Fastpacking – Trail Running Holiday Guide

Pack light, move fast, see more than most would on a hiking holiday. Fastpacking is fast becoming the way to enjoy an outdoor adventure – even for those who don’t have trail running experience. The principles are simple, and there are even holiday companies headed by experienced runners just waiting to take you on an adrenaline-fuelled adventure. Intrigued? Read on to find out what it’s all about…

Image Courtesy of Run the Wild © Simon James

What is fastpacking?

Think fast backpacking, think endurance trail running, think about covering a day-long hike before it’s even brunchtime. Fastpacking is all about covering ground quickly, which means you get to see more over the course of your holiday. To do this, you have to pack light – you need to be able to run with everything you need to survive.

How fit do you need to be to fastpack?

It depends on what adventure you are hoping to go on! Run the Wild say they have a running adventure for everyone – for those who are starting out, right through to pro packages. Their bespoke guiding service means that all abilities can be catered for, from those who have never run before to runners just looking to elevate their technique. While you don’t have to have done much running before, they advise that to take part in their scheduled adventures, it does help if you can run at least 10km, and for more challenging adventures they like to have a chat about your experience and ability to ensure that you get the best out of your trail running adventure. They also host “technical series” events, which are aimed at improving understanding on all aspects of trail running through demonstration and instruction.

Fastpacking packing tips

The key to having an enjoyable journey is keep your kit lightweight, simple, but sufficient for survival – including in the event of an emergency! Pack weight is vital – you need to be able to run!

Lightweight waterproof day sack – 10 to 30 litres depending on the length of your adventure. Get one with a breathable mesh back, side pockets for storing energy-boosting snacks to eat on the go, and with an integrated hydration system. Sternum and waist straps are essential to keep your pack secure while you run!

• Layered clothing – The number of layers will depend on your destination, but do invest in quick-drying base layers, a warm but light longsleeve top, and a breathable jacket. Spare socks and a woolly hat might seem like an extravagance when packing light, but you’ll be glad of them when you relax at the end of the day.

• Food – What you pack depends on whether you’ll be cooking. Lightweight foods such as pasta and cous cous coupled with compact proteins such as tuna and nuts are a good option. Always pack some herbs as they can transform the taste of a dish and will add nothing in terms of weight to your pack. Pack some high-energy snacks to eat as you run too. P.S. Don’t forget your water!

• Shelter – Pack an ultra-light tarp shelter and a sleeping bag. Make sure you go for lightweight products, but ones that that will stand up to the elements you’ll be facing.

• Essential Accessories – First aid kit, pocket knife, head torch, whistle and mirror (for SOS situations), compass, lighter, ziplock bags (for carrying any waste away with you), repair tools such as duct tape or rope. Pack a water purifying system such as a Lifestraw, Lifesaver, or Aquimira so that you can hydrate healthily should your own supply run out.

• Travel Insurance – Any adventure that takes you off the beaten track (even if it is a well-worn path) requires adequate travel insurance. Trail running carries more risks than a casual hiking holiday, and your policy is the thing that will get you the urgent medical care you need, and back home safely without breaking the bank.

Fastpacking Etiquette

Before your journey make yourself familiar with the 7 principles of Leave No Trace (LNT). It provides information on how to be a responsible wild camper, from how and where to light a fire, wash yourself, and go to the toilet through to how to cover ground in pristine areas to minimise your impact on the local environment. It is worth noting that non-runners also use these trails, and will appreciate a little courtesy when it comes to passing on a path.

Best Places for A Fastpacking Holiday

Easy – the wilderness, and places with well-maintained long-distance footpaths – New Zealand is an excellent example. Countries that support a good network of paths with rest huts and campsites are great for fastpacking too – these can be found in just about any climate that you want to explore from Canada to Columbia, Japan to Germany, and everywhere in between!

Image Courtesy of Run the Wild © Simon James

Like the idea of a trail running holiday but want to hone your skills first?

Simon James, at Run the Wild says “Just try it! Trail running is such a great way to explore the wilder parts of the areas we live. Even living in an urban environment, parks offer a great place to get to experience the freedom that trail running involves.” They are also on hand to guide you on your fastpacking journey as they arrange trail running holidays in both the UK – Chiltern Hills – and France – near Chamonix in the French Alps.

