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Last minute holiday checklist

Last minute holidays can be a great way to bag a top deal, but there are still a few things you cannot afford to forget. Here is what you need for a safe last minute trip that won’t break the bank.

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Travel insurance

Whether you book your holiday a year in advance or an hour before you leave, insurance is a must.

The right cover can protect you from cancellation costs, so it’s important to find an insurance plan as soon as you book. Otherwise, your money may not be protected if things go wrong before you leave.

Your policy will not cover you if you decide not to go, unless the foreign office changes their advice to advocate only essential travel.

You will usually be covered if:

  • A travelling companion or a relative has a serious injury or becomes ill

  • A travelling companion or a relative dies

  • You are made redundant

  • You have to go to court, or have been called for jury duty

  • You have to stay at home following a fire, flood or burglary of your property within 48 hours of your departure date, or if this happens while you are away

  • You, or one of your party, becomes pregnant after you were sold the policy, or a doctor recommends you should not travel due to pregnancy complications

Our travel insurance guides have everything you need to know about taking out cover before you go away.

If you are a regular jet-setter, annual travel insurance is likely to be a cheaper and easier option than buying a new policy every time you travel. Learn the difference between the two so that you can make the best choice for your lifestyle and bank balance.

Travel money

The cheapest way to spend abroad is with the right credit card or reloadable card. Therefore, finding a good option at the last minute can be tricky, as most cards can take days or weeks to arrive.

There are exceptions though, with some great foreign spending options arriving the day after approval. It is still worth comparing the options available, but make sure to check your card will arrive in time.

Many everyday spending cards are also good options, so make sure to check your wallet! Some providers do not even require notice, but it can be a good idea to tell your bank you are going away. If you don’t have the right plastic already and nothing new will arrive on time, cash might be your best option.

Most currencies can be collected on the same day, just make sure to watch out for extra fees.

Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice

Always check the official foreign travel advice to find out if there are any issues with your chosen destination. Going on holiday to an area where 'all travel' or 'all but essential travel' is advised against is likely to invalidate your insurance, leaving you out-of-pocket if something were to go wrong.

The countries on the list are generally there for a reason – it’s dangerous to travel. This could be for diplomatic or security reasons, so think hard before booking a holiday to anywhere the FCO lists as unsafe.

This includes the countries currently on the UK's 'red list', but whether you should travel to countries currently on the 'amber list' is more complicated. The current rules vary depending on your vaccination status, so read the government advice that applies to you carefully and contact your travel insurance provider to make sure you are sill covered.

You can stay up to date with changing travel advice by signing up to the FCO's email alerts.


You will need to be vaccinated in order to travel to some countries. For travel abroad, the NHS defines this as having had two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, though some countries will accept one dose. You will then need to use your NHS COVID pass as proof of your vaccination status, but bear in mind it can take up to 5 days for your records to be updated.

You can get your NHS COVID pass digitally through the NHS app or by logging in through this page. You can also request a paper version here or call 119. The barcode generated is valid for 30 days.

Home insurance

Keeping your home safe while you are away means doing more than just turning off the water and locking the windows. If you don’t already have home insurance, finding the right policy before you jet off on a last minute trip could end up saving you hundreds of thousands of pounds.

  • Contents insurance will cover your possessions in the home should they be stolen or damaged, for example by a fire or flood. This cover is important for renters as well as homeowners, as your possessions will not be protected by your landlord’s cover.

  • Buildings insurance covers damage to everything that is a fixed part of the house – essentially the bricks and mortar. It includes the walls, roof, doors, floors, windows, pipes, kitchen cupboards and the bathroom suites. If you rent your home, this cover is usually the landlord’s responsibility.

It is always important to know what insurance you need to protect your home, but especially if you are going to leave it unoccupied at short notice.

Valid documentation

The documentation you need to enter a foreign country varies from place to place, so do your research to find out exactly what visas and identification are required for your trip.

Don’t forget to pack your insurance documentation for both your travel and home insurance. This will make life a lot easier if you have to claim while you are away.

Making a claim is generally quite simple and usually involves calling your insurer’s claims line.

Car hire

For a lot of destinations, car hire is a must, to get the most out of your trip. But even if you are booking your trip at the last second, it can pay to take the time to shop around. 

Most car hire agreements come with a standard level of insurance, or you may even be able to claim on your existing cover. Check any documentation carefully before you sign up so that you know exactly what you are covered for. This is especially important while you are away as upselling is a common experience for tourists renting cars. Make sure you know what you have and what you need, that way you can avoid any costly and unnecessary extras. 

Most hire car insurance policies come with a very high excess – the amount of money you will need to pay to make a claim. Therefore, it may be good value to take out a dedicated excess policy to cover this cost should you have to make a claim.

Holiday savings

If you regularly find yourself booking a last minute break, setting up a dedicated holiday savings account could be a great money-saver. Putting a regular amount of cash away every month is the best way of saving for a holiday, while an easy access account can help you reach your money whenever the vacation urge strikes.

Knowing how much cash you have available can also be a handy guide to exactly what kind of trip you can afford – just make sure not to skip the costs listed on this page!

If you have a pre-existing condition, you can still get a quote through Money.co.uk. These conditions could include cancer, stroke, serious heart, respiratory and terminal conditions.
Some insurers might not cover you if you already have a serious medical condition, or if you have a number of conditions. Others might only offer insurance at a much higher price. If you're unable to find suitable cover, the Money and Pension Service (MaPS) has also set up a directory of insurers willing to cover customers with pre-existing medical conditions.
You can contact the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) or you can telephone 0800 138 7777.

Find the right cover for your travels by comparing our best travel insurance deals.

About Joel Kempson

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