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Booking and accommodation  

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A big part of any holiday is deciding where to stay. Access for disabled people has improved considerably - mainly because of the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995.


Often a disability is not obvious to other people, so make sure you explain your particular requirements clearly when booking accommodation or dealing with a travel company.

You should not assume that staff will automatically know or understand your needs. This is particularly important when booking by phone, post or on the Internet.

Importantly, ask about what the place you want to stay at has to offer you.
Accessible accommodation

Hotels and businesses differ in what they offer. For example, some places will be fully accessible to a wheelchair user travelling independently. Others may be accessible to people who have limited mobility but can walk a few paces.

Some charities produce guides detailing specific holiday accommodation. They may detail information such as whether there are:

* ground floor bedrooms
* wide corridors and doorways
* menus and other information in Braille
* adaptations in the rooms
* staff trained to assist disabled people

It's also worth checking if companions, or carers, can accompany you at a discounted rate - or even free.

If an accommodation provider includes a National Accessible Scheme symbol in their signage or advertising, this means that the business meets the scheme's criteria for providing accessible facilities and services for disabled people.

The Disability Discrimination Act and 'reasonable adjustments'  

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Any service provider who provides a service to the public, whether they charge for it or not, has duties under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).
Service providers' responsibilities

Service providers include hotels, restaurants and holiday accommodation. They cannot refuse to meet your needs as a disabled person or provide a lower standard of service because of your disability unless it can be justified.

Service providers may need to make 'reasonable adjustments' to any barriers that may prevent a disabled person using or accessing their service.

What is a reasonable adjustment?

Under the DDA service providers only need to make changes that are 'reasonable'. Simple changes to layout, improved signage and information and staff training will improve accessibility to disabled customers.

It's about what is practical to the service provider's individual situation and what resources they may have. They will not be required to make changes that are impractical or beyond their means.
Examples of reasonable changes that can be made

Examples of reasonable changes that can be made include:

* using large print for registration and guest information
* ensuring that at least one copy of the fixed menu is in Braille
* providing a few phones with large buttons
* providing portable vibrating alarms for guests who will not be able to hear an audible fire alarm
* where a low reception desk is not available, providing an alternative low desk for wheelchair users
* sending staff on a disability-awareness training course to increase awareness of common disability related issues

Good for business

Making their services more accessible will not only benefit disabled people but could encourage recommendations and return visits. For example:

* the friends, families and any carers accompanying a disabled person
* older customers who may not consider themselves disabled but would appreciate easier access and better facilities

If you believe you have been discriminated against, you can complain to, or seek advice from, the Disability Rights Commission.
Tourism for All website

Tourism for All is a website aimed at businesses involved in tourism. It provides information on accessibility at both national and regional levels.

The National Accessible Scheme  

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he National Accessible Scheme (NAS) aims to help service providers within the tourism industry make their services more accessible - to encourage more disabled people to use them.
The scheme and its associated standards

The scheme's standards provide guidelines on how to make reasonable adjustments to services to meet the needs of disabled people. They are split into three category standards, for:

* physically disabled people
* blind or visually impaired people
* deaf or hearing impaired people

Meeting the standards will not guarantee compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). However, being part of the scheme will give businesses a nationally-recognised rating that they can use to promote their business and its facilities.

The individual standards are represented by symbols that can be publicly displayed and used in promotional literature.

By introducing a few or more changes from within the scheme, businesses can increase the number of disabled people that visit and use a service. It may also encourage you to return once you've found the 'right' facilities that meet your needs.

Information about the scheme is available from the VisitBritain website. The information is aimed at the service provider and not the customer - but you may find it informative.

Businesses can get hold of a pack which includes a simple survey to assess their current status and suggestions to improve accessibility.
Finding accessible accommodation and services

Tourism for All is a national charity that provides information about accessible accommodation and other tourism services in the UK to disabled and older people.

Holidays in the UK for disabled people  

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This information relates to UK tailored holidays and breaks for disabled people, families and carers.
Organisations and charities providing holidays and breaks

There are many organisations and charities which arrange and provide holidays for disabled people. These can save you the time and trouble of organising things for yourself and you are usually guaranteed access and assistance - but you might get less choice of where to go, what to do and where to stay.