“The Chilterns are just 30 minutes north of London and so very easy to access for most people who want to get into an accessible wild place, as an AONB (area of outstanding natural beauty) which is really hilly, it has a lot to offer! The Alps are on a whole other level, with glaciers pouring down towards the valley floors, and summits pushing up into the clouds, it really can take your breath away. Trail running here is addictive and once you have tasted it you will want to come back for more! The Tour du Mont Blanc is one of our more popular longer distance trails, circumnavigating Mont Blanc in around 6 days.”

10 Safety Tips For First Time Travellers

Stay safe abroad with these easy to remember tips for first time travellers.

image by PublicCo CC0

1. Walk tall

A confident stride, with head held high will give off a “don’t mess with me“ signal, and it will also mean you are more alert and aware of what is going on in your surroundings. Never walk with your head buried in a map, or staring at your phone!

2. Ditch the designer labels

Designer clobber and premium brand accessories will give the impression you have something worth stealing. It’s not just a matter of pick pockets hoping to take a wallet, phone or watch, in some places people will demand you hand over your shoes, trainers or coat as well.

3. Leave expensive electronics at home

It might get broken, it might get lost, or it could attract the attention of an opportunistic thief. Cut the risk of losing your expensive electronics entirely and only take what you need. Thankfully these days, smartphones can take amazing pictures, and keep us in touch via email, so no need to take a camera and laptop on holiday too.

4. Avoid going off the beaten track alone

If you know a certain part of town has a reputation for being on the wilder side, stay clear – at least until you have become more travel savvy. If you can’t resist the urge to explore, book on an official organised tour, with a recognised excursion company. Avoid going off with a local guide unless your travel provider can vouch for them.

5. Be cautious of whose company you keep

While there is safety in numbers, it depends on who’s in the group! Stay alert, stay sober, and always tell someone where you are going – whether it is the hotel or hostel staff, or family and friends back home.

6. Watch your wallet, purse, passport, phone….

Keep what you can in a safe, only take the money you need for the day, and keep your belongings well hidden from others. Always make sure that your essentials are with you, within view, not left on or under a table, and carry your bag in front of you – some pick pockets simply slice open the bottom of the bag to get at stuff – and you won’t even know it is going on if it’s tucked behind your arm, or on your back!

7. Get Travel Insurance

If anything does go wrong… lost or stolen passport, lost or stolen wallet, or if you have been injured in an altercation, travel insurance is the one thing that can help you get back home. It will cover costs such as travel to your local embassy and passport replacement, and of course getting you back even if you’ve lost your tickets.

8. Note down important numbers

To make sure that you can get help if you need it, you need to know who to call. Having the local embassy phone number, your passport number, and travel insurance number on your phone is great, but make sure you have a hardcopy of these details back at your accommodation in case your phone is lost, damaged, or stolen. You should also make a note of family numbers in case of an emergency.

9. Think first aid

Infections and illness abroad is no laughing matter – make sure you keep an eye on bites and stings, and at the hint of a tummy bug, make sure that you avoid dehydration, it can be deadly! At the very least, pack a simple first aid kit with antiseptic cream and rehydration sachets in – ideally take a first aid kit that covers the risks specific to your destination – this could include sterile IV kits, antibiotics, and malaria treatment

10. Do all you can to avoid food poisoning

Food poisoning can make you very ill indeed. At best it’ll ruin your holiday, at worst, you’ll find yourself in hospital in a life-threatening situation. Make sure you follow the guidelines for avoiding food poisoning abroad. The risk varies between destinations, but generally speaking, as long as food is piping hot and thoroughly cooked, it should be safe to eat. Particular foods to be aware of include cheese, ice cream, seafood, salads, and unpeeled fruit and vegetables. Tapwater and ice are a no-no too.

Be a savvy traveller! Get comprehensive travel insurance tailored to your needs and your getaway. Call us on 01892 833338 or get an online quote.

Best September City Breaks for Couples

The kids are back at school, and the sun is still shining – the perfect combo for couples looking to take a late summer city break. Here are the top 5 places you’ll want to be and why this September…

Paris

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Would a list like this be complete without it? Not only is the city said to be the epitome of romance, it is a short flight, or even train journey from the UK – which means more time gazing into each other’s eyes on holiday. Plus it is packed with boutique bars, restaurants and cafes – just perfect for indulgent couple time.

