We are a nation obsessed with our next getaway aren’t we? I don’t know about you, but as soon as I have returned from one trip away, I am already thinking about our next family travel adventure.
The percentage of people taking a foreign holiday this year increased to 60%, the highest level since 2011, according to ABTA’s Holiday Trends Report. That may be true, but I am always mindful of staying safe abroad with every trip booked.
Who wouldn’t be given the fact that the news is awash with reports of popular holiday destinations being ravaged by natural disasters and other calamities?
When disaster strikes
Last year Mexico, named as one of the top 10 holiday destinations, was ravaged by two earthquakes just weeks apart. They caused exponential infrastructural damage and the loss of over 360 lives.
Consider Europe – generally regarded as a safe zone from earthquakes, hurricanes and active volcanoes. Europe too now appears to be battling extreme and dangerous weather more often.
In the summer, Greece suffered horrific wildfires which killed over 70 people and resulted in the complete destruction of a tourist resort.
And while holidaying in Majorca, a British couple lost their lives as torrential rain caused flash flooding which engulfed the town of Sant Lorenç.
What are the risks?
Although the chances of a disaster striking while you’re on holiday may be relatively low, it is difficult to ignore the ever-present risk of something unpredictable happening.
If climate change is likely to be the cause of more frequent weather extremes, then finding a holiday destination immune to wildfires, flash flooding and severe storms, may not quite as easy as you might hope.
It’s an obvious fact – not all destinations are equal are they? And it’s not only when it comes to natural disasters. Holidaymakers are being put off locations perceived to have a high terrorism risk. In a survey carried out by Silver Travel Advisor, 63% of respondents said that they would not take a holiday where there have been terrorist attacks.
Although interestingly, memories are relatively short and any adverse effect on visitor numbers are usually short lived. ABTA’s Holiday Trends Report 2018 found that destinations like Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia were significantly up on bookings this summer. That’s despite Tunisia having suffered a lone terrorist attack that killed 38 people, including 30 British tourists, at the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel just three years ago.
A safety net
Thankfully, sectors connected to the travel industry, such as insurance, are now offering a wider choice of covers to enable travellers to protect themselves against crisis’ and disasters.
For example, Insure4Retirement, a specialist Over 50s Home and Travel insurance provider, in partnership with Just Travel Cover, offer a Crisis Response Service with their Ready2Go Gold travel policy.
Staying safe abroad this year – what you can do
While we can not control fate, there are some steps you can take to help you stay safe abroad this year. Here, Travel Consultant Cath Wallace at Not Just Travel shares some guidance on staying safe abroad this year:
Thinking about your safety before you travel and while you are away can make a big difference to the success of your holidays. The first thing to do, before booking your holiday, is to take a look at the government website that gives updates on foreign travel.
If you are travelling to an area that you are unfamiliar with, it is worth researching the area to see if there are parts that are better suited to tourists and areas that it’s recommended to stay away from. It’s also worth checking how you will get around e.g. if you will be hiring taxis are they safe and reliable?
Once you are have understood any safety risks and have booked your holiday, the next step is to ensure that you have the right travel insurance in place. We recommend that you do this as soon as you’ve booked your holiday to give yourself peace of mind and to tick it off your to do list.
Before you travel, there are several things that you can do to prepare for your trip:
- Give your itinerary and contact details to a friend or family member so they can be on hand if necessary.
- Make a copy of your passports, visas and any other documents that you are taking with you e.g. marriage certificate or medication letters. Keep these in a safe and accessible spot.
- Plan how you will get from the airport to your first destination – either have your arrival travel arrangements organised and ready for you, or be sure that there is a bus, train or taxi that will get you to where you want to go at the time you want to be there.
- Make yourself familiar with the area you’ll be staying in – take a map and do your research about surrounding areas. Are there places where you wouldn’t want to go, that aren’t safe for the children or change at night?
- Leave your jewellery at home
- Notify your bank if you will be using a card or taking money out of an account while you’re away
- If you’re hiring a car make sure it’s something that you’ll be familiar with eg if you drive an automatic at home then hire an automatic. This will keep everyone’s stress levels down.
While you’re away there are several things that you can do to keep yourselves safe and also help you if anything does happen:
- The first thing that most people comment on, is that you should trust your instincts.
- Secondly, be careful who you talk to and watch out if you’re being distracted.
- Keep anything of value in a secure place where you can see it and/ or feel it. If possible make sure it’s attached to you and in front of you – this includes the children.
- Be aware of and respect the culture that you are in. This may mean the clothes that are acceptable or any local customs.
- Have the number of your hotel, travel consultant and other relevant contacts, available and in a safe place.
- Have more than one source of cash/ cards.
- Keep only a small amount of money on you at any time and don’t flash it around.
- Keep your jewellery to a minimum and don’t wear anything expensive that can be taken off you (yes this includes necklaces and earrings).
Minimising the risks involved with travelling overseas can help with staying safe abroad, and ensuring you have adequate planning and cover in place, can help provide peace of mind and assistance when faced with the unexpected.
Do you worry about staying safe abroad? What steps do you take to minimise the risks involved with travelling abroad? Do leave a comment below.
*This is a collaborative post