Travel essentials for your trip abroad

Health and Lifestyle Editor at Bupa UK
24 July 2019

Planning a trip abroad? With so many things to remember, it can become far too easy to let your excitement become clouded by the stress of pre-trip arrangements.

We’ve put together the ultimate travel checklist, with top tips from seasoned travellers, to help you be more organised for your trip, so you’re ready for anything.

Image of a man with a suitcase

Research your destination

Make sure that you check out the travel advice for the country that you’re visiting. This can be found on the GOV.UK website, where you can sign up for email alerts or follow their Facebook page.

And if you’re travelling to an EU country, you’ll need to check what the latest guidance is on how Brexit may affect your travel.

Pre-travel to-do list

Start ticking these items off your to-do list as you go.

  • Emergency contact details. Find out where your nearest British embassy or consulate will be abroad, in case you need to contact them in an emergency. Store these details in your phone.
  • Keep friends and family informed. Remember to leave your contact, insurance policy and itinerary details abroad with your family or friends.
  • Accessing funds. In the event of an emergency or unexpected delay, make sure you have access to funds. Bring more than one means of payment with you (cash, debit or credit card).
  • Stay connected abroad. Contact your service provider to make sure that your mobile phone works abroad, if you don’t already know.
  • Valid driving licence. If you’re planning to drive while abroad, check that your licence is up-to-date, and valid for the country that you’re visiting.
  • Read up on your destination. Why not get to grips with where you’re going and buy a decent travel guide book or browse relevant online travel forums.
  • Purchase luggage locks. To keep any valuable items safe abroad, such as your mobile phone and digital camera, it’s always handy to get a padlock for your baggage.
  • Destination dress code. Find out about the local dress code, to ensure that you have packed appropriate clothing. In some countries there may be penalties for breaking the law.

Health and safety advice

A couple of months before you go, read the latest health advice for the country that you’re travelling to. You can do this using the GOV.UK and Travel Health Pro websites. This will help you to make your own informed decisions about the place that you’re travelling to. For example, you might find out that it’s not advisable to drink tap water, or to travel to the country due to a national disaster.

Prepare a kit of travel health essentials. This should include items like sunscreen if you’re travelling to a hot country, and don’t forget to bring enough medical supplies to cover your stay. You may, for example, be travelling to a country where there is a risk of being bitten by mosquitos. If so, it’s always good to include an insect repellent, to use while there. Repellents that are 50 per cent DEET are the most effective.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, get advice from your health adviser or pharmacy on managing this while you’re abroad.

Get vaccinated in time

As soon as you’ve decided on your destination, see your practice nurse (ideally eight to 12 weeks before you go). You will need to check that your vaccinations are up-to-date, including what vaccinations are required before your trip. For example, if visiting a country where malaria is a risk, you may need to start treatment before you go.

Travel vaccination information can be found on the NHS website.

Got all the documents you need?

Is your passport and any required visa up-to-date and valid? Check if you’ve got the correct visa for the country that you’re visiting. Some countries require a passport to be valid for at least six months after your scheduled return.

It’s important to make sure that you’ve got all the necessary paperwork for your trip. You can do this by finding out what the entry requirements of the country that you’re travelling to is on the GOV.UK website.

Don’t forget your travel insurance

It’s easy for travel insurance to fall to the bottom of your to-do list when preparing for a trip abroad. But make sure you get this and read the section on exclusions carefully to check that it covers you for any activities that you may do abroad.

You can also get a free European Health Insurance card if you are visiting an EU country. This will entitle you to free or reduced emergency cover; the contact number for emergency services is 112. But this access may change if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, so check the GOV.UK website for up-to-date information.

Packing essentials for on the plane

Your suitcase essentials will largely depend on the climate of the country that you’re visiting.

Travel essentials infographic

Click to open a PDF version of our list of in-flight essentials for any trip abroad (0.3MB).

Tips from seasoned travellers

And for some extra in-flight packing tips, read what some of Bupa’s seasoned travellers had to say:

“I always take a cheap, four plug extension lead away with me – that way you only need one adapter, but can plug in your hair dryer, straighteners, charge your phone etc. all in one go!”

“A pashmina is always helpful to use as an air con blanket; it’s easy to shove in a bag or also use as a scarf.”

“I write all my flight details, reference numbers, hotel addresses, bank phone number and contact numbers for family members on a piece of paper. I then keep it in my suitcase in case my phone gets lost or stolen.”

“The contraceptive pill and toothbrush are key for me. Use an elastic band to strap your pill packet to your toothbrush so that you don’t forget to take it each day.”

“If you’re carrying a large amount of medication in your hand luggage, speak to your GP first as you might need a doctor’s note. And split any daily medication up between hand luggage and hold luggage in case one or the other goes missing, or hold luggage doesn’t arrive/is delayed.”



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Marcella McEvoy
Health and Lifestyle Editor at Bupa UK

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Health information

At Bupa we produce a wealth of free health information for you and your family. We believe that trustworthy information is essential in helping you make better decisions about your health and care.

    • Foreign travel checklist. GOV.UK. www.gov.uk/guidance/foreign-travel- checklistwww.gov.uk, last updated 10 January 2019
    • Visit Europe after Brexit. GOV.UK. www.gov.uk/visit-europe-brexit, reviewed May 2019
    • Country information. Travel Health Pro. https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries, reviewed May 2019
    • About Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice. GOV.UK. www.gov.uk/guidance/how-the-foreign-commonwealth-office-puts-together-travel-advice, last updated February 2017
    • Mosquito bite avoidance for travellers. GOV.UK. assets.publishing.service.gov.uk, leaflet last updated in 2017
    • Apply for a free EHIC (European Health Insurance Card). NHS UK. www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/apply-for-a-free-ehic-european-health-insurance-card/, reviewed May 2019
    • Personal communication. Arun Thiyagarajan, Medical Director, Bupa UK Health Clinics, 19 May 2019
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