Short breaks abroad can bring up unwanted surprises, so you should always arrange adequate medical and travel insurance before travelling. Just because you are going away for 2 days or just over to Europe, won’t mean you are immune from risks.
Health first. If travelling within the European Union, make sure you pack a completed E111 form: this entitles you to free or reduced cost emergency medical treatment within the European Union. Forgetting it could prove to be an expensive oversight. Remember that E111 cover is not a substitute for travel insurance.
Online bookers should ensure they have a record of all relevant booking reference numbers to avoid disappointment. Make sure your travel organiser can provide evidence of security for refunds and repatriation in the event of insolvency. There are various schemes such as ATOL, ABTA, AITO, ABTOT or IATA.
Remember to check that your passport is valid for a minimum of 6 months from the date of your return, is machine-readable if you are visiting the USA under the Visa Waiver Programme, and that you have a valid visa where necessary - otherwise your break could be shorter than you expected. Fill in your ‘Next of Kin’ details and leave a photocopy of your passport and contact details with a reliable friend or relative in the UK.
Travel Advice for your destination is available from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website. It contains useful information on the dangers to watch out for, safer travel and local laws. Visit FCO Travel Advice or call 0870 606 0290.
Beware of pick pockets, muggers and bag snatchers by being vigilant at all times. You should also be aware of the heightened threat of terrorism in some parts of the world.
Read up on your destination before travelling. It will hone your knowledge of local laws and customs, therefore helping to ensure a trouble-free trip.
Ensure you take adequate back-up funds (credit or ATM cards, travellers’ cheques) for every eventuality.
Avoid getting involved with drugs abroad and know your limit when it comes to alcohol. Impaired judgement can not only lead to accidents but can increase the risk of you becoming a victim of crime.
Keep the contact details of the nearest British Consulate with you; they could prove invaluable in times of trouble.
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