European Christmas markets travel checklist

25 November 2014

Tips to help you prepare for a trip to the European Christmas markets.

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With around 100 Christmas markets in Germany alone, and lots in countries such as France, Belgium and Italy, many people will be heading abroad over the next few weeks to get into the festive mood and to buy gifts for family and friends.

But if you are planning on going to mainland Europe's Christmas markets, even just for a short trip to indulge in a little retail therapy while enjoying a glass of hot gluhwein and the sound of carol singers, you can’t afford to cut corners on travel cover.

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Here is an essential checklist for when you travel to European Christmas markets:

Get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

First off, make sure you’ve got a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

This will entitle you to the same medical treatment as a national of that European country either for free, or at a reduced cost.

The card is free and is valid for five years; visit this page on the NHS website to find out more.

But don’t rely on an EHIC alone

While an EHIC can prove very useful when travelling in the EU, you must not see this card as a replacement for travel insurance.

The level of benefit provided depends on the country you’re visiting, and may not cover you for all treatment costs and services which are usually free through the NHS.

Also note that an EHIC will not cover your for repatriation, loss of possessions or airline failure.

For these reasons, it’s vital that you get a comprehensive travel policy in place as well; having both will give you complete peace of mind.

How to choose a travel insurance policy

When choosing cover, never buy on price alone, as cheap policies may have a high excess or be riddled with exclusions.

The key is to look carefully at the features offered and the service that comes with it.

What level of travel insurance cover do you need?

As a guide, you should look for a policy offering at least £2 million of medical cover for Europe, £1million personal liability, enough cancellation to cover the total cost of your holiday, up to £2,500 for lost, stolen or damaged baggage, and £250 for cash.

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Seven more travel insurance tips for your trip:

1. Check if the policy offers cover for pre-existing medical conditions.

2. See if there is an upper age limit.

3. Note that a good policy will offer cover for “end supplier failure”. This will protect your should you book your own trip, rather than a package trip that is ATOL-protected.

4. If you’re buying cover specifically for your trip to the European Christmas markets, consider a “Europe-only” policy, as this will be cheaper than a worldwide policy.

5. If you are likely to go abroad more than once a year, think about buying an annual policy, as this should cost less than several single-trip policies.

6. Remove any features on your travel policy that are duplicated on your home cover. For example, items such as phones, cameras and tablets may already be covered under “personal possessions away from home”.

7. If you’re travelling as a couple, see if there are discounts for booking together.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.