Going on holiday is exciting!

New surroundings, experiences and cuisine.

While relaxing and letting your guard down is all part of the holiday experience, you may encounter difficulties that could affect your holiday enjoyment. Here are some useful pointers to help you enjoy your holiday and avoid some possible pitfalls. Please read the information carefully and ensure that other members in your party are also aware. 

Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO)

Read the FCDO travel advice for the country that you are visiting. It provides essential information including entry requirements, medication restrictions, health advice, safety and security, local laws and customs and much more.

Travel Insurance

  • Never travel without travel insurance.
  • Make sure you have valid travel insurance with sufficient cover for your holiday and check any holiday activities are covered before participating.
  • Take a copy of your policy and the emergency assistance contact number with you.
  • Remember the free Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) only entitles you to basic state medical care in participating countries, it does not cover you for repatriation if you are ill or injured and need to be flown home.
  • Leave a copy of your travel details with your next of kin or an emergency contact.

Your journey

Plan and pack for a safe journey

  • Research your destination and holiday to understand local customs, etiquette, and dress codes and pack accordingly.
  • Carry a copy of your holiday booking confirmation and contact details of your travel provider.
  • Follow the luggage policy of your transport provider, including any weight or carriage restrictions.
  • Carry a supply of medication in your hand luggage, check if there are restrictions on non-prescription medication.
  • If travelling with children, carry baby formula, nappies etc. and items such as books or a game to keep them occupied.
  • Keep a copy of the ID pages of your passport somewhere safe throughout your holiday.
  • Allow sufficient time to get to the airport/port/station.


When you arrive

  • Check out the accommodation facilities and the safety features.
  • If you notice any defects or hazards at your accommodation, report them to reception and your travel provider, representative or their local agent.
  • Familiarise yourself with the escape routes and locate the fire exit nearest to your room.
  • Read the fire instruction notice displayed in your room.
  • If on a cruise participate in the emergency evacuation drill.

Be aware and be safe

  • Never leave children unsupervised.
  • Take extra care in bright sunlight as it may not be obvious whether the windows or patio door are open or closed.
  • Surfaces such as tiles or marble floors can be very slippery.
  • If you’re self-catering, check how the cooking appliances work and ensure they are switched off when you leave your apartment or go to bed.
  • If smoking is permitted always ensure that all smoking materials are safely extinguished and never smoke in bed.
  • Keep your key by your bed when sleeping or leave the key in the inside of the door whilst locked.
  • If you smell gas, report it. Black sooty marks or stains, lazy orange flames and excessive condensation in the room could indicate a faulty gas appliance.

If a fire occurs

  • Evacuate the room/area immediately – don’t stop to collect personal belongings. Use the nearest escape route.
  • Close any doors behind you.
  • Raise the alarm.
  • Go to the assembly point.
  • If you can’t leave your room, close all doors, put wet towels or clothes round the door seals, telephone reception and shout for help from the window.

Balconies, corridors and walkways

  • Never leave children unsupervised on balconies.
  • Don’t climb or stand on balcony furniture. Keep all furniture away from the balcony wall/railings.
  • Never lean over, sit or climb on the walls or railings of any balcony, corridor, or walkway.
  • Don't leave potential trip hazards on the balcony.
  • Do not try to pass items to someone on another balcony or climb from one balcony to another.
  • Never jump into the pool from your balcony.
  • Before closing the door whilst on the balcony check that there is a handle on the outside.


  • If available, use the safety deposit box for your money, travel documents, passports, jewellery and other valuables.
  • Lock your door even when you’re inside your room.
  • Don’t leave windows or patio doors open.
  • Exercise caution when opening the door to a visitor and ask them to identify themselves.
  • If you see someone or something that looks suspicious, report it to reception or a member of staff immediately.
  • Follow the advice and instruction of the staff or local authorities.

If a security incident occurs

If you are caught up in an incident and are not sure what action to take, follow the guidance to ‘Run, Hide, Tell’ which can be applied to many places and situations both at home and overseas.

For further information about Run, Hide, Tell visit the Counter Terrorism Policing website.

Run Hide Tell logo

Accidents and illness

If you or one of your party fall ill or have an accident during your holiday, seek medical advice and report it to the reception, your travel provider, representative or their local agent.

Food and drink

Food and drink

  • Where appropriate, drink bottled water and avoid ice in drinks.
  • Be aware that alcohol measures abroad may be larger than in the UK – drink in moderation.
  • Make sure your food has been thoroughly cooked and is still hot when served.
  • Avoid any uncooked food apart from fruits and vegetables or food that can be peeled or shelled.
  • Ask for information on meal ingredients if you have food allergies.
  • Take care when handling lava rocks, hot stone grills and other cooking equipment.

Swimming and pool safety

Only swim in pools where it is permitted to do so and you know the pool is suited to your swimming ability.

