It’s a sad reflection of the way the world currently is that hardly a week seems to pass without reports of some kind of terror related incident happening somewhere in the world.
In the last month, incidents have occurred in London, St Petersburg and Stockholm to name but three – not only having a devastating effect on local people but also on visitors from overseas who were spending time in the cities.
Of course, the chances of such an incident occurring when you are away on holiday are slim and are very much a worse case scenario, but it does raise the question of whether or not you know what to do if something does go wrong whilst you are travelling overseas.
Before you even head abroad, there are a number of things you should ensure you have sorted out.
The first thing may sound obvious but it is occasionally missed, and that is travel insurance. For the most part, people will leave booking insurance until closer to the time they are travelling, but that means you aren’t covered for anything that might occur beforehand that would affect your travel plans.
With that in mind, you are better off sorting insurance before heading off on your adventures.
Depending on where you are travelling, you may want to consider what medical cover any travel insurance provides, and also invest in a European Health Insurance card if you are traveling within the EU.
That card gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in another European Economic Area country or Switzerland, and is provided free of charge.
A country-by-country guide to the EHIC scheme can be found online but it should be worth noting that it is a free service so if you find someone offering to sort your EHIC for you at a charge, then you don’t need to pay – you can do it yourself by simply filling in a form.
You can also check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in order to make yourself aware of any travel advice for the country you are visiting.
In the event of an incident such as those seen in recent weeks, the first thing to do is to get to a place of safety where you are away from any immediate risk.
You should then make contact with friends or family back home to make them aware you are safe. That might be by way of a phone call or text message, or by making use of social media channels in the event of communication systems being knocked off line or being jammed.
To keep updated with the situation, you can then make use of the usual media channels, whilst the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will provide regular updates through social media and also through a dedicated email service that you can subscribe to prior to travelling.
Should there be a need to leave your resort and head for home early, contact your tour operator through the dedicated number that you will have been provided with for emergency use.
It’s never nice to fall ill but it’s especially unpleasant when it comes during a break away from home.
If you are travelling within Europe and are in a country that makes use of the EHIC system then you’ll be able to benefit from access to healthcare provisions in a similar manner to back at home.
If you fall ill as a result of negligence on the part of your hotel or staff, then ensure it is reported to your rep if you are travelling as part of a package as you may be entitled to compensation as a result.
A rep will also be able to advise on the best place to go for any treatment or to find a local pharmacy, and will also be able to explain how things operate compared to what you may be used to.
If travelling independently, then its particularly important to have made sure you have the correct cover to help in the event of illness – ensuring that costs you may incur will be covered.
Contacting your travel insurance company whilst abroad will allow you to check how to proceed if you are ill but make sure you keep hold of any receipts for future reference.
If you fall victim to crime when abroad, then you need to report it as you would when at home – your tour rep or the hotel in which you are staying should be able to help.
If the crime is a serious one, then the UK embassy will be able to help if there is a need for a lawyer who speaks English, whilst they will also be able to help with sourcing a translator if required.
You will be liable to cover the costs of any such services.
In the event of a lost passport, you’ll be able to get a replacement from the UK embassy but at a cost.
If you do then find your passport having reported it as lost or stolen, don’t use it as it will have been logged as missing and will only cause you hassle at the airport.
Should you encounter issues with your accommodation, you should first of all speak to your travel rep to try and resolve the problem whilst in resort.
If travelling independently, then raise the issue directly with your hotel and provide opportunity to fix the issue that has occurred. Keep you cool and you may well stand more chance of getting things sorted out.
If it isn’t possible to find a resolution, you need to ensure that you collect photographic evidence of any problems and also make a note of anything that has been discussed for future reference.
That way you will be able to try and sort things with your travel operator when you return home or can escalate it to a higher level – such as ABTA with its dispute resolution service.
If dealing with a private individual having booked direct, then you may need to cut your losses and call it a case of lesson learned as claiming any kind of compensation may prove to be more difficult.