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Getting travel ready: From insurance ideas to cash concerns

With many seasoned travellers out of practice, Danielle Barron looks at what you need to know before going abroad

After a couple of years when the pandemic clipped our wings, we are all probably a bit rusty when it comes to being travel ready. Booking the plane tickets and choosing the hotel is the easy bit, but what about travel insurance, foreign exchange, and Covid certs?

Sarah Slattery, aka The Travel Expert, has more than 30 years’ experience in the travel industry. Her website offers destination advice, travel tips and travel deals to Irish consumers.

She agrees that people are keen to take to the skies again but many of us are somewhat out of practice when it comes to travelling after a prolonged sojourn at home. “I think that may have been the case last summer, especially at the airport security queue – the 100ml rule was forgotten about by many,” she laughs. “But to be fair, many new rules and entry requirements were introduced during the pandemic, so it was understandable that we forgot the basics.”

The good news is that Covid-19 restrictions no longer apply for travel within the EU, but Slattery warns there are some countries with restrictions still in place – for example, you still need to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter the US. “Make sure to check the Department of Foreign Affairs website for up-to-date requirements, as requirements can change,” she says.


Insurance ideas

Some families may have opted to avoid travel chaos in 2022 but are gearing up for their first big trip this year. Slattery advises that travellers are adequately insured – choosing additional winter sports cover for a skiing trip, for example. She also emphasises the importance of checking terms and conditions of each policy, particularly when it comes to Covid and cancellation – it hasn’t gone away you know.

“If your trip is expensive, you will need the highest level of cover for cancellation,” she says. “Many book basic travel insurance, which covers cancellation up to €1,000. However, for long haul travel, the cost will more than likely be a lot higher than that.” Her golden rule is to book insurance when booking the holiday; “don’t leave it until the last minute”.

Cash concerns

The advent of contactless payment means there is no longer any need to travel with wads of cash, but it can be an expensive way to spend abroad, with additional charges on every transaction, even the smallest ones. Similarly, cash withdrawals abroad can often result in multiple fees, making a dent in your spending money.

There are cheaper ways to buy an ice cream, says Michael Hall, product marketing lead for Travel Money at An Post Money, which offers both cash and card travel money services.

Indeed, for those going beyond the euro zone, money experts advise travelling with a specific overseas card, where all foreign currency transactions are commission free. The An Post Money Currency Card lets customers top up 15 different currencies, including Australian dollars, British pounds, US dollars and Mexican pesos. Hall says it’s easy to use and very flexible. “You can manage your money the way you want to – you can top-up in all currencies in post offices, online or through the app, with the rate applied at the point of top-up,” he says, adding that the card is accepted anywhere Mastercard is accepted. An additional tip is to always pay in the local currency.

These cards come with the added benefit of security features – a duplicate card is given in case one gets lost or stolen, while emergency cash up to the amount loaded on your card can be accessed in case both go AWOL. “There is 24/7 global support, and the card can also be frozen via the app so that funds are safe,” adds Hall. The currency cards are available at any post office, or through the An Post Money app, available on the App Store and Google Play.

For those who prefer to deal in cash, An Post offers five currencies through its network of more than 900 post offices. British pounds and US dollars are available in every office, while Polish zloty, Canadian dollars and Australian dollars are available in selected offices. “There’s no need to pre-order or prepay, and all currencies are offered commission-free,” Hall says.

Danielle Barron

Danielle Barron is a contributor to The Irish Times