Travel Money Guide

There’s nothing worse than arriving at your holiday hotel or villa to find that you’ve left behind something you need.

Or perhaps there is something worse. You could arrive at the airport and find that you’ve forgotten to renew your passport or missed some vital paperwork. That can stop your holiday before it’s even started.

This list of things not to forget will help you keep everything on track so you can enjoy a worry-free holiday.

Passports, visas

When did you last check the expiry date on your passport? If you don’t know the month and year, check now. One of the consequences of Brexit is that our passports no longer end on the expiry date but 10 (or 5) years from the issue date. That will be a few months before your passport’s expiry date.

Need to renew? Please don’t leave it to the last minute. Some passports get renewed within a week or two, but others seem stuck “in the system” and can take months.

Do you need a visa?  People from the UK can travel to many countries for a holiday without needing a visa. If you need a visa, that will mean either applying online or attending an intern viewing at an embassy.

You will need an electronic visa, known as an ESTA, to travel to the US. You will also need an ESTA if you are transiting through the US, perhaps to the Caribbean.

And, again, because of Brexit, you may need an electronic visa if you are traveling to Europe. New rules come into force soon.


Travel accessories and items with Travel insurance application form

Before you book your travel, you should book your travel insurance. Most policies will come into force when you take out the insurance. If you book your travel first and then the insurance, you may not be covered if an insurable event prevents you from traveling.

You may need to check your insurance if your holiday is more than 30 days in one country. It may not cover stays of more than a month in the same country.

Many people will travel without taking out travel insurance. Travel insurance is inexpensive and easy to take out online. It should cover illness, medical expenses, and any travel disruption costs. It’s not much money for much reassurance to properly enjoy your holiday.

Medical Documentation

Women doctors standing in corridor in hospital on medical conference, talking.

Most countries have now relaxed their covid restrictions, particularly the requirement to produce evidence of vaccination. However, checking the vaccination requirements of the country you are visiting is still essential.


High angle view of suitcase with clothes shoes and passport with tickets packing for journey

There will be a weight restriction on your luggage, commonly 23kg on-hold luggage. You should choose your case carefully, balancing sturdiness with lightness. If you can, choose a striking colour or if not, get a coloured strap to go around the case. This will help you identify it quickly when it comes off the carousel. There are a lot of black cases!

And make sure that you leave some space in the case. The chances are that you will be buying things to bring back while you are away, so you need a little extra space. It would be best if you also were mindful of that weight restriction. You don’t want to be taking heavy items out of your hold luggage to pack into your carry-on luggage under the watchful eyes of your fellow passengers as they tut-tut you for holding up the queue.


top view of woman putting euros banknotes in wallet on wooden background

Although relying on your UK debit and credit cards while abroad may be tempting, having some local currency with you before you depart is sensible. It is crucial to avoid picking it up at the airport, where you are likely to get it at disadvantageous rates.

You may need local currency immediately for things like the taxi from the airport to the hotel or tipping and small purchases. Some destinations will not accept cards for small purchases, and you may need cash if you are bartering in a local market or souk. There’s not much point grabbing a good deal from a local seller and then finding you are paying over the odds on a credit card transaction!

You should also check the currency rules in the country you travel to. Some countries, such as Tunisia, have closed currencies, meaning you cannot take cash in or out of the country. Morocco has a limit of about £160 that can be taken in and out.

You might like to look at pre-paid currency cards. While there may be more efficient ways of converting currency, it can save towards your holiday expenditure by paying a certain amount each month. Of course, you won’t be getting any interest on your savings, but as interest rates are so low, you will not lose much.

We compare some of the multi-currency cards available here

Paper documents

You may have your tickets and perhaps medical information stored on your phone. It is a good idea to also carry paper copies of those documents together with a paper copy of your passports. You will then have a backup in case you lose your phone or your passport.

Electrical devices and chargers

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It’s so easy to leave a phone, or laptop charger plugged in at home while traveling. And a bit of a disaster when you get to your hotel and realise that your charger is hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Equally important is to check the type of plug socket used at your holiday destination. You are likely to need an adaptor.

But how many adaptors should you take? Our rule of thumb is one per person traveling so that there is no argument between family members all wanting to charge their phones simultaneously in the hour before you head out.

Or you could, of course, deliberately leave laptops and phones behind and have a “digital detox” holiday, but definitely, this should be a matter of choosing to detox and not having it forced upon you because you forgot to take that little wire out of the wall.

Final thoughts

These points all sound so obvious. How could anyone forget to renew their passport? Or arrive at their destination without cash, and the bureau de change doesn’t open for three hours.

But if you look at holiday and travel forums, stories of how people forget the obvious are as common as those funny stories about holiday makers complaining that there are too many Spaniards in Spain, or that the beach was too sandy. It happens, so don’t let it happen to you!


Jason is the founder of Compare Travel Cash, and has worked in the financial industry for the majority of his career.