Between 2011 and 2013 there were
as a result of carbon monoxide on holiday
A one stop shop for a safer holiday abroad
You have been looking forward to your holiday all year and now it is time to book your trip or maybe time to go.
In the UK 53% of us decide to go abroad for our holiday…with 35% of those going to a new country for the first time.
Whilst this is an exciting time it is worth spending a few minutes considering how you can make sure you stay safe and well whilst away…
Click the headings to learn what to know and what to do.
1) General Rights
Knowing your rights when booking or cancelling a holiday
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
CANCELLING YOUR HOLIDAY
Before you book, check the terms and conditions around your right to cancel the booking. Also check your travel insurance – your policy may include cancellation cover.
UNEXPECTED CHANGES TO YOUR BOOKING
After booking, sometimes a travel agent may try to makes changes to your holiday or even put up the price. If these changes are “major” (i.e. more than a 10% increase in cost or you are asked to change resort or room size) you may have a right to cancel.
WHAT IS A PACKAGE HOLIDAY?
A package holiday includes any 2 of the following: Travel, Accommodation, Other services not ancillary to travel or accommodation (such as theme park tickets or car hire).
NOT WHAT YOU EXPECTED?
If your package holiday didn’t turn out as expected, you may be eligible to make a claim. Under the Package Travel Regulations this can include: Loss of value (the difference between what you paid for and what you got), out of pocket expenses, loss of enjoyment, inconvenience and personal injury.
READ THE SMALL PRINT
How many of us check the small print before booking? It is always worth doing this so you really understand what you are committing to.
BE CLEAR ON CANCELLATION TERMS AND CONDITIONS
Although you hope you will never have to cancel a holiday be clear on why you may or may not be entitled to a refund in the booking terms and conditions – ideally prior to booking.
Be aware...The 14 day cooling off period under the Consumer Contract Regulations does not apply to package holidays, package travel or package tours.
Flights are prone to delays and cancellations, especially during busy periods of the year such as Summer.
What you should know
DELAYED OR CANCELLED FLIGHTS
If you are travelling with an airline based in the EU or with a non-EU based airline flying from an EU airport you are protected by the Denied Boarding Regulations.
WHO CAN I CLAIM COMPENSATION FROM?
If there is a problem with your flight you may be able to claim compensation from the airline and potentially the travel agent too.
WHAT IF THE DENIED BOARDING REGULATIONS DO NOT APPLY?
If you are travelling with a non-EU based airline flying from a non-EU destination the airline does not have the same duty to look after you. Check the airline`s condition of carriage to see what you are entitled to.
COMPENSATION VARIES WITH FLIGHT LENGTH
Airlines use a sliding scale for compensation depending on whether the flight was short, medium or long haul. The longer the flight, the larger the compensation.
DENIED BOARDING REGULATIONS
It may be worth printing a copy of these regulations and keeping them in your hand luggage. They explain what you are entitled to if a flight is delayed or cancelled, including what the airline should provide such as food, accommodation and compensation.
Collect video, photographic or written evidence and keep all receipts of any extra expenses you incur if there is an issue with your flight.
Be aware...An airline will not have to pay compensation if the reason for the problem falls under “extraordinary circumstances”
Make sure your accommodation is up to scratch.
How did you book?
I BOOKED THROUGH A UK TRAVEL COMPANY
The Consumer Rights Act gives you some protection. This means that even the cheapest room must meet basic levels of cleanliness, and your accommodation must be as promised.
MY ACCOMODATION IS PART OF A PACKAGE HOLIDAY
You are covered under the Package Travel Regulations, which means you could get compensation if your accommodation isn’t as promised.
I BOOKED THROUGH A TOUR OPERATOR
You can complain to the company representative straight away, as they may be able to sort out the problem quickly.
I HAVEN'T TRAVELLED YET AND I WANT TO CANCEL
Check the booking terms and conditions, as cancelling may mean you break the contract. Try contacting your accommodation provider before you travel to talk to them about your concerns.
IF YOU ARE NOT HAPPY WITH YOUR HOLIDAY
Complain to your hotel or accommodation provider immediately if you are unhappy and if you incur any extra expense keep all of your receipts.
Collect video or photographic evidence of any problems you have and keep all receipts of extra expense you incur.
IF THE TRAVEL COMPANY FAILS TO RESOLVE YOUR COMPLAINT
Remember, if you booked your holiday through a travel company and they fail to resolve your complaint, you can contact the relevant trade body. If the problem was surrounding flights then you can further complain to the civil aviation authority.
4) GAS SAFETY
Some advice to help prevent any gas-related incidents.
What you should know
STANDARDS MAY NOT BE AS HIGH ABROAD
Other countries may have different gas safety compliance rules to the UK. When you arrive at your destination ask the holiday rep if the gas appliances have been safety checked and when this was last done. If they don’t know, ask them to find out.