Swimming pools and other water-based facilities 

  • Read the pool rules before you swim and remember, most holiday accommodations do not employ lifeguards.
  • Always obey the facility rules and signage.
  • Check the pool layout to know where the deep and shallow ends are, especially before jumping or diving in. Never dive into water less than 1.5m deep.
  • Shower before entering the pool.
  • Don’t jump or dive from any raised features or from poolside furniture.
  • Don’t swim if suffering from an upset stomach. Leave 48 hours before entering the pool following a stomach-related illness.
  • Don’t swim immediately after a meal and never swim when you’ve been drinking alcohol.
  • Check the hours of pool operation and never use the pool when it is closed.
  • In the event of an emergency, know how and where to get help.
  • Children in and around the pool area should be supervised by an adult at all times and never left unattended even if a lifeguard is present.
  • Don’t change nappies at the poolside.
  • Young children and babies should wear appropriate swimwear e.g. rubber-lined swimming trunks or specifically designed swimming nappies.
  • In the event of a faecal accident in or around the pool, report it immediately.

Swimming and beach safety

Only swim in the sea, tidal waters, rivers, lakes and other waters where it is permitted to do so and you know it is suited to your swimming ability.

The Beach

  • Check warning flags, signage and whether a lifeguard is on duty and follow safety information on the beach.
  • Find out what to do in an emergency e.g. call the local coastguard.
  • Beware of dangerous currents and underwater hazards, such as reefs, rocks, sudden changes in depth and marine life.
  • Don’t swim near or dive from rocks, piers, breakwaters and coral.
  • Never swim where a sign says not to e.g. in zoned areas for jet boats or jet skis.
  • Only use jet skis and other water based crafts with appropriate safety equipment and supervised by an instructor.
  • Where possible never swim alone.
  • Always supervise children.
  • Never swim at night, after drinking alcohol or on a full stomach.
  • If you see someone in difficulty raise the alarm.

Care in the sun

The sun can be enjoyed safely by using shade, protective clothing, and sunscreen to prevent burning.

  • Apply high-factor sunscreen frequently and drink plenty of water.
  • Build up the time you spend in the sun gradually and avoid sunbathing between 11am and 3pm – the hottest part of the day.
  • Keep babies cool and protect them from the sun. Babies less than six months old should be kept out of direct sunlight.
  • Take extra care with children – use plenty of high factor sunscreen, make them wear a t-shirt and hat.
  • In mosquito prone areas use insect repellent and during daylight hours spray your repellent on top of your sunscreen.

Out and about


Always book through a reputable supplier; ask your representative or travel provider for more details.

  • If you are planning to go scuba diving, allow at least 24 hours between your last dive and flying or travelling to altitude (over 1,000 feet).
  • Jet skis and other such watercrafts should only be used with appropriate safety equipment and under the supervision of the instructor.

Pedestrians and driving

  • Be aware that in some countries traffic isn’t required to stop at pedestrian crossings.
  • When walking on unpaved or unlit roads during the hours of darkness carry a torch.
  • Before driving ask the car hire company about the traffic laws and any specific local rules e.g. carrying a breathalyser in France, and a spare pair of glasses in Spain.
  • Check that your car hire insurance is adequate for the driver and all passengers.
  • Always wear a seat belt.
  • Always carry emergency/breakdown telephone numbers.
  • Never drink and drive.
  • It is strongly advised that you don’t hire mopeds or motorbikes.
  • It is strongly advised that you don’t independently hire quad bikes.

Personal safety

  • Avoid carrying too much money or wearing excess jewellery when you’re out and about.
  • Keep all valuables, wallets, bags etc. close to you at all times.
  • Avoid poorly lit areas and if possible never walk home alone.
  • If you’re out as part of a group, look out for one another.
  • Consider very carefully whether you should leave a pub, club or event with someone you’ve just met.
  • Do not invite strangers back to your room.
  • In busy bars and clubs take time to check for fire exits and follow all emergency instructions in the event of an incident.
  • If you feel threatened, stay calm and try to be firm and direct.
  • If you feel uncomfortable or in danger, don’t be afraid to draw attention to yourself. Shout, make a fuss and make people aware that you feel threatened.
  • If you are the victim of a crime, report the matter to your travel provider and the local police immediately.

Alcohol and drugs

Be alert to personal safety issues and remember that alcohol or drug use may increase the risk of accidents and injuries and can invalidate travel insurance claims.

  • Never accept drinks from strangers or from anyone you don’t completely trust.
  • Do not share or exchange drinks.
  • Keep your drink with you at all times or nominate a friend to watch your drinks.
  • Be aware of how much you’ve had to drink and remember alcohol will dehydrate you.
  • Avoid using recreational drugs – they’re likely to be illegal in your holiday destination.
  • The quality of local imported spirits varies greatly, buy well known brands where possible.

Using a taxi or minicab

  • Never accept a lift from an unlicensed taxi, a stranger or someone you don’t completely trust.
  • Try to share a taxi with a friend.
  • Always sit in the back of the taxi, and if you chat to the driver don’t give them any personal details.

How to have a safe and healthy holiday in the sun z-card

The above information is also available as a handy credit card-sized z-card to take on holiday with you. Ask your ABTA Member travel company to order you one through our Marketing toolkit. It can also be downloaded as a PDF below.