Brexit does not affect your EHICPlus policy

We want to reassure all our customers that our policy (EHICPlus or EHICPlus Expand) is not affected by the Brexit vote.

We can confirm that cover remains in place for emergency medical treatment in the EU as normal, including private facilities, provided that the admission has been authorised by the medical assistance company.

The EHIC card remains valid within the EU and our insurance offers cover in both private facilities as well as the EHIC state Facilities.

Tips for packing: Useful items to take with you

Experienced travellers know that the secret to a successful trip lies in the preparation.

Here are some ideas on essential items to take with you to save time and ensure that your holiday is spent in peace and relaxation.

Essential Documents and Medication
Your passport is obviously a crucial item, but every year a surprising number of people have their holiday plans disrupted by forgetting it, or failing to realise that it has expired. Check your passport expiry date when booking your trip, just to be sure!

It’s a good idea to take copies of important documents, and to take pictures of valuable items, with details and serial numbers written on the back so that if anything is lost or stolen, you can easily report its theft and claim on your travel insurance.

A hidden travel wallet or money wallet can be a sensible choice if you feel you might be at risk from theft.

Don’t forget to take any necessary medication, and be sure to stock up on your prescription medications in advance if necessary, although Europe has plenty of pharmacies and hospitals.

Useful over-the-counter medications to take are headache tablets, travel sickness tablets, indigestion tablets, plasters, antiseptic cream, insect bite cream, and also medication for upset stomachs, in case the food isn’t quite as good as you’d hoped for!

Electrical Accessories
Modern technology makes travelling so much easier than in the past. Take advantage of it and download useful apps onto your smartphone before you set off. There are train and flight schedule apps, hotel and restaurant apps to name but a few, so get the right ones for your destination.

The TripAdvisor app is very useful: it lets you download entire city guides, including maps and reviews of places to eat, so that you can view it without racking up expensive data charges on your phone.

Just before you get on the plane, turn data roaming off on your phone. This should stop your phone from using its data connection outside the UK (apart from when you’re connected to WiFi), which will keep your bills down.

Put your phone into flight mode when you’re not using it to make calls, to be double-sure it’s not still receiving emails or using data in other ways. Otherwise you could end up with a nasty surprise when your phone bill arrives!

Flight mode is also useful to save your battery, in case you won’t be able to charge the phone for a while.

A currency translator app is always useful when working out how much something costs in pounds. As a rough rule of thumb though, right now:

  • 10 euros is around £7.50
  • £10 is around 13 euros

A USB world travel adapter is vital if you are taking electrical items. It’s best to pack two adapters, to prevent arguments about who can charge their phone at any one time! An adapter for Europe isn’t the same as an adapter for the USA, even though both systems use two-pin plugs, so make sure you take the correct type!

Don’t forget chargers for mobile phones, cameras, and laptops. To prevent them from getting tangled in your bag, put each charger into a separate carrier bag.

If you don’t want to take too many chargers, an Amazon Kindle with an e-ink screen (as opposed to the type of screen you get on a mobile phone or a laptop computer) can last a very long time without being charged, so you can just charge it before you go away.

Travel in Comfort
Pack comfortable shoes for walking along cobbled and sometimes hilly streets, and pack for changeable weather. Researching the likely weather just before you set off can help guide you in what type of weather to pack for.

If you are going somewhere sunny, buy a good pair of sunglasses that will protect your eyes. (More information on sunglasses here.) You can also buy prescription swimming goggles.

It’s better to buy sunglasses before you travel, so that you can be confident in the level of protection offered, or you can arrange for prescription sunglasses if you prefer. Make sure you get a good sturdy case for them, so they don’t break in your bag. Don’t forget a good sun hat too, and suncream that is appropriate for your skin.

You might find a travel iron or a travel clothes steamer useful, especially if you are packing formal clothing such as a suit. These only cost around £20.

A laundry travel bag is useful for keeping used clothing separate, and especially handy for wet bathing costumes.

Make your journey and stay more comfortable with a two-in-one travel pillow. These convert from a horseshoe-shaped neck pillow to a more standard rectangular pillow.

It can be difficult to drift off in an unfamiliar room, but you can increase the chances of a good night’s sleep by taking good quality ear plugs and a sleeping mask.

So there you have it – hopefully a few new tips to help you pack for your next great adventure!

