* Dealing with Illness before or during your holiday – firstly if you are travelling abroad it is advisable for you to check whether you need any preventative injections or treatments before you go, to give you added protection against illnesses like malaria or yellow fever. This is not necessary for most countries in Europe, but if you are travelling anywhere that is remote or tropical, then it is likely some injections will be necessary. Secondly you need to ensure you have adequate health and holiday insurance that will cover you if you fall ill either just before or during your holiday. A good insurance plan will cover your losses if you or a member of your family are too ill to actually go on the booked holiday, and will also cover healthcare costs if you fall ill whilst away and need medical treatment. Most tour operators insist you take out insurance these days as part of the holiday package, and make sure you take the details of the policy and the contact numbers with you when you are away.
* General Safety – whether you are home or abroad you need to practise good safety measures in order to protect you and your family from accident or crime. Never carry large amounts of money with you when you are visiting public areas, and if you are staying in a hotel lock your valuables in the hotel safe when you are out and about, and never leave them unattended in a locker or in your room. Always check beaches for flag warnings before you swim, and never swim at unattended beaches that have no guidelines to the tides/currents. If you have children it is best to stick to family beaches, which are attended by lifeguards. Make sure you understand how to use the appliances in your room, and if you are in self catering accommodation ensure you switch all appliances off before you leave the rooms or go to sleep at night. Wherever you are staying familiarise yourself with fire exits and ask to see the hotel/resort fire safety plan upon arrival.
* Travel Safety – it is best if you try and book all your travel arrangements before you leave, as it can be difficult sorting these out on route, especially in foreign countries where you may not be familiar with regular procedures, or speak the language fluently. If you are unsure about reliability or safety of private taxi services then ask at your hotel for reputable firms and check the reputation of public transport before you use it. Always hire cars from recognizable companies, as they have standard safety practices in place to ensure you get vehicles that are in good, safe condition to drive.
* Complaints – make sure you complain immediately if the room you have been given is unacceptable or not what you paid for. Most hotels will offer to swap you to another room if there is one available, or you may be able to get a discount on your stay. Keep a record of your complaints and any additional costs that you have been forced to pay for, in order to claim them back from the tour operator when you return home. Ensure you know what the complaints policies with your tour operator are before you book your holiday, as some of the cheaper packages make little allowances for compensation if your holiday or accommodation is not acceptable.
* Consumer Rights – most countries have holiday regulations that protect the basic rights of people booking holidays. In the UK these regulations are fairly stringent and are called The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992. These regulations set out what travellers are entitled to when booking a pre-arranged holiday that includes accommodation and travel (package holiday) and a good knowledge of the regulations will help you understand what to look for when booking a holiday, and will also help you argue your case if your holiday is not what you expected.
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