Types of holiday and breaks

There are many types of holiday to suit people with different impairments or disabilities. Here are some ideas:

* activity holidays - including swimming, sailing, riding and camping
* more leisurely holidays that include tours and sightseeing
* walking holidays with a particular theme, for example, birdwatching

As well as hotels and guesthouses, types of accommodation also include:

* self-catering cottages
* holiday parks and activity centres
* camp-sites

Types of support while on holiday

Special equipment, adapted vehicles, nursing and care services may be important considerations on holiday. Some travel companies deal specifically with holidays for disabled people. They will take into account accessible buildings, local attractions and leisure facilities.

Depending on your needs - and the holiday destination you choose - support may be provided by professional carers and/or nurses as well as volunteers. You may be able to choose the level of care required.
Attractions and accessibility

Many organisations provide specialist information for holiday makers with particular disabilities. For example, tourist attractions that subscribe to the English Tourist Council's National Code of Practice for Visitor Attractions will have considered the requirements of disabled people with special needs and will have made suitable provision.
Financial support

Some charities help towards holiday costs and some also own their own properties. Families on a low income, and with a disabled child, may be eligible for a grant towards the cost of a holiday. Contact your social services department of your local council.

While your child is abroad  

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To ensure your child's safety, you may wish to consider the following key issues before they go away.

Bear in mind that the legal drinking age in other countries can differ from the UK. In some countries the legal drinking age may be higher or lower than the UK or drinking may be illegal altogether. However, if you think that your child will drink alcohol while abroad, there are a number of additional precautions they should take:

* be aware of local attitudes to alcohol
* keep an eye on drinks (drugs can be put into ignored drinks)
* avoid alcohol while swimming
* don't try to take alcohol into countries where it is prohibited
* public drunkenness is frowned upon wherever you are


Before going abroad, you should try to make sure your child understands the importance of these issues:

* penalties for disobeying drug laws are often severe and include massive fines and long prison sentences in grim conditions, and some countries still have the death penalty
* they should never carry packages through Customs for other people
* advise your child not to sit in someone else's vehicle when going through Customs or crossing a border - always get out and walk
* try and make sure your child always packs their own luggage and doesn't leave it unattended
* if your child is driving advise them not to lend their vehicle to anyone else
* they should never give medicines prescribed for them by a doctor to anyone else


You should ensure that your child is adequately informed about the dangers of unprotected sex. Not only can this reduce the chance of unwanted pregnancy, it can also significantly reduce the chances of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

Travellers overseas should also be aware that cultural attitudes towards relationships differ in other countries. Acceptable behaviour in the UK can, in some societies, cause deep offence or misunderstanding.

Overseas travel  

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Planning is the key to any safe trip.
Travel information from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office website offers lots of travel information including:

* official Foreign Office travel advice for over 200 countries, country-specific travellers' tips, and links to travel advice of foreign governments
* what to do before you depart, passports and visas, travel insurance, money matters, health matters, dangers of drugs and keeping your home safe
* travellers' checklists to make sure you are well prepared and have a safe holiday

# precautions while you're away: security and general tips on customs, laws and even driving abroad
# what to do if something goes wrong during your trip
# answers to the most frequently asked questions
Vaccinations and health

The Department of Health website has advice on:

* avoiding health risks, including country specific advice on vaccinations
* planning for healthy travel
* getting emergency medical treatment
* getting a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which entitles you to free or reduced-cost emergency medical treatment in some European countries

The website information is based on the Health Advice for Travellers booklet which is available at Post Offices, or by calling the Health Literature Line 0800 555 777.
Medical treatment in many countries is very expensive so consider taking out appropriate travel insurance that covers you and your family.

Over exposure to the sun can cause skin cancer (cases of which are on the rise), heatstroke and sunburn.

Young people on holiday alone  

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Thousands of teenagers go on holiday without their parents every year and they have a great — and perfectly safe — time.
While there may be further arrangements that you or your child will want to consider to ensure their safety, set out below are some of the key issues that you may want to think about.

Preparation before leaving

The top 10 summary of things that you should try and ensure your child does before leaving are:

* check the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) Travel Advice website (link below) or call 0870 606 0290 and make sure your child knows the address of the nearest British Embassy or Consulate in case of emergency
* get travel insurance and check that the cover is appropriate
* get a good guidebook to ensure they get to know their destination and find out about local laws and customs
* ensure they have a valid passport and necessary visas
* check what vaccinations are needed at least six weeks before going
* make sure the travel agent being used is an ABTA member and, if flying, make sure the holiday package is ATOL protected
* make copies of their passport, insurance policy plus 24-hour emergency number, and ticket details — and ensure that copies are left with family and friends
* take enough money for the trip and some back-up funds eg travellers cheques, sterling or US dollars
* leave a copy of the itinerary and a way of contacting them — such as email — with family and friends

Children travelling alone  

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Is your child ready to go on a long journey alone? While there may be further arrangements that you or your child will want to consider to ensure their safety, set out below are some of the key issues that you will want to think about.

