Know Before You Go

Do you like the programme ‘Holidays From Hell’? Do you like it so much that you would like to take part in it and talk about the nightmare that you encountered on your journey overseas?

For many people the answer is a resounding no and yet each year millions of Brits go on holiday without such basic yet essential travel necessities as Visas, money for emergencies and most commonly travel insurance. Not making these preparations or bothering to find out vital information such as a country’s laws and customs could result in you having your very own TV appearance, but for all the wrong reasons.

This student from Leeds, who wishes to remain anonymous to avoid further embarrassment, could very well have been one of these unlucky few when she decided not to purchase travel insurance before a trip.

“At the end of my first year of university I went on a typically student jaunt to Amsterdam and Paris to celebrate. On an extremely tight budget after all the expenses of partying in first year, I thought I’d skip on the travel insurance, you only need that if you’re going mountain biking in Outer Mongolia right? Wrong! On my last day in Amsterdam I developed a searing pain in my stomach and after trying to avoid it all day I had to make my way to a Dutch A+E where I was diagnosed with an umbilical hernia,” remembers the student. “The Dutch doctors were able to relieve the immediate pain by pushing said adventurous umbilical tissue back in, however they were keen for me to stay for surgery to repair it as it’s quite a serious problem which can result in death if the hernia becomes ‘strangulated’. Too embarrassed to admit I did not have any travel insurance I hobbled out of there, trotted round Paris with a wince on my face and waited till I got home to the UK to have it operated on (where I had some serious explaining to do to my livid doctor).”

Still alive to tell the tale, yet probably severely scolded by her rather annoyed GP back in the UK, things could have ended very badly for our laid-back friend. So wrong in fact that not only could she have made it onto the box, she could have ended up inside one.

However, if she had looked at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Know Before You Go Campaign pages on their website: she could have avoided this unnecessary incident. Launched in 2001, the Know Before You Go Campaign has over 500 travel industry partners, each of which are dedicated to keeping Brits safe abroad. On the above site you will find lots of tips on what to do before you go abroad, links to websites that have important information and a handy travellers checklist. For young travellers embarking on a gap year abroad (many of whom are the most likely to be unprepared) there is also a link on the site to a whole section designed to help you get started and stay safe whilst you’re away.

So if you don’t want to earn yourself an unflattering nickname or be publicly humiliated on TV, or you would just like to Know Before You Go, then check out the site and make sure your trip is one from heaven and not hell.

Original article first appeared on The Met Online website on 17/02/12