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Staying safe abroad

7.06.16 | Nathan Collins

As featured in the June 2016 Edition of Journal Magazine

With the main holiday season just around the corner, this month I offer my tips for staying safe when abroad…

Firstly, always arrange suitable travel insurance and take it out as soon as you book your holiday. Don’t wait until when you depart to activate it in case you need to cancel. Ensure it covers you for the destination you are visiting, activities such as snow mobiling, skiing, water sports etc, and that it covers the total cost of the holiday. Some insurers have many restrictions and limits to the amount they will cover. If you need to buy an annual policy or a one off trip policy we recommend ABTA Sure, click here.

Gone are the days of travellers cheques. These have now been replaced by currency top up cards which you can pre load with the currency of your choice. They offer a secure way of keeping your currency without having to carry cash. Shop around for them to ensure you pay a good currency rate, also ask what the charges will be for withdrawing money. Try and get a second card in case you lose one and keep the emergency number handy of the card issuer in case they are lost or stolen. Don’t use them to leave holding deposits at hotels or for car hire companies, they are top up cards, not credit cards so the cash will be taken instantly. Also check which ATM’s or banks they can be used at in the country you are visiting, especially for more obscure destinations.. You can usually top them up online or by phone whilst abroad by connecting them to your debit card which is handy, or send a message home for someone to do it on your behalf.

Credit or debit cards are the safest method of payment, but always check with your bank about their charges. Halifax offer a credit card (Clarity) that doesn’t charge for taking money out of an ATM or charge a currency conversion fee either. These fees can really mount up with standard cards. Local banks may also charge a fee, especially in the USA, typically around $3-$5 for every withdrawal, so it’s worth researching before you go and looking out for certain banks when you need to make a withdrawal. Carrying cash around in some countries isn’t even necessary anymore as the smallest of bars and cafes often accept credit cards, even taxi’s and street parking.

For valuables such as jewellery, laptops and cameras use your in-room safe but if you are still not comfortable with this then most hotels will have their own safety deposit boxes or main safe which they may allow you to use.  In some counties, hotels may require your passport to be handed over at check in and kept for the duration of your stay, therefore take a photocopy of it. For an emergency backup send a scanned copy of your travel documentation to your email account so you can access it anywhere in the world.

Choose well known car hire brands if possible, never leave belongings in sight and use well patrolled and secure car parks. If you travel regularly take out an annual excess waiver car hire insurance policy, these start from around £39.99 per year for Europe, it will save you time and extra charges.

Losing luggage can be a real pain and can happen with the most reputable of airlines. It is always wise to pack a change of clothes in your hand luggage especially if travelling long haul. Split your clothes with your family members between suitcases so if one goes missing you have enough for a few days. It’s vital to get a lost luggage receipt before leaving the airport with their contact number for you to chase it up. For the ultimate security you can purchase a tracking tag for your cases which have their own GPS and you can view its location online.

When on holiday, use the expert knowledge of your hotel’s concierge, especially for areas to avoid or for top restaurant and attraction tips. We do this before you travel with our own clients, but appreciate you will probably have questions along the way when in resort.

And finally, keep your 24 hour emergency contact details for your tour operator or travel organiser handy, save the number on different party members phones.

Whilst there is a lot to remember, these precautions may help you to relax and enjoy your holiday in the knowledge that you have planned your trip with security in mind.


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