The foreign holiday, always the highlight of the year, is a time to experience a different culture and climate, and while we aim to get the most out of it, there are some important things to consider before making a booking. Here are some tips to help make the holiday one to be remembered, for all the right reasons.
- Cover yourself for any eventuality – This means comprehensive insurance that covers the following,
- Any pre-existing medical conditions
- Medical and repatriation expenses
- Cancellation or curtailment
- Personal belongings
- Personal liability
Medical travel insurance is essential, as your package holiday insurance only covers you for specific situations, and anything outside their direct control, they cannot be held liable for. If, for example, a person were to take a water skiing trip and injured themselves in the process, the tour operator would not be liable, unless the said water skiing was provided as part of the package. In other words, if you have to pay for a service or facility, it is not covered by your holiday insurance.
Get a few quotes
The best person to find the right insurance is a broker who specialises in holiday insurance, and an online search will put you in the right direction. Simply answer a few questions, and several quotes will be emailed to you before you know it.
- Check to see if vaccinations are required, as some regions are malaria infested, and it isn’t just the location that is relevant, the time of year often dictates whether a vaccine is necessary. It is a good idea to talk to your GP as soon as you know your intended destination, as some vaccinations must be administered one month prior to departure. The decision as to whether you require a vaccination would depend on the following,
- The country you are visiting
- The time of year
- How long you will be staying
- The exact region you will be going to
- Whether you will be staying in a rural or urban environment
- The activities will you be doing while there
- Your age and health
- Plan your luggage carefully, most people tend to pack far too much, and this limits you on the return trip, so only take what is absolutely necessary. Summer clothes are very cheap in some countries, so instead of packing all your old T shirts and shorts, buy some when you arrive at your destination. Keep your passport, air tickets, and insurance documentation is a zipped pocket that is easily accessible. It is no fun emptying a suitcase at the check-in counter, looking for your tickets and passports. If you are travelling in a group, nominate one person to be the group leader, and they should carry all the documentation. This reduces the risk of misplacing them, and if one person is delayed, it will affect the whole group. A small first aid kit is essential, as one never knows when one might need a plaster, or some cleaning alcohol. If you go out on day trips while abroad, find a space for the first aid kit in your bag, just in case. It may not be needed by yourself, but you could be at the scene of an accident, and would be able to offer immediate assistance. Don’t forget sun screen, and it might be wise to buy a neat personal toiletries bag, where you can store a toothbrush and paste, cotton buds, and a bunch of wipes, for those unexpected messy moments.
- Do a little research if you want to make the most of the experience. Find out about the local culture, especially the basic do’s and don’ts. A simple hand gesture might have a totally different meaning in another country, and while we have no wish to offend, it could be taken the wrong way by the locals. Try to learn a little of the language, as locals warm to foreigners that make an effort to communicate. While researching, check out the climate conditions for that time of year, and pack accordingly. Knowing the history of a country can really make a difference when sightseeing, and you can share your knowledge with the rest of the group, which will enhance their experience. This site is full of interesting ways to research your holiday destination, with useful links to information from all parts of the world.
- Financial planning – If you are planning to use your credit card, you might want to inform the company in advance, as an unexpected transaction from some countries might be blocked, as a security measure. Don’t carry too much cash, and remember that most countries have cash restrictions when entering or leaving their borders. Travel cheques are ideal, as they can be cashed when needed, and if you lose them, you will get a refund.
- Stay alert when travelling
Keep your valuables close to your person at all times, a hip bag or money belt will ensure that you don’t fall prey to the local pickpockets, and they tend to target foreigners for obvious reasons. When you first arrive at the hotel ask for a card, and keep it in your wallet, so anytime you need to take a taxi back to the hotel, you can just show the card to the driver.
- Secure the home, and turn off any appliances that are not being used, and if you’re going away for longer than a week, it might be an idea to empty the contents of the fridge and leave it unplugged. Leave a key with a trusted neighbour, just in case the emergency services need to enter your home. If your neighbours know you are away, they will keep an eye on the property, so don’t make a secret of your holiday.