Aug 5, 2011

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Trouble Abroad? Where do you go for help?

Bob wht shirt 1With millions of us embarking on our summer breaks, it is inevitable that at least some of us will run into problems and many more of us will have questions that we need answers to.

However do you really know where to go to when you need help or are we guilty of ignorance in who to turn to?

Most people will require only basic assistance and much of this can be provided by the safety blanket of a travel insurance policy. These cost as little as £6 for a week away in Europe and will give you medical cover, legal assistance, help with lost passports and documentation amongst other things. In addition many travel insurance policies have a 24 hour helpline for advice on the items that the policy covers.

You also have a wealth of information on the internet and via quality guide books, telling you about the customs, laws and traditions of the country you are visiting and all there to help ensure you don’t fall foul of things like;

• Chewing gum in Singapore
• Arriving in Dubai with any medication that includes codeine
• Driving regulations when you break down in Spain

However more and more people seem to be turning to the British Consular service around the world for everything from advice on how to book a hotel and whether a Brit living in Greece needs a license to keep chickens, through to the more legitimate and serious matters.

The UK government has a series of overseas consulates around the world to offer assistance when Brits get into trouble and need help. They can offer practical advice and support when you face dealing with things such as a death on a holiday, the loss of your passport or an arrest. However more and more people turn up expecting them to dole out money for people who have run out of cash or to deal with problems because of drunken bar crawls in the sun. This clever little 24 hour video-map shows the range of things they dealt with in one 24 hour period in June 2011 and it gets over the message to use their excellent service only when it is necessary:

So what would we advise when you travel?

• Buy a good quality insurance cover and use their help service when needed
• Know about where you are going so you don’t fall foul of laws, customs and advice. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office advice website is a great place to start.
• Follow the advice of the ‘Know before you go’ campaign and make your trip as trouble free as you can.

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