Know Before You Go
Alpha Travel Insurance is proud to be a member of the FCO's 'Know Before You Go' and 'Travel Aware' campaigns. Below you will find some helpful information in preparation for your trip.
Your holiday is all booked, your travel insurance purchased, but to make sure your holiday goes to plan here is a checklist and some general advice to follow before and during your holiday, along with a small checklist of things to do when you come back.
- If you're travelling within the EU, make sure you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), this has replaced the old E111 form. The EHIC is free and you can apply for one online, if you already have an EHIC make sure it is still current, they are renewable every 5 years. The EHIC will provide you with free or reduced cost emergency medical care in any European Member State.
- Check with your GP at least 6 weeks before you travel in case you need any vaccinations.
- Pack any medication in your hand luggage.
- Carry a spare prescription for your medication in a separate bag. Note the generic names of prescription drugs as brand names may vary from country to country.
- Carry a prescription for your glasses.
- If you or any of your party requires emergency treatment, make sure you call your travel insurer's emergency help line as soon as is practical, and take their advice. If you don't, it may affect any claim you make for medical treatment costs.
- Make sure you have enough to cover emergencies.
- Don't rely on one thing - take a mixture of cash, credit / debit cards and some travellers cheques as a backup.
- If you have travellers cheques, keep a record of your travellers cheque numbers in a different place to your travellers cheques.
- Take sensible precautions - don't carry all of your cards, travellers cheques and cash with you - you'll be stuck if you do and they're stolen. Carry only as much money as you need for the day, plus a little extra for emergencies.
- Most hotels and apartments have safes or safety deposit boxes, use them. There is sometimes a charge but it is usually small and the extra security is worth it.
Using Credit and Debit Cards Abroad
- Check credit / debit card expiry dates before you travel.
- Only take the cards on holiday that you are likely to use - leave store cards, company credit cards, and any other cards you won't use in a safe place at home - and be 100% positive you know which cards you have with you.
- Advise your bank and credit card company that you will be going abroad on holiday, if they suddenly see the card being used in a foreign country, they could stop the payment as it is out of your normal pattern and may think your card has been stolen or cloned.
- Check when your statement of payment to the credit card company is due and make an advance payment if it falls due during your holiday. You don't want your card to be put on stop when you might need to use it.
- If you intend to spend heavily on your card, especially if this is outside your normal spending pattern, let your card issuer know before you travel. Your spending might be picked up by the card issuer's automated fraud programs, which would also put your card on stop!
- Make sure the card is accepted in the country you are visiting, especially if you plan to draw cash on them.
- Check sales vouchers carefully before signing - especially the number of zeros, and always keep a copy of the sales voucher.
- Whilst on holiday don't carry all of your cards with you - leave at least one in the hotel safe.
- Don't lose sight of your cards in shops or restaurants - dishonest merchants only need a few seconds and one swipe of your card to get all of the information they need to make a copy of it.
- Report lost or stolen cards to your card issuer immediately - quick reporting limits your responsibility for unauthorised use.
- Make a note of debit and credit card company emergency telephone numbers.
Passports and Other Travel Documents
- Even when visiting EU countries you should take a passport. It may not be checked, but some authorities ask for it as proof of ID. If you are flying most airlines now want to see your passport as proof of ID even if you are using a domestic flight.
- Check your passport will be valid for the whole trip. Remember that some countries also require that your passport is valid for at least another 6 months.
- Take a photocopy of your passport, visas and any other important documents. Make a note of passport numbers, dates and where they were issued. Also take a note of your travel insurance policy number.
- Check if you need any visas and how long the visa is valid for.
- When you reach your destination, keep your travel documents in a safe place (the hotel safe again), don't carry them around with you.
- Some countries ask you to carry your passport as a form of identity card, check if a photocopy would suffice, if you do need to carry the original make sure you leave a photocopy in the hotel safe.
- Start gathering your holiday clothes together well before your departure date. Use a temporary rail to start hanging up clothes you are considering taking on holiday. Seeing all the clothes makes it easier to plan outfits and should cut down on the amount of clothes you take and never wear.
- Have your suitcases open and start packing well before your departure date. This allows you to put things in your bags as you think of it.
- Make a list of everything you need to take with you, and then cross them off as you put them in your bags; double check the list before you close your bags.