Reykjavik

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Sensational scenery, vibrant nightlife, and the city centre has just about everything within walking distance. Three great reasons for couples to take a short break in Reykjavik! Also, temperatures just about to cling on to double figures right until the end of the month, fresh but pleasant.

Amsterdam

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Like Paris, this city is quick to get to, but the atmosphere is certainly more heady! The titillating city centre will bring some added excitement to a romantic weekend, but don’t forget that Amsterdam is blessed by a myriad of beautiful canals and winding cobbled streets, ideal backdrops for a romantic getaway.

Venice

image by Felix_Broennimann CC0

This Italian city is literally awash with romance. Whether you catch an opera in the opulent La Fenice opera house, take a gondola ride at sunset (please refrain from warbling the words from the Cornetto ad), or just wander the piazzas soaking up the amazing architecture – it’ll be a city break of a lifetime for two.

Marrakech

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Adventure, luxury, a taste of the exotic… and it takes less than 4 hours to get there from the UK – no wonder this Moroccan city has made our list! It’s also a super-toasty temperature in September, around 35 °C. The dose of late summer sunshine is guaranteed to keep your romantic intentions topped up as well as your tan!

AccuWeather App Review – Travel App of the Month August 2017

This award-winning weather app uses crowd-sourcing data and delivers minute by minute updates, making it the most accurate weather forecast app out there.

 

 

What is the AccuWeather App?

It’s a FREE app that tells you what the weather is going to be like at home or on holiday in huge detail and way in advance.

What does the AccuWeather App do?

It uses a range of sophisticated features to give you all the meteorological data you could ever want to know for anywhere in the world. Users should note that currently the minute-by-minute forecast is limited to the [contiguous] United States, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, United Kingdom, Ireland, Japan, France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Netherlands, and Luxembourg, but it is being continuously rolled out at a growing list of global locations.

  • AccuWeather MinuteCast® – minute-by-minute precipitation forecasts hyper-localized to an exact street address or GPS location.
  • AccUcast™ – View the real-time crowdsourced map with weather conditions submitted by users all over the world in a global animation display.
  • Descriptive weather animations illustrating the weather forecast for right now, each of the next 72 hours, and each of the next 15 days.
  • Pushed severe weather alerts.
  • Customisable current weather conditions detail – so you only see what is useful to you.
  • Forecasts update every 15 minutes… in 33 languages and dialects!

Why is AccuWeather good as a travel app?

A 15 day forecast is all that you need to make sure that your suitcase contains all of the right clothes for your adventure! This great forecast range also means you can also pick and choose activities that suit the weather well ahead of time.

What do the AccuWeather App reviews say?

The app is available for iOS, Androind and Windows devices. Users from each rate the app highly

Get it on itunes

Get it on play.google

Get it on microsoft

Fly Me To The Moon

While space tourism is coming on in great leaps, the reality of jetting off to the moon is not going to be a reality for a fair few years. You can however, take a hot air balloon flight over Cappadocia, Turkey, where the lunar landscape ticks “other worldly” boxes, like nowhere else on our planet!

Image by SashSegal CC0

What’s so special about Cappadocia?

Quite simply, it is a geological oddity that will blow your mind. Undulating landscapes punctuated by sharp volcanic peaks, and the locals were true troglodytes, living in homes carved from the soft volcanic rock. It is a unique place to visit that should be on every globetrotting bucket list.

Image by ddouk CC0

Make sure you get a birds eye view

Booking a flight in a hot air balloon is a must when you visit. While most of the attractions in Cappadocia are underground, the view from above is unmissable. Think pseudo-psychedelic volcanic landscapes, fairy chimneys, and sensuous folding valleys. Balloon rides usually set off around sunrise, which means you get to see the whole spectacular landscape bathed in the most beautiful light.

