We’ve become a lot more adventurous in our choice of holidays in recent years. From gap year students to adventure junkies, increasing numbers of people are stepping out of their comfort zones and abandoning the packaged holiday for something a bit riskier.
However, some countries are more dangerous than others. The Foreign Office advises against all travel to 15 countries and parts of another 40. The latter list includes Russia, Thailand and Egypt alongside more traditionally volatile countries. I’d strongly recommend you check out the FO website before booking anywhere exotic.
Dangers aren’t always as straightforward as you might think. Alongside warzones and terrorism targets, things like active volcanos (Bali), street crime (Jamaica) and gun crime (US) can have a significant impact on an unlucky traveller. Being British isn’t going to win you many friends on a trip to parts of some countries (Iran, for example) and being LGBT, a woman or a different ethnicity could result in problems in many parts of the world.
Of course, any holiday poses risks, from drunken tourists on the rampage to breaking a limb while skiing. Some travellers have found out that bawdy adventures and high jinks can land you in prison. So nude photos, “suggestive” party games, pocketing a shell or a piece of pottery or anything that could be disrespectful should all be avoided. Even party towns like Ayia Napa and Ibiza have clamped down on drunken holidaymakers on binges, with big fines for transgressors.
Every year, I deal with some pretty nasty travel complaints from people who’ve found themselves seriously ill in hospital abroad. The costs can be horrendous – so don’t ever leave home without a decent policy. Resolver can help with travel insurance disputes but it makes sense to read the key parts of the policy before travelling.
So from visiting Unesco sites in danger zones to taking part in dangerous activities, here are a few tips for the intrepid explorer:
Take a credit card. Having a source of money for emergencies is essential. So don’t just rely on cash, if something goes wrong a card can help you get help fast.
Speak to a few insurers and take out a comprehensive policy before travelling. Take out dangerous sports or winter cover too if you’re doing anything from hiking or cycling to snorkelling and bungee jumping. You should also ask about private hospital treatment and repatriation if you have to be brought home after an accident or injury.
Photocopy your passport and store copies safely (especially online – but disguise the filename.)
If you’re going somewhere risky, speak to the UK embassy in that country before and regularly check in with friends and colleagues.
Respect the culture of the place you’re visiting. That may involve dressing conservatively or demurely or laying off the booze.
Do your research. Leaving aside the fact that it’s polite to learn a few words of the local dialect, checking online for advice for travellers is essential. Always have a map just in case your phone packs up or gets pinched. And keep the name of your hotel handy.
Whatever you do, have a blast, but remember: from rubbish hotels to delayed flights, Resolver can help you get a travel problem sorted.
James Walker is the founder of online complaint-resolution service Resolver.co.uk