- Take clothes that won't crease easily. Don't put easily crushed clothes at the bottom of your bags. Roll them or wrap them and wrap your best outfits in tissue to reduce wrinkles.
- Put items you don't mind creasing into bags and pack them into shoes and other nooks and crannies.
- Wrap shoes in plastic bags to stop them marking clothes. Pack shoes around the sides of the case, it gives the items inside a bit more protection.
- Ensure all toiletries and sun creams are sealed securely. Pack them in sealable plastic bags.
- Check the maximum weight for hold luggage with your airline, if you go over the limit you could be charged hefty excess baggage fees.
- Put valuables in your hand luggage.
- It's a good idea to carry a spare set of underwear and a top in your hand luggage too, in case of delays or lost luggage.
- Remember that sharp items are not allowed in hand luggage - pack them in your checked-in luggage. Do not pack any of the following in your hand luggage - toy / replica guns (metal or plastic), catapults, sporting bats, billiards or pool cues, tools, scissors, tweezers, razor blades, knives with blades of any length, household cutlery, knitting needles, darts, hypodermic needles (unless required for medical reasons).
- Check with your airline the maximum size and weight of hand luggage they accept, if your hand luggage is too big or heavy the airline may insist it goes in the hold.
- Most airlines seem to have different limits of weight and size of hold and hand luggage they will accept without excess baggage charge, some are dependent on what type of ticket you buy, first class for example have higher limits than standard class. So it to be absolutely sure of the limits for your trip check directly with the airline you are travelling with.
Things to Do Before You Leave
- Think about your home - let neighbours know that you are away and ask a friend, relative or neighbour to make a regular check on it.
- Cancel any milk or newspaper deliveries
- Set lights and a radio on timers. Unplug televisions, DVD's and any electronic equipment that does not need to be left on.
- Use up perishables in the fridge or bin them.
- Empty the bin before you leave.
- Lock everything.
- On your outward journey write your destination on your luggage tags, not your home address. And put your destination address inside your suitcase as well just in case.
- Know what your airline check-in requirements are, some ask you to be at the airport 2 hours before the flight some ask you to be there 3 hours before the flight.
- If you are planning to drive to the airport make sure you leave plenty of time for traffic delays, getting to the airport too early isn't a problem
- To get the best deal in airport parking book it in advance.
- Do not pack valuables, money, or fragile items into checked-in baggage. Keep them with you at all times.
- Never leave belongings unattended or with strangers, especially on beaches or at airports, nor in vehicles.
- Check your baggage for damage each time you reclaim it.
- It can be extremely expensive to use your mobile phone whilst abroad. Also you will usually pay to receive calls as well as to make them, and to receive and send text messages.
- If you plan to take your mobile phone abroad, make sure you can use it in your destination country.
- Consider setting a credit limit on your phone. If it's lost or stolen this may limit your liability.
- If you plan to call home regularly, it may be cheaper to buy a phone card (prepaid or purchased locally) and use local phone boxes rather than your mobile phone.
If you have anything stolen whilst on holiday
- Report it to the local police and obtain a statement from them about the loss. This is not always easy, but you will need a police report if you want to claim on your travel insurance.
- If your bank cards are stolen, you'll need to phone your bank and card issuers to stop your cards
- If your mobile phone is stolen, phone your mobile phone company to stop your account.
- Should your passport be stolen, your travel insurer will offer advice on how and where you can get a replacement passport from.
- If your tickets are stolen your tour rep, airline or travel agent will help you replace tickets.
Your Personal Safety Whilst on Holiday
- Use your common sense.
- Try to avoid 'seedier' areas.
- Do not wear expensive jewellery.
- Wear and use money belts.
- Before answering the door check through the spy hole.
- Leave a television or radio on when leaving your room.
- Take your room key with you, do not leave it at reception.
- Always use bolts or deadlocks on doors.
- Carry small change for drinks and buses. Keep small denomination notes or coins in a separate pocket so that you don't have to get your purse or wallet out on the street.
When You Get Home
- Check bank and credit card statements carefully. Raise any charges you don't recognise with your card issuer(s) immediately.
- If you were taking a course of anti-malaria tablets make sure you complete the course.
- Remember to tell your doctor that you have been on holiday if you become ill on your return.
- Make sure you put any complaint about your holiday in writing to the holiday company within 28 days.
- Report any claim to insurers immediately.