- British embassies and consulates
- Know before you go
- Travel insurance tips
- Money management
- Don’t forget…
Of course they are there to help us if we need them, but according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), nearly one in five Brits think the local embassy would lend them money if they ran out of cash while abroad.If you’re in this bracket we’d just like to say now – this isn’t true! Just to clarify, here’s what the FCO say British embassies and consulates can and can’t do to help you. They can:
- Issue replacement passports,
- Provide information about transferring funds,
- Provide appropriate help if you are a victim of crime, or are in hospital,
- Provide details of local lawyers, interpreters, doctors etc,
- Contact friends and family for you,
- Make special arrangements in cases of terrorism, civil disturbances or natural disasters.
- Pay any bills or give you money (in very exceptional circumstances they may lend you some money, from public funds, which you will have to pay back),
- Get you out of prison, or prevent the local authorities from deporting you after your prison sentence,
- Help you enter a country, for example, if you do not have a visa or your passport is not valid,
- Give you legal advice,
- Make travel arrangements for you, find you work or accommodation.
Jasmine has teamed up with the FCO on their ‘Know Before You Go’ campaign to provide loads of tips and information on managing your holiday money. As a result, the Moneymagpie’s have discovered loads of great resources on the FCO website we thought we’d let you know about.
Travel advice Check out their ‘travel advice by country’ section to find out everything you need to know about your destination and if there are any specific precautions you should take. This section has advice on all kinds of things, from driving conditions to local customs and laws. They also have a comprehensive checklist so you can make sure you haven’t forgotten anything important. Have a look at it here.
Gap travel advice The FCO also has loads of dedicated advice and information for those about to embark on a gap year here.
When you’re shopping around for the best and latest travel insurance deals, remember that cheapest is not necessarily best
Of course, the best way to protect yourself from unexpected problems when you’re away is to get comprehensive travel insurance. When you’re shopping around for the best deals, remember that cheapest is not necessarily best. You should always read the terms and conditions of your policy carefully to make sure it covers you properly and includes any specific activities you’re planning to do – like winter sports. You have to declare any pre-existing medical conditions when applying for your policy. If you don’t, you run the risk of invalidating your cover and the provider won’t pay out for any claims.
Although holidays are a time to kick back and let your hair down, don’t forget that if you have an accident while drunk or on drugs, your insurance company will not pay out. Invariably you’ll find the best deals when buying your policy online. And there’s good news for older holidaymakers: With more over 60s travelling abroad than ever before, you should be able to find a competitive price for your policy too. For more details on the best travel insurance for the over 60s, have a look here.
Protect your cards Unsurprisingly, the majority of credit card fraud occurs abroad, so you’ll need to be extra careful if you decide to take your cards with you. If you do take a credit or debit card with you, make sure you store the card company’s ‘lost and stolen’ number in your phone, and make of note of it somewhere else too. You should also consider signing up to a card protection service. You pay a small fee – usually about £20 – and register the details of your cards and other important personal documents like your passport. That way, if anything does happen, you’ll just have to ring one number and they can do everything needed, like cancel the cards and order replacements. Find out more about how to protect your cards in our article.
Another thing to remember if you’re going to take your credit or debit card abroad is that most will charge you when you use them overseas. However, there is an alternative to all this – use a prepaid credit card instead. There are several prepaid cards out there specifically designed for foreign travel. You have to purchase the card (although you can get some for free) then you just choose which currency you want your card in (Euros, US Dollars or Sterling) and you can load it with as much as you want. Remember that you can only spend the money that’s on the card – so once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Foreign currency Find out the best place to get your foreign currency in our article on cheapest foreign currency for your holiday here.
Security In most holiday destinations, there’s no reason to suspect you’re in any more danger than in the UK. Having said that, when you’re somewhere unfamiliar and are obviously not one of the locals, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. A document wallet is a really good idea if you’ll be staying in hostels or more budget hotels that don’t have a safe. They fit comfortably and easily under your clothes, without being obvious. If you have to carry documents like your passport around with you, this is the best way to keep them safe. The dri-pouch body wallet from Lifeventure is a great option. Make sure you make copies of all your essential documentation, take some with you and leave some with friends or relatives at home. Just to be extra safe, it’s worth scanning the copies and emailing them to yourself. That way, you’ll always have access to them in an emergency.
Health If you’re travelling to an EU country, get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to take with you. This card replaces the old E111 form and will entitle you to state-provided health care should you need it. To make your application, click here. Be aware that there are some sites who will produce an EHIC card for you, but charge for this service. Following this link will ensure you get your card free of charge. Remember that this card is not a substitute for travel insurance, you must get that as well! You should also check at least six weeks before you travel whether or not you’ll need any vaccinations or specific medical precautions for your destination. Have a look at the Lifesystems Big Planet section to find out which health precautions are recommended for your destination. It’s always a good idea to take a first aid kit with you too – and make sure it’s complete with all the essentials.
Country regulations Check on the customs regulations for your destination and apply for the relevant visas if necessary. You should also ensure your passport is valid – for some countries it must be valid for six months after the date you travel. Also bear in mind that visas often require two blank facing pages in your passport, so make sure you have the space. The FCO’s ‘travel advice by country’ section has all this information.
Driving If you plan to drive when you’re abroad, make sure your driving licence is valid and find out about driving conditions in your destination. Use the FCO’s ‘travel advice by country’ section to find out this information. You should also check with your insurance company to ensure you’re covered to drive overseas.
More country information Get yourself a good guidebook (like a Lonely Planet travel guide) to help you learn about the laws and customs of your destination. It’s always worth finding out as much about the country you are visiting before you get there, to ensure you respect local culture and traditions as much as possible.