I was recently given the task of booking a trip to France, which on the face of it would appear quite simple. However, there are lots of things to consider and get organised before you go.
Firstly, it’s important to check that your passports are valid. If they do need renewing, it’s incredibly easy by using https://passports.ips.gov.uk/epa1r1a/index.aspx?c=1. You fill your details in on-line and they despatch the form to you to check. It takes at least four weeks to get a new passport so arrange for a new one in plenty of time before your departure date. There are lots of on-line passport photo services that again make it very easy to do from home. I recommend http://www.photobox.co.uk/shop/prints/passport-id-photos. It is obviously important that your photograph meets the requirements from the passport office so check the criteria carefully before ordering your prints. When you receive the two elements back, hey presto! you can send it off yourself or get the Post Office to double check it for an additional fee before sending.
The AA have produced a detailed list of “Compulsory Equipment” -” Things you must or should take when driving in Europe” which can be found here http://www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/touring_tips/compulsory_equipment.pdf. Its quite comprehensive and you need to make sure that the items are accessible if you get stopped whilst driving and ensure they are not buried under a huge amount of packing.
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) replaced the old E111 in 2006. Your EHIC lets you get state healthcare at a reduced cost or sometimes for free and can be applied for from this link http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/EHIC/Pages/about-the-ehic.aspx.
Of course travel insurance will still be necessary because the EHIC will not cover you for repatriation to the UK if your illness or accident is very serious, which alone can cost tens of thousands of pounds. Nor will the EHIC cover you for the whole host of other events that could go wrong when travelling abroad, such as lost or stolen luggage, cancellations and delays. So it is crucial that you are also covered with the right travel insurance policy.
If you have any other hints and tips, I’d love to hear from you.