Ferries and trains
Check with individual ferry companies about their policy on children travelling unaccompanied. For information on unaccompanied children travelling on Eurostar visit their website and click on the conditions of carriage link at the bottom of the screen.


Before booking flights, you should check with the airline what their policy is on children travelling unaccompanied.

Considerations for younger children:

* write your telephone number, address and the contact details of who the child is meeting
* give them toys and games to play in their carry-on luggage

For all children:

* passports for children under 16 are only valid for 5 years, make sure their passport is valid before they travel and that you have obtained any visas necessary for the journey (check with the Embassy of the country to which they are travelling or travelling through)
* make sure they have a photocopy (or two) of their passport that is kept away from their actual passport — you could keep a copy too that could be faxed anywhere around the world if necessary
* give your child a copy of their travel arrangements (including return flight details)
* ensure that your contact details are written in your child's passport
* ensure they have the name, address and telephone number of the person they are meant to meet at the airport — advise them to go with no one else
* ensure that your child also has the address of the nearest British Embassy or Consulate in case they need to contact someone urgently
* give your child some money to phone you if they need to before they leave the airport — make sure they know the country code

Make sure the person collecting your child knows the flight details.

Tax when bringing in goods from abroad  

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If you are travelling to the UK from abroad, the quantities of certain goods you can bring into the country and the duties and tax you may need to pay depends on where you bought the goods and what they are. Certain goods are banned altogether.

The different types of duty or tax

When bringing goods from another country the following duties and taxes may apply:

* Customs Duty (paid when goods cross international borders, but doesn't apply where they move within a customs union like the European Union)
* Excise Duty (payable on certain goods such as tobacco and alcohol)
* VAT (Value Added Tax)

Banned or restricted goods

There are certain goods, such as ivory, that you cannot bring into the UK under any circumstances. Certain other goods carry restrictions.

Goods bought in the European Union (EU)
Excise Duty

You don't have to pay UK Excise Duty on excise goods (for example alcohol and tobacco) provided all of the following apply:

* the goods are Excise Duty and VAT paid in the EU State where you got them
* the goods are for your 'own use': includes goods for your own consumption, and gifts for other people - doesn't apply where you have received or will receive payment for them (for example, where you obtain goods for a friend who will give you the cost price for them)
* tobacco products from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia or Slovenia are within the current limits for these countries

If you are carrying more than the tobacco limits for the above countries you must pay UK Excise Duty on those goods. You do this by entering the customs red channel or by using the red point telephone. If you enter the customs blue or green channels with more than the limits, all of your tobacco may be seized.
Tobacco and alcohol - customs questions and checks

If you are bringing in alcohol or tobacco goods (irrespective of the quantity) and HMRC has reason to suspect they may be for a commercial purpose, a Customs Officer may stop you and ask you questions and make checks.

HMRC has the right to seize the goods, along with the vehicle used to transport them, if they have evidence they are for a commercial purpose.

Excise goods intended for commercial purposes

If you intend bringing back excise goods for a commercial purpose you must either arrange to pay the necessary Excise Duty before bringing the goods to the UK, or make special arrangements for the goods to be brought back using commercial documentation and placed into an approved warehouse.

For information on how to do this, contact HM Revenue & Customs' (HMRC) National Advice Service on 0845 010 9000. Lines are open 8.00 am to 8.00 pm Monday to Friday.

No VAT is payable on goods brought back from the EU - but VAT must be included in the price you paid for the goods in the EU member state country (including excise goods). If it hasn't been paid and you are stopped at customs the goods are likely to be seized.

Bringing goods into the UK from outside the EU
Tobacco, alcohol and perfume

When travelling from a non-EU country (including the Canary Islands, the Channel islands and Gibraltar) there are restrictions on the amount of tobacco, alcohol and perfume you can bring into the UK for your own use without paying UK Customs Duty, Excise Duty or VAT.

