Going on holiday is an exciting time; one where you can look forward to relaxing and letting go of the stresses of day-to-day life. While taking time out is essential in today’s fast-paced world, it’s also important to stay switched on and vigilant when it comes to your safety and your health – particularly if you are going abroad.
Whether you’ve visited your destination before or not, making sure you’re prepared can really help if anything goes wrong. Being stuck in an unusual country can make things a lot harder if there is an emergency, or if something goes wrong, so in this week’s article, we’ve put together our top tips for staying safe and healthy abroad. Just a small amount of preparation and awareness can make all the difference, and will help you to avoid situations which could ruin your holiday. Check out our essential holiday safety tips below.
Do your research
All of us love to research the place we plan to visit on holiday, and it can be really tempting to look at the fun things to do, or check out pictures of your hotel, for instance. However, it’s also important to look at the realities of your destination – are there areas popular with pick pockets? Will certain innocent gestures be deemed offensive in that country? What is a fair price to pay for a taxi ride? How can you tell if a taxi is legitimate? Knowing these little details can be invaluable when you arrive and can help you to ensure you have a drama-free holiday.
Divide your spending money
When dealing with foreign currency, you should always divide up your spending money into different bags – just in case. For instance, you could carry some money in a secure travel belt; have some in your carry-on luggage, and more in your suitcase. That way, if you are the victim of theft or your bag is lost, you’ll still have some money to help you along your way. Travel money is an important thing to have on you, even if you have a card which is suitable for use abroad. Not all places at your destination will accept card payments and cash is always handy for taxis, tips and street vendors.
Take plenty of sun protection
Whether you’re going abroad to soak up the sun, go skiing or check out a new city it’s always a good idea to carry plenty of sunscreen with you. The sun’s UV rays are stronger the closer to the equator you get, and you can also experience bad sunburn at altitude, where the air is thinner. It’s easy to get caught out and burn when you least expect it – even in what may seem like poor weather conditions. For those going on holiday in order to get a great tan – remember to drink plenty of water, use some level of sun cream and give your skin a break during the hottest part of the day.
Familiarise yourself with emergency procedures
Do you know what number to call in case of emergency at your destination? If you are a victim of crime, do you know where to report it? If you become ill or get injured, do you know where to go for help? These are all essential things to know, yet few people look into this before they go. Of course, it’s not nice to consider these scenarios, and some may feel this kind of thing is tempting fate. However, if something does go wrong and you don’t know what to do the consequences could be a lot worse. You can check out travel advice for your particular destination on the government website.
Consider taking a different phone
Rather than take your expensive and essential gadgets with you, why not take a cheaper phone with a SIM which allows you to make international calls and texts? There are many reasons why this is a popular habit with seasoned travellers:
- International SIMs can mean calling home is much cheaper than your current provider
- You don’t have to worry about high roaming charges or unexpected bills when you get home
- If your travel phone is stolen, it won’t be as bad of a loss
- If you’re going skiing, going to the beach, or planning to do more physical activities, it won’t matter as much if your cheap travel phone is damaged
Basic smartphones – particularly second hand, refurbished models – tend to be very reasonably priced and could save you a lot of hassle should something happen.
Know where to go for help
Take an hour or so when you arrive to familiarise yourself with where you’re staying. Check where the nearest pharmacy is and when it is open, know where the local hospital is located, and make sure you carry the address of your country’s embassy with you, just in case. Get to know the staff where you are staying, so that you know who to call upon if you have any problems or questions.
Divide your medication
If you are taking any type of medication, it’s very important that you take more than enough for your trip. Pack any absolutely essential medications as you would your travel money – split them into two or more bags so that you always have some, even if a bag is lost or stolen. Where possible, bring a copy of your prescription (and a doctor’s note, if you feel you need one) so that you’re able to source replacement medication at your destination.
Be on the lookout for scams
Most tourist areas have their fair share of pick pockets and scammers, all looking to take advantage of visitors. Thankfully, police presence is often higher in places with high tourist volume, but it’s not always an effective deterrent. Check online before you go to get an idea of the types of scams to look out for in the country you’re going to. Some can be very sophisticated and convincing, so arming yourself with the facts before you leave can help you to avoid problems.
Learn a bit of the language
Finally, learn a bit of the local language, so that you can ask for the things you need. Better still, download an app or take a phrase book with you in addition, so that you can look up what you need on the spot. Not being able to communicate a problem can be one of the most frustrating things, not to mention it can prevent you from getting the help you need. It’s unlikely anything terrible will happen to you on your holiday, but being prepared can certainly turn a big problem into a small one.
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