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The ultimate pre-travel guide

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ERGO’s Air Travel Guide has been designed to give you some useful tips and information on what you need to know, and do, before you travel.

Onboard the aircraft

Always listen to the safety briefings as each aircraft is different and may have unfamiliar safety precautions. It is an idea to take out the safety card from the seat pocket and follow along whilst listening to the safety briefing, try to mentally plan the actions you would take in an emergency.

Make sure you fasten your seat belt at all times; turbulence can be unpredictable and is one of the major causes of injury on a flight. Ensure your seat belt is secured snugly and low across the hips.

Clothing

Wear sensible clothing. Natural fabrics allow your body to breath and should keep you comfortable. Long sleeved shirts and long trousers are also recommended as cabin temperatures can vary. In terms of footwear, leather or canvas low heeled shoes could also be considered to aid comfort.

 

ERGO’s Arrivals & Transportation Guide has been designed to give you some useful tips and information on what you need to know, and do, when you arrive at your destination.

Arrivals & Transportation Guide

Arrival by plane

You should arrive during daytime if possible. If you are travelling to high-risk destinations, this may be very important indeed.

Have your transportation from the airport pre-arranged: pick-up by a colleague, a friend or a well-reputed taxi company. Make sure you have some way of validating the identity of your contact if he or she is not known to you.

Alternatively book your taxi at the taxi counter in the airport instead of flagging one down outside Arrivals. NEVER use illegal taxi cabs, and never accept additional passengers unknown to you.

Car rental

Learn the local traffic rules. Self-driving in many developing countries should be avoided as the foreign driver often will be considered the guilty part, and even a minor accident can lead to instant reprisals and/or long legal cases.

In some parts of the world, stopping at intersections and red lights is dangerous, e.g. Johannesburg.

When renting a car, do not go for the exotic. Often criminals will target certain brands or types, like SUVs.

Taxis

Use only registered taxis. In some countries even registered taxies cannot be trusted. Find out which taxi company you should use or preferably book a taxi to be waiting for you when you arrive at the airport.

NEVER use taxi touts, and never accept additional passengers unknown to you.

Ask the hotel front desk to call for a taxi; do not hail them in the street.

Make sure the taxi uses a meter. If there is no meter, the fare should be negotiated before you go.

ERGO’s Hotel Travel Guide has been designed to give you some useful tips and information on what you need to know, and do, when you’re in your accommodation.

In Hotels

The door to your room should be kept locked. All locks on your door should work. If not, insist on another room. Do not open your door if someone you do not expect wants to enter, even if they say they are hotel staff. Call the front desk and check their identity.

Select a room above second floor but below the tenth. This will make access from the outside harder but fire emergency equipment can get to you if needed.

Keep windows locked at all times if you must stay on first floor.

Memorize the fire escape route from your room. Count the numbers of doors from your door to the door leading to the fire escape.

Ask for an extra key-card to carry on you at all times. If you leave the room in a rush, for instance if the fire alarm sounds, you will probably forget to bring the card with you and you might urgently need access to your room if for instance the fire escape is blocked.

Bring a torch and keep it handy.

Crime & Travel

ERGO’s Crime Travel Guide has been designed to give you some useful tips and information on what you need to know, and do, to keep out of trouble.

Criminals will often target people of wealth for the simple reason that’s what they are after. Tourists are often more wealthy than the local population, or at least more wealthy than most would-be criminals. Therefore, foreigners are often targeted. Another reason is foreigners’ lack of local knowledge and inherent insecurity, especially on arrival.

Here are some top tips to staying safe:

  1. Get to know your destination; it is easy to become disorientated especially in unfamiliar surroundings. Remain aware, even carry a pocket map with you at all times.
  2. Do not carry large amounts of cash with you when you are out of your accommodation, keep cash out of sight. Make sure that valuables are locked in a safe.
  3. Keep purses and wallets in front pockets, never place in your back pockets as this is an easy target, especially in built up areas.
  4. If you are wearing a backpack or are carrying a handbag, make sure this on your front in crowded areas.
  5. If using an ATM, shield the screen and your pin number, you never know who is watching.
  6. Be drink aware; know your limits when drinking alcohol and don’t wander around the streets after a few drinks, this can leave you vulnerable.
  7. If you feel you are being followed, walk towards a well lit area. If you can, find someone official like a police officer or go into a shop. Never be afraid to ask for help.

Youth hostels can be great and cheap places to stay whilst you are travelling, often providing good quality accommodation with agreeable prices whatever your budget. They also allow you to socialise and get travel knowledge from other travellers.

