You or your employees may need to travel on business to many different countries, each with its own customs, culture and hazards. Depending on the circumstances of the trip or the political climate of the country, there could be added risks. You can stay safe and healthy abroad by taking a few simple precautions.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) recommends several practises before and during trips abroad that will help you and your employees mitigate the risks associated with travelling to potentially unstable countries. Before you leave, the FCO recommends that you research your destination, create a travel checklist, ensure you have the required documentation and purchase comprehensive business travel insurance.
Research Your Destination
Research is essential to ensuring a successful business trip and maintaining your safety and that of your employees. The political climate of a country can shift rapidly, necessitating up-to-the-minute research to properly gauge your safety abroad.
Foreign Travel Advice
The UK government provides ‘Foreign Travel Advice’, a free Web service located at www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice, to facilitate research prior to travelling abroad.
The ‘Foreign Travel Advice’ section includes updated, country-specific information for travellers, such as safety and security, terrorism, local laws, and customs and entry requirements.
Checking the Health Risks
Travellers can also consult the National Health Service (Scotland)’s website ‘Fit for Travel’ at www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk. This site provides detailed, country-specific health information such as required immunisations, malaria risks and recent health news. Be sure to confirm that you are up-to-date on your immunisations. You should always consult your GP before travelling abroad.
Create a Travel Checklist
Travel checklists are effective tools to guarantee that you have taken all the necessary precautions to ensure safety before and during international travel.
You and your employees can use this checklist to plan ahead and mitigate any common risks associated with travelling to unsafe countries.
Before You Go:
- Check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
- Find the location of the nearest British embassy.
- Purchase travel insurance
- Get your free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
- Research health risks at www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk.
- Plan ahead for pre-existing medical conditions.
- Ensure your passport and visa are valid.
- Verify your destination’s entry requirements.
- Photocopy your passport or securely store it online.
- Note your emergency contact in your passport.
- Provide family and friends with your contact details.
- Make sure you have enough emergency money.
- Invest in a good travel guide.
Whilst You Are Away:
- Be vigilant.
- Don’t take risks you wouldn’t take at home.
- Don’t openly display valuables.
- Research local customs and dress.
- Obey local laws.
- Exercise caution when taking photos or video.
- Confirm that your mobile phone works abroad.
- Bring it with you if it does, or purchase a SIM card for your destination if it doesn’t.
- Save important local numbers.
- Check UK import regulations before you attempt to bring back food or plants.
Obtain the Required Documents
Before travelling abroad, you should verify that you possess a valid passport and any other necessary documentation, such as a visa. It takes at least six weeks to receive your first passport, and at least three weeks to renew or replace your passport, so plan accordingly. Information on passports can be found at www.gov.uk/browse/abroad/passports.
Make sure that you bring copies of your travel documents. Consider storing these copies on a secure online data storage site. Remember to provide your emergency contact with your itinerary and contact details so he or she can reach you.
Purchase Travel Insurance
An emergency abroad can be extremely expensive. It costs £35,000-45,000 for an air ambulance back to the United Kingdom from the United States. The British Embassy will not pay for this transport, and your credit card accident cover, private health or EHIC may not suffice.
You and your travelling employees should purchase travel insurance to mitigate risk and potentially expensive medical bills while abroad. If you already have travel insurance, be sure you know what it covers. Travel insurance can cover the following:
- An injury or sudden illness abroad
- Twenty-four-hour emergency service and assistance
- Personal liability
- Lost and stolen possessions
- Cancellation and curtailment
- Legal expenses
- Any activities you’ll be doing that aren’t normally covered, like hiking
Contact ProAktive today to learn more about business travel insurance and what to do if you are travelling to an unsafe country.