British people make more than 66 million trips abroad each year. If you’re one of them, there’s a lot you can do before you go to make your trip or holiday a safe and healthy one.
What to do before you travel
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) travel advice section contains a wealth of essential information for UK citizens traveling abroad. The website includes advice on which countries not to travel to, which to take extra care in – and advice on individual countries. Their 'Know before you go' campaign urges travellers to get travel insurance, research their destination including local laws and customs, visit their GP at least six weeks before travelling overseas, and make copies of important travel documents. Leave these copies, your itinerary and your contact details with family and friends. The FCO also encourages you to use their LOCATE service to inform the local British embassy of your travel plans in case of emergency.
These are essential preparations for travel abroad. Also, get a good guidebook and get to know your destination. Ensure you have a valid passport that is in good condition, with at least six months before expiry and any necessary visas. Make a note of emergency numbers for your insurance and bank details when calling from abroad.
The FCO has a useful checklist for travellers.
Take enough money for your trip and some back-up funds such as travellers’ cheques and/or credit cards.
If you are travelling within the EU get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This will entitle you to free or low-cost treatment for medical problems.
When emergency strikes while travelling
If you get into difficulty overseas that can’t be sorted out through the local authorities, your insurance company may be able to help. If you need help from the British Consul, then the FCO’s 'What we can do to help' page gives information about what consular staff can, and cannot, do to help. Make a note of the British Consul’s contact details before travelling.
Remember that you will need details of any crime references from local police and/or health treatment from medical authorities to make an insurance claim on your return.
When you return from travelling
On return to the UK, contact your insurance company immediately to follow up any necessary claims.