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Before You Go

Whenever you go on holiday, it's a good idea to be as prepared as you can be. This page is designed to make sure your holiday runs as smoothly as it can, from booking to setting off. With advice on passports and visas, health, travel money, what to pack and amendments, you can spend a few minutes looking for all the nitty and gritty information that you may need.

Passports and Visas

Happy holidays start with an up-to-date passport; it is your responsibility to ensure that yours is valid and accepted in the country of travel as well as having the correct visas or other documentation necessary.

It is vitally important that you check all the requirements for your destination before you finalise your travel plans. This page should help you do that, with advice on all our top destinations that require more than your UK passport.

New USA Entry Requirements (ESTA)

If you are travelling to the USA at any time after 12th January 2009, we have very important information from US passport control regarding new entry requirements that you MUST read.

See our Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) below for more details.

ESTA From 12th January 2009, everyone travelling into America must have, before travelling, completed a brand new internet-based registration form.

This new requirement is called "Electronic System for Travel Authorisation", or ESTA for short. It has been implemented by US Customs & Border Control and applies to all international visitors to America who qualify for the US Visa Waiver Programme. British passport holders usually qualify, and therefore must register through ESTA before they travel.

How to Register Through ESTA

If you are travelling into America after 12 January 2009, then you will probably be refused entry if you haven't registered through ESTA. Registration is quick & easy, and requires you to enter only a few personal details regarding everyone in your party as well as details of where you're staying during your first night in the States.

After you have booked your travel details to the US, you can register your details through ESTA.

More Information on US Entry Requirements

This new ESTA system has been introduced in addition to the existing Visa Waiver Programme.

To avoid any disappointment when arriving in America, please read all these sections carefully to ensure you comply with US entry requirements:

Passports

British passport holders travelling to the USA (or via the USA) are required to have either individual machine-readable passports or biometric passports.

(If you need to check your passport we recommend you contact the UK Passport Office)

Families will be required to obtain individual passports for each traveller including all children.

Visa Waiver Programme (VWP)

If you have a machine readable or Biometric passport you should be able to qualify for travel (of up to 90 days) without a visa, under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP).

That is, provided no one in your party has ever been arrested (even if not convicted), or if suffering from a serious communicable disease (visit the US Embassy web site for details of all restrictions).

For passengers holding a non-British Passport, or, if you are unsure whether you qualify for travel under the VWP please consult the Identity & Passport Service or the US Embassy.

For travellers who qualify for travel under the VWP, important details on obtaining travel authorisation are outlined below.

Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA)

US Customs & Border Control have introduced an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA). The system is web based only and requires all passengers (including infants) travelling via or to the USA to apply for 'authority to travel' a minimum of 72 hours prior to travel. Effective from 12 January 2009, ESTA is compulsory. You may be denied boarding or refused entry to the US if you have not registered and obtained authorisation using ESTA.

To apply for this new travel authorisation, visit the ESTA web site.

It is very important that you complete your ESTA application using the exact address as displayed on the documentation you receive from your Airline/Operator.

(If you have booked a flight only or the address of your accommodation is confirmed on arrival, please use our resort office address as stated on your holiday invoice/tickets).

Your Airline or Tour Operator will be providing accommodation details for all passengers to the US Immigration authorities after you have departed to America. If there are any differences between the Tour Operator/Airline information compared to what you have written on your ESTA registration, then you may be denied entry into the USA. We recommend that you carry your ESTA approval with you when you travel. For additional information on travel to the US visit the US Embassy web site.

Please note that the ESTA system is up and running now, and is compulsory for all visitors travelling to any American destinations who will arrive at their American destination on or after 12th January 2009.

Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS)

Please be aware that Tour Operators and Airlines are required to provide details of the full address of your destination accommodation and country of residence and, from 2009, the name on your passport, your date of birth and passport number to the U.S authorities. This is in addition to the application you must make as part of the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) for authorisation to travel under ESTA (the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) - see previous sections 'Travel Authorisation (ESTA)' and 'Visa Waiver Programme'.

It is important the information collected by tour operators and airlines as part of APIS is the same as the information you have submitted under ESTA as any differences may delay or prevent your entry to the USA.

What to Pack

What we wear on holiday is so important - but how do you strike the balance between what you want and what you'll actually wear.