Image by Hans CC0

Stay in a (posh) cave

Would you believe there is such a thing as a 5 Star Cave? The cave hotels in the area are restored troglodyte dwellings that have been given a luxurious contemporary re-vamp, often with reclaimed stone, iron and wood. You can expect wi-fi, spa baths, and TVs. Wondering why Cappadocia’s residents choose to live in caves? The volcanic rock in the area is soft, so easy to excavate, and is an excellent insulation material, keeping the rooms at a perfectly pleasant 17 – 20 degrees all year round.

Image by LaCamila CC0

Go To Göreme Open-Air Museum

The finest examples of rock-cut churches and colorful fresh-as-the-day-they-were-done frescos from the 10th, 11th and 12th Centuries draw everyone who visits Cappadocia to Göreme Open-Air Museum. It is a wonderful chance to experience the stunning landscape and the unique architecture of the chapel clusters up close.

Image by Hans CC0

 

Don’t forget your travel insurance!

Recreational hot air balloon rides are covered automatically on our travel insurance policies, so you’ll be covered for that as well as lost or stolen luggage, passports, or holiday money, cancelled flights, medical assistance, repatriation…. Just give us a call on 01892 833338 or get a quote online.

 

Please note: Policies, terms, and conditions may change. All information published in this blog pertaining to travel insurance from worldwideinsure.com is only deemed valid at the time of publication.

Top 5 Private Jet Holiday Hotspots In Europe

Luxury travel has never been in such high demand, especially private flights to European hotspots that can be reached in just a couple of hours from the UK. After all, who would want to spend more time waiting to board a flight than the flight actually takes? If splashing your cash on a super-luxury getaway is your idea of fun – these are the most popular places to head this summer!

PrivateFly Citation XLS courtesy of Cessna’

1. Mykonos – Flight time approx. 4 hours

There has been an increase in interest of more than 50% in private flights to Mykonos – but even if you have the money, it doesn’t mean that you can just get in a jet and land there. This destination has become so popular that the island’s airport is forced to turn away private jets at peak times, and holidaymakers are having to make the last leg of their journey by helicopter from Athens!

Mykonos CC0 Courtesy of PrivateFly

2. Ibiza – Flight time approx. 2.5 hours

This summer-centric destination has been a party hot-spot since the sixties, and its popularity appears to grow year on year. It has gone from being host to secret beach parties, discotheques, nightclubs, and after-parties, to hosting big names in pop music every summer. Maybe that accounts for the 38% rise in interest in private flights since last year?

3. Palma de Mallorca – Flight time approx. 2.5 hours

Palma is a cosmopolitan city blessed with beautiful beaches. Who wouldn’t want to be whisked away to spend a few sun-drenched days here? Spectacular shopping, amazing restaurants, vibrant bars, and of course lazy days by the sea. No wonder it has had nearly 30% more interest from the luxury travel sector this year!

4. Santorini – Flight time approx. 3 hours 50 mins

Interest in private flights to this volcanic Greek island paradise has risen by 28%, but it is proving as tricky to get to by private flight as Mykonos during peak times. The advice? Book your private flight well in advance. Now until September is the best time to go for nightlife, swimming and sunbathing – if sightseeing without the heat is your priority, book a trip during October or November.

5. Naples – Flight time approx. 2.5 hours

The rise in popularity of flights to Naples (up 27% on last year) could be down to its authentic feel. It is less fashionable than Milan, less touristy than Rome, but it is where real Italians choose to live. As well as serving up what is arguably the best pizza in Italy, Naples is also perfectly positioned to reach some stunning island destinations such as Capri and Ischia – maybe this is what’s drawing the private jet-setting crew!

Is a private flight possible on your holiday budget?

PrivateFly Citation XLS courtesy of Cessna

As a guide, current charter prices for an 8-seater Citation XLS, from London Luton to Mykonos (one-way) with PrivateFly is £22,600.

 

TrackR App – Travel App of the Month July 2017

Do you like the idea of being able to easily locate misplaced or stolen items on holiday? This handy app means that you’ll never have to worry about losing your bag, wallet, laptop, keys, bike or even your pet next time you go abroad!

What is the TrackR app?

The TrackR app is used in collaboration with Bluetooth and TrackR devices such as Bravo and Pixel, to help locate missing items. These devices are like little memory butlers for all of your stuff. While you’re busy living life, your TrackR gadgets are busy remembering where all of your valuables are so you don’t have to.

How does TrackR work?