Youth Hostel accommodation

As hostels are often for budget travellers they tend to cater to a younger clientèle. But as career breakers, adventurous holidaymakers and retired travellers take extended backpacker trips, a much wider range of people use youth hostels today.

As a result, hostels have undergone something of a regeneration in recent years, and many destinations now offer a choice of boutique hostels. That said, staying in hostels is not the same as staying in a hotel. Travellers often share a living space which means hostels can present some unique challenges. Here are some of our travel tips to make sure you know what to expect to have the best hostel experience.

What to expect

Whilst there are more and more upmarket hostels catering to the new generation of ‘flashpackers’ (backpackers with a little extra budget), the majority of hostels do tend to be a little more basic, offering dorm rooms with bunk beds, basic linen, pillows, kitchens and often a laundry service. Many now have internet via WiFi or communal computers. Lots of hostels also offer private room options, some with shared bathrooms or en-suites.

What hostel to choose

Guide books and online guides can be fantastic for helping you choose a hostel as many destinations have an overwhelming number of very similar looking and sounding hostels. Online reviews can be a great way of really getting an idea of how good the hostel is, the convenience of its location, and also its sociability for meeting other backpackers.

Making a reservation

It’s a good idea to make a reservation at least a day ahead, particularly in busy seasons or on national holidays. Most hostels will take telephone or e-mail reservations and some of the biggest hostel booking search engines will allow you to place a reservation online with a small 10% booking fee. Normally the remainder is payable upon arrival, which still gives you some flexibility if you do decide to go somewhere else.

Checking in

Before you check in and pay for your bed for the night it is a good idea of see that the hostel is clean and feels safe. If it isn’t up to a good enough standard then don’t be afraid to cancel your reservation and look elsewhere. If it’s a horrible hostel it’s unlikely you are going to be getting a very good night’s sleep!

Safety

Make sure you are aware of any curfews and take advantage of lockers that are available for guest use to store your valuables. Theft in hostels can be a problem so always try to take a lock with you to secure your bag or locker whilst you are out. If you are uncomfortable, wear your money belt (even whilst you are sleeping) and make sure you don’t leave your things lying around or somebody else might ‘accidentally’ adopt them.

Essentials

A sleeping bag liner (available at camping shops) is very useful when you are staying in hostels, as you can be sure you won’t have problems with bed bugs or questionably clean hostel sheets. Similarly as mentioned before, combination padlocks for securing bags or lockers are essential. Earplugs are another must-bring when you are staying in a busy hostel, as there will be lots of people coming in at different times into shared bedrooms.

Don’t be shy!

Youth hostel accommodation is a great place to meet other people, and many hostels will run social events to bring travellers together. Hostels also have social spaces such as lounges or computer rooms where you can get to know other people – they’re some of the best places to meet other people, make friends and share valuable travel tips!

ERGO’s Crime Travel Guide has been designed to give you some useful tips and information on what you need to know, and do, to keep out of trouble.

Criminals will often target people of wealth for the simple reason that’s what they are after. Tourists are often more wealthy than the local population, or at least more wealthy than most would-be criminals. Therefore, foreigners are often targeted. Another reason is foreigners’ lack of local knowledge and inherent insecurity, especially on arrival.

Crime Travel Guide
Here are some top tips to staying safe:

Get to know your destination; it is easy to become disorientated especially in unfamiliar surroundings. Remain aware, even carry a pocket map with you at all times.
Do not carry large amounts of cash with you when you are out of your accommodation, keep cash out of sight. Make sure that valuables are locked in a safe.
Keep purses and wallets in front pockets, never place in your back pockets as this is an easy target, especially in built up areas.
If you are wearing a backpack or are carrying a handbag, make sure this on your front in crowded areas.
If using an ATM, shield the screen and your pin number, you never know who is watching.
Be drink aware; know your limits when drinking alcohol and don’t wander around the streets after a few drinks, this can leave you vulnerable.
If you feel you are being followed, walk towards a well lit area. If you can, find someone official like a police officer or go into a shop. Never be afraid to ask for help.

We have all heard travel tales of suffering due to Delhi belly or traveller’s tummy. Often this travel complaint is a result of exploring a new country, having not been exposed to certain exotic bacteria. In addition, the stress of travel can reduce immune defences meaning travellers are more susceptible to the potentially harmful bacteria that may find on some unwashed lettuce in Mexico or in a glass of coke with tap water ice cubes in Thailand.

what not to eat when travelling
While it’s never possible to avoid these sorts of problems entirely when travelling, by taking a few extra precautions and avoiding certain foods you might be able to prevent yourself losing half a week of your trip to recovery.