DO A QUICK GAS SAFETY CHECK
Black marks or stains around the appliance, too much condensation and a lazy yellow or orange flame instead of a crisp blue flame are all signs that the gas appliance is not working properly. Report any concerns to the rep immediately and if you are not sure leave the rental until the appliance has been checked.
AM I TIPSY OR ILL?
Don`t mistake carbon monoxide poisoning with other holiday sicknesses. The red warning box below explains more.
WHAT SHOULD I PACK?
Carbon monoxide alarms are rare abroad so buy one to take with you. They are relatively cheap and could save your life! Consider bringing a smoke alarm too, and check it’s working properly every time you travel.
BE WARY OF GAS BBQs
If you decide to use a gas BBQ make sure the area is completely ventilated. Never use a gas BBQ indoors. Always keep naked flames away from the gas source. If you’re not sure don’t try it anyway – ask for assistance.
IF YOU CAN SMELL GAS
If you are able to, turn the gas off at the meter or source, extinguish all naked flames, open windows, leave the area, inform the owner or holiday rep immediately and seek medical advice if you feel unwell.
PURCHASE AND PACK A CARBON MONOXIDE ALARM
Look for the signs we mentioned earlier and if you have any concerns let your rep know immediately – ask the rep when the appliances were last checked.
DO YOU HAVE THE INSTRUCTIONS FOR GAS APPLIANCES?
If they are not available in your rental then ask the owner or rep for them. Alternatively ask someone to show you how to use the appliances.
REMEMBER THE SIGNS OF CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING
If you are not sure if you have the symptoms but suspect CO poisoning seek medical assistance for peace of mind.
HEADACHES, NAUSEA OR BREATHLESSNESS?
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that can kill quickly with no warning. Don’t mistake the symptoms for dehydration or a hangover.
– Leave the property until it’s safe
– Contact your holiday rep
– If in doubt, visit a doctor
LOOK OUT FOR THESE SIGNS
Loss of Consciousness
5) ELECTRICAL SAFETY
Never assume you are as protected abroad as you are at home.
What you should know
BE CAREFUL OF WET HANDS AND BODIES
Sometimes its easy to forget that water and electricity do not mix! Never touch electrical equipment with wet hands it could cause a fatal accident.
WHERE ARE THE LIGHTS?
You should never touch light switches if they are cracked or show signs of damage. Report these to the owner or the rep straight away.
Ensure that the item being checked is disconnected from the supply and check cables are securely attached and are not cut or nicked or damaged in any way. There should be no joints or repairs in the cable, if there are ask your rep or rental owner to confirm its safety or ask for the item to be swapped. If a cable is discoloured it could be a sign of overheating.
CAN I SMELL SOMETHING BURNING?
Never ignore burning smells, or sounds such as buzzing or crackling from cables or appliances. If there are scorch marks on plugs and sockets report this immediately and do not use.
IS IT OK TO USE UK APPLIANCES ABROAD?
Yes, but you must consider the type of socket, voltage and the frequency of the electricity supply used where you are visiting. You may need a transformer or converter.
DANGERS OF THE BATHROOM
If your rental is small or you are sharing it might be tempting to take small mains-powered electrical appliances into the bathroom, but you must never do this. Keep your appliances and water in separate rooms!
Never plug equipment into a socket which looks damaged or cracked or has any part of the cover missing. If that’s what you find, report it.
THE RIGHT ADAPTER
Always check that the travel adapter you are intending to use is suitable for the voltage and country you are visiting, never force it into a socket if it does not fit easily.
RCD's PROTECT YOU
If you are taking extension leads abroad check they have a Residual Current Device (RCD) that will cut off the supply if there is an electrical problem. On campsites check there is RCD protection or a similar device that will cut off the supply if there is an electrical problem.
IS IT OK TO BUY ELECTRICAL APPLIANCES ABROAD AND USE THEM IN THE UK?
Because of the many differences in power supply and appliance construction safety this is not something we would recommend.
Checklist – BEFORE YOU GO
CHECK THE SUPPLY
Find out about the type of sockets and voltage used and make sure you take the right adapters and / or transformers.
GET WHAT YOU NEED BEFORE YOU TRAVEL
Buy adaptors, transformers and converters before you go as not all products available abroad will meet British Safety Standards.
Checklist – WHEN YOU GET THERE
Look For Damage
Check sockets, plugs, cables, switches to look for damage. If you find any report it and don’t use it.
WHERE TO PUT THINGS?
Where will you plug in the hair dryer? Where will you charge your phone? Wherever you decide to do this, for your safety, keep them away from water and the bathroom.
TAKE ENOUGH TOWELS
This ensures that if you go anywhere near water you can make sure you are completely dry before touching an electrical appliance.
