Some tips on what to do before you travel
Research your destination
You can do this either online or by the use of guide books. This will help you decide what you need to pack for your trip, and will give you an idea of what the weather will be like. It’s a good idea to read up on local customs – such as whether to tip or not. It’s best to find out whether the local water is fit for drinking or not.
The travel pages on the NHS website will help you identify any particular health risks that may apply to your destination. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office website is also an invaluable source of information.
Do I need any vaccinations?
Check if these are needed for the country you are visiting – or if you need any other form of medication. Advice here should be provided by your tour operator and you can always check by visiting the NHS website. Make sure you have any necessary vaccinations within the recommended time before travel.
Check your passport
Make sure that when travelling your passport has sufficient validity to cover your trip. Most travel companies recommend a minimum of six months validity from the date you return to the UK – although this is not always necessary. The Foreign Office website will advise you on the amount of unexpired time you need on your passport for the country you are planning to visit.
Check whether you need a visa for the destination you are travelling to as these can often take some time to arrange.
Buy your travel money in advance
Leaving this until you are at the airport, or until the last minute, can cost you money. Also beware of no-commission offers to sell you currency – whilst there is nothing wrong with these always compare the rates you are offered to make sure you get the best rate.
Tell your bank
If you intend to use your debit or credit card when on holiday you may want to consider telling your bank or card provider. This is because fraud systems can pick up unusual transactions and may result in your transaction being refused. Make sure you also have a separate note of the emergency contact telephone number for your bank or card provider in case your cards are lost or stolen.
Make sure you leave contact details
Leave a copy of your itinerary with a friend or relative as well as contact numbers – this might be your mobile, or if you don’t have mobile roaming abroad leave a note of the contact number for your accommodation, or the local contact details for your tour operator.
This might sound a little obvious – but if you are planning on being away for more than a couple of weeks it may be advisable to visit your doctor before you depart for a quick check over and to obtain a sufficient supply of prescribed medication. Likewise, a visit to the dentist for a check up could prevent problems whilst you are away. If you wear glasses do remember to take a spare pair in case you lose or misplace them.
This is an extract from the Mature Guide to travel insurance from Mature Times. It is an easy to read booklet and you can order your copy for £4.95 including postage and packaging. Call 01934 864410 to order and pay with either a debit or credit card during normal office hours.
To help you negotiate the tricky waters of health problems overseas we have some useful links for you: