Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Holidaymakers Should be More Prepared

The past year has seen an upward swing in independent travellers, many of whom are completely unprepared for possible tight spots they may encounter.
Research suggests a definite trend in people becoming more independent, using websites to plan their own holidays, flights and accommodation instead of using travel agencies.

Every year, there are about 90 000 serious cases of British tourists getting into trouble and requiring the help of the Consulate. The most common problem British Nationals face abroad is a lack of preparedness, especially when it comes to travel insurance.
Recent studies even found that 35 per cent of over-55s didn’t acquire travel insurance on their last holiday, even though a quarter of them took part in dangerous activities like sky-diving, bungee jumping, ab sailing and even swimming with sharks.
That’s astounding when you consider that if you get into trouble overseas and you don’t have travel insurance, it can cost many thousands of pounds for an air ambulance, medication, hospital stays and getting people back to the UK. That could cost up to £30 000 and then you’re talking about a second mortgage.”

Important measures for independent travellers

Besides comprehensive travel insurance, you should check up on travel advice and danger zones in advance. I would advise people to check out the latest situation in any country they’re going to. And as the world situation changes so frequently these days, the most important thing is to find out the very latest information.
Other essential considerations are to find out about laws and customs, get a good travel guide and check out medical requirements such as vaccinations a good 6 weeks before you travel.

Remember to make sure your passport’s valid and has at least six months to run, take a photocopy and leave it with someone you trust and make sure you fill in your next of kin. Keep the details of the nearest British Consulate with you, because it could be really useful in times of trouble. However, the Consulate’s powers are limited. they can’t bust you out of jail, despite the fact that 37 per cent of people think they can. If you are arrested for committing a crime in another country then you belong to that country’s legal system. But they can visit you, make sure that you are being treated appropriately, and get you an English speaking lawyer.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will also visit you in jail or hospital, contact your friends and relatives in emergencies, and issue replacement passports.

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