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Travelling abroad and experiencing new sights, sounds and cultures is an extremely rewarding experience. It teaches us about life and broadens our horizons, as well as simply being a lot of fun. Wherever you choose to go, there are a few things you need to consider before setting off on your foreign trip.
Make sure your passport is valid for the time you are out of the UK. If you are applying for a new passport, allow yourself plenty of time before the date you are due to travel - it can take up to six weeks to obtain a new first passport. Many countries require visas for entry so ensure that you have all the necessary documents to enter the country you are visiting.
You also need to ensure that you have enough money to cover all your expenses while you're away, and to have a back-up plan in case you are robbed or run out of funds. There are some good alternatives to carrying large amounts of cash, such as specialist traveller's cards.
It's a good idea to borrow or purchase a guidebook about the country or city you are visiting. Plan what you want to do and make sure that you will have adequate time to do the things you want. A guidebook will familiarise you with the destination before you get there.
Read up about the local laws and customs of your destination so you know the appropriate way to behave while there. For example, in some countries you may be expected to dress a certain way. It's important to respect the local culture when travelling abroad to avoid embarrassment or serious trouble.
Medical insurance is important when travelling abroad. In most countries you must pay for hospital treatment and without insurance it can end up being an extremely expensive business. Insurance will make sure you are covered in the event of an accident or illness.
Travel to some countries requires extra health precautions such as malaria vaccinations. Visit your GP at least eight weeks before you set off for advice. Wherever you are travelling to, it's also a good idea to take a basic first aid kit.
Check the website of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) before going abroad for information on potential safety threats such as natural disasters or terrorism.