If you have perfume or eau de toilette above the allowances, you'll have to pay Customs duty and VAT on the excess. See the section below: 'How much Customs Duty and VAT do you have to pay?'
Other items, including gifts and souvenirs

You can also bring in other goods worth up to £145 without paying any Customs Duty and VAT.

If you bring in goods worth more than £145, you must pay Customs Duty and VAT on the full value of the item or items that take you over that threshold. If you have several items that add up to more than £145 you should declare all of them. You can then choose which ones to pay duty on to minimise the cost. (The Customs Officer will normally be able to help you work this out.)
How much Customs Duty and VAT do you pay?

The actual amount of Customs Duty and VAT payable varies according to where you are coming from and the items you wish to bring in.

To get an idea of how much you may need to pay you can contact HM Revenue & Customs' National Advice Service on 0845 010 9000 or +44 (0) 208 929 0152 if you're calling from abroad. Lines are open from 8.00 am to 8.00 pm Monday to Friday. But bear in mind that the actual amount you will need to pay can only be determined when you present the goods at customs.

How to declare goods

If you have goods to declare, or are unsure of what you should declare, you should go through the red channel or use the red point phone when you arrive at UK Customs. You should tell the Customs Officer everything that you are bringing into the country. The Customs Officer may ask to look inside your luggage.

The Customs Officer will work out any duties and VAT due and tell you how much to pay. They will give you a receipt which you should keep as proof of payment.
If you have nothing to declare

In this case pass through the green channel after collecting your baggage. But bear in mind that Customs carry out checks on travellers in the green channel and there are penalties for failing to declare goods. This can include seizure of the goods and any vehicle used to transport them.

Taking your pets abroad  

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If you are going abroad and wish to take your pet cat or dog with you, the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) could allow you to avoid long quarantine periods when you return to the UK. Working guide and hearing dogs may also travel on the scheme.

The PETS scheme
Countries participating in PETS include most parts of Europe, and many non-European destinations. Check the current position with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

To be eligible, your cat or dog must:

* be fitted with a microchip
* be vaccinated against rabies
* be blood tested by a European Union approved laboratory - A pet may not enter/re-enter the UK under the Scheme until 6 calendar months have passed from the date that the blood sample was taken that gave a satisfactory result (assuming that all other rules of the PETS scheme have been met)

Pets must also:

* be issued with a pet passport by their vet
* be treated for tapeworm and ticks, not less than 24 hours and not more than 48 hours before checking in with a PETS approved carrier for the journey back to the UK
* travel via PETS approved sea, air and rail routes

Owners must also sign a declaration of residency.

* Visit the PETS website for details of the Pet Travel Scheme (opens new window)
* PETS-approved carriers and routes (opens new window)

Before you go

You must book your trip with one of the many PETS-approved carriers, on a PETS-approved route. There is only a limited amount of space and it is allocated on a first come first served basis. You must book in advance as your pet will not be allowed to travel without a prior booking.
Taking care of your pet when travelling

These tips can help make your pet's journey as comfortable as possible:

* make sure your pet is as fit and healthy as possible to withstand the journey
* give them a light meal about two hours before they travel
* give your pet the opportunity to go to the toilet before it is put in its carrying container
* let your pet 'try out' the carrying container before the trip
* the carrying container should be well-ventilated, roomy enough for the animal to move around, safe, and have adequate food and water for the trip, with easily-refillable containers for a long journey
* put a familiar-smelling cushion or rug in the container to help your pet settle

Arriving back in the UK

On arrival in the UK, transport staff will check your pet passport to ensure the requirements of the scheme have been met. If there is missing paperwork, or if your pet has not been prepared correctly it may be taken into UK quarantine or returned to the country from which it has just come.
Travelling with registered assistance dogs

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, in partnership with other UK assistance dog organisations, DEFRA and a number of UK airlines has produced a set of guidelines for registered assistance dog owners wishing to use the Pet Travel Scheme.

Pets entering the UK on airlines under the Pet Travel Scheme must normally be carried in the hold. However, there is an exemption within the scheme to allow guide dogs or other assistance dogs to travel in the cabin with their owner on certain approved routes.

For more details on travelling with support dogs visit the DEFRA website.

The disabled people section gives more advice on travelling with assistance dogs.

Travel insurance  

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Taking out travel insurance can help you get financial and practical assistance should something go wrong on your trip abroad. Unfortunately, illness, theft or accidents can happen anywhere.

