Research, Research, Research – Health, Local Laws and Safety

It may sound boring but before you set off on holiday it’s a good idea to do your research.

Doing your research first could not only mean that something unexpected is less likely to happen, it also means that if it does you may be better able to deal with the situation. 

Before you travel or even before you decide on your destination you should research the health risks, research the local laws and customs and check the latest travel advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

FCO Travel Aware

Research the health risk

Health risks when travelling will vary depending on where you are going, your medical history, your length of stay and what activities you intend to take part in whilst you are away.

Here are some of the things you should consider before you travel or, if you have existing medical conditions, before you choose your holiday destination.

  • Are you fit to travel to your chosen destination?  Think about the length of the flight, the climate and landscape when you get there.  Talk to your doctor or a health professional if you are unsure how you would cope.
  • Should you have any vaccinations before you go?  Find out at  It is recommended that you consult with your General Practitioner or Practice Nurse 6-8 weeks in advance of travel. They will assess your particular health risks before recommending vaccines and /or antimalarial tablets.
  • What medical essentials should you take with you? Think about what medical supplies you might need when you are away, for example, prescription medication, sun screen, insect repellent, anti-diarrhoea pills, antihistamines and a first aid kit.  For more information about what should be in your holiday medical kit read our article. Medical essentials, what to take with you on holiday.
  • Is your prescription medication legal in the country you are visiting?  Some medication which is legal in the UK may not be legal in the country you are travelling to.  You can check with that countries embassy in the UK or visit  It is also worth finding out the generic name, rather than the brand name of your medication, in case you need to obtain more whilst you are away.

Research local laws and customs

It's important to remember that all countries are different, in their laws, religious beliefs and customs. Just because something is legal or acceptable in the UK, you can't assume that it will be ok in the country you are travelling to. 

  • Laws: Some things which we might use every day in the UK are illegal in other countries, for example it is illegal to take chewing gum in to Singapore, and e-cigarettes are illegal in Dubai.
  • Customs: It is important to respect local customs, such as dress codes when entering religious buildings so as not to cause offence.
  • Entry requirements: It is your responsibility to find out the entry requirements for your holiday destination and make sure that you obtain the right documentation in time.  For instance, some countries will require you to obtain a visa, others may insist that you have a passport which is valid for a further 6 months after your return date.  If you don’t have the right documentation you could be refused entry or detained. The easiest way to find out the entry requirements for your holiday destination is to look at the travel advice provided by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).

Research the latest travel advice from Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO)

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office publish a wealth of information about hundreds of countries across the world to help you stay safe and well when you travel. 

This advice is constantly changing so it’s wise to check the latest information every time you travel. 

You may think I’m only going to Spain and I’ve been then many times before so there’s no need to check, but think again as there could be some information which you find useful, such as upcoming industrial action which could affect your journey or transport once you reach your destination.

Information published by the FCDO includes:

  • Latest security threats
  • Areas of a country which should be avoided
  • Areas of a country where only essential travel is advised
  • Information about extreme weather conditions or natural disasters such as earthquakes or hurricanes.
  • Information about upcoming industrial action which could affect your trip.
  • Information about local laws and customs

Remember if you travel to a country or region against the advice of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office your travel insurance will not provide cover.

Check the latest travel advice by country.

In conclusion, it may seem like a chore, but it’s definitely worth spending a little time doing your research before you travel, it can help you stay healthy, stay safe and avoid unnecessary delays.

Travel Insurance for medical conditions

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office recommend that you have travel insurance in place every time you travel abroad. Make sure that your travel insurance covers any medical conditions you may have. is proud to be able to provide cover for all types of medical conditions with no upper age limits.