Of course beyond the relevant print offs for the flight, and your passport, nothing's really essential, is it? Well despite our conscientiousness in making sure that we've cancelled the newspaper delivery and packed the mosquito repellant, it seems that many of us often forget one thing that truly is essential - and that's travel insurance.
In 2011, the Telegraph reported that four in ten holidays were uninsured, while earlier this year the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) stated that this has since risen to 24%. That's an awful lot of people without medical cover.
There are various possible reasons for the lessening uptake of travel cover. One reason that's been put forward is that the stringency of the rules surrounding selling it has meant fewer outlets offering it. ABTA's study also found that some people forego it in the belief that it's too expensive - and the number who cite expense has risen since 2011.
Another reason cited was the belief among some travellers that the European Health Insurance Card is equivalent to medical cover when in fact it only covers the basics and doesn't extend to repatriation costs. Incidentally, medical repatriation for those not covered isn't cheap - this BBC article from March 2013 reports that "air ambulances cost between £15,000 and £30,000 depending on the length of the flight". Amazingly, one of the other reasons given by people travelling uninsured was the mistaken belief that the UK government would pay for their treatment if they fell ill or had an accident.
One thing to remember regarding travel insurance is that when you get a quote online it's often on the assumption that you're registered with a GP - so make sure you know your small print before heading off.