THE sun is shining, so finally, after what seems like months of rain, could it be that the summer might finally be approaching?
It seems that many people are venturing on holidays this year, now that the threat of Covid seems to have well and truly receded.
I love a good holiday checklist, so here are a few important things to get sorted before you go on holidays that you can start thinking of doing now, even if you’re not going anywhere until September.
First things first, and you may think that it goes without saying, but we have been those soldiers that only realised a passport was out of date days before we were due to fly. If you are travelling this summer, let this be your sign to go check that all the passports are well in date, today.
Generally, if you are holidaying in Europe on a European passport, as long as it doesn’t expire while you are abroad you should be OK.
For children’s passports, remember they don’t start processing the application until you send in your witness forms, so don’t hang around on those – the list of suitable witnesses has greatly increased over the last few years, making it much easier to fill out, but choose wisely. From my experience, the passport office do ring witnesses to check the validity of the witness so pick someone who it around their phone. Previously, people used gardaí to witness their passports, but now, between stations being closed during the week and busy stations with guards on shift, you don’t want the passport office having to chase a garda because it can hold up your application.
At the moment, passports for children are taking at least ten days from when they receive the witness forms, so allow yourself three weeks to be sure. And while you’re checking the dates, if any of your passports are due to expire in the next year or so, put a reminder in your phone to renew them closer to the time.
The European Health Insurance Card is another absolute must if you are travelling abroad this summer. If you don’t have one, think about getting it sorted as soon as possible as it takes about three weeks to get the card from the HSE. Everyone in the family needs their own and it covers various medical expenses when you are aboard.
We had to use it during a visit to Amsterdam last summer and my top tip from that experience is to keep the card in your wallet, so that if you end up in hospital at short notice, it’s handier than having to pay upfront and apply for a refund once you get home.
If you have pets, be sure to get them booked into a kennel if they are staying at home, and if they are going with you, check what vaccinations or medication they might need before travelling and that they have their pet passport. If you have pets at home that just need feeding, start asking around neighbours or a friend to come in to feed them and other jobs like watering your vegetables, putting packages away out of sight, or putting out the bins.
Inevitably, you will have a few bits to buy for going on holidays and it’s a good idea to keep an eye out a few months before you head away to spread the cost across a few months. Sunscreen is an absolute necessity and in our house we go through so much of it from May until September, so if I see it on offer, I pick it.
While you are thinking about sunscreen, think about putting together a small first aid kit for the summer, you never know when you’ll need it and often it can be frustrating trying to find similar products to what we have here when you are abroad.
We found out in Amsterdam they don’t sell any oral antihistamines without prescription or topical antihistamines with hydrocortisone at all, so bring your own wherever you go.
And my final (and very random!) tip is this, and it perhaps stems from having four children which makes it feel like they are harder to keep track of in crowds. I made the girls beaded bracelets using beads with numbers that make up my mobile phone number. I find these great for going to concerts, into cities, or airports when I’m on my own with all four, on beaches or basically anywhere crowded. My eldest knows my number but the younger girls wouldn’t have a clue, especially if they were to panic. Thankfully, they have never had to use them, but better safe than sorry is my motto.