Travel safe, travel smart
Holidays are for making memories with your nearest and dearest. But, of course, you want to make the right kind of holiday memories: happy ones. That's where the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) comes in. The FCDO is the government department in charge of helping British nationals stay safe while visiting a different country.
And the FCDO has a message for you. The simplest thing you can do to enjoy a stress-free holiday is to prepare wisely. Just ten minutes of reading before you leave can go a long way to helping you avoid unnecessary disruptions while you're gone, giving you the knowledge you need to travel in confidence. Sounds good?
Here's a quick summary of the FCDO's travel advice.
Know your destination
Sun, sea and sand is great. But one of the best things about travelling is exploring different cultures. Of course, with that comes different laws and customs - which can sometimes be very different from what you're used to in the UK. To help you avoid getting into hot water on holiday, it's a good idea to brush up on your destination before you leave. For advice you can count on, the FCDO maintain up-to-date guidance for more than 220 countries and territories. From Spain to the South Sandwich Islands, find the need-to-knows for your destination right here.
Get a decent travel insurance policy
Going on holiday can be expensive. The last thing you want is to put your savings at risk by travelling without insurance. Unexpected mishaps such as lost passports, stolen luggage and missed flights can be costly. Meanwhile if you are unfortunate enough to require medical treatment while you're abroad, the bill could easily stretch into tens of thousands of pounds.
That's why the FCDO recommend getting a good travel insurance policy. Here at Travel Insurance Saver we make it easy to choose a policy based on your travel plans. So you get all the cover you need, without paying for cover that you don't. You can get a quote online. Or call us on 0345 812 0047.
Regardless of who you choose to insure with, remember to declare any medical conditions that you are living with. Failure to do so could invalidate your cover in the event of a claim. We offer travel insurance for hundreds of medical conditions at a price that's fair. Finally, if you or someone in your group is travelling with mental health needs, the FCDO has a guide to help make sure your travels run smoothly. Take a look.
Coronavirus travel advice
While the world continues to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, the travel advice for certain destinations can change quickly. It can feel like too much to stay on top of. But you can keep up to speed with the latest coronavirus-related advice from the FCDO on the government's dedicated webpage.
Are you going to be driving abroad?
You can see more and go further when you swap two feet for four wheels. But whether you are hiring a car or taking your own, there are some important things to consider if you want to drive while you're abroad. Not least the rules of the road. You can find the motoring knowledge you need for the country you are visiting with the AA or RAC. Also note that if you are planning on driving in a non-EU country, you may need an International Driving Permit. You can apply for one via the Post Office for just a few pounds.
Travel Insurance Saver give you the green light to drive abroad as standard on the policy. However you must make sure that you have all the necessary qualifications and documentation. And if you are driving a moped or motorcycle, you must wear a helmet - whether the local law states that you should or not.
Simple tips for staying safe on holiday
Now we have covered some specifics, let's look at some of the FCDO's general advice for staying safe on holiday. Following a few basics really can make the world of difference to your holiday experience. Take a look at the FCDO's full travel checklist here.
Before you leave:
- Take out appropriate travel insurance once you have booked your holiday. The sooner the better so you are covered against the cost of unexpected cancellation. Make sure your policy covers you for any medical conditions as well as any sports/activities you plan to enjoy.
- Check whether you need any vaccinations for the country you are visiting. Just find your destination on the NHS fitfortravel website or by using Travel Health Pro, which also has information on sun protection. If necessary visit a travel clinic or GP six weeks before your departure date to make sure you are fit and healthy for your holiday.
- Double check the immigration process for the country you are visiting. Make sure you have all necessary travel documents, visas and a valid passport. And be aware that some countries will only allow you to enter if you have at least six months left on your passport before it expires.
- Make sure the contact fields at the back of your passport are complete, with details of your next of kin.
- Make copies of important travel documents - such as your passport ID page, your visas and your travel insurance details. It's a good idea to leave one set of copies with a friend or relative at home and take another set with you. Or store scans of your key travel documents online using a cloud storage service like Dropbox.
- Tell a friend or relative at home where you are going and when you are due to return - and make sure they have a way to contact you in an emergency.
- Save important telephone numbers in your mobile phone or write them down somewhere safe. Key numbers include the local emergency services, your travel insurer and your nearest British Embassy.
- Create a holiday spending budget and only carry the money you need. Make sure you have easy access to additional funds in the event of something unexpected.
While you're away:
- Find out whether you need to carry your passport while you're exploring the local sights and sounds. In some countries it's a legal requirement. In others it's best to keep your passport stored safely in the place you're staying. The FCDO website will set your straight on what's best for the country you are visiting.
- Respect your surroundings and the people who live there. Yes, it's important to let your hair down and relax on holiday. But even minor disturbances can be punished severely in some countries. Also note that excessive alcohol consumption is likely to invalidate your travel insurance.
Help is near when you need it
When something unexpected happens on holiday, the familiarity of home can suddenly feel a very long way away. But the important thing is to try to stay calm. The FCDO has embassies, high commissions and consulates in nearly every country of the world - and they can help you with all manner of problems. On top of that, when you insure with Travel Insurance Saver you have access an English-speaking emergency medical assistance service that's available 24/7.
Who can the FCDO help?
The FCDO is there to support people outside the UK who are:
- British nationals
- Dual British nationals (in certain circumstances)
- European Commonwealth nationals whose country does not have a local mission, where the FCDO has agreed to help their nationals
What can the FCDO do to help you?
There are many ways the FCDO can help you - such as:
- Issuing replacement passports if yours is lost or stolen
- Sharing information about transferring funds
- Giving appropriate assistance if you have been the victim of a crime or are in hospital
- Helping people with mental illness
- Providing details of reliable local lawyers, doctors, interpreters and funeral directors
- Assisting when you have been detained by local authorities
- Making arrangements for your safety in cases of terrorism, civil disturbance or natural disasters
It's a good idea to save the details of your nearest British embassy in your phone - or write them down and take them away with you. And if you are travelling amid uncertain local conditions or visiting somewhere remote, register with your nearest British embassy.
We live in a connected world where things can change fast. Stay up to speed with the latest official travel alerts from the FCDO on social media: