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Seasons in the sun - 06/07/2009

Tips and advice for a hassle-free holiday in Europe.

With the holiday season here, many are preparing their out-of-office messages and heading abroad for a break. Whether hiking the Carpathians, island-hopping in the Mediterranean or enjoying Europe’s many cultural and architectural attractions, it's important to know your rights and remember the right documents to keep the trip as trouble-free and enjoyable as possible.

Bags packed and ready to go? Don’t forget your ID card. Although there are no border controls within the EU (except when travelling to the UK, Ireland, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria), you still need an ID card or passport for air travel and simply to prove your identity – for hotel reservations, for example.

Cats, dogs and even ferrets also need a pet passport when travelling abroad – issued by a vet and proving the animal has been vaccinated against rabies. If Malta, Ireland, the UK, Finland or Sweden is your destination, your pet will also require treatment against ticks and tapeworms.

Getting to and from your holiday destination can be a little stressful: flights get cancelled or delayed, connecting transport missed and baggage damaged. But as a passenger, you have rights and may be entitled to compensation. Recent EU laws have also made it easier to compare flight prices – advertised prices must now include all taxes, fees and surcharges.

Mobile phones help us keep in touch with those at home while away, and in some cases can be a lifeline. High roaming prices had been a strong deterrent to calling from abroad, but new rules have seen them capped at €0.43 a minute for calls made abroad within the EU and at €0.19 for calls received. Sending a text message now costs no more than €0.11.

Finally, it's useful to know that wherever you are in the EU, you only need to remember a single emergency number - 112. It can be called for free from any EU country and from any kind of telephone, fixed or mobile.

More on travelling in Europe

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