Useful Tips for the Traveller
The key to a successful holiday, like most other activities, is to plan and prepare with care. Some of the top tips include:
1. If you are booking a package holiday, always use a reputable travel agent. Make sure your travel agent is an ABTA member and, if flying, make certain your holiday package is ATOL protected. If your travel involves travel on airlines with which you are unfamiliar, you might be reassured if you check their safety and reliability. The best source of information on air transport www.airsafe.com which offers a wealth of information on the safety of all the world ’s airlines.
2. Think it through before you use an on-line booking option. Buying travel on the web is much less attractive than buying consumer goods etc. Yes, you can get bargains, but there can be serious problems. You are often swapping customer service for a discounted price. Before you make any on-line booking make certain that you have the precise details needed to complete the on-line booking forms. If you make a mistake, you will find it very difficult to rectify. On-line bookings are often through offices in India, with staff having carefully chosen anglicised names to increase customer confidence. Staff are charming while they are selling, but if you get a problem they are not so clever at finding a solution that does not cost you a lot more money. You may pay a little more at your travel agent, but you will certainly get better customer service at all stages. The best advice is: only book on-line if you are confident of getting it right
3. If your trip does involve air travel, research the comfort of the airline. If it is a long trip, seat pitch(the distance between you and the seat in front) is of particular importance, not only to comfort, but also to health. The distance, in economy/coach, varies between 29 and 34 inches. This is a situation where size really does matter! You can get comprehensive information about airline quality from www.airlinequality.com
4. Check the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) Travel Advice or call0870 606 0290. The FCO web site at www.fco.gov.uk gives a wealth of travel information, if perhaps over-cautious, particularly relating to destination safety.
5. Get good travel travel insurance immediately you make your booking and check that the cover is appropriate. Do not rely on travel insurance from credit card cover without first checking that it covers all of your needs (it almost never will). Shop around for your insurance and remember that you do not have to accept the insurance offered by the travel agent. What they offer is very likely to meet your requirements, but they get very high rates of commission (c40%) for the insurance they sell and it is most likely that you can get equal or better cover elsewhere at a much lower premium. If you are over 65 years of age and have problems getting insurance, check with Age Concern http://www.ageuk.org.uk/
6. Research your destination. Find on-line articles or get a good guidebook and local maps. you can usually find good maps, weather predictions on the internet, often from the tourist office of the country you are visiting. Find out about local laws and customs.
7. At a very early stage, ensure that your passport is valid for the necessary period and that you have the necessary visas. Your travel agent will advise you of visa requirements, but to be safe, check with the fco web site at: www.fco.gov.uk
8. Check what vaccinations you need at least 6 weeks before you go. Check whether visas are required. Your travel agent should advise you, but they frequently get it wrong and it is ultimately the passengers responsibility.
9. Check to see if you need to take extra health precautions - visit the NHS travel health pages.
10. Make copies of your passport, insurance policy, plus 24-hour emergency number, and ticket details – leave copies with family and friends. As tragic as it is, every year sees serious accidents and illness abroad and in such circumstances it may be essential that someone in the UK acts on your behalf. Be particularly careful about the terms of your insurance policy. If you do not act in accordance with the terms of the policy, the insurers may not meet your claim.
11. If you are hiring a car, make certain that you have appropriate insurance cover. It is very unlikely that your UK cover will meet this requirement. Research the local driving regulations and be certain that you understand them. “I’m a foreigner” is a pretty poor defence if you are stopped by the local police!
12. Make certain of the airline check-in requirements and your departure terminal. Due to constantly changing security regulations, these can vary from airport to airport. Every year many people miss their flights by turning up at the wrong terminal. At some airports they are so far apart that a mistake may be impossible to put right.
13. Take enough money for your trip and some back-up funds eg travellers cheques, sterling or US dollars (often accepted in many countries). Credit cards are generally accepted in most countries. Beware of card fraud, taking all possible precautions. Take only one card if possible. Note the number and be familiar with the method of reporting its loss or fraudulent use. When you withdraw cash from a machine, make certain that you are doing so in privacy and check your balance to ensure that it accords with your idea of what should be in your account. If you are suspicious, take action at once.
14. If you intend taking your mobile telephone, check with your mobile provider that your telephone will work in your destination country.
15. Leave a copy of your itinerary and a way of contacting you such as e-mail, with family and friends.
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