Holidays are the perfect antidote to the stress of modern living. Isn’t it wonderful not to live by the alarm clock? For many of us, planning a trip is as much fun as going on it. But don’t just focus on the joy of choosing destinations, hotels and activities. There are some fundamental issues you must take care of before you take off.

A true holiday means not having to worry about what you’re taking with you and what you’re leaving behind.

Stay secure
To begin with, ensure that all you hold dear stays just how it should be when you’re on the move. An unwatched home is a magnet for burglars and vandals. It is also more vulnerable to fire, water and electricity-related hazards.

If you’re a technophile with money to spare, consider investing in home security systems. Internet of Things (IoT) has made it easy to build a ‘smart home’ that allows locks, alarms, lights, appliances and gadgets to be controlled remotely using a smartphone and an app. Depending on your comfort, you can either go for customizable systems that you can install independently or seek professional help.

Before leaving for your trip, it is hugely important to check your home insurance policy to ensure that you have the cover you need whilst your property is unoccupied. This is particularly important if you are going away for an extended period of time as many policies are unlikely to provide cover if your home is left unoccupied for long periods of time. This length of time will vary from insurer to insurer, but generally speaking the maximum most will allow is 60 days.  If you were to make a claim on your home insurance policy while your home had been left unoccupied for longer than the stated period, your insurer is unlikely to pay your claim.

As well as keeping your valuables that are staying at home secure, it’s also vital to make sure that the high value items, such has cameras and jewellery are covered should they get damaged or stolen. Your policy documents will state whether or not your belongings are covered away from the home, it will also detail what risks are covered (i.e. accidental damage or theft) and it will state the monetary limit you are covered for.

A smart future for your home
Some countries also have paid services where an agency monitors your home round the clock and contacts the police or fire department if something goes wrong.

If possible, notify family members, neighbours and friends of your absence and ask them if they could keep a watch. Find another friend-in-need in household insurance. The last thing you want is to come back to a damaged home and spend a fortune rebuilding the house and restoring your possessions.

Stay safe
Whether you’re planning to chill on a pristine beach or dreaming of taming the giant white waves on your holiday, ‘safety first’ should be your all-time mantra. Foreign surroundings can bring unexpected problems.

Falling ill in a place where you are unfamiliar with the healthcare system and the language could easily turn your holiday into a nightmare. Check with your doctor if you need vaccinations or preventive shots and renew any prescriptions. Before packing your regular medication, do check if all the medicines you are carrying along are legal in your destination country. If they are not, consult your doctor for solutions.

A health insurance policy should be one of the first things you pack. Check with your insurance provider if your existing cover applies when you travel. If it doesn’t, you might need additional cover.

Stay prepared
Even after extensive planning, things could go spectacularly wrong. Expecting the unexpected may not do much to save your holiday but it can ease the pain that usually follows a mishap.

Scan your travel documents (passport, visa, insurance papers), bookings and even your credit cards and save the copies in a digital format – preferably in your email. Should these be stolen or lost, you have immediate access to the details for remedial measures. Also carry printed copies of your travel documents and store them in different bags as proof.

You must also carry the contact details of the local embassy of your country. Should you need assistance, the details will be at hand. Last but not least, consider buying travel insurance. From cancelled flights to stolen baggage to accidents, travel insurance covers a range of incidents that can mar your holiday. Travel insurance can protect you from any associated costs. Then all you have to recover from, is the bad memories of a mishap.

Tick these boxes

Have you….

  • Checked all electrical connections, taps, alarm systems and other items that can cause hazards at home?
  • Notified family and friends that you will be away and the house needs a watch?
  • Frozen newspaper subscriptions? Nothing says ‘unmanned’ as a pile of newspapers and mail at the front door – an invitation to burglars and vandals.
  • Bought household insurance for potential mishaps?
  • Scanned travel documents including passport, visa and insurance papers and stored them digitally in your email and made photocopies to carry with you?
  • Consulted your doctor about vaccinations and preventative shots you may need and filled out prescriptions?
  • Checked if your health insurance coverage extends to your destination and bought additional cover if it doesn’t?
  • Bought travel insurance to cover any disruptions or mishaps during your trip?

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