Travel insurance can vary widely on price and levels of cover. If your trip involves particular sports or activities considered a risk, check that your insurer offers extra cover or you may need to call a specialist insurer. Get several quotations before you choose your travel insurance and check carefully what each offers.
Policy checklist

* emergency medical treatment, hospitalisation and repatriation (being returned to the UK)
* 24 hour emergency assistance - some insurance companies will help around the clock helpline to arrange for help if you have a serious problem
* personal liability - if someone is injured or his or her property is damaged by you or something belonging to you, he or she could make a claim against you
* you abandoning or cancelling the trip, as you may be liable to pay full or part of the cost if you cancel
* the replacement cost of your personal possessions, including money and documents. Your policy will specify limits

Country travel advice  

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If you are planning to travel abroad there is a variety of information and advice available, including advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office about travel around the world.

Cultural awareness

Appreciating cultural and legal differences can help you avoid potentially embarrassing or difficult situations.

Here are a few tips:

* get a good guidebook and find out about local laws, customs and culture
* take a phrase book
* respect local customs and dress codes, think about what you wear and how you fit in
* be discreet about your views on cultural differences and behave and dress appropriately, particularly when visiting religious sites, markets and rural communities
* you should take particular care not to offend Islamic codes of dress and behaviour with regards to sexual relations, alcohol and drugs - in some countries, for example, it is illegal to drink, and importing alcohol into the country can lead to severe penalties
* always ask an individual's permission before you take a photograph and respect their wishes - in some cultures, taking a woman's photograph can cause great offence
* don't haggle too aggressively, in most countries where haggling is the norm, it is done with humour and not for too long - it is important to remember that the discount you are haggling over could be a few pence for you, but a significant means of income for a seller
* it is best to err on the side of caution - behaviour that would be regarded as harmless elsewhere can lead to serious trouble

Notice of potential threats

You can check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) website for its travel notices. These help you avoid trouble by providing information on potential threats to your personal safety from political unrest, terrorist activities, lawlessness, violence, natural disasters, epidemics, as well as giving information on local laws and entry requirements.

The information is reviewed every month and at the time of any significant incident. When an area has a developing crisis, the advice is updated more often, sometimes several times a day.

Bringing food and plants into the UK  

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Bringing some food stuffs and their products into European Union (EU) countries is illegal because they can carry animal and plant pests and diseases.

If you bring food or plants back to the UK for your use this is called a ‘personal import’. Personal imports of meat or meat products and milk/dairy products are banned from most countries outside the EU.

There are also strict controls on bringing the following products into the UK:

* potatoes
* plants
* fish
* shellfish
* honey
* eggs and egg products
* certain fruit and vegetables

The same rules apply if you are bringing these food items into the UK yourself, if a friend or a relative is bringing them as a gift, or if they are sent in the post.

If you bring back banned items, or items in an amount that exceeds certain weight limits, all of the goods will be seized and destroyed. If you declare these goods at the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) red channel (‘channels’ are areas you walk through to leave airports, international train stations and ports) you will face no further action (for example a fine or prosecution).

If you go through the green channel and HMRC Officers find undeclared items you could face long delays, in addition to the goods being seized and destroyed and you may be liable to prosecution.

Using your mobile phone abroad  

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Mobile telephones are among the top five most popular travelling items taken overseas and are a good way of staying in touch with your family and friends back home.The network service that allows you to use your UK mobile telephone abroad is called 'international roaming'. Use the following tips to be prepared for your trip.

Before you go remember to:
* contact your UK mobile network provider to ensure your mobile phone is enabled for international roaming, do this well in advance of your departure date, as it can take up to 14 days, and you can't do it from overseas
* check that your existing handset will work in the country you are travelling to; this may not be the case, particularly outside Europe
* check with your UK network provider how much it costs for international roaming services as charges can be very different to calls in the UK - also, confirm the current charges just before you leave as they can change at short notice (although other charges are more stable)

If you intend to use your mobile frequently while abroad

Consider the following options:

