You should be aware of potential hazards on holiday as walking amongst mountains, hills and even in cities does involve an element of risk. For example, weather can deteriorate unexpectedly and may cause paths to become slippery. Terrain underfoot can also vary and be different from what you’re used to. Walking poles are a great aid to mobility over uneven ground, and they take some strain off the knees.
As the tour leader is responsible for the safety of all group members, he or she may adopt a more cautious approach than would be considered reasonable by an individual party member. See also our advice on fitness, clothing and equipment, footwear and personal responsibility.
When travelling overseas it’s wise to take extra care. Temperatures, humidity or altitude may be higher than you are used to, changes in diet may affect you, and unpleasant insects may be encountered. There is a lot of useful information on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Travel Advice pages.
Be aware that your travel insurance company will have health requirements you need to check.
We endeavour to ensure that our hotels meet reasonable health and safety standards and provide accommodation that is as safe as reasonably possible given local conditions. We work with our overseas hoteliers and other suppliers to raise standards and resolve any issues of concern.
Your tour leader will indicate the fire exits at your accommodation. It is important that you familiarise yourself with these as you may need to use them in the unlikely event of an emergency. It is always worthwhile making sure that you know how to find your way out of your hotel shortly after arriving at your room; it’s better to identify your escape route at leisure than in a possible emergency.
Lift Safety: do not use lifts in the event of a fire. Do not smoke in lifts. Some hotels use lifts without internal closing doors – this gives the effect of the wall moving. If this is the case in your accommodation, please keep away from this part of the lift whilst it is in motion.
Balcony Safety: please do not sit or stand on balcony walls or railings and exercise special care when using balconies if you have been drinking alcohol.
Electrical Safety: please use an adaptor appropriate for the country you are visiting and make sure that items such as hairdryers are using the voltage applicable. Some hotel rooms are fitted with low voltage circuits and this means that you cannot use electrical items that draw heavy current such as travel kettles, hairdryers etc. Turn off and unplug all electrical items at night and when you leave the room. Due to the fire risk, please be careful not to leave wet towels or clothes drying on electrical heaters.
Food and Drink Safety: food in foreign countries may not be what you are used to at home! Some people can suffer from short – term stomach upsets caused by a different diet, a change in the temperature or too much alcohol! If you want to be extra careful, we advise that you drink bottled water rather than tap water, and avoid ice in drinks.
If you are at all unsure of hygiene, err on the side of caution, brush your teeth and wash fruit and vegetables using bottled water. Gastric illnesses spread quickly in hotels and on cruise ships. Please think more about hygiene and wash your hands regularly to prevent spreading. You may wish to take alcohol hand gel as a precaution.
Swimming Pool Safety: many people enjoy using swimming pools whilst on holiday and if you follow a few simple common sense rules, you can help reduce the risk of an accident:
Don’t use the swimming pool if you have been drinking alcohol, taken drugs, if you have just eaten or if you are feeling unwell. Some medication can make you drowsy or disorientated and, if this applies to you, don’t swim.
Follow ‘Pool Rules’ and observe ‘No Diving’ warnings where applicable. Never dive into water less than 1.5m deep. If you are unsure, check. Be aware that pool depths can vary from one end to another.
Not all areas surrounding pools are non-slip, always tread carefully and don’t run.
Shower before entering the water and don’t use the pool if you have any cuts or open wounds. Stay away from pool filters and drains. Hair, fingers, feet etc can be sucked in and cause injury. Keep long hair tied back or wear a swimming cap.
Many swimming pools do not have a lifeguard on duty. Please be vigilant especially if swimming alone.
- Watch where the locals swim!
- Don’t swim alone – let others know where you will be and when you expect to be back.
- Don’t drink alcohol and swim. Be careful if you have taken medication. Observe warning flags and notices.
- Check tide times and whether the area is subject to strong currents or rip tides. Don’t get cut off by an incoming tide.
- Beach footwear may provide some level of protection against sea urchins.
Mosquito bites in general can cause great discomfort to some people and using appropriate insect repellents can help you avoid being bitten.
Travellers (especially those taking part on some walking holidays) should be familiar with the ways in which they can help themselves prevent being bitten by a tick.
Diseases such as tick – borne encephalitis and Lyme Disease can occur if the tick is infected when it bites. Covering up and use of insect repellent especially when walking in grassy areas can help. Further information can be found at the Scottish NHS Travel Health website or Travel Health Pro from NaTHNaC (the National Travel Health Network & Centre).
- the UK! Help prevent sunburn by using a good sun cream and lip salve, wear a hat to protect your head and the back of your neck, keep hydrated by drinking regularly and remember that alcohol is very dehydrating.
- It is advisable to take a small first-aid kit with you including a remedy for stomach upsets.
- No matter what country you are visiting it is wise to take precautions when it comes to your safety and protecting your belongings, especially in crowds around train stations and tourist traps.
- We would advise you not to carry more cash than is necessary and to avoid displays of wealth such as expensive jewellery or watches.
- If you must carry large sums of money, passports or bank cards, we would advise you wear a money belt. Money belts are more secure than a waist pouch, less visible and can be worn under your clothes.
- If you are swimming secure your valuables at the hotel, in a safety deposit box or with the front desk.
- It is a good idea to keep copies of your travel documents passports and tickets in secure locations away from the originals. You could also scan and email copies to yourself so you can access them at any time from an internet café or hotel.
ABTA also offer some good advice on how to have a safe and healthy holiday.