How to get there without spending your first day ironing and avoiding those "If only I'd brought..." moments? These tips should help without making you feel like you're planning a military operation!

Your Passport

It goes without saying that you need your passport. However, what would you do if you ran into trouble and lost it? Take a photocopy of your passport and keep it safe in your luggage somewhere in case your passport is lost/stolen, then you will have all your details to hand.

Alternatively email yourself essential information such as your passport number and insurance policy number just in case you need to access them quickly if you run into problems.

Spread Out

When packing for your holiday, if you are travelling with a partner or family and have more than one case, make sure that you mix the clothing in different cases, then if one of your cases is lost or delayed, everyone will at least have something to wear. Even if you are travelling on your own, try and pack at least one change of clothes in your hand luggage.

Good Guide

Invest in a good guide book to help you make the most of your time away, Thomas Cook have a wide range of guides in store and online. Whether you're planning a long-haul holiday, city break, regional tour or short-haul trip you'll find our guides are invaluable for all kinds of practical information on transport, sightseeing, eating out, history and culture.

Guide Books Get it Together

Put together a travel first aid kit - obviously the more remote the region you are visiting, the more comprehensive this will be. Even on a short-haul holiday it is worth taking a few plasters, a spray-on antiseptic, condoms etc. As well as remedies for indigestion, headaches, sore throats and tummy bugs which, even if only minor, can impact your holiday.

It's a Wrap

Pack your important clothes in plastic so that you won't need to iron them once you get there. Recycle the packaging that you get from the dry cleaners to wrap these items of clothing.

It takes a bit longer to pack but it really works and saves time waiting for hotel irons.

Travel Money

A convenient way to get travel money is to pre-order your foreign currency and travellers cheques online to be picked up in-store, at Manchester Airport or at Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is essential - you should buy this as soon as you have booked your holiday. Good travel insurance will cover you if for some reason you need to cancel as well as cover you for any sporting activities you want to take part in.

Make sure you check the small print for exclusions and be scrupulous about declaring any pre-existing medical conditions.

If you're planning to take a number of trips, annual travel insurance is better value than one-off cover.


As the travel experts, we understand your needs as a traveller and what you need from your travel insurance. With our comprehensive travel insurance you can relax while you're away, safe in the knowledge you'll be looked after.

Holiday Extras

Pre book your airport parking with us and you could save time and up to 40% off the cost.

Spread the cost of your holiday and avoid the queues at many of the world's best attractions by booking your attraction tickets and tours in advance.

Also available are travel vouchers and travel insurance.

Health Advice

Health facilities, hygiene and disease risks vary worldwide. You should take health advice about your specific needs as early as possible. This advice features general information, so more specific enquiries should be accessed via The Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice Unit for the most up-to-date information.

Vaccinations
It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the applicable vaccinations for your choice of destination and take the necessary precautions against bites from insects and animals. Always check with your GP for any recommended vaccinations prior to travel.

The Department of Health recommends Hepatitis A, Polio, Tetanus and Typhoid vaccinations when travelling to Cuba, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Goa, Jamaica, Maldives, Mexico, Morocco and Tunisia. Anti-malarial precautions are also essential when travelling to Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Goa.

Please seek advice from your doctor before travelling and please note there may be a fee for vaccinations.

Beat the Bites!
There are hundreds of ways to avoid those irritating insect bites - here are a couple of suggestions. Dampen a small cotton wool pad or tissue with hot water and add a few drops of lavender essential oil on to it. The lavender is great for relaxing and mosquitoes hate it! Vitamin B1 actually deters the little midges as it omits a smell they don't like and because humans can't smell it, it makes an ideal insect repellent. Start taking it 1-2 months before travel and hey presto - no mosquito bites!

Traveller's Tummy
It is a relatively common occurrence to suffer gastric illness when travelling abroad. There are many ways you can reduce the possibility of being affected such as: not eating undercooked food, avoiding ice drinks, ensuring you drink plenty of bottled water and avoid over exposure in the sun. In your travel medical kit, take some diarrhoea control tablets and electrolyte replacement powders for children with the runs.

