You may have decided to take a holiday or work abroad with friends or even fancy striking out on your own. Either way, thousands of young people travel the world every year and have a great time.
Travelling with friends means that there is someone to have fun with and who can watch out for you. If you are thinking of travelling alone you will need to prepare carefully and ideally have contacts at your destination.
Find out as much information as you can about the country or countries that you intend to visit before you go. Talk to a travel agent and, as there is no substitute for experience, speak to people who have been there before.
If you are disabled you will have to do your homework with regards to the suitability and safety of travelling in your planned destination. This won’t be a problem in most places, but some of the more remote places might be tricky.
If you are disabled consider contacting travel agents that specialise in providing holidays for disabled people, like Access Travel and Canbedone. Find the links to these in the ‘Who can help?’ section of this article.
Make sure you know about currency, language and any customs, behaviour and dress codes for each country you intend to visit. As well as knowing about the country of your choice there are some basic elements that you should have covered before you go.
Travel Insurance – Wherever you go it is important to have travel insurance. This will mean that you are covered should you become ill or get injured and, if necessary, be brought back to the UK. Your insurance should also cover:
- Dental problems.
- Missed flights.
- Lost luggage.
- Personal liability.
If you intend to do any sports like scuba diving, skiing or mountaineering check the policy will cover you; some risky sports will need a separate insurance policy.
Don’t go for the cheapest cover as this may not be the best and, as with any policy, read the small print to ensure that you are getting what you need for the amount of time you need it.
Many policies do not cover claims arising from ‘pre-existing medical conditions’ – any illness or health problem that existed or was diagnosed before you go on holiday. This means it is important to choose the correct policy if you are disabled or have a long term illness.
Also, before you travel, check what you need to do if you have to make a claim, such as keeping receipts, and making notes of dates and treatment received.
Passport and Visas – Ensure that you apply for your passport in good time. If you have one, ensure that it is valid. Leave a photocopy of your passport with a friend or family member at home before you travel.
Check if there are any visas that you will need by talking to your travel agent or contacting the embassy of the country you are planning to visit.
Personal safety – If you have an idea of where you’ll be going and staying, leave details with your family or friends.
Make sure that you can contact them, and they can contact you by email or mobile phone.
Be careful with alcohol and know your limit – you are more vulnerable to accidents and crime after drinking alcohol and may not be covered by your insurance.
Avoid drugs and always try to be aware of what is happening around you, be vigilant and don’t leave your drink unattended.
Take care of your belongings, make copies of tickets, passport, insurance policy (plus 24 hr emergency numbers), and contact details to have with you and a set for contacts at home.
Stay healthy – Check if you will need any vaccinations before you leave. You can do this by seeing your GP or visiting a travel clinic.
- Watch what you eat and drink.
- Always practice safe sex & take condoms with you.
- Be careful with personal hygiene.
- Make sure that you have enough money for your trip.
- Find out what currency you’ll need from your travel agent.
- Try and have some back up funds and always have your return ticket safe.
- If you are taking credit cards check that they will remain valid for the length of your trip.
- Try to take a mixture of cash, travellers’ cheques and credit cards.
- Use a money belt to keep money and important documents safe, leave valuables and money in a hotel safe if possible.
Working Abroad – If you are considering working abroad there are organisations that can help you with finding work either paid or through volunteering. It may mean that you can spend longer travelling and really experience life in other cultures.
Remember that an employer abroad will require the commitment that goes with a job, so think carefully and be aware of all the requirements of any job before you begin.
If things do go wrong…
Remember, if something does go wrong whilst you are travelling abroad the first thing to do is contact your family and friends at home.
In most cases you may only need advice but if you find that you are in real difficulties the British Consul in the country you are visiting will be able to help you with anything.
Who can help?
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has a lot of information for holidaymakers and travellers on all aspects of travel abroad. Visit their site at www.fco.gov.uk/travel
The Directgov website has a lot of information for holidaymakers and travellers on passports, visas and other aspects of travel abroad. Visit their site at www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTransport/TravellingAbroad/PassportsAndVisas
The Department of Health’s website provides a guide to what vaccinations you might need or the medical treatment you’re entitled to in different countries. To find out more visit www.dh.gov.uk/PolicyAndGuidance/HealthAdviceForTravellers/fs/en
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust gives advice to young travellers through the World Wise website. It contains information on over 200 countries to help you prepare and plan for safe travelling. Visit their site at www.suzylamplugh.org/worldwise/
For a site that covers many countries across the world and gives in depth regional guides, visit the Rough Guide site at http://www.roughguides.com/
The Travel Insurance Guide aims to make your search for travel insurance as painless as possible. You can find information on the different types of travel insurance available as well as the types of considerations you’ll need to make when buying insurance for any trip abroad. http://www.travelinsuranceguide.org.uk/
Lonely Planet offers travel advice, detailed maps, travel news, popular message boards and health information. Visit http://www.lonelyplanet.com/
STA Travel is a travel company that caters specifically for students and under 26 year olds. Visit http://www.statravel.co.uk/