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We ask the expert...

...for their top travel tips

We ask the expert...

Posted on 20/11/2017

Leanne Wilcox

Filed under Insurance, Travel

We spoke with Stephanie Burgess Head of Travel & Member Benefits at Forces Travel for her lowdown on all the need-to-know tips when travelling abroad...

Steph, we appreciate there are a lot of things to consider before and during travelling, so what is the first thing that we should think about?

“You should always do your research first – before setting off – in fact, probably even before booking – get to know a little about your destination and the local surroundings. A little bit of knowledge can help you plan your trip and any excursions, and will save you time when you get to your destination.”

Steph’s top tip: Use the FCO website for travel advice about your destination.


When travelling, what is the first thing we need to think about?

“Personal Security is really important – always keep your passport secure and ensure it is kept with you at all times whilst travelling. When you arrive at your destination, if you are in a hotel or self-catering accommodation then there may be a safe you can use – find out, and if there is one, use it!”

Steph’s top tip: Be sensible with your valuables – cameras, tablets and phones are attractive to thieves, so don’t leave them unattended.


What’s your advice when it comes to purchasing travel money?  

“Keeping an eye on exchange rates is a must – they fluctuate all the time so you can’t always know if you’re getting the best rate, but my advice is not to leave your currency until the last minute – you can usually get better exchange rates than those offered at airports, so make sure you exchange your money before you travel.”

Steph’s top tip: Use a comparison website to find the best rates.


When taking cash abroad, what do you recommend?  

“Try to avoid carrying large amounts of cash or taking out more than you need – if you do need to carry cash then split it with other members of your group.”

Steph’s top tip: Credit cards and prepaid cards can be a more secure alternative so look into this as an option, too.


When we spend money abroad, should we buy things using local currency or Sterling?

“Where you can, definitely local currency – when paying a bill abroad, if you are given a choice between the local currency and sterling, it is often better to pay in the local currency – paying in Sterling is usually more expensive.”

Steph’s top tip: Take Sterling with you on your travels just in case – even if you don’t use it abroad, it’s good to have some Sterling in the case of an emergency.


Whilst on holiday, is there anything we should be aware of?

“Be aware of your surroundings – especially areas like swimming pools and beaches; check for lifeguards and warning flags. If you have accommodation with a balcony then exercise caution, particularly if there are children in your party, and don’t sit on the balcony edges!”


How should I prepare in the event of an emergency?

“It’s good to know important local numbers – make sure you know how to contact the emergency services – in Europe 112 is a common emergency services number.”

Steph’s top tip: Leave your contact details including details of where you’re staying with family or friends so they can get in touch if there is an emergency at home whilst you are away.


With everyone engaging with social media these days, it’s great to be able to share our travel experiences with our friends and family via social media, is there anything we should know?

“While social media is a great way to share your experience, you should be careful using social media whilst abroad – posting holiday photos can advertise that you are away and may make your home more vulnerable to thieves.”

Steph’s top tip: Post your holiday snaps once you’re home!


Holidays are about having a good time, so naturally many of us will enjoy a drink (or two!) whilst we’re away, is there anything we need to know?

“Take care when consuming alcohol and (of course) drink responsibly – alcohol can dehydrate you, so ensure that you also drink plenty of water – you’ll need to, and especially if you’re suffering the next day!”

Steph’s top tip: Be aware that many insurance policies will not cover accidents if someone has consumed excessive amounts of alcohol.


Thank you for all your tips, Steph! On a final note, is there anything else we should be aware of?

“Do take out travel insurance! – It is estimated that as many as 1 in 4 people travel without travel insurance. Emergency medical treatment accounts for more than 50% of travel insurance claims, and can be expensive if you are not insured. Simply put, take out travel insurance and ensure that you have ready access to your insurer’s contact details in case of emergency.”

Steph’s top tip: It is a good idea to check your insurance covers holiday cancellation in the event you are issued with orders, or are called up on duty, and are therefore unable to take your holiday.