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Check the small print before travelling

Passport on a mapThere are a host of problems that can trip travellers up and turn the start of a dream holiday into a bureaucratic nightmare.

Here are some of the most common issues and how to avoid them.

Which passport are you using?

Booking a trip six months in advance means you can bag a great flight deal but make sure your passport lasts that long too.

If you renew your passport before you go, details such as your passport number will be different.

Also, depending on whether you’ve applied for visas or completed additional airline documentation it may mean you won’t get on the plane.

Even simple corrections such as a name change will incur a fee with most airlines and can be costly, between £110 and £160 if you’re flying with Ryanair.

And don’t wait until too close to the trip to renew your passport.

You can carry up to nine months over from your old one so you won’t lose out with an early renewal.

How old are your children?

If you’re booking flights months in advance it’s easy to pop down the current ages of your children, forgetting that they may notch up a birthday and be a whole year older by the time they travel.

This can affect the price you pay, particularly if any age change borders the cut-off point from infant (usually at age two) to child.

Most budget airlines charge full fare for children over two as they’ll need their own seat.

So you may have to pay hefty admin fees to change any mistakes along with forking out for the cost of a seat.

When’s your baby due?

Mums-to-be should check airline rules too as some will want to see a doctor’s certificate proving you’re fit to fly if you’re beyond 28 weeks.

However, most of the big name airlines will carry you until 36 weeks.

But travel insurance limits don’t always tally with airline limits and insurance cover may stop from around 24 weeks.

So check the rules with both your travel insurer and airline.

Are you on any medication?

You may think nothing of popping some headache tablets in your luggage but check the rules with your airline or on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) before you travel.

Countries such as Dubai are very strict on what you can take in which includes over-the-counter painkillers containing codeine.

If you need to take any prescription medication, get a letter from your doctor and ensure items are in their original packaging.

When does your passport run out?

It’s not necessarily its expiry date, as depending on where you’re going, you may need a minimum of six months left from your date of arrival, unless you want to risk being on the first flight home.

This is the case if you’re heading for countries including Dubai, Tunisia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore according to the FCO.

With other countries you may only need three months left on your passport.

Within the EU, for example, if you’re travelling to France or Spain, you won’t need any longer than the duration of your trip.

However, it’s always worth having a couple of weeks in hand, in case you’re ill and unable to travel or flights are delayed.

Need a new passport in a hurry?

The fastest option is the premium same-day service which costs £129.50.

But this means booking an appointment at one of the regional passport offices and potentially putting up with a four-hour wait.

If you’ve got a few weeks to spare you can apply for the standard service.

This costs £77.50 for a 10-year adult passport, with up to three weeks for delivery.

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Sue Hayward

Carl Chambers

Sue Hayward is a personal finance broadcaster, journalist and author. Sue talks and writes on money matters including chatting on BBC Radio & TV as well as contributing to magazines, websites and newspapers. Sue's also written two books; the latest of which is 'How To Get The Best Deal'.

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