With the dark winter nights and cold mornings, many of us will be considering a holiday to leave the wild British weather behind. Whilst planning a trip is an exciting time, do you stop and consider all elements of safety relating to travelling? Whatever type of trip you decide to take; there are some things you should consider in advance.
Before you go
Wherever you’re going, make sure you get comprehensive travel and medical insurance before setting off. Shop around and make sure that your insurance is the right one for you. Think about any activities you may be doing, even spur of moment ones, and make sure you’re covered for these. Check the small print for any exclusions.
Your policy also needs to cover any medical costs, including an air ambulance. If you do not take out proper insurance, you may have to pay the costs of any emergency yourself, including expensive medical bills.
Visas and passports
Make sure that you apply for a passport in good time. You can get advice from the HM Passport Office website or call them on 0300 222 0000 (calls are charged at your network provider’s standard national rate).
Some countries have a requirement for a passport to have a certain amount of validity remaining on it from the date you enter the country. You can check each country’s requirements in the Entry requirements section the UK government travel advice, under ‘Passport validity’.
- Make a note of your passport number, date, expiry date and place of issue, consider taking a photocopy (keep separately in a safe place) and/or store online using a secure data storage site.
- Write the full details of your next of kin in your passport.
- Take a second means of photo-identification with you.
- Keep your passport in the hotel safe and carry a photocopy with you, unless local laws stipulate that you should carry the original.
- If your passport is lost or stolen overseas you can apply for a replacement British passport online while you’re overseas. You should also report your lost or stolen passport by cancelling it online as soon as possible to avoid fraud.
- If your travel is urgent you can apply for an Emergency Travel Document to continue your travel or return to the UK. This can be done online but you may be asked to attend an appointment at your nearest British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate after you apply.
- If your passport is damaged while you’re travelling, you can apply for a replacement British passport passport online while you are overseas.
Before you travel you’ll need to think about how much money and in what format you’ll need, and where you’re going to keep it safely. The following tips should help you when thinking about money on your travels:
- Budget before you go and try to stick to it. Think about how much you’ll need daily – such as food, accommodation and any additional activities – and then work that out for the number of days you’ll be away. It’s often better to over budget to allow for any unexpected events or emergencies.
- Check the validity, expiry dates and cash available on your credit or debit cards ahead of your trip – it’s good to know your spending limits before they run out.
- With a worldwide ATM network you can withdraw cash from cash machines in most places abroad, although pay attention to the machine prior to using it as it could have been tampered with.
- Inform your bank of which countries you are travelling to. They will be able to advise you whether you can use your debit/credit card in the countries you are visiting and any card usage charges that may apply. It will also reduce the chances of your card being blocked or declined.
- Ensure you have at least two forms of payments with you (cash, credit/debit cards, prepaid cards or travellers’ cheques) and keep them separate. Take at least two cards, making one your emergency reserve and make sure you know the PIN numbers for both debit and credit cards – keep the emergency card somewhere safe.
- Make a note of your credit / debit card details and the 24-hour emergency numbers and keep them separately.
- Have a return ticket, or enough money to buy one. If you don’t have a return ticket, many countries will refuse you entry unless you can prove you have enough money to buy one.
- Always have some change in the local currency for when you arrive in case you need to make a telephone call. It is also advisable to have some local currency in small bank notes to catch a taxi or purchase refreshments on arrival.
- When carrying money around with you, use a wallet for loose change and your day-to-day spending. Wear a secure money belt under clothing for your valuable documents and money.
- If you’re planning to be away for a long time, make sure you’ve made arrangements for any credit card bills to be paid, or your card may be stopped by your bank.
- If you want to, you can give someone the power of attorney to look after your financial affairs in the UK, while you’re away.
Make a visit to your GP as soon as possible before you depart and find out what immunisations you may need. You can also find information on recommended vaccinations on the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) country list. Take any prescribed medicine with you and keep it to hand.
- Make sure you have adequate supplies of any medicines that you normally take and pack it in your hand luggage It might be difficult to get further supplies of some medicines in some countries and in remote areas
- Check with the nearest embassy of the country you are going to (which may be based in London or another European city) that your medication will be legal in that country. Inhalers and other common prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines are banned in some countries.
- If you need to take prescription medication, carry a copy of your prescription and a note from your doctor. Always carry medicine in its original packaging
First aid kit
This is very important. You can get first aid kits to cover all eventualities and budgets. The type of kit you choose will depend on where and how you’re travelling. If you require any advice on this please contact us for further information.
Research the countries you are visiting
Carry out research into your destination before you go, including its laws, customs and language. This will help you avoid offending people or breaking local laws however unwittingly. A bit of local knowledge can go a long way to enhance your travel experience and earn you respect in the country you’re visiting:
- A good place to start is the local laws and customs section of the UK’s travel advice
- Learn some key phrases and words of the local language. This can make a huge difference to your trip and the reception you get and might help in an emergency situation.
- Purchase or download a good guidebook and read up on your destination. Your guidebook may also have the layout of the town or city you are visiting which can prove very useful.
While you’re away
As part of your planning, check the Safety and security section of the government’s travel advice for the latest information and advice on risks to be aware of, as well as tips on staying safe.
During your trip, you’re likely to meet lots of new people from all around the world. Remember to think about your own personal safety just as you would at home. Be wary of accepting drinks from strangers. If you’re travelling alone with someone new, tell friends and family your plans before you go and keep in regular contact.
Never leave your luggage unattended or with someone you don’t completely trust. Be aware of pickpockets who tend to operate in crowded areas and lock up your luggage with padlocks.
Be aware of drugs – these have been used in incidents of assault. Keep your wits about you. For advice on how to stay safe if you are a lone female traveller or a group of female travellers. We can offer further advice and information on female travel awareness.
Stay in touch
- Tell friends and family your plans before you go and keep in regular contact, especially if your plans change.
- Make a copy of your itinerary and other important documents, such as your passport, your insurance policy, tickets etc. Leave these with a friend or family member back home before you leave.
- Make sure you pass useful phone numbers, such as your insurance company 24-hour international emergency telephone number, hotel etc. to your family and friends.
- Check whether you’ll be able to use your UK mobile phone in the country you’re going to, or think about getting a local SIM card or phone when you arrive. This will help you keep in contact with people at home and make it easier for them to reach you.
- Don’t promise too much. Telling your family you’ll call home every day is unrealistic and will only cause them to worry when you don’t. If you are to be out of reach for a few days, let family and friends know where you’re heading to and with whom. Also let them know when you plan to be back in touch.
- Make sure that at least one person knows where you are and has all your essential details.
For any information or advice relating to travel safety and awareness, contact Blue Mountain Group who will be happy to assist you.