Advice

We’re all going on a summer holiday: staying safe abroad

By Caragh Medlicott

Everyone loves a good holiday, but before you go off sailing into the sunset there are some things to consider to make sure you keep yourself safe and are prepared for any unexpected problems.

The majority of the stuff you need to arrange to keep yourself safe lies in the preparation. Make sure you have everything booked. Particularly if you are travelling around and will be staying in hostels it’s important to make sure you know where you are staying at each different place. Remember to research where you are going beforehand so you know what to expect, particularly if it’s somewhere far away which may have different customs.

A good guidebook can never do any harm, and one bought ahead of time on Amazon is likely to be a lot cheaper and possibly better quality -(read the reviews people!)- than one bought last minute at the airport.

It’s also worth considering buying a cheap phone before you go away, that way it doesn’t matter as much if you lose it. Plus if you’re on contract it means you can try and seek out a better deal on international calls on a pay as you go SIM, just remember to inform your friends and family or your new temporary number.

Another good idea is to try and save money beforehand so you can bring more money than you need just in case of emergencies. If you don’t want to get a travel card for your trip make sure you call your bank to check you can use your debit card abroad and to inform that it is you using it so they don’t cancel your card. If you decide to bring cash, never bring it all out with you and don’t keep it all in one place. Otherwise you really will be in trouble if it goes missing.

Before you go away, why not brush up on the local language? In general we Brits are terrible tourists who always expect everyone else to speak English. So why not take this opportunity to try something new? if you don’t have time to learn a lot of the language, make sure you at least know key words and phrases.

If your memory isn’t the best then bring a phrase book. If you have special requirements or allergies it’s particularly important that you can inform people of this. Last summer my vegetarian friend ended up ordering the slow-roasted lamb, it’s a funny story now but I think she was pretty hangry at the time.

Something that really is important to remember is to buy travel insurance. Yes, it’s a pain, but take it from someone who once to had to claim on their insurance, you’ll be pleased you did it when you don’t have to fork out £500 to replace your valuables. And on another note, don’t ever leave your stuff unattended on the beach. Even if your friend has been bitten by a fish. (In my defence her toe was turning purple!) If you’re going on holiday in Europe make sure you have your E111 card so you have access to free health care in the case of an accident. Though hopefully you wont need it!

Also don’t forget the little things- have you packed enough sun cream? Are there any vaccinations you need before going? First aid kit? Don’t forget your towels! I know, I know, I sound like your mum. But you will be grateful when you’re not bright red and drip-drying on the walk home from the beach.

It’s always a good idea to bring photocopies of your passport or any other important documents just in case they get lost. And always remember to keep these documents somewhere safe…like in a safe, for example. If you’re in a hostel or camping at a festival you can use a locker (do NOT lose the key)! In the case of a festival you are sometimes expected to reserve a locker online in advance so make sure you check this out before your trip.

It is also worth considering transport before the trip, how are you getting to the place you’re staying from the airport? If you are renting a car then remember to check out some tips on driving on the different side of the road or any other driving customs, which may be different. If you’ll be catching trains and buses look into whether these can be bought last minute or if they must be booked in advance.

In terms of staying safe when actually on holiday, just remember the obvious things. Don’t go off on your own in an area you don’t know, particularly at night. If you are travelling on your own then make sure someone at home knows your itinerary and calls you often to check you’re safe and well.

Avoid bringing valuables out with you and don’t leave them unattended. If you’re going somewhere warm then don’t forget to stay hydrated and out of the sun around midday. Again, I know it sounds boring but another of my friends got sun stroke when we were at the Benicassim festival in Spain and I can tell you it did not look fun…

Overall, there is no reason to be stressed so relax and have a nice time. Providing you have prepared properly your holiday should be anything but lovely. Remember, the sooner you can arrange things, the less stressful it will be nearer the time. Plus you wont be running around trying to sort things last minute. Have fun!

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