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Travel Aware - Be aware of your surroundings

Travel safe. Travel smart. Travel Aware.

Have you heard of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office? It's a department of the British government. Part of the reason the FCDO exists is to keep you safe while you're on holiday. After all, your holiday should be memorable for all the right reasons, shouldn't it? Precisely. The FCDO's message is that a few simple precautions will go a long way to helping you enjoy the safe, stress-free and happy holiday that you are hoping for.

Here's a quick summary of their advice.

Where in the world...?

Different countries have different cultures. That's part of what makes travelling so fascinating. But it's important to remember that different countries have different laws and customs too. Here to help you avoid any cultural faux pas (or worse) on holiday is the FCDO's official travel advice for more than 220 countries and territories. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, get the A to Z of staying safe. Take a look.

Travel Aware - Check you are appropriately covered

Get a decent travel insurance policy

Travel insurance is a must if you want to protect your savings from unexpected mishaps on holiday - such as replacement passports, trip cancellation or foreign medical bills, which can stretch into tens of thousands of pounds.

Travelling with a medical condition? Failing to tell your insurer could invalidate your entire policy, which would be the same as travelling without insurance. Unfortunately many insurers can dramatically increase their premium once you declare a condition. Here at Travel Insurance 4 Medical we believe in providing cover for medical conditions at a price that's fair. Get a quote online or call us on 0345 90 80 121.

If you - or someone in your group - is travelling with mental health needs, you can get detailed travel advice with the FCDO's new guide. It covers holiday preparation, factors that can impact mental health and where you can go for help if something goes wrong. Take a look at the guide here.

Coronavirus travel advice

As the world tackles the challenge of COVID-19, we have seen that travel advice for certain countries can change quickly. It's also worth remembering that different counties have different rules and regulations for managing COVID-19. You can stay up to speed with the latest coronavirus-related advice from the FCDO on the government's dedicated webpage.

Will you be driving while abroad?

There's a lot of freedom to be found on four wheels - whether you are hiring a car or taking your own. But it does give you a few extra things to think about in terms of holiday preparation. Learn the rules of the road for the country you are visiting with the AA or RAC. Visiting a non-EU country? You may need an International Driving Permit. It only costs a few pounds and you can apply with the Post Office.

Simple tips for staying safe on holiday

Below is a selection of the FCDO's advice for staying safe and avoiding mishaps on holiday. As you will see, it really is the little things that can make all the difference. You can 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. Make sure it 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 by selecting 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 ready for your holiday.
  • Double check the immigration process of the country you are visiting. Make sure you have all necessary travel documents, visas and a valid passport. Some countries will only allow you to enter if you have a minimum of six months left on your passport before it expires.
  • Make sure the contact form at the back of your passport is complete, with details of your next of kin or someone who can be contacted in an emergency.
  • Make copies of important travel documents - such as your passport ID page, your visas and your travel insurance details. Leave one set of copies with a friend or relative at home and take another set with you. Alternatively store scans of your travel documents online using a cloud storage service such as Dropbox.
  • Tell a friend or relative at home where you are going and when you are due to return. Ensure they have a way to contact you in an emergency.
  • Save important telephone numbers in your mobile phone or write them down. Note the numbers for the local emergency services, your travel insurer and your nearest British Embassy.
  • Make sure you have easy access to enough money to cover your holiday spending as well as additional emergency funds.

Read more essential travel advice

While you're away

  • In some countries it's mandatory for British nationals to carry their passport at all times. In others it's best to keep your passport stored safely. Find out what's necessary in the country you are visiting on the FCDO website.
  • Holidays are all about letting your hair down. But don't take it too far. Even minor disturbances can be punished severely in some countries. Meanwhile drinking excessive alcohol is likely to invalidate your travel insurance.

Stay in the loop

We live in a world where things can change fast. For the latest official travel alerts from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, it's well worth giving them a follow on social media:

Help is always there when you need it

The familiarity of home can suddenly feel like a long, long way away if something goes wrong while you're on holiday. But it's important to stay calm and remember that, as a British national, you are never alone. The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office has embassies, high commissions and consulates in nearly every country across the world. They can help you with all manner of problems. And with Travel Insurance 4 Medical, you also have access to a 24/7 Medical Emergency Service.

Who can the FCDO help?

The FCDO can provide support to 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

How can the FCDO help?

The FCDO can:

  • Issue replacement passports if yours is lost or stolen
  • Provide information about transferring funds
  • Give appropriate help if you have been the victim of rape, assault or other crime, or if you are in hospital
  • Help people with mental illness
  • Give details of reliable local lawyers, doctors, interpreters and funeral directors
  • Contact you within 24 hours of being told that you have been detained
  • Make special arrangements for your safety in cases of terrorism, civil disturbance or natural disasters

Save the details of your nearest British embassy in your phone - or write them down and take them away with you. Travelling amid uncertain local conditions or visiting somewhere remote? Register with your nearest British embassy.