When planning and packing for a holiday, there are all sorts of things to consider: what will the weather be doing? Will you go on any trips? What do you really need in hand luggage? etc.
But there are some important practical points to also consider for the safety and well-being of yourself and any friends or family you’re travelling with:
- Money – You’ve saved for your trip and have your spending money ready. But what’s the safest way to take it with you. You’ll need some cash (don’t forget a coin for the trolley at the airport) but there is more safety in having cash on cards than in your pocket. Only take the cards you really need, maybe one for the safe as a back up, and one that you take out with you. A growing range of banks offer fee-free card payments abroad and have a look in plenty of time before your departure to see how your bank compares on exchange rates and hidden costs. You can let your card-provider know where you are going and the dates so that you don’t have card problems on arrival. It’s also worth considering leaving behind obvious items like wallets or purses that are easy targets and may tempt unwanted attention.
- Mobile Phones – A lifeline in many situations, often serving multiple purposes beyond just being a tool of communication, mobile phones now serve as your map, entry tickets and a method of payment as well as camera and means of staying in contact. If you have one, you may want to consider taking an older model. It is certainly worthwhile making sure you have the “find me” option switched on, often in the general settings of your device, so that should anything happen it is easily traceable. It could also be worth considering investing in a mobile phone contract in which you won’t incur roaming costs for data/calls/texts.
- Valuables – If you’re simply going on holiday, you can try to reduce the amount of valuables you’re travelling with as much as possible, especially irreplaceable items that might hold significant sentimental value. In some cases you may want to consider buying cheaper alternatives for you to use when you’re abroad. You can also check your home insurance policy to ensure that your valuables are covered in case of loss or damage while travelling. And of course… remember to check if your watch is waterproof before taking it for a dip in the pool!
- Know where you are going – It’s important to investigate the area you’re visiting prior to arrival, for example making sure there are no public holidays that could disrupt travel and close down public transport, or if there is a dress code which may impact your packing choices. If you’re on a phone contract where you don’t incur roaming charges you should be able to use your phone as a map. This can also be useful in order to arrange taxis and contact your accommodation should you need to for any reason.
- Don’t Trust Everyone – Unfortunately, this is a reality wherever we are in the world. Not everyone has your best interests at heart. Be careful with your drinks on a night out, shop around for gifts and souvenirs to get a good price, make sure that when you’re bartering you understand the exchange rate and what something is worth, ensure the taxi you get will take you the most direct route (or check the route afterwards and flag with the company if it is obvious they didn’t), ask for a flat rate taxi fee up-front rather than one that racks up charges on a meter if you’re hailing from the street. Really, just because you are ‘out of town’ still have your wits about you, and trust your instinct.
- Precautions – It goes without saying that you take your family’s and your own safety seriously. But planning is an important precaution: make sure you have an emergency plan with contact numbers from home written out in the event that important belongings get misplaced or stolen. Bring paper copies of passports and booking records, and perhaps even give a copy to a nominated friend or family member for them to send to you in case of such an emergency. It’s also worth telling people where you are to try to keep in contact.
- Insurance – It’s crucial to make sure you have appropriate travel insurance when going abroad. Whilst it often won’t cover you for every eventuality (terrorism/political disruption for example), it will most likely be there to assist when you need it most for travel risks. Robbery, travel delays, illness and injury are just the tip of the iceberg, with many people who run into difficult situations abroad finding that travel insurance really could have helped them!
Finally, have fun! Holidays, travel, exploring the world: make the most of it.