Eight tips for happy summer holidays

Advice from the experts at MoneySuperMarket

Updated: 
Family with three children (5-11) in car interior portrait

Here's a bit of advice to ensure your well-earned break goes without a hitch.

1. Passports, tickets, money!

Make sure you sort out the paperwork well in advance

You'll need a valid passport and, for some countries, a visa.

Make sure your passport (and the passports of anyone travelling with you) are valid for at least the duration of your stay abroad. Some countries also insist on six months' validity. You can find details on the government website.

If you are travelling to the United States without a visa, make sure you have a biometric passport that contains your personal details.

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

If you need it urgently, use the Premium one-day service or a Fast Track one-week service.

2. Get some insurance

Wherever you're going, you need to have travel insurance.

You should take out insurance as soon as you book your holiday in case you need to cancel.
Make sure the policy covers the country or countries you're visiting and that the cover limits are adequate.

Remember to declare any existing medical conditions, or you could invalidate the cover so it would not pay out in the event of a claim.

If you're going to Europe, get a free EHIC card from the NHS. This will entitle you to medical treatment on the same terms as a local – but it is not a substitute for travel insurance.

3. Use online check-in

Checking-in online is often quicker than checking in at the airport. Plus, you can usually select your seat.

With some, online check-in is compulsory, with a fee being charged if you check-in at the airport.
It's also usually cheaper to check in bags online than at the airport.

4. Beware the baggage allowance

Find out your airline's rules on the size and weight of hand and hold baggage.

You'll be charged extra if you exceed the weight allowance, and you could end up forking-out £20 or more.

If you're in doubt, weigh your bag before you set off for the airport and jettison items if you're anywhere near busting the limit.

5. Book your airport parking in advance

If you don't book in advance, you might not be able to get into the car park of your choice, and you'll almost certainly pay more for your space.

Take into account any journey time from the car park to the terminal so you're not rushing. Also check for any roadworks around your airport in case they add to your journey time.

Yes, Luton, we're talking about you!

6. Get your travel money sorted

Avoid buying foreign currency at the airport because the rates are usually uncompetitive.
By planning ahead you should be able to find a better rate and so boost your holiday spending budget – buying online is a good option.

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.

7. Sort out your hire car before you go

It's almost always cheaper to book your hire car in advance than to wait until you arrive at your destination airport.

You could potentially save hundreds of pounds by booking online.

Your car hire firm will probably offer you a collision damage waiver (CDW), which means you wouldn't have to pay the compulsory excess if the car were damaged or stolen.

But a CDW can cost up to 70% more than a specialist excess waiver insurance policy bought in the UK, according to research by iCarhireinsurance.

So if you want car hire excess insurance – which means you wouldn't need a CDW – you should buy a standalone policy before you set off.

8. Secure your home

Make sure you've locked all the doors and windows before you leave home – this might well be a condition of your home insurance – and cancel milk or other regular deliveries.

Ask a neighbour to pick up any post so that it doesn't clog the letterbox in full view of the street.
You can also buy automatic light and curtain timer switches so the house looks occupied in the evening.

Avoid posting your holiday details on social media as burglars are always on the look-out for properties that are empty.

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.