* some mobile services offer international traveller services giving cheaper calls abroad in return for a monthly fee - check with your network provider what the costs are and how long you would be committed to paying for the service
* it is usually cheaper to use an alternative 'SIM' card in your phone; a SIM card is a small card that lets the phone work on a particular mobile network, it can easily be swapped around in your phone
* SIM cards for foreign networks can be bought abroad eg at international airports and holiday destinations or, for some European countries, from some UK retailers
* find out if the alternative SIM cards will expire after a fixed time
* you should be able to rent a mobile telephone handset for the duration of your stay from most mobile telephone companies in the country you are visiting
* if you are particularly concerned about coverage or call quality you may be able to select a particular network for international roaming - ask your network provider whether it offers a choice of networks and how you can change between them
* if you are using your own network provider's pre-paid mobile international roaming service, make sure you know how to use your credit card to top up your calling credit before you leave, or take extra vouchers, as they may be hard to obtain abroad
* ask your network provider what you have to dial to use international roaming, this may not be as simple as just using the 0044 international prefix for the UK
* pre-programme into your mobile the telephone number of the nearest British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate in the country you are visiting, do the same with the telephone number of your hotel and tour representative
* take an electrical adaptor for the charger plug, to keep your mobile telephone fully charged while you are abroad

Mobile phone security

Make a note of your mobile's serial number (also known as the IMEI number), your mobile telephone number and the telephone number of your operator's customer services (including UK dialing code). Keep them with you in a safe place, separate from your mobile.

If your phone is stolen you will be able to contact the network operator in the UK and request that they block your phone and/or SIM card. You may need to provide additional information in order to get the phone blocked, such as a password. Contact your operator for details of how they deal with stolen phones before you leave to ensure that you take sufficient information abroad to enable you to block the phone if it is stolen.

Foreign currencies  

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There are many different currencies in use around the world. The amount of foreign currency that your British pound will buy is determined by the current rate of exchange. Exchange rates can rise or fall from day to day according to changing economic circumstances.

Getting foreign currency

You can change your British pounds for the desired currency at some travel agents, at a Bureau de Change in airports and ferry terminals, on ships and at banks or some Post Offices. Not all currency exchange places will be able to supply you with coins in the currency you want, so it is worth checking if you will need coins for things like road tolls and luggage trollies when you arrive in another country.

Most frequently requested currencies (countries in the euro area and other short haul holiday destinations) are usually kept in stock, but for large amounts or currencies from countries farther afield, you will probably need to place an oder in advance of your trip.
The euro

Euro notes and coins have completely replaced the old national currencies in all transactions in the 13 countries that make up the 'euro area'.

The countries of the euro area are Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Slovenia. The currency came into effect on 1 January 2002. The UK, Denmark and Sweden are not part of the euro area.

There are seven banknotes: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euro. There are eight coins: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent; and 1 and 2 euro. One euro is equivalent to 100 cents.

Euro notes are the same in all countries in the euro area. The coins are the same on one side and have a national symbol on the other. Any country's coins can be used anywhere else in the euro area (for example, you can use a Spanish 2 euro coin to buy goods in France).

Travellers' checklist  

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To help you have a safe holiday, here are the top 10 things to do before you go:

1. check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) travel advice on their website or call 0845 850 2829
2. get travel insurance and check that the cover is appropriate
3. find a good guidebook and get to know your destination, including its local laws and customs
4. ensure you have a valid passport and necessary visas
5. visit your GP at least 6 weeks before you go to check what vaccinations you need and whether you need to take extra health precautions

6. make sure your travel organiser can provide sufficient evidence of security for the refunding and repatriation of customers in the event of insolvency. This security must be in place by one of several financial protection organisations
7. if your travel involves passage on airlines with which you are unfamiliar, you may wish to check their safety and reliability with a reputable travel agent
8. make copies of your passport, insurance policy plus 24-hour emergency number, and ticket details - leave copies with your family and friends
9. take enough money for you trip and some back-up funds, e.g. travellers cheques, sterling or US dollars
10. leave a copy of your itinerary and a way of contacting you, such as email, with family and friends

The Foreign Office website also produces specific travel advice for women, gay and lesbian travellers, young travellers, sports travellers, short break travellers and backpackers.

Travel health  

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Travel across the world is now so common that it is easy to forget to protect yourself against health risks in the country you are travelling to.

You may find it difficult and expensive to get health treatment in some countries. But there are things you can do before you go abroad to protect you and your family's health.

Protecting your health

* buy adequate and appropriate travel insurance
* check with the Department of Health (DoH) for the latest medical advice for travellers to the country you are going to
* find out what vaccinations you need at least six weeks before you travel. Your GP's surgery will be able to tell you
* take enough supplies of any medication that you have been prescribed and carry a copy of the prescription with you. Also carry any medical letters about your health condition to help doctors and nurses abroad if you are taken ill
* if you are travelling within the EU, apply online, by phone, or at a post office for a European Health Insurance Card.

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