General travellers

It seems we just can’t get enough of foreign travel. Brits are now ranked among the most well-travelled people in the world with nine out of 10 of us having holidayed abroad, according to official figures.

Regardless of the type of trip you’re taking, whether it’s a city break, a week in the sun, a skiing holiday or trekking in a remote part of the world, here are some tips to help ensure you have a hassle-free, safe trip.

Before you go

As well as booking flights and accommodation it’s a good idea to check the latest travel advice and entry and health requirements for the country you’re visiting on the government website.

As well as having sufficient funds to cover your trip, make sure you get the right sort of travel insurance and that you know how to deal with a medical emergency if necessary while you’re away.

For some handy checklists on preparing for a trip abroad see our guide.

While you’re away

It’s great to relax on holiday but you shouldn’t take any risks that you wouldn’t take at home. Here are some general safety tips:

  • Ensure your accommodation is safe whether you’re staying in a hotel or self-catering.
  • If you’re taking a beach holiday or have a pool make sure everyone in your party knows how to stay safe in and around the water and read local safety signs. Drowning, accidents around the pool and falls from balconies are among the most common accidents on holiday.
  • Think about what you are doing at all times and trust your instincts when it comes to personal safety.
  • Keep your valuables safe either by locking them up or by not openly displaying them.
  • Store useful numbers (such as the local emergency services and the nearest British embassy or consulate) on your phone.
  • Depending on where you are, think twice before taking photos or videos. For example, if you want a photo of people you don’t know ask first and if you’re in a religious building or near a military installation check if you’re allowed to take photos before doing so.

Local customs and dress

It’s a good idea to find out what the local customs and dress of the area are so you avoid offending people or inadvertently breaking the law. Sometimes a local custom may seem trivial but there may be serious penalties for ignoring it.

For example, did you know it’s illegal to possess or drink alcohol even in hotels in Saudi Arabia? In Russia it’s illegal to drive a dirty car while in some parts of Australia you can be fined for swearing. E-cigarettes are banned in the United Arab Emirates and you should cover your arms and legs if you visit a religious site in Turkey. In Cyprus it’s illegal to honk a car horn near a hospital and in Canada the legal drinking age varies from one province to the next.


The risk of terrorist attacks on British nationals travelling abroad has increased but it’s important to keep this in proportion and not let it ruin your holiday. The Foreign & Commonwealth provides travel advice for more than 225 countries around the world and you can also find out how to minimise your risk from terrorism and what to do if you get caught up in a fire arms or weapons attack in our guide.

Published on 07/06/18

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