It pays to do your research before you travel
Stay healthy, stay safe and be prepared

FCO Travel Aware

Spending time researching your holiday destination may seem like a waste of time, but it can make a big difference to the enjoyment of your trip.

The more prepared you are the less likely that something unexpected will happen and if it does you will be better equipped to deal with it.

Before you travel you should make sure you are aware of the health risks of your destination, local laws and customs and check the latest travel advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

Know the health risks

The risks to your health when you are abroad will be different depending on which country you are going to and whether you are going to a busy holiday resort or more remote location, as well as, your medical history, your length of stay and what activities you intend to do when you are there.

Here are some of the things you should consider before you travel or, if you have existing medical conditions, before you choose your holiday destination.

  • Are you fit to travel to your chosen destination or do the activities you want?  Think about the length of the flight, the climate and landscape when you get there and the fitness levels or strength required to take part in any activities.  Talk to your doctor or a health professional if you are unsure how you would cope.
  • Are any vaccinations recommended?  Find out at  It is recommended that you consult with your General Practitioner or Practice Nurse 6-8 weeks in advance of travel. They will assess your particular health risks before recommending vaccines and /or antimalarial tablets.
  • What medical essentials should you take with you? Think about the medical supplies you might need when you are away, for example, prescription medication, sun screen, insect repellent, anti-diarrhoea pills, antihistamines, water purification tablets and a first aid kit. 

Find out about local laws and customs

Not all countries are the same, it’s very important to remember this when you are travelling.  You can’t assume that what is legal or socially acceptable at home will be ok in another country.

  • Laws: Some things which we might use every day in the UK are illegal in other countries, for example it is illegal to take chewing gum in to Singapore, and e-cigarettes are illegal in Dubai.
  • Customs: It is important to respect local customs, such as dress codes when entering religious buildings so as not to cause offence.
  • Entry requirements: It is your responsibility to find out the entry requirements for your holiday destination and make sure that you obtain the right documentation in time.  If you don’t have the right documentation you could be refused entry or even detained.

The easiest way to find out the entry requirements for your holiday destination is to look at the travel advice provided by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).

Get the latest travel advice from Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO)

To help you stay safe when you are travelling, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office publish a up to date information about over 220 countries across the world.  You should check this every time you travel as it is constantly updated to reflect the changing situations in countries around the world.

Information published by the FCDO includes:

  • Latest security threats
  • Areas of a country which should be avoided
  • Areas of a country where only essential travel is advised
  • Information about extreme weather conditions or natural disasters such as earthquakes or hurricanes.
  • Information about upcoming industrial action which could affect your trip.
  • Information about local laws and customs

Remember if you travel to a country or region against the advice of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office your travel insurance will not provide cover.

Check the latest travel advice by country.

It may seem like a chore, but it’s definitely worth spending a little time doing your research before you travel, it can help you stay healthy, stay safe and avoid unnecessary delays.

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