Let’s face it, holidays are supposed to be about having fun and forgetting the stresses and hassles of home life: sunsets and beaches, temples and museums, shopping and dining.
The last thing you want is for anything to go wrong. Here are some top tips for making sure you have a memorable holiday – for all the right reasons.
BEFORE YOU GO
Do your homework
Half the fun of going on holiday is getting excited, and reading up about the place before you go. But once you’ve stocked up on guidebooks and thought about places to see and restaurants to try, have a quick look at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice website for tips about staying safe and what to do if you run into trouble. Pack some basic first aid bits and pieces too, as chances are if you do have a bump or scrape it will happen when you’re not that close to a pharmacy. Make sure you have adequate supplies of prescription medicines you take regularly too.
Keep copies of paperwork
Most mishaps on holiday tend to be things like losing passports or plane tickets. Dealing with local bureaucracy to sort out problems with lost paperwork can be time consuming and really eat into valuable holiday time. It makes a lot of sense to leave photocopies of your passports, driving licences and other important travel documents at home with friends or family. Another top tip is to scan them and then email the scans to yourself so you have virtual copies stashed safely online. This way, if you do lose important documents you can get them replaced much quicker as you have proof of identity and important details easily to hand.
Get some insurance
According to research by Sainsbury’s Travel Insurance in 2010, the average medical claim made by Britons who fall ill or have an accident in a foreign country is more than £1,300.* Travel insurance is a competitive market – and it really doesn’t cost as much as you think to get covered. If you travel more than a couple of times a year you’re almost certainly best off buying an annual travel insurance policy which will cover you for multiple trips. Do have a good look at levels of cover provided, particularly if you’re going to the USA where medical bills can be very high.
Some British holidaymakers wrongly assume that getting hold of an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) – which entitles them to emergency care in EU countries (and Switzerland) is enough. It’s important to remember that you often aren’t covered for the full cost of treatment, and you won’t be covered for the money it costs to get you back home should that be necessary. So, get hold of an EHIC card if you’re travelling to Europe, but take out travel insurance as well.
WHEN YOU’RE THERE
Keep your eyes peeled
Holidays should be about relaxing, but don’t get lulled into a false sense of security when you’re away. Remember to keep an eye on your valuables, just as you would back home. Don’t leave iPods, cameras and wallets full of travel money unattended by the pool or on the beach while you go for a swim and keep them safely stashed in pockets and bags when you’re walking around. Most decent hotels have easy-to-use combination lock safes in the rooms these days. Use them – and then you can hit the beach or the pool with complete peace of mind.
Stay protected in the sun
If you’re a bit of a sun worshipper (and many of us are) it’s tempting to hit the beach and maximise your sun-time the moment you get off the plane. But as we all know, this is really bad for your skin, which needs time to acclimatise. To avoid looking like a lobster, go easy on the sunbathing for the first day or two and avoid the heat of the midday sun. It goes without saying that you also need to use good quality, high factor sun lotion. Remember to stay well hydrated too by drinking plenty of non-alcoholic drinks. There are few more unpleasant combinations than a hangover and sunburn.
Many holidaymakers hire cars to get out and see more of the country they’re visiting on holiday. If you do, take time to read the small print, use a reputable company, make sure you are properly insured and check the car carefully before heading out to explore. Avoid driving at night when accident rates in many countries are much higher than during the daylight hours. These precautions apply even more to mopeds and motorbikes. Scars and scrapes sustained as a result of falls from mopeds in Thailand are so common that backpackers sometimes refer to them as ‘Thai tattoos’.
With a little homework and a bit of preparation, you should be all set for a trouble-free holiday.
Did you know?
• The most common travel insurance health claim is for ear infections.(1)
• Over seven million Britons had their holiday disrupted in one way or another in the last 18 months. Problems included ash clouds, industrial action and political unrest overseas.(2)
• The most expensive country for medical attention in 2010 was the USA, with the average hospital visit costing policy holders £4,725.(1)
• The cheapest country for medical attention in 2010 was Greece, with the average hospital visit costing policy holders £422.36.(1)
(1) Sainsbury’s Travel Insurance 2010 claims analysis, survey, August 2011.
(2) ICM poll conducted on behalf of Sainsbury’s Travel Insurance, June 2011
Available at www.sainsburysfinance.co.uk/media