Sofia: undiscovered star of the Balkans

Bulgaria remains intriguingly off the beaten track, and a city break in its welcoming capital, Sofia, makes a fine introduction to this beautiful country.

Experience a fabulous collection of sights, ranging from ancient churches to stunning scenery – all without breaking the bank.

What to see in Sofia
Cathedral Saint Alexandar Nevski dominates the city. Despite its Byzantine appearance, it is only a century old, but has become Sofia’s symbol. It can hold 10,000 people, although the inside is less striking than the exterior.

Look for the Lord’s Prayer inscribed in golden letters around the main dome. Next door is St Sofia, another church, which dates back to the sixth century and would give its name to the city 800 years later.

For a change of pace, head for Vitosha Boulevard. Lively but unhurried, it is ideal for an evening meal – and there’s a great view of the often snow-capped Mt Vitosha, too.

In nearby Saborna Street is the National Institute of Archaeology, whose museum is not particularly large but is crammed with exquisite jewellery, gold and other relics from the era of the Thracian and Roman Empires. There is a small charge for entry.

Parks and gardens
Many people visit Borisova Gradina for its enormous communist monument – now an art installation – but it is relaxing simply to stroll among the trees.

Just outside the city is Vrana Palace, residence of ex-King Simeon, whose grounds, open to the public at weekends, boast a fine botanic collection. Lake Pancharevo, eight miles southeast of central Sofia, is popular for its wonderful views of the Lozen Mountains.

Where to stay
Bulgaria is inexpensive, so even luxury hotels are within reach. Notable is the Arena di Serdica, with the ruins of a Roman amphitheatre in its basement. In July, rooms cost around £80 a night.

For a little less, there’s the characterful Hotel Balkan in Sveta Nedelya Square, within walking distance of most major sights, which combines the atmosphere of classical Sofia with modern comforts such as free wifi.

When to go
Sofia is a warm city, but apart from occasional heatwaves it is not punishingly hot. July and August are the warmest months, with typical afternoons reaching temperatures of 27C (81F), falling to 15C (59F) at night.
This is also the sunniest time, averaging over 300 hours in July.

For cooler conditions, consider June or September, when daytime highs of 24C (75F) are usual.

Beach holidays in Galicia, Spain

Fancy a change from the bustling Costas for your next Spanish break? The best beaches in Spain are found in Galicia, the green, northwestern corner of the country.

Stunning beaches in a fascinating region
The coastline of Galicia is scattered with numerous inlets and bays known as rias, resulting in a multitude of spectacular sandy beaches.

The Rías Altas, or high estuaries, are backed by a rugged landscape with a Celtic feel, and the Rías Baixas, or low estuaries, are tranquil, lake-like waters divided by low areas of land called promontories which are covered in scented pine and eucalyptus trees.

When to go
Galicia is one of the wetter regions of Spain and while summer is the driest season, be prepared for the occasional shower. Daytime temperatures reach around 25C(77F), falling to 12C(54F) at night. The sea temperature rises to a comfortable 19C(66F) by mid summer.

June, July, August and September are popular months to visit Galicia, but resorts such as Viveiro can get busy during the Spanish school holidays.

Getting around
The best way to explore Galicia is by car, following signs to remote bays where you can stroll along the deserted sands or watch a pod of leaping dolphins.

At busier beaches, such as Corrubedo Bay, you will find a cafe and lifeguards on duty during peak season, but generally it is advisable to take picnic supplies with you, as many of the quieter beaches have no facilities.

Insider tip: keep your fuel tank topped up, as service stations can be quite a distance apart.

What’s on this summer?
Galicia has a distinct cultural identity with its own music and language.

Some notable fiestas include:

The Bonfires of San Juan, La Coruña
On the night of the 23rd of June, thousands of bonfires are lit on beaches to celebrate Midsummer Night, with a traditional feast of sardines and potatoes.

Festival Celta de Ortigueira 
A folk music fiesta, from the 14th of July, in a stunning location right on the beach.

Albariño Wine Festival
The 3rd of August sees a celebration of locally produced wine and food at the Albariño Wine Festival, Cambados in the Arousa estuary.

Villas and self-catering apartments are good value, costing from around 150 pounds per person per week. A stay in a Parador – a well-appointed hotel located in a historic building – will cost around 75 euros a night.

Getting there 
Take your car: Brittany Ferries run regularly from Portsmouth and Plymouth to Santander.
By air: Ryanair flies direct from Stansted to Santiago de Compostela.