Ok, so your holidays are booked. You’ve packed the sun cream and the flip flops and you’re now ready for the beach. But aside from your passport and travel documents, there are a few things you should also have prepared, should you need them in case of an emergency while you’re away.
Before you go
Before you leave for your holiday the most important thing to do first is to check-up on the travel advice for the country you are travelling to. Due to COVID-19 travel advice can change pretty regularly, so make sure you check out the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office website (FCDO) for any updates.
If you told your travel insurance provider about any health conditions you need cover for, it’s important to remember to contact them if your condition worsens, or even if you are diagnosed with a new medical condition before your trip. They will need to have the most up to date information about your health to ensure you are covered. This is especially important if you’ve taken out an annual trip policy.
At around 8 weeks before you’re due to leave it’s worth checking the latest health advice on the country you are due to travel to from the Travel Health Network and Centre. If you’re going a little further afield and need vaccines when entering the country, then check out the NHS website to get some more information on this and see what vaccines you will need and when.
If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, it’s best to contact your GP to see if there are any specific measure you will need to take to ensure you have a safe trip. Make sure that if you take medication with you that you have enough to last the duration of your holiday. For more information on travelling with medication take a look at our guide written by Dr Sarah Jarvis here.
Your travel insurance emergency medical assistance line
When you purchase medical travel insurance, you will be provided with an emergency medical assistance phone number. You should always carry this with you whilst you are away. Just in case. Your travel insurance policy provides access to medical support on this number 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Which is great news should you find yourself in an emergency and need to call them. They can help you get the medical treatment you need quickly as well as making sure you get the most appropriate care and confirming your travel insurance cover to the local hospital.
Speak to your family and friends
Tell your friends and family where and when you are going. It’s better to be safe and make sure you leave them with your contact details, insurance policy details and your itinerary. That way should anything go wrong and you lose your details then you have a back-up at home.
Entry requirements and passports
Before you head off on your travels remember to check the entry requirements of your destination, especially if you’re travelling outside the EU. For example, if you’re heading to Australia to work and travel then you’ll need to get yourself a working visa. Each country is different, so check out the specific here. If you’re travelling in the EU and are unsure about the new Brexit implications, then check out our handy guide here.
Make sure your passport is valid, imagine arriving at the airport and realising it expired a few weeks ago. Also remember that some countries require you to have a passport that is valid for 6 months after the date you travel. To make sure you don’t get caught out, have a look through the requirements for passport validity.
It’s always better to be safe, so make a note of your passport number and maybe even take electronic and paper copies of it in case anything happens to the original Also, remember to fill out the emergency contact details in the back of your passport, so if the worst happens and you have an accident then the government officials will know who to contact.
Your mobile phone
It’s always best to double-check with your mobile phone provider to see if you are able to use your phone abroad. Nowadays, most providers will ensure you have the same access to texts, calls and data as you would in the UK if you’re travelling to Europe. But it’s always best to check, just in case. If you’re travelling further afield the coverage varies a bit more, so again, just get in touch and check your policy and see if you can add on coverage if you need to.
Your travel guide
Do some research! Going on holiday is an amazing opportunity to experience different cultures and cuisines. Why not invest in a good travel guide to make sure you don’t miss out on any hidden gems? Travel blogs and forums are also a good place to find out which restaurants are the best and which beaches are too overcrowded during those summer months.
Find out what the local culture is before you leave. Other cultures may have a different approach when it comes to dress and customs, so make sure that you’re aware of them and are respectful. There may be penalties for breaking a law for something that may seem trivia at home.
Be careful when taking photos, videos and using or binoculars as they can sometimes be misunderstood by local authorities, especially near military areas. So just double-check your surroundings before taking that snap.
Travelling to the EU?
If you are in any EU member state, instead of dialling 999 as you would in this country to reach the emergency services such as the police, fire or ambulance, you can dial 112 to be connected to the appropriate local emergency service. 112 is the number to reach the emergency services anywhere within the EU from a telephone or mobile in any EU member state. This universal emergency contact number was created by the European Commission to give easy access to people travelling within the European Union.
If your forget and accidentally dial 999 in any European country then you will be automatically redirected to the European Emergency Services.
Travelling outside Europe?
If you’re going further afield here are some important emergency numbers for you to make a note of:
Australia - Medical, Police and Fire Emergency Assistance, dial 000
New Zealand - Medical, Police and Fire Emergency Assistance, dial 111
USA and Canada - Medical, Police and Fire Emergency Assistance, dial 911
British Embassy or Consular
Make sure you find out where the nearest British Embassy is to your destination. That way, if there are any problems you know where to go.
The other number you should take with you when you travel is the British Consular Assistance Team. The Consular Service will be able to provide assistance for lost passports and help contact friends or family in the event that you are hospitalised abroad or become a victim of crime. Call them on 020 7008 1500 (remember it’s +44 20 7008 1500 from abroad). Keep the numbers with you whilst on holiday; we hope you never need them but if you did, at least you’re prepared.
Fancy taking part in water skiing? Or maybe even sky diving (rather you than me)! Well our advice is to make sure that if you do take part in any adventure sports or water sports on your holiday, is to make sure you only use properly licensed and insured companies. Make sure you are fully confident with the safety precautions and understand how any operating instructions work.