Shellfish
Shellfish are the ocean’s bottom feeders so can pick up quite a lot of interesting (and harmful) bacteria. If undercooked or not cooked properly, these bacteria can easily be transferred, resulting in a nasty bout of food poisoning. Thoroughly cooking shellfish should kill of most of the bacteria, but raw oysters or mussels should be avoided when travelling.

Fruit and Veg
All advice forums and guidebooks stress the importance of avoiding unwashed and uncooked vegetables and fruits. Salmonella, cyclospora and campylobacter are just a few nasty bacteria which can leave you feeling pretty rough. Washing, scrubbing and peeling raw fruits and vegetables will remove outer bacteria, but may leave some, so cooking is always advisable. Try to eat fruits that you can remove the outer layer entirely, like bananas or mangos, and order cooked vegetable dishes rather than salads when you are eating out.

Pork
Pork has caused some health worries in the recent past, due to concerns it may contain the trichinosis larvae. In developed countries pork is now fine, but in the rest of the world, particularly in developing countries, different standards of hygiene mean that you should only eat pork that has been thoroughly cooked at 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Water
Water is one of the most common causes of tummy trouble when travelling overseas. Even in parts of Europe still, people will prefer to drink bottled water. Even brushing your teeth with contaminated water can be bad news (be mindful when you shower or swim), and drinking water from fountains is a very bad idea. Try to ensure that when you buy bottled water the bottle top is always sealed properly – sometimes the bottle can be refilled and resealed by an enterprising vendor, leaving you susceptible to whatever bacteria may have contaminated the water.

Bizarre local delicacies
While returning home with stories of eating rat in the Thai jungle, llama in Bolivia or snake heart in Vietnam may give you a great party story, often exotic local delicacies are difficult to stomach and can give you some quite serious tummy troubles. Though a major part of travelling is about trying the national dishes and experiencing the local customs it may be wise to avoid the more extreme aspects of these and steer clear of the truly bizarre foods you may be offered during your trip.

Just remember that although we’re telling you what not to eat when travelling… there are some amazing meals out there just waiting for you to discover (and devour) them!

Making sure you have all the right documentation pre-trip is essential.
Correct documentation is a must for all travel, particularly if you require a visa to enter a country. If you don’t have the right documents, you’re not going to be let in!
You wouldn’t go to the airport without your flight tickets or passport. Correct documentation – from visas to ID – are just as important. What you need will depend on your nationality, circumstance and your destination, and it is worth checking all paperwork requirements well in advance of your trip to allow plenty of time to prepare.

Insurance
Being prepared, travelling smart and taking out insurance are linked. You want to know that your possessions and yourself will be adequately covered while you are away. This means reading the small print and double-checking that there are no exclusions on the activities you wish to pursue. It also means bringing the correct insurance documentation away with you so any incidents can be dealt with promptly. Other documentation you should carry includes copies of photographic ID, your European Health Insurance card (EHIC), any booking information and receipts.

Visas
Visas are complex. The rules and criteria for obtaining them change from country to country. Fundamentally, a visa is a piece of paper that grants entry to your given country for a particular purpose, such as tourism, study or working. Visas are normally restricted to a set time period, which can be anything from 30 days to five years.

Once you know your travel destination, check with that country’s embassy to see if you actually need a visa to enter, and whether this has to be organised ahead of time, or can be granted at the point of entry (airport or overland border crossing). If you need a visa, you can usually send your passport off with a visa request form and have it returned with your visa inserted, or may need to attend the Embassy in person where it will be done on the day. Some circumstances, such as if you intend to work or live for a longer time in a country, may require more detailed background checks, and you may need to attend an embassy interview to obtain your visa.

Travelling with Children
When travelling with children extra documentation may be needed. Requirements will vary from country to country and depend on circumstances, so do your research. Again, know exactly what you need well in advance of travel. For international travel your child will need a passport, though there may be exceptions when travelling between countries in the EU. If a child holds their own passport then usually they require their own visa. However if a child is travelling under a parental passport, they are often included on the single visa. For children traveling with adults who are not their parents, such as grandparents or step-parents, permission from the parents, or proof of the child’s relationship to the adult may be required.

Driving
If you plan to enter a country by vehicle you may find you need more documentation than a tourist travelling on foot. If you require a visa to enter your destination, you may also have to declare your vehicle. This may not be an issue if hiring a car, but be sure to check. Research and plan for such eventualities before you leave.

It can also be difficult to hire a car in some parts of the world if you do not have certain documents with you. Bringing both parts of your driving licence is essential, as you will find it difficult to rent a car without them. An international driving permit (obtainable at the Post Office) may also be needed. If you will be driving your own car then you also need to carry copies of your motor insurance certificate and vehicle registration document (VC5).

 

 

 

Auther
Andy Cresco

Andy Cresco

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