from the best bars, to any local customs you need to be aware of.


before you goHealth

Make an appointment with your GP about six weeks before you go if you need any  vaccinations or extra health precautions. If you’re on medication pack some in both your hand and main luggage. Also, carry a spare prescription for your medication in a separate bag.



Protect your money

  • before you goPut any valuables in your hand luggage so that you’ve always got them on you.
  • Get a prepaid card in the currency of your holiday destination. These are safer to use than credit and debit cards. See the best travel prepaid cards here.
  • Take enough money or travellers cheques to cover any emergencies. It’s also a good idea to take a mixture of cash, travellers cheques and cards just in case. Make sure you don’t carry them all around with you in case they’re stolen.
  • Make a note of the emergency numbers of your debit/credit card company.
  • Check the expiry dates on all your cards and if necessary call the bank for a new one if any are due to run out when your on your holiday.
  • If you’re planning a big spend on your holiday give your card issuer a ring to let them know – they may presume any unusual spending is fraudulent and put a stop on your card!
  • Check that your card is accepted in the country you’re going to visit. Use these ATM locators for Visa and MasterCard to check there are cash machines you can use.


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8 years ago

i found your site to be a wealth of relevant information to the subject i have been searching for?
thankyou for you effort and time in prividing this great information..
great site and info

House Sitting Services
House Sitting Services
10 years ago

Glad you wrote this. I found some new things I need to think about.

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