Carefree travel – a thing of the past?!
I have never been a big fan of winter, so planning our summer holiday always helps get me through those darker months. Somehow, I seem to worry more about preparing for an overseas trip now that we have young children. The carefree young woman who travelled to Guatemala with only European travel insurance seems to have been replaced by a ‘Mum of many lists’!
As part of our summer blog series, I spoke to a friend of mine, Jessica Burke who organises all kinds of exciting Disney, air & cruise trips for Great Days Holidays who specialise in Group Travel. Jessica gives us her top holiday planning tips to make things as stress free as possible especially should anyone become ill whilst overseas.
So Jess, what is your top tip for holiday planning?
The best holiday purchase for me is making sure you have adequate travel insurance. It can sometimes seem expensive and unnecessary; but in the event of an accident or illness, it will be well worth the money paid out. Many countries do not have the fantastic NHS free at the point of use; so a trip to hospital can easily cost thousands. Even if you are travelling within the UK, it is worth purchasing travel insurance in case you need to stay longer at your holiday destination due to illness. Hotel bills can mount up quickly!
Make sure you buy your insurance as soon as you book your holiday to ensure you are covered for any unforeseen circumstances even before you go away.
There are so many types of travel insurance – what should I look for?
You’re right. There are lots of insurance companies out there with many different policies so make sure you read the small print and check what is covered. When you go away; write down your policy number and the international (not UK free phone) number for the assistant company who will help you in an emergency.
Is there any other information I should take with me?
Research the nearest hospital, doctors and pharmacy (with opening hours) to your holiday destination. If the worst happens you will know where to go. I would also find out the details for a local dentist! If you pay for any dentist, doctors, prescriptions; keep the receipts as you may be able to make a claim on your travel insurance.
I know it’s unlikely, but what happens if I have a medical emergency on holiday?
In the UK you dial 999 for an ambulance but if you are in Europe you can dial 112 from ANY phone to speak to the emergency services. If you’re on a package holiday you may have the services of a holiday rep so ask them for help and advice. Their visiting times to the property will be on a noticeboard usually with a 24 hour assistance number.
In a medical emergency, contact your insurance company’s assistance company. They should liaise with the hospital to authorise the cost of treatments and additional hotel nights should you have to stay longer than booked; and they should help with cost of getting you home. Every insurance policy is different however and you need to read what is covered. If you don’t buy travel insurance, you will probably have to cover these costs yourself.
Do I really need travel insurance if I have an EHIC (old E111) card?
The EHIC only entitles you to the equivalent of NHS care in 27 European countries. The level of care or inclusions may not be the same as the UK so you still may end up with a bill. It is worth getting an EHIC card as well as insurance. Some insurers require you have one in the event of a claim so check the small print!
What about taking medication on holiday?
Pack any medication in hand luggage in case your hold luggage does not go on the same holiday as you! If the medication is in liquid form, ensure that it meets the airline requirements of no more than 100ml and that any liquids/gels are in a re-sealable, clear plastic bag. It is wise to take a copy of any prescriptions in case you need more medication. Also check what medication you can take into the destination country as even some over the counter medication could be a controlled substance in certain places.
Long haul flights can be tricky with a baby. Any advice?
Ask the airline about sky cots. These are specially designed cribs that you can pre-book which allow you to put your baby down for at least part of the journey. Not all airlines carry them and they are subject to availability. Remember that for children 0-2 years you don’t have to buy a seat, but then they will need to sit on your knee for the entire journey!
Thanks Jess. This is so useful. Any other top tips for happy holidays?
- Pack a travel first aid kit. I’ve seen the new Mini First Aid kit and it’s fab! I’d also pack mosquito repellant, antihistamine for those pesky mosquito bites, diarrohea tablets and the usual painkillers.
- Pack high factor sun screen and apply frequently especially after swimming. Encourage everyone to rest (I know – it isn’t easy!) between midday and 3pm. Think games, reading or a siesta!
- Keep everyone hydrated. Drink plenty of water and remember if you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated!
- If you are travelling outside Europe and the US, check with your GP if you need specific innoculations (jabs).