Yes, says The Travel Corporation, and here are some tips.
Anything can happen anywhere and at any time but Europe has so much worth seeing, and with a little bit of planning and awareness there is no reason not to visit.
South African travellers are generally very resilient and don’t let events such as the recent Paris and Brussels terror attacks cause panic or trip cancellation. This is something we at The Travel Corporation experienced in the wake of recent events. There were very few cancellations and lots of rebooking for a later time frame or different European country.
Two destinations that have seen a spike in bookings are Portugal and Spain. When comparing booking numbers year-on-year, both Insight Vacations and Trafalgar have experienced an increase to the Iberian Peninsula since December 2015.
Here are six ways to take care when travelling to Europe, or anywhere really.
- Know how to contact the South African Embassy.
This information is freely available on the government website and is crucial for a number of reasons. If you are in a country when an incident happens you must contact your Embassy or Foreign Mission so that they can establish your whereabouts and welfare. Knowing who to contact is also important in case your passport is stolen or lost. It’s also worthwhile keeping a copy of your passport in your luggage just in case.
- Find out how to contact local authorities in case of an emergency.
Every country has its equivalent to ‘911’. Britain’s equivalent is 999. In France, it’s 112. In Belgium, it’s 101 if it requires the police or 112 for everything else.
- Those phone numbers are only useful for working phones.
We know how expensive international roaming is, so try an alternative such as buying a local SIM card or renting a phone. But check with your service provider if your current phone can be unlocked to accommodate a local SIM.
Having access to the local network will allow you to either call home or use social media sites like Facebook, and free messaging services like WhatsApp, to let loved ones know you are safe.
- Be vigilant when in public places and using public transport.
Being aware of your surroundings is key to staying safe and secure. South Africans are naturally security conscious, so don’t let this habit lapse when you’re travelling. This applies to being on the lookout for unusual happenings and potential thieves. A pickpocket could really put a serious damper on your holiday so keep your awareness levels up and stay alert.
- Use the pre-registration facility if your travel company has one and let family members or friends have a copy of your itinerary with the relevant contact numbers.
We highly recommend that all our guests use our pre-registration forum, which is easily accessible on our various websites. At TTC we have staff who are contactable in the event of an emergency and who can then notify your loved ones of your status.
Another simple way of having your general whereabouts known is to let your loved ones have a copy of your travel itinerary.
- Take out comprehensive travel insurance
Understand the differences among travel insurance policies. Some policies will cover medical expenses. Others won’t. And there are always clauses to worry about. “We recommend travellers ask the travel insurance provider about force majeure clauses and whether or not they are covered,” Theresa says.