OUT AND ABOUT
Remember, our electrical safety standards are higher than in many other countries. When you go out for the day or evening keep an eye out for the same tell-tell signs of danger listed above.
Don’t take any chances. Use a safe adapter.
This guide from Electrical Safety First explains more.
6) PROTECTING YOUR HOME WHEN YOU ARE AWAY
Come back to a safe, secure home.
What you should know
ALARM BOXS DETER BURGLERS
If your house does not have an alarm already and you cannot have one fitted consider purchasing a “dummy” alarm box – these can still be a deterrent.
KEEP UP APPEARANCES
Timed lighting is a good way of giving the appearance that the home is occupied. Timers can be picked up fairly cheaply and are a good form of deterrent.
INSURANCE IS ESSENTIAL
Unoccupied homes are at a higher risk of burglary and damage. Check your home and contents insurance cover before you leave. Include items you may be taking with you such as phones, kindles etc. If you have specific insurance for high value items are they covered when abroad?
HIDE THE SIGNS
Ask a neighbour if they can put out / put back your bins and check there is no post sticking out from your front door.
CHECK YOUR INSURANCE
Home, contents and travel – you may well thank yourself. Is everything covered that needs to be…even the items you are taking on holiday with you?
MAKE YOUR HOUSE LOOK OCCUPIED
Ask your neighbour to help with bins or post, put some lighting on a timer, invest in alarm or alarm box.
TURN OFF THE WATER / HEATING
Consider turning your water off at the stop cock to reduce the chances of a flood. Turn off your heating and hot water too – no need to heat an empty house.
HIDE YOUR VALUABLES
Place your valuables out of sight and somewhere safe.
Check all doors and windows before you leave to make sure everything is locked and secured.
7) GENERAL HOLIDAY WATCHOUTS
Some general advice that will help you plan your holiday.
What you should know
CHECK THE BAGGAGE ALLOWANCES
Different companies allow different baggage and hand luggage allowances. Don’t assume you know, always check and weigh your luggage before you travel. There is no worse start to your holiday than having to pay excess baggage.
WHAT IS ABTA / AITO?
Both are trade organisations, your travel agent may be a member, and have additional routes to have complaints resolved through arbitration.
Shop around for the best rate and take into account fees or commissions that may be charged. Pay for your money in cash, if you use a credit or debit card you may incur charges.
TAKE SOME CASH
Although plastic is accepted in most places cash is the only method of payment you can guarantee every shop will accept and you may need it for trains or taxis when you arrive.
These are still quite popular because they are less of a risk to carry than cash – make sure you write down all of the serials numbers so they can be replaced should you lose them.
IS MY DESTINATION SAFE?
The current situation around the globe is changing frequently. If you are unsure of the location’s safety ask for advice from your booking agent. Alternatively information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice. This includes references to terrorist threat levels, places to avoid and general safety advice.
Always read the contract thoroughly before signing it. Ask if you are unsure of anything, especially check for extra charges and the insurance cover. Allow time for the vehicle to be checked when you collect and drop it off, if there is existing damage take your own photos.Check it has an inflated spare tyre. Know what fuel has to be in the car when it is returned.
At the least, make sure you are covered for medical expenses, getting you back home, cancellation, missed departure, delay, baggage cover and personal liability.
CHECK YOUR CREDIT OR DEBIT CARDS CAN BE USED ABROAD
Ring your provider before you leave to check you cards can be used abroad, with some providers you need to let them know in advance. Also check if there are any charges for using them whilst you are away.
USING YOUR MOBILE PHONE
To save any nasty surprises when you return from holiday always check with your mobile phone provider that your mobile is set up for use abroad. Make sure that you fully understand the cost implication, especially if you are travelling outside of the EU. Since April 30th 2016, roaming within the EU is cheaper with new maximum charges for UK customers. They are:
£0.05 per minute for an outgoing or incoming phone call
£0.02 per minute for a text sent
£0.05 per MB of data
From June 15, 2017, it is planned that all roaming charges will be abolished across all 28 countries in the EU.
HAVE YOU GOT ADEQUATE INSURANCE?
Many of us do not check this until something happens, only to find we may not be covered. It is always best to check in advance.
WEIGH YOUR BAGGAGE
Measure and weigh your baggage to ensure it complies with the airline rules.
GET CREDIT CARD-READY
Can they be used abroad and is there a cost?
CHECK YOUR MOBILE COSTS
Make sure your phone is set up for use abroad for all your travel party. Check the charges if you were to ring or text home or someone in the same country.
SAFE DRINKING WATER
Research before you go as to whether you can drink the water or not where you are visiting. Be prepared to buy a lot of bottled water.
If you have a swimming pool where you are staying check the depth of both the shallow and deep ends and how quickly it slopes from one end to the other. This minimises the risk of hitting the bottom when you dive or jump in and helps you not to get out of your depth by surprise.