Sunburn
Mild sunburn results in skin irritation and redness so can be very uncomfortable. The best treatment for sunburn is prevention - avoid sunbathing between 11am and 3pm. Apply waterproof sun cream that protects against UVA and UVB every 2 hours. Also use t-shirts and wide-brimmed hats to protect all the family.

Be Insured
The EHIC is the new E111 and can be used to cover any necessary medical treatment due to either an accident or illness within the European Economic Area (EEA). The EHIC entitles the holder to state-provided medical treatment within the country they are visiting and the service provided will be the same as received by a person covered by the country's 'insured' medical scheme. Be sure to apply for yours in plenty of time for your holiday. Apply online with the NHS.

For travel outside the EU make sure your travel insurance will cover any medical costs should anything happen.

Tickets

You will need your tickets at the airport (or station if travelling by Eurostar), so make sure that you have them available in your hand luggage. If you have an e-ticket remember to take a print-out with you - you may be refused travel without it. For any questions about this take a look at our essential information about tickets and holiday documentation.

When Will I Receive My Tickets?
Tickets will usually arrive seven to ten days before you travel. If you have booked within two weeks of your departure date, you will need to pick your tickets up at the airport this called Ticket on Departure.

What Does Ticket on Departure Mean?
If you have booked within two weeks of your departure date, you will need to pick your tickets up at the airport this is called Ticket on Departure.

How Do I Amend My Tickets?
You can call Customer Support on 0330 818 1234 and they will sort out the problem as soon as possible. Please be aware that you may be charged an admin fee to correct your tickets.

Calls may be recorded for training purposes. Calls cost standard U.K. local call rate from BT fixed lines (mobile and other providers' charges vary)

Can I Buy Tickets Less Than 2 Days in Advance? Yes, however not online. If you would like to travel on a flight within the next 2 days, please contact one of our Sales Centre Consultants on 0330 818 1234.

We'll arrange for you to collect your ticket at the airport or deliver to you by courier, where necessary.

Can I Book Air Passes, Stopovers and Around the World Tickets?

We have a wide range of highly competitive products available through our Sales Centre. For a quote, please call us on 0330 818 1234.

Amendments

After you have booked a holiday there may be reasons why you need to amend the number of people going, transfer arrangements, board basis etc, so we have some essential information here about how to amend your Oceans-Travel booking by calling 0330 818 1234.

At Oceans-Travel we know that there will be unforeseen circumstances that mean you have to change your booking. If you want to change your holiday arrangements in any way we will try to help you in whatever way we can. However we cannot guarantee that we will always be able to do this as changes are subject to availability at the time.

Where we can make a change, we will charge for any additional services, facilities, or other items changed, at the price which applies on the day the change is made. In addition, we will also apply charges for each person on the booking and for each item you want to change. Any booking discount you may have received at the time the original booking was made, may be altered or reduced whenever changes are made. If you have paid supplements for accommodation and the number of people in your accommodation changes, you may have to pay extra and may lose any free or reduced infant and child places or any free group places. And remember, any change to your departure date, airport, transport, destination, accommodation, or length of holiday, has to apply to all members of your booking.

How do I amend a booking?
Email us with a valid booking reference and detail what changes you require and we will try our best to help you make new arrangements subject to availability. W e will notify you of the charges if any.

Cancellations

We hope that once your holiday is booked there will be no need for you to cancel, but if you do change your mind or if unexpected circumstances arise, you still have the option to cancel your booking.

Even with the best of intentions and military-style planning, things can happen that put a holiday on the backburner.

Cancellation charges are determined by the tour operator who is providing your travel arrangements and will be contained within the booking conditions that are shown during the booking journey. Please refer to these for applicable charges.

Should you find that you need to cancel your holiday with Oceans-Holidays, The lead name on the booking must give written notice to cancel - this can include an email - and the charges shown below apply from the date that we receive the notice at our offices, or the travel agent activates the cancellation. In order to cover our expected losses from the cancellation of the booking there is a set scale of charges which must be paid by you if you or anyone travelling with you cancels. Also note the 'Exception' described below which may apply in addition to the scale of charges.

How do I cancel my booking?
The lead name on the booking must give notice to cancel in writing (this can include an email) and the charges will apply from the date we receive the notice at our offices.

Special Assistance

If you require special assistance due to reduced mobility (including a disability or a medical condition), please contact us to find out about the assistance the airline can provide you with.