With exams done and the stress of Christmas and New Year a thing of the past, now is very much the time to turn your thoughts to the relaxing holiday that you deserve. If you’re planning on travelling abroad this winter and want to ensure you stay on top of your health and wellbeing whilst abroad, check out this handy list of tips and information to know before you go!

  1. Know what to expect

In addition to searching for luscious snaps of your travel destinations, do some pre-travel research so you know what to expect when you arrive. Take the right gear for the weather conditions at your destination and be aware of how winter weather at home, and abroad, might affect your travel plans.

If you’re taking advantage of the cold weather and hitting the slopes, remember to take appropriate protective gear, including eye protection and sunscreen, as the sun is strong at altitude! Remember to check local weather and avalanche forecasts each morning before you set out.

  1. Get insured

Get travel insurance that is appropriate for your destination and any activities you plan on taking part in. Extreme sports, winter sports and water sports require special insurance, which you may be able to purchase as an add-on to your regular travel insurance. Additionally, cruises generally require extra cover and are not covered by the European Health Insurance Card.

Be sure that your policy will cover you for any existing physical or mental health conditions and that these have been declared to the policy-issuer where necessary, or you may risk invalidating your insurance!

  1. Carry your European Health Insurance Card

If you’re travelling in the European Economic Area or Switzerland, you can use your EHIC card to receive reduced-cost or free emergency care. You still need travel insurance to cover loss or damage of your property and out of the ordinary emergency attention. Some insurers now insist that travellers to Europe carry an EHIC card and may waive the excess if you have one.

Remember to check that your card is in date! They must be renewed every 5 years. If you are a UK resident you can apply for one on the NHS website.

  1. Stock up and read up on your medications

If you are taking any prescription medication, take enough for the duration of your trip and any unexpected delays, such as from inclement winter weather! Check whether your prescription drugs are permitted in the country you’re visiting by contacting the country’s embassy in the UK. You may need to carry proof of prescription and should closely adhere to a country’s laws as you could be fined or imprisoned if you travel with a medicine that’s illegal in the country you’re visiting.

Consider contacting your GP or a travel health professional at least 4-6 weeks before your trip to find out whether you need to get any vaccinations – this may be a requirement of entering the country!

  1. Know who to call

Make sure you know how to contact the local emergency services and where to go for emergency healthcare. In Europe, 112 is the number for the emergency services and in the US and Canada it’s 911. If you’re taking part in winter sports, make sure you know how to contact the local rescue service in case you or someone else gets into trouble on the slopes!

  1. Tell your friends

Make copies of all your important documents, including your passport (and carry them separately from the originals). Send friends and family your contact details, your itinerary and details of your insurance policy. Store these securely online too!

  1. Stay up to date!

Check Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s travel advice on the website, Facebook and Twitter and sign up for email updates before you leave! Have a great time but remember that you can approach your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate if you need help abroad!

The Author, Jessica Craig, is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Campus Brand Ambassador at the University of St Andrews. Her job is to promote the Travel Aware campaign, a Foreign and Commonwealth Office initiative to encourage British travellers to be safe abroad.

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