Notify Family, Friends and Relatives Before leaving on holiday, make sure that you give all travel information to your family and close friends. If anything should happen while travelling, multiple people know where you are and have a better chance of getting a hold of you and others who might need to reach you. Prepare photocopies of your passport, airline tickets, accommodation booking form. It might also help if you leave telephone numbers of where you are stopping just in case anyone needs to get in touch with you urgently. Do you have a valid Visa and/or passport? ALWAYS check your passport and ensure that you renew your visa or apply for one before departing. Make sure your passport does not expire within 6 months of your date of travel. A large majority of countries insist that your passport be valid for at least that time period or a year. Make a copy, in case you lose it while on vacation, you can send the copy to your Embassy. E111 Medical form. Still thousands of UK holidaymakers go on holiday without getting a signed E111 form from your local medical practitioner. This form is free and means that whilst you are in a country which is a member of the European community you will receive free or subsidised medical treatment. Be warned through this does not mean you are covered for return flights, transfers from destination to hospital, and pharmacy costs. Travel Insurance Millions of holidaymakers worldwide go on holiday WITHOUT travel insurance. How crazy can you people be, for the sake of completing a quick form, or telephone conversation you can be covered for any event whilst on holiday. It is so important that people get back in to the habit of buying travel insurance. The decline in holidaymakers taking out insurance is due to the increase in independent travelling, many UK travel agents insisted that you took out travel insurance as part of your booking. Confirm your Reservations Be sure your airline tickets and vacation rental booking is confirmed, otherwise you may have an unpleasant experience if the owners of the property are out of the country and have not left the keys. Visit the airport website, or if you are in the UK look on ceefax, or teletext for the latest flight departures and arrivals from UK airports to find if your plane is on time, back that up with a telephone conversation with the airline. Location of the Vacation Rental When making your booking, you may want to find out if the property is located near a hospital, chemist, police station etc. These services are great in an emergency, and it's always good to know your way around before you arrive. You will find that most owners will have some literature about local doctors, chemists etc you never know what may happen whilst on holiday. Buy a Destination Guide / Language dictionary. Get yourself some travel books to know all the best spots, cheapest restaurants, best food, and hundreds of insights about your destination. You may want to write down some notes from the travel book relevant to the area you are visiting rather than taking the entire book with you to cut down on weight. Most importantly get a language translation dictionary and carry it with you. Learn a few essential terms in the native language of the country you are travelling to. People will appreciate and be a lot more helpful if you at least make an effort, it can also help you in an emergency. Luggage Advice Place photocopies of your identification in your luggage to help your airline or cruise ship to return it if lost while travelling. Another good idea is to get some masking, insulation tape or stickers and put it all over the suitcase, the worst start to a holiday would be to loose your luggage or get it taken by accident because its identical to another holidaymakers. Use your own padlocks instead of the padlocks supplied with suitcases. It is usually safer. Remember to keep the key(s) in your carry-on luggage., don't do what I did and leave the keys in the suitcase! Photocopy your Identifying Documents Photocopy all documents and cards and store it in a secret place in your suitcase. If your wallet is ever stolen, you will know exactly what you have lost and will have all the telephone numbers to call to cancel credit cards and the credit card numbers, etc. at your fingertips. Or instead of photocopying all your important documents and carrying them with you, you can scan everything and email the images to your email account or family and friends as attachments. Airport Transfers Don't forget to try and arrange your transfer to the vacation property before you set off. Worse thing that can happen is that it's 11pm, and there's no buses, and you have to pay a fortune for a hour drive to your accommodation. Most owners will have a contact for airport transfers, or there own management company will pick you up, there's a charge, but it's certainly cheaper than local taxi companies... it's also safer. Cash Safety. Think of this scenario. You've just got to your hotel, and you see a nice bar over the road, you go to your pocket to get all of your foreign currency, and it's not there! Your in a strange country, with a strange language and it's your first day on a holiday you've been paying for all year. Please remember travellers cheques, order them before you go and you will not be in this scenario. This article is not written to scare you but to put your mind on the important issues you will face when booking and organising your next vacation rental holiday. The best holidays I have had are ones where I have organised them myself. Have fun.. but more importantly... BE SAFE!