Faithshare: Travel hints and tips

This information is here as a helpful guideline but is not meant to be an in-depth and comprehensive guide. Not everything here may apply to you, and there may be something which you need to consider which is not highlighted depending on the area of the world you will visit.

We encourage you to be in regular communication with your twinned church in the months and weeks leading up to your trip. Work with them to plan your visit, including where you will be staying, where you might visit, what will expected of you in terms of public speaking etc. Be prepared for last minute changes however!

Prior to Travel

  • Read up on country-specific travel advice from the Foreign Office. This includes any possible issues around safety and security, health advice and a brief guide to local customs. Visit the Foreign Office website
  • Consider purchasing or borrowing a map of the area which you will be visiting
  • Leave with your family, church and/or office, a detailed itinerary of your trip, including flight itinerary, the names, addresses and telephone numbers of persons and places you will visit, and expected arrival/departure times at each stop
  • Discuss with your family what they should do in the event of an emergency
  • Ensure that you complete in your passport the page for the name, address, and telephone number of someone to be informed in the event of an emergency. This should not be your traveling companion
  • Take several photocopies of your passport and visa details pages, leave one with someone at home, give a copy to your traveling companion and pack a copy separately in your luggage. This makes it easier to get new documents if it gets lost or stolen. Have several passport size photos with you. Also take a copy of your itinerary
  • Pack appropriately for the climate and work / living conditions of the place to visit. Don't forget a sun hat, sunscreen and insect repellent
  • Arrange for someone to check your house on a regular basis if it is left empty. You may want to set up automatic timers on the lights
  • Find out the current for electrical equipment and ensure you have the correct adapters
  • Check with your GP that you are fit to travel
  • Check on current disease conditions in your destination countries. Information should be available from your GP or travel clinic. Get any vaccinations required by the countries you will visit
  • Take a supply of the medicines you require and a note of your medicine, allergies, eye glass prescription and blood group
  • Pack a basic first aid kit, including medication for simple illnesses like stomach bugs and insect bites
  • Ensure your mobile phone is set to roaming and that you have the relevant numbers for friends and colleagues in your destination in the phonebook. In some countries, especially outside of Europe, roaming costs are quite high so check charges with your network provider before leaving. Use Wi-Fi where possible for data connections. To reduce call costs arrange a regular time to turn on your UK phone so that family and friends can contact you. Your hosts may be able to arrange for a local 'pay and go' phone card for you to use during your stay to avoid high roaming costs
  • Take some of your favourite tea bags or instant coffee, biscuits or sweets to enjoy when you have some quiet time alone or with your travelling companion(s). There is nothing like a taste of home now and then during your busy trip

While traveling to your destination

  • Never surrender your bags unless you receive baggage claim stubs
  • Remember to keep your hand luggage with you at all times
  • Dress comfortably, casually, and inconspicuously for the trip
  • Avoid displaying any political or religious jewellery that might generate harassment.Prior to arrival, carefully check to ensure that you have all your possessions, particularly any business papers or packages not normally part of your travel luggage

On your visit

  • Carry all important papers in a velcro closed holder that is hung around your neck under your shirt. Or a wallet on a belt under your clothes or in a secure zipped pocket or in a bag which you carry close to you. A belted pouch bag outside your clothes is not the ideal place for important docs and money as it's very easy to steal. Don't carry your wallet and passport in your rear pocket. Keep some money in your front pocket
  • You should report the theft or loss of your passport to the UK embassy, consulate or high commission of the country you are in. You can get details of your local embassy, consulate or high commission by calling +44 (0)20 7008 1500 or vist the Foreign Commonwealth Office
  • Don't leave important documents in your hotel room
  • Only exchange money in authorised locations. Do not change or purchase money from street vendors. You may receive counterfeit currency. Such transactions are usually illegal and are opportunities for theft either on the spot or at a later time. Ask your hosts to take you to a legal money exchange facility. Don't flash large amounts of money when paying a bill
  • Only countersign travellers cheques in front of the person who will cash them, and be sure that it is your credit card that has been returned to you after each use, and not someone else's

Hotel and Fire Security

  • Check that door locks work and always lock your room when you are in it
  • Ensure windows lock and are inaccessible to other persons by fire escape and balcony
  • All exits and fire alarms
  • In some countries, the letter 'C' on water taps indicates hot water. Test the water first to avoid burns

Food concerns

  • A common complaint of travellers is diarrhoea which can be caused by a variety of things, including bacteria, parasites, or simple diet changes, and is merely the body's way of expelling offending organisms from the body. You do need to pay attention to the food you eat. Diarrhoea can wreak havoc with your travel and visit schedule. To prevent diarrhoea and other food-related illnesses, avoid the following foods unless you are assured by reliable local sources that they are properly prepared and uncontaminated:
  • Water from the tap, water bottled filled from local sources and ice cubes made from either
  • Raw or undercooked local beef, pork, sausage, fish and shellfish. (smoking, salting, pickling, and drying do not eliminate the parasite)
  • Raw fruit (unless its skin is unbroken and you peel it yourself)
  • Dairy products, especially custards and cream pastries, ice cream and milk
  • Hot tea and hot coffee are safe to drink. Alcoholic beverages are also safe, but the alcohol in a drink will not kill organisms that may be contaminating other ingredients, such as ice cubes and fruit

Walking around – particularly in cities.

  • Be wary of con artists' distractions and diversions. Scams including being bumped into, pick-pocket thefts and assaults
  • If confronted by armed attackers, give up valuables. Don't resist, and don't carry items you are not prepared to lose
  • Be careful about selecting a taxi. Do not get into the taxi if other individuals are in the vehicle. If your luggage is put into the boot, do not exit the vehicle until the driver exits and proceeds to open the boot. Also leave the passenger door open until all your luggage is removed from the vehicle
  • Do not stay on a bus, taxi or other vehicle if it is not road worthy, the driver is drunk or driving erratically. Take another vehicle if at all possible
  • Be aware that night time travel can be dangerous and avoid it if possible
  • Always carry your medical insurance information with you
  • Safety and security advice is important but should not overshadow the visit – use common sense and do not panic is good overarching advice
  • Remember that World Mission Council staff are available to give help and advice, either before travelling or if you encounter difficult situations overseas

Printable version of our travel hints and tips.

Contact

Carol Finlay, Twinning and Local Development Secretary, cfinlay@churchofscotland.org.uk or 01312255722

Lesley-Ann Calvert, Outreach Officer, lacalvert@churchofscotland.org.uk

Audrey Grahame, Senior Administrator, agrahame@churchofscotland.org.uk