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When travelling or holidaying abroad most of us know the basic safety precautions, however there are many more serious issues which people tend not to think about until they themselves or someone they know find themselves in a tricky position abroad. In this blog, we intend to list those issues and offer advice.
It may sound obvious, but many people do not think about this until they face a medical emergency. This can be especially frightening if no one around you speaks English, or understands what you need. 112 is the international number to contact emergency help, but some countries also have local numbers, which you should be aware of when you travel.
If you do face a medical emergency you should always contact your travel insurer as soon as possible, because they will be able to offer help, support and advice.
Most travel insurance claims arise from stolen, damaged or lost possessions; never leave your possessions unattended and beware of pickpockets, always keep important documents and cash locked in a safe.
If you need to carry your passport a money belt may not be the fashionable choice, but it is the best way to keep your passport and money safe while you’re out and about, wear it under your clothes to avoid notice. It is also a good idea to carry a small extra wallet or purse with change, to avoid flashing your cash. Also avoid wearing expensive jewellery, because this may attract unwanted attention.
Always check local laws and customs before you travel. You could find yourself in serious trouble for something that would not be illegal or simply frowned upon in another country.
Sometimes hostels and hospitals will ask to see or hold your passport, but always remember never to give possession of your passport to anyone. Around the world some hospitals will hold a passport until a patient has paid their medical bills, basically holding the passport to ransom and causing a lot of problems for the traveller. In your passport it actually states that it is your property, and should only be in your possession.
If you break custom’s regulations, even unknowingly, you could still find yourself in a lot of trouble. Make sure you have declared everything and anything they ask, and always check their rules before you travel.
For example, in some countries it is illegal to carry natural products such as shells, coral and some types of wood (e.g. souvenirs).
Food poisoning and stomach upsets are really common complaints amongst travellers, so always be really careful about what you eat and drink abroad. If you do become severely unwell, alert your travel insurer and seek medical help.
Again, it may seem obvious but many people fail to properly prepare for a different climate. Especially if you’re heading somewhere hot, make sure you wear sun protection of at least factor 25, carry a sun hat, and sunglasses to protect against UV, take regular breaks in the shade and make sure you stay hydrated.
Be aware that many travel insurers will not cover you to cancel your trip, or to cut it short because of a relative with a pre-existing medical condition.
Always check the FCDO website before you travel, to make sure your chosen location is safe and open for tourists. Insurers will not cover people who travel against FCDO advice.
This can happen for multiple reasons, perhaps your flight has been cancelled due to adverse weather, or maybe your airline has gone bust. In either situation it falls to the airline or the aviation/travel authorities to get you home. Your travel insurer will be able to offer help and advice in this situation.
Each country has varying rules about what you are allowed to bring into their country, if you are travelling between European countries the rules are usually less strict than if you travel further afield.
Nevertheless, customs regulations can be extremely strict, and if you are caught with a banned item or substance, you could face a hefty fine, arrest and even imprisonment.
Before you depart, do some research or check with the airline to make sure, but to be safe, do not travel with these items;
The airport usually marks the beginning, and end of any trip – unfortunately these parts tend to be the most stressful and annoying.
Airport delays are getting longer, and their prices are getting more expensive, meaning that the dreaded airport experience is only set to get worse. Below are our top tips for surviving the airport;
Luggage raises the most uncertainty among passengers, and also causes delays, fines and upset. What is allowed is hand luggage? What weight allowance is allowed? How do I transport valuables safely? How can I make sure my luggage arrives safely at my destination?
1) You should not pack anything into your hand luggage which could cause harm or alarm to fellow passengers, for example; razor blades, knives and pen knives, scissors, needles, bats, cutlery, toy or fake guns. Liquids over 100ml are also not allowed. Check your airport’s or airline’s website for more information.
2) Weight and size restrictions can be found on the airline’s website, and are usually displayed when you are booking the flight. Weight your luggage on your scales before you leave for the airport, to avoid any nasty fines.
3) Laptops should always be carried in your hand luggage – never put them in your case. It doesn’t matter how much padding you put in, they are extremely likely to be damaged. Always leave valuables at home if possible, but if you must bring them, keep them with you at all times.
4) Always padlock your case, and put a label with your contact details on the outside, and a duplicate copy in the pocket of your suitcase (in case the outer one falls off). Many cases look the same, so put something distinguishing on yours to stop someone else picking it up by accident – tying a colorful scarf or tie around the handle is always a good idea.
Most airlines now offer the option to check in online, if you can, doing this before you arrive at the airport could save you some time. All you will need to do is drop off your bags at the appropriate desk.
Most airlines open check in desks two hours before the set departure time of the flight, so to be safe, always aim to get to the airport two hours before your flight is due to leave. Although this does mean you could be sitting around for a while, it also gives you a cushion if you get stuck in unexpected traffic, or forget something. Airlines will usually be unsympathetic if you are late; it is your job to get there on time.
Parking at the airport can be extremely expensive, look up deals on the internet or research alternative modes of transport, for example a taxi or the train.
Security always seems to be the slowest part of the journey through the airport. You can speed up the process by being prepared. Make sure you remove your belt, the contents of your pockets, and your laptop from your bag, and then place everything in the trays provided.
Remember that any liquids must be removed from your hand luggage, put in a transparent bag (available at security) and put in the tray.
Pay attention, if they ask you to remove your shoes, or walk through the scanner again, make sure you do so quickly. Collect your possessions and go to the designated area provided to put everything back.
Unfortunately, if your flight is delayed, there is not much you can do;
1) Ask a member of staff if they can give you any further information
2) keep an eye on the departures screen
3) Keep calm
That is about it. If your flight is delayed, why not pamper yourself and invest in a one day pass to the departures lounge? You will get comfortable seating, peace and quiet, snacks, newspapers and the lounge assistants will update you about the status of your flight.
Keep checking the departures screen and listening for announcements, otherwise you could delay the flight.
If your luggage does go missing, alert airport staff and they will direct you to a desk to lodge the loss. Then call your travel insurance company, and they can advise you on what to do next.
Make sure you have planned transport from the airport to your accommodation. For example if the hotel are sending transport to pick you up, where are you meeting them? Do you need to show them anything? If you plan to travel by taxi, make sure you have currency ready.
Have a great trip!
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