Holiday Safety

Picture of rubber ring and swimming pool
By Alex Burden, Student Blog

8 July 2016

Whether you enjoy ‘staycationing’, exploring undiscovered regions, or being pampered with sun, sea, sand and unlimited food, you will want to do it in the safest way possible. Avoid the dodgy tummy, ditch the bank charges and relax with full policy cover!

Food 

Be cautious about iced in drinks, buffet food and some exotic dishes: people end up seriously ill on holiday through poisoning and consumption of food contaminated with transmissible diseases or infections such as E-coli. It is often carried through contaminated water supplies (freezing doesn’t destroy all bacteria), or from workers handling the dishes. Not even Michelin-starred restaurants are infallible.

Perishable foods should be eaten within two hours if they’re out on a buffet and protected from passing insects and wildlife. If you’re the last to the table, play it safe with your food selections. That slightly pink chicken that went cold 40 minutes ago is not worth the risk.

Financial

Change money before you go: unless you’re fine with bank charges, potentially lower rates, a lack of exchange bureaus, and an inability to purchase a simple water when you get off the plane / train / or automobile.

You don’t have to take wads of cash – just enough to see you through a few days with the option to purchase more. Use a trusted bureau, travel agent, bank or broker. If you use any bureau at major ports or airports, you’ll find that your money doesn’t travel as far – for best rates go nearer to home.

If you are travelling to countries that do not have an existing NHS or similar, you could end up spending thousands.

Some cash machines will charge you money for withdrawals, so read up in advance or speak to your bank at home to confirm the best approach. Transferwise have produced this article on the hidden fees and what those conversion rates mean. Chat with your bank or credit card provider to check their own rates before you use the card abroad – they will be able to advise you on how to get the most out of your cash.

Be aware of people trying to distract you while using a cash machine. If you are a solo traveller, it might be safer to withdraw money from within a bank rather than outside. There are several tips you can use to stay safe and keep your cash under wraps.

You should also be aware of machines that have been tampered with – check out This is Money’s guide to identifying skimmers, pinhole cameras and other lurking dangers near the keypad.

Barclays have also produced this handy guide on how to avoid card fraud.

Insurance

No-one really needs insurance. Until they do, and then they regret not having it. In 2015, the average holiday cancellation fee was £800 while medical expense claims averaged at £1,200; compare this with the cost of an average policy priced at £33.

If you’re not amenable to the idea of a monthly fee, investigate one-off trip options. Especially if you are travelling to countries that do not have an existing NHS or similar; you could end up spending thousands, or be unable to leave the country after an accident.

If you haven’t already, sign up for a European Health Card (EHIC) [yes, they still work]. You’ll need this to cover medical treatment in a European country that is signed up with the scheme.

Find your consulate

For trips off the beaten track, it’s a great idea to do a little research into where your consulate is based. Should there be any emergencies that insurance, family or friends cannot sort, such as lost passports, war breaking out, or alien invasion (the latter is less likely), your consulate will come in handy.  

General safety

  • Avoid distraction techniques in the street – they might be pick-pocketing.
  • Lock your luggage with an approved airport lock – otherwise the airport staff may just cut it off and leave your valuables vulnerable.
  • Keep digital accessories to a minimum ie conceal your phone, camera, or camcorder when travelling about.
  • Avoid demonstrations or marches. You do not want to get caught up in the fallout from a protest – the local police may not treat you in a way that you are accustomed to.
  • Print an itinerary for family and friends who will not be accompanying you – it’s better that they know where you are should any issues arise.
  • UK Government Foreign Travel Advice – a run-down of potentially dangerous situations in each country of the world. Handy for travellers all over the world.

Topics

  • CA Student blog

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