Stay Safe Tips for the busy Christmas Travel Season

Millions of holidaymakers will be jetting off soon or driving to spend the festive season with friends and family at home and abroad, so now’s the time to make sure you’re prepared for unpredictable weather and other possible disruptions before you leave home.

Getting to your timeshare resort shouldn’t be stressful at this time of year, but if factors like strikes or very bad weather do come into play, you’ll be glad you were prepared.

International SOS has come up with some simple to follow tips for making the whole experience smoother and more enjoyable.

“The next couple of months are shaping up to be a very busy travel season,” said Myles Druckman, MD, Senior Vice President of Medical Services for International SOS. “At the very least, flight delays and cancellations are a nuisance, but some other travel disruptions can trigger much more serious medical or security consequences.”

Travel delays, just for starters, were the number one risk identified by 628 global organisations, according to the Duty of Care and Travel Risk Management Global Benchmarking Study.

“Preparation is essential, and doing a little homework before travel can go a long way to preventing larger issues,” said Damian Taylor, Regional Security Director, Northern Europe.

Travel Tips

Be prepared – Advance planning before setting out from home can make or break a trip. We tend to spend more time searching for restaurants or activities to enjoy while away but it’s important to really know your itinerary and schedule ahead of time, have access to good maps, learn a few phrases in the local language and research any potential issues in advance. While abroad, it’s a good idea to follow the local news and weather reports to stay on top of local issues that may crop up.

Keeping connected – Can you make international calls from your mobile phone? Will your charger work where you’re going? Will your resort have Wi-Fi? Do you know how to contact your global travel assistance provider, have you made a note of the number and printed out your travel insurance document with the contact numbers and procedures regarding claims? Check to be sure you can make international calls, get a charger that will work and pre-program essential contact information so you’re not scrambling to find the right number or email address during a tricky situation. Finally, make sure your friends and family know where you’re going and how to reach you once you arrive. Leave copies of travel documents – like your passport and itinerary – with friends or family, and securely store copies electronically and e-mail them to you for easy retrieval. Also take a copy of your passport and driver’s licence with you and keep them separate from your original documents. Take extra cash, you never know when the local cash machine won’t be working.

Medical essentials – The advantage of staying at a fully-serviced timeshare resort is that you can ask reception for help if you happen to need a doctor or need to find the nearest chemist. But nobody wants to end up in hospital abroad, and even a quick trip to the doctor in some countries can prove surprisingly expensive – in most cases you have to pay the doctor directly then claim on your insurance later. Make sure you know how your personal health could be affected by your destination – travellers to high-risk countries are six times more likely to be hospitalised than in less risky destinations, according to research in the September issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Bring diarrhoea medication with you, anti-nausea tablets, ibuprofen, antiseptics and other essentials so you don’t have to go looking for the nearest pharmacy while abroad. Is the water safe to drink? Are you taking prescription drugs? Take extra with you, keep them in their original container and always in your carry-on bags to be sure. Eat as healthily as you can and remember that flying can dehydrate you—so always drink plenty of water.

Remember that infections are easily spread and germs can last for many hours on surfaces. Strains constantly surface (like the new SARS-like virus that has just been reported). You can never wash your hands too frequently, and keep an alcohol-based hand sanitising gel with you to use when there’s nowhere to wash your hands.

Be aware of potential trouble spots – If you’re travelling to a country where there are political problems, be vigilant ahead of time and check the Foreign Office warnings on their website, which are updated regularly. Investigate the routes you will take from airport or train station to the hotel. Remember, security is ultimately your responsibility especially in places with potential unrest, where nothing is predictable.

Safety on the Road – Although some travellers fear the threat of terrorist attacks at busy times of the year, the fact is that 25,000 international travellers are killed each year on the roads. Traffic accidents are the main reason for emergency evacuation and repatriation. While we drive on the left, most other countries driving on the right – and roads may be under-maintained. Apparently car accident injuries cause 10 times more tourist deaths each year than diseases.

Check your medical coverage – How covered are you? Does your medical insurance provider in the U.K. cover your medical expenses in a foreign country? Typically, consumers are told to pay the bills, save their receipts and they’ll probably get reimbursed. Rememeber that in many countries outside the U.K., payment is expected up-front before treatment and often only local currency is accepted. It’s better to take insurance out with a medical and security assistance provider that can tell them where to find quality medical care, whether it’s for routine advice or in an emergency, and guarantee payment for medical expenses and, if necessary, a medical evacuation.

Peace of mind is priceless and preparation is everything. It’s well worth planning ahead properly to be ready for anything during one of the busiest travel times of the year.

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