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10 tips on looking after yourself when visiting or working in a high-risk zone

If you are visiting a country that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCDO) or an equivalent national agency of your country of residence have advised either ‘No Travel’ or restricted it to ‘All but essential travel’, whether you’re visiting for personal reasons or business travel, regardless of the industry you work in, we’ve highlighted our top 10 tips that if followed correctly, should help keep you safe and sound whilst you’re away.

1) Always let someone know where you are

Now, we’re not saying you need to be glued to your phone the entire time you’re away but one must-do whilst away is letting your family know you’re safe and what your plans are for that day. This can be as simple as sending a regular text message or even ‘Checking in’ using Facebook. This will allow your family to know your last known whereabouts and that you are safe and most importantly, alive.

2) Adhere to local laws and customs

This sounds like such a simple instruction, but you wouldn’t believe the amount of people that believe just because they’re a visitor in another country, that local laws and customs don’t apply to them. Well, they do.

Not only is it respectful to abide by local laws and customs, no matter your personal opinions on them, if you do break a law in a foreign country whether you mean to or not, you may find the punishment is far more severe than in your home country and you could get yourself into a lot of trouble, imprisoned or worse.

3) Carry your emergency contact information with you at all      times

In the event that something does happen whilst you’re away, having your emergency contact information and policy information to hand will speed up the process of getting you the right care quickly. This information will also make treatment providers aware of any allergies or pre – existing conditions you may have and can aid in reaching your family with updates on your progress and most up-to-date situation.

Don’t forget to also download the ‘One Tap’ Emergency Response App as well as download any pre-travel country information files before you go.

It’s also a good idea to keep a copy of your passport separate to your original document. Perhaps even scan and email a copy to yourself and a loved one at home.

4) Don’t drink the tap-water

This may seem obvious when in a foreign country, but we can’t stress the importance of this enough. Other countries may not be able to offer the same filtering that goes in to making the European tap water drinkable and therefore can make you ill. It’s advisable to always have a bottle of water to hand and to also use this when brushing your teeth.

If you order a drink, don’t have any ice cubes and also be aware that salads are often washed in tap water too.

5) Avoid travelling solo at night unless necessary

Travelling at night can be dangerous no matter what country you’re in, even Europe However, when travelling to high-risk territories it is advisable to stay in your accommodation during the evening. As in most countries, crime rates tend to be higher at night fall and as a visitor, you’re an easy target for mugging or worse.

6) Keep up-to-date with your vaccines

When abroad you and your body are exposed to new and foreign types of threats that your body wouldn’t have encountered before and therefore wouldn’t have an immunity to. Before you travel, speak to your GP about what vaccinations are needed specifically for that country but also ask about a booster tetanus jab to ensure you’re as protected as you can be.

7) Don’t keep all your money in one place

Whilst travelling, it’s advisable to not keep all your money in one place such as your back pocket or in your wallet. In the event that you do get mugged or pick–pocketed, you want to ensure that you still have enough money to buy the essentials such as food and water but also enough to get you back home. Where possible, leave some cash and a spare credit card in your hotel safe and when walking the streets place your money in different pockets across your outfit.

8) Read as much as you can about your destination before      you go

Avoid looking like a tourist by reading as much about your destination as you can before you go. Best places to eat, drink, sight-see and the top places to avoid etc. By doing this you reduce the risks of running in to a dangerous neighbourhood. Walk around like you know where you’re going and that you’re completely comfortable and familiar with your surroundings. This will go a long way.

nowing where you’re going or at least looking like it means you don’t need to look at a map as often; a sure sign of a tourist which can act as a magnet for thieves and other people that may cause you problems.

9) Keep up to date with travel updates with your home     country’s travel advice organisation

Keeping up-to-date with your home country’s travel advice about the destination you are travelling to can allow you to make an informed decision on foreign travel. The Foreign Commonwealth Office provides real-time updates on the latest terror threats, acts of violence, incidents and offer travel and safety advice for those travelling abroad and for those already there. It’s advisable to subscribe to their updates whilst you’re away to assess situations and keep informed of recent actions in the country you’re visiting. All updates can be found here.

Remember, most high street and comparison website travel insurers do not cover travelling to a country where there is a government advisory against ‘all travel’ or ‘all but essential travel’.

9) Get Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is a must-have whether you’re away for one week or 3 months. In the event that the unexpected happens, know that you are covered for emergency medical treatment and much more. Always read your policy wording to see exactly what you’re covered for and remember to take out a level of cover with or without optional extras that is suited to your needs.

You will need to arrange cover with a specialist policy that includes higher risk destinations. If you have purchased a High Risk Voyager Travel Insurance policy, which will cover you for these destinations don’t forget to download your pre-travel country information fact sheets for your destination.

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