Before you leave
1. Check up to 6 months ahead what vaccinations you may need.
2. Photocopy passport and, if possible, save a copy onto your email account.
3. Take recent photographs of your children with you so it will be easier to identify them should you become separated.
4. Get phone number and address for your country’s embassy at your destination.
5. Give someone at home contact details for you.
6. Get a comprehensive travel insurance policy. If you have any existing conditions, check these are not excluded. Some travel insurance policies exclude acts of terrorism, make sure yours doesn’t!
7. Do not buy insurance directly from your agent or airline. These are often overpriced and by shopping around you can get the same protection for a fraction of the price.
8. Check the weather patterns for time of your visit and plan for this. Pack appropriate clothing.
9. Stock up on essentials before you leave (sun creams, repellents, medicines etc.) as they may be difficult to obtain at your destination.
10. Check tripadvisor for information regarding your destination. The forum can provide many useful hints and tips.
11. Check with your country’s government body about travel advice to the country you are visiting.
12. Take a compass so you know which direction to head when looking at a map.
13. Take ear plugs in case you have a noisy hotel room.
14. Take a torch.
15. If you are taking a mobile telephone, make sure your operator has unlocked it to work abroad. Contact them to check.
16. If you are abroad for a while investigate buying a local sim card for your phone. This can make calls much cheaper. Make sure your phone is unlocked to accept other operator’s sim cards.
17. Take a basic first aid kit.
18. Purchase a personal alarm that emits a loud sound.
19. Take an extra pair of glasses.
20. If you are on medication, take a copy of your prescription with you. Ensure it is legal to import your prescription medication.
21. Before leaving for your holiday, do a Google search on ‘(holiday destination) scams’.
22. Before leaving, make a note of the accommodation you will be staying in. This often needs to be given to customs officials.
23. Before your flight, pack essentials into your carry bag. This will come in useful should your hold baggage go missing.
24. Do not put home address on luggage tag as this could compromise security. Use the address of friends/workplace instead.
25. Pack your own bags and do not leave them unattended.
At your Destination
26. Do not approach animals as they may carry disease.
27. Be wary of people who approach you. Don’t let your guard down!
28. Do not reveal any confidential details to anybody.
29. Do not accept drinks from strangers. If someone insists in buying you one, go to the bar with them and keep a close eye on it!
30. Be wary of strangers who approach you. They could be scammers!
31. Beware of pick-pockets. These people often work in pairs and will strike up a conversation with you or create a disturbance of some kind.
32. Respect local customs. Check what is appropriate behaviour and act accordingly.
33. Respect local dress codes, especially in Islamic countries.
34. Try to dress like a local. This will make you less of a target to hustlers/thieves and make your holiday more enjoyable.
35. Do not keep valuables on display as this may make you a target for thieves. If possible, leave any unnecessary valuables at home.
36. Avoid public protests as these can be dangerous.
37. Remain alert, if something feels potentially dangerous then steer clear.
38. If visiting a beach, check it is safe to swim. If in doubt, do not go into the water.
39. Do not photograph military personnel or installations. This can get you accused of being a spy and lead to prosecution!
40. Be careful when using taxis. If possible, use only taxis from registered firms. If your taxi is unmetered, agree a price before you get in.
41. Buy a phrasebook and map for your destination.
42. Make your children carry a card with your name, hotel and contact details on it.
43. Keep your hand on or draped over your bag at all times.
44. If confronted do not fight back, it’s better to lose some valuables than it is your life!
45. If you need to ask directions, ask only people in a position of authority (e.g. Police).
46. Avoid walking and travelling during the night.
47. In hotels, make note of the emergency exit procedures. If you are unable to find them, ask, if there isn’t one…leave!
48. If someone approaches you and claims to be in a position of authority ask for some ID. It’s not unknown for scammers to pretend to be policemen!
49. Avoid anybody approaching you claiming to be a tour guide. If you need a guide, locate one yourself.
50. Contact your credit card companies before travel. It’s a nuisance to have your card blocked when abroad!
51. Keep a copy of your credit card numbers with someone you can trust at home. In the event of loss, they can be easily cancelled.
52. Save the phone number of your credit card companies into your mobile telephone so it will be easier to contact them in the event of a loss.
53. Get some of your destinations currency at home. This will make things easier when you arrive at your destination if there are no ATM’s.
54. Have some of your local currency ready for when you arrive home. This comes in useful for airport shops and taxis.
55. Take a small amount of cash and at least two credit cards.
56. Keep credit cards separate from one another.
57. When leaving the hotel only take one card…leave the others in the hotel safe. Check it is secure.
58. Only carry as much money as you need for each day.
59. Have a dummy wallet with a small amount of cash in it. This is useful in case you are confronted by a mugger.
60. Carry lots of small change ready to give as tips.
Food and Drink
61. Check if it is safe to drink the water. If not, buy bottled water when you reach your destination. Check the seal is unbroken.
62. If water is unsafe, make sure there is no ice in your drink.
63. Take water purification tablets in case you are unable to access bottled water.
64. Avoid foods that have been kept warm, bacteria could thrive on it!
65. Avoid uncooked fruit and vegetables unless you can peel them yourself.
66. Avoid food exposed to flies.
67. If driving, do your research on road customs, highway codes and conditions.
68. Check if your current driving licence is accepted.
69. Inspect the condition of the hire vehicle before accepting it. Bring to attention any bumps and scrapes to the hire company and make sure they note them so that you will not be accused of the damage.
70. Collision damage waiver insurance is essential cover when hiring a car. Try to buy this from a third party (not the hire company) as you can make huge savings.
Before Coming Home
71. Check what you are allowed to import. Bringing items home which are not allowed could lead to prosecutions and fines.
I hope you find this list a useful guide on things to consider before you travel. Of course, the list is not exhaustive and there may be things that you do that have not been covered. If that is the case, then I encourage you to join in and leave a comment at the bottom of this post.