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Ten Top Travel Tips

For the modern traveller, the world is your oyster. Okay, maybe you’re not prioritising a summer visit to currently war-torn countries such as Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iraq or Sudan. Likewise, tales of drug-trafficking, kidnapping and armed muggings might put you off a two-week sojourn in Venezuela or Colombia. But perhaps you are considering something a little more off the beaten track – a holiday that will test your nerves a little, or that will embed you in a completely different culture or environment?

Many a modern traveller now explores further afield, with Australasia, South America, Asia and Africa proving very popular for those with an adventurous spirit (who don’t mind long plane journeys). But for any such trips, there are known – and unknown – dangers that you may want to research before you leave. Visit Australia and you’ll probably be bombarded by people listing its dangerous creatures – box jellyfish, crocodiles, redback spiders, taipan snakes, sharks, and so on – together with a litany of tales surrounding those backpackers who never came back… But go to ‘safe as houses, no dangerous animals/plants here’ New Zealand and you may not realise that its capital city, Wellington, sits on a major earthquake fault line that is well overdue a ‘big one’!

Indeed, in a Norwich Union survey of last year, several places were highlighted as potential danger areas, including Thailand, Mexico and South Africa, where illness, accidents and crime are common. Again, not terribly surprising, perhaps, but did you know that travellers to Mexico made the most number of claims to the insurance company for overexposure to the sun? Probably not.

The findings also mentioned the Caribbean as the worst area for travellers to suffer insect bites and stings, and even Spain and the Canaries hit the list, for possible robberies and pick pocketing.

Even if you deal with all the insects, robbers, earthquakes, illnesses, hungry sharks and venomous snakes, you may still get in your car and crash. In fact, the most likely way for holidaymakers to meet misfortune is on the road, with 15 million people a year injured worldwide in traffic-related accidents. Remember that terrifying taxi journey on the way to your hotel last year? Yes, most of us can recall at least one terrifying car journey in our search for that holiday magic.

But don’t worry, BeatThatQuote.com is here to help address all your holiday concerns (both those that you knew about as well as the ones we’ve just got you worried about). With these travel tips, you can be sure you’re making the right preparations for a safe and happy trip, no matter how adventurous you are feeling:

1. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office website is a great source of information on safe/dangerous destinations, as well as general travel advice. Well worth a look if you’re planning to backpack round the world.

2. Do not forget or skimp on your travel insurance. Get travel insurance and check that the cover is appropriate for your destination and planned activities abroad. Also ensure it covers any health issues you might have. According to recent research, 15% of British people risk going abroad without any kind of travel insurance – considering an air ambulance from the east coast of the US might set you back £30,000, it is really a risk you don’t want to take.

3. If you are planning to hire a car or you are taking your car with you, check you are covered for accidents and/or breakdowns. Don’t assume your UK car insurance will cover you for driving overseas – it might not protect you for anything more than road traffic accidents.

4. Check what vaccinations you need at least six weeks before you go and consider whether you need to take extra health precautions. Ensure you have sufficient medical insurance cover for your chosen destination, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions.

5. You will probably be leaving your home empty while you are away – ensure you have got/renewed your home insurance in the event of anything happening while you holiday. Also consider asking a neighbour to pop in/water the plants every now and again to ensure your house looks occupied.

6. Get a good guidebook and get to know your destination. Find out about local laws and customs.

7. Make sure you take all documentation with you, including your passport, necessary visas, and insurance documents. Make copies and store separately just in case you lose anything.

8. Check your bank cards. Do you know how much you will be charged for using your cards abroad? It might also be worth telling your bank or credit card provider about your trip. With fraud on the rise, some card providers/banks will stop your card if they see unusual/unexpected spending. A phonecall will remedy this situation but it’s just another holiday ‘downer’ you can avoid.

9. Take enough money for your trip and some back-up funds, for example, travellers cheques, sterling or US dollars.

10. And if you’re going for a long trip of several months or more, just don’t forget your responsibilities at home, including your mortgage. Budget carefully and ensure you can cover all your payments both at home and abroad.

Once you have done all of this, all you need do is pack your bags and go. It might be a scary world out there, but with a bit of forethought, there’s a whole lot of opportunity for adventure too. Have fun!

Caroline Poynton is a financial journalist and writes for Beat That Quote on all loans, travel insurance and personal finance topics.
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