What do I need to know before I travel?
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Information on how to stay safe and healthy abroad. About us.

Personal Safety

Most trips abroad are trouble free, but this page will help you to minimise threats to your personal safety when you travel.

  • Risks to your personal safety, such as being in a road traffic accident, being pick pocketed or assaulted are more common than catching a disease when travelling.

Before you travel

Be prepared before you travel by finding out information about the country or countries you will be visiting.

  • Check the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) website for:
  • Make sure your travel insurance includes cover for:
    • all your planned activities
    • accidents and emergency medical treatment
    • being brought back to the UK for medical treatment (this is called medical evacuation and repatriation).
  • Check country specific risks on our country pages.
  • Take a photo of your passport and other important documents such as travel tickets and insurance;
  • Leave details of your holiday plans and activities with a trusted person.
  • Make a note of your next of kin or “in case of emergency” (ICE) details.

Personal Safety (Mugging, Theft, Assault)

Criminals may pick on tourists and travellers that are unfamiliar with the local culture, laws and customs.   

Taking precautions whilst you are travelling can help lower your risk of being targeted.

If you can, book your accommodation in advance.

  • Avoid sharing rooms with people you do not know.
  • Avoid staying on the ground floor if possible.
  • Inspect locks on windows and doors to make sure they work.
  • Don’t leave your belongings unattended unless stored securely.

If you are driving, there is a risk of vehicle hijacking:

  • if possible, avoid driving in areas you do not know
  • be alert when waiting at traffic lights
  • keep car doors locked

Avoid travelling alone and at night if possible, stick to well lit, busy areas.

  • Consider how you are going to get home and only use licenced taxis;
    • if in doubt, ask at your accommodation or a restaurant for a local taxi number.

Muggings and pickpockets can happen during the day as well as at night.

  • Try not to draw attention to the fact you are a visitor;
    • dress modestly and wear clothing that is culturally appropriate.
  • Avoid wearing jewellery and high end clothing.
  • If confronted, it may be safer not to resist and just give up valuables.
  • Limit the alcohol that you drink and avoid recreational drug use.
  • Never leave your drink (or food) unattended in case it gets spiked.
  • Trust your instincts and leave a situation if you feel threatened or uncomfortable.

If you are unfortunate to be the victim of a crime, report the incident to the local police as soon as you can.

  • Insurance companies are likely to require an official incident report for your claim.
  • If possible, take a trusted person with you for support.

Sexual Assault and Rape

Sexual assault and rape can happen to anyone, of any age and background.  Cultural attitudes towards sexual assault and rape vary greatly in different countries and this could affect how a report is dealt with.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has specific advice for individual countries.

If you are sexually assaulted or raped abroad:

If you decide to report the assault to the police try to do this as soon as possible.

  • Avoid washing and changing clothes as this may help preserve evidence.
  • Take a trusted person with you as you might find it helpful not to be alone.

Foreign police forces are under no obligation to open a case.

  • UK police cannot investigate a crime that has taken place abroad or ask that an alleged crime be investigated.

On return to the UK

Seek help from a counsellor and/or support group.

  • The trauma of sexual assault and rape affects people in different ways. You may experience a range of emotions such as fear, anger, guilt or shame.
  • See further information below for groups to contact.

Arrange a Sexual Health screen.

  • For information on how to arrange this, please see the sexual health screening section of our sexual health risks page.

Further Information

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