Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Travel Tips for the uninitiated

Dear Readers, today we thought we’d talk about a few little tips whilst travelling. 
Some, perhaps, obvious.  Others, less so.

Tips when travelling abroad

Travelling abroad is exciting, especially if you are going on a holiday or heading to a favourite holiday destination.  A change of environment is always refreshing, but whatever your reason for travelling abroad and wherever you may be going, meticulous planning and attention to detail are essential ingredients for a successful travel abroad.


Occasionally we get caught up in the excitement of getting away from our daily routines, and sometimes we are completely oblivious of the existence of holiday etiquette.  Getting to know the specific do's and don'ts when travelling abroad from the UK goes a long way to making the trip a memorable and hitch-free one.


The Dos 

Do ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months after the date you plan to travel and that you have met the entry requirements (if any) for the country you will be visiting.  For example, prior authorisation is required to enter the United States if you are travelling on a British passport.  This may be in the form of the Visa Waiver Programme or an entry visa.

Other restrictions may apply, depending on your criminal history and the countries you have recently visited. Be aware that you should not travel to Europe or anywhere else without a passport as they will not let you get on the plane/train/ferry.




Do engage the services of licensed and insured operators if you plan to take part in any adventure sports and ensure that adequate safety instructions are in place.  Ensure that you understand the operating instructions fully before engaging in the sporting activity.  Do obtain travel insurance for any adventure sports or any extreme sports activity you plan to engage in before you leave the UK.

Be aware that the legal status and the regulations concerning certain prescription medicines may be different in other countries than in the UK.  Do carry sufficient supplies of prescription medicines you are taking for the duration of your visit but do not take large quantities without checking with the embassy or consulate of the country or territory you are visiting if it is okay to do so.

Do obtain country-specific health advice on the territory you are visiting from the NHS website and ensure that you contact your GP or pharmacy for advice on managing any pre-existing medical conditions and how to obtain the necessary vaccinations.

If you stay in a hotel or guest house at your destination, do ensure that your doors and windows are securely locked when you are going out and before you go to bed at night.  Most hotels now provide safe deposit facilities.  Do lock up valuables you are not taking with you in the hotel's safe deposit box before you leave the hotel for your outing.  It is also advisable to obtain travel insurance which covers loss or damage to personal items before you leave the UK.

If you are going sightseeing, travel in the company of others if this is at all possible. Most tourist destinations now offer the services of vetted guides to tourists at a reasonable cost.  Do turn up promptly for your excursions and organised trips as it is impolite on other holiday makers and it could be eating into their holiday time.

Be mindful of your environment, if you begin to feel uncomfortable about a situation, simply apologise and take your leave.  Criminals often utilise the art of staged distraction that enables an accomplice make away with their victim's valuables while the victim is momentarily distracted.  Do be alert to strangers who distract you by spilling a drink on you or creating a scene or loud commotion just to distract you.

Do use cash substitutes like credit cards as much as possible instead of cash payments when you are out shopping.  Make a note of your credit card details and the phone number to call if your card gets lost or stolen. 



If you plan to drive while you are abroad, do ensure that your UK driver’s licence is current and valid for use in the territory you will be visiting.  Be aware that driving laws and convention vary from country to country.  Do check the minimum age for driving in the country you are visiting this may vary from what obtains in the UK.

A UK driving licence is valid for driving within the EU but if you plan to drive in a country outside the EU you will require an International Driving Permit (IDP). Motorists drive on the left in the UK, but some countries drive on the right side of the road.  Ensure that you park in well-lit areas and keep your valuables locked away in the boot of your parked car.  While on the road, don't offer lift to hitchhikers or total strangers.  Keep your vehicle doors locked and windows up when in the traffic.


The Don'ts 

Travelling to an unfamiliar destination comes with its own risks.  Tourists and visitors are often targeted by criminals.  Don't dress in a manner that can easily give you out as a tourist.  Blend with the community as soon as you arrive at your destination.  Consulting a map in public or appearing lost is an easy give away that you are unfamiliar with the environment.

Don't engage in other acts that might make you vulnerable.  An open display of valuables such as iPhones, digital cameras or exposing large sums of money in public places can encourage thieves.  Cash should be kept in a secure wallet or a small bag which you can carry with you at all times.  Don't walk in dimly lit alleys or isolated locations especially after it is dark.  Don't carry a bag containing valuables loosely slung over your shoulder as a thief on a bike can easily snatch the bag and make away with it.

Cultural differences exist between any two countries.  Even between the UK and the other countries in Europe, differences exist between their cultures and social etiquette.  It is incredibly easy to upset people whose culture may be different from yours by engaging in everyday things you take for granted in the UK.

For example, finger pointing might make people in some cultural environments uncomfortable because it is seen as rude.  It is seen as invasive to take photographs of others without checking if it is okay to do so.  Don't take photographs or make video recordings of locals without asking their permission.

Similarly, be aware that photographs near military installations, nuclear sites and such other sensitive locations may be misinterpreted and could be regarded by local authorities as breaking the law. 



Don't ignore or disrespect the culture of the people in the community you are visiting.  Tipping etiquette varies from one country to another.  It is more traditional in some countries than it is in the UK and it is seen as an insult in some cultures.  Learn about the tipping etiquette for the country you would be visiting before you head out.  You can also search for these information online or find out from the locals in a polite and friendly manner.

Do not take the locals for granted.  Don’t blare out music from your hotel room or near your hotel swimming pool while you are relaxing by the pool.  The local menu is an integral part of the people's culture.  Don't complain about the local foods or delicacies if they don't agree with your taste.  Don’t be greedy with your helpings when you attend all-you-can-eat buffets.  Have consideration for others.

Don’t engage in a religious argument with the locals.  It is advisable to avoid conversations about religion because it is a sensitive issue in most communities.

One might argue that people don’t respect those sort of guidelines in this country, and that is indeed a sore political point with most.  But we need to set a good example, or try to, once abroad, even if our football hooligans and stag/hen parties don’t! 


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