The devices use Bluetooth-low energy that connects to the app and operates on a replaceable battery that lasts for up to a year. If the item you are looking for is out of Bluetooth range, TrackR will use the power of its Crowd Locate network and growing community of TrackR users (there are around 4.5 million) to find it. For example, if you have lost your luggage, as soon as a TrackR user is within range of it, that user’s phone would anonymously ping the TrackR server to update you with new GPS coordinates of when and where it was last. ​Every month, the app receives on average 360,000,000 individual item updates.

Who is the TrackR app for?

TrackR is an incredibly useful app for all travellers. One example is lost luggage – with TrackR, you no longer need to wait for hours for the airline to recover lost luggage to find out if it is there. And, since the TrackR bravo or pixel can be attached to practically anything, it is a great way of keeping track of all your valuables, such as laptops, wallets, bags or camera while on holiday.

What do the TrackR app reviews say?

It is a bit of a mixed bunch, and overall seems like Apple users are happier than Android users with this product, and TrackR are getting plenty of great customer feedback.

Customer stories:

 “Dropped my keys in the parking lot and they were covered with 5 inches of snow before I realized where they were. TrackR found them. Thanks for the beep beep beep.”
–           Michael Roux

“My wife just messaged me to say she used the TrackR bravo I got for her to find her phone that was on silent. #mademyday”
–           Joshua Teixeira

 

Find out more about the app at thetrackr.com

Gap Year Travel Insurance – What You Need To Know

Going on a gap year adventure after sitting your final exams is the epitome of freedom – but you must make sure you get your travel insurance in order before you go. This is what you need to know…

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Travel Insurance is the most important purchase you will make.

Paying for medical help overseas can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds – money that you (or your parents) will have to find if you don’t have travel insurance – or if you have inadequate travel insurance. Remember, you may be refused medical treatment if you can’t prove how you will cover those costs!

Don’t rely on EHIC cards.

The European Health insurance Card has limited use. The validity of the card varies from country to country, and only entitles the holder to access the same level of care as a resident of that country. Unlike the UK, most EU countries require insurance to cover the excess costs of medical treatment – which you will be liable to pay too even if you have an EHIC. Travel insurance is designed to help recover those costs.

Losing your passport is more expensive (and time consuming) than you might think.

Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) cost £100, they can take several days to obtain, and you will need to find the money to get to and from your nearest British consulate or embassy. On top of this you may need to arrange for a police report and get passport photos done. Don’t forget that you may also have to pay to replace any visas too AND you will need to get your passport replaced – which can cost in the region of £200 from overseas! As if that wasn’t enough to ruin a perfectly good adventure expenses can spiral if you need to rearrange holiday plans. This is why the gov.uk website recommends that travellers take out comprehensive travel insurance. Travel insurance is there to help recoup the costs involved in replacing lost or stolen belongings, including passports

Look for a policy that allows you to extend cover while you are already travelling.

You are about to go on the biggest adventure of your life, and who knows where it might take you! The last thing you’d want is to have to come home because your travel insurance says you have to. Many travel insurance policies require that you get back home within a year, or return to the UK to extend it. We offer longstay backpacker insurance that can be extended even while you are still travelling so you can go where your wanderlust takes you!

These are the sorts of things that travel insurance can help with:

  • Cancelled flights.
  • Lost or stolen luggage.
  • Medical help.
  • Emergency medical care and repatriation.
  • Lost or stolen passport.
  • Lost or stolen bank cards and holiday money.
  • If your operator goes bankrupt.
  • If you need to cancel your trip due to illness.
  • If your trip is disrupted due to natural disasters or terrorism.

Travel Insurance can also cover you if you are the one to cause damage or injury!

If you are involved in an incident that causes injury to another person, or damage to property you run the risk of being sued. Comprehensive travel insurance can minimise the cost to you, including the cost of legal proceedings.

To arrange Gap Year Travel Insurance, for yourself or your child, get in touch with us on 01892 833338.

 

Top 5 Places To Go Hot Air Ballooning

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Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

A novel way to see the wildlife, and from a POV most only could dream of! Tours to see the bigger picture of the park can be arranged to spot hippos, wildebeest, zebra, lions and giraffe all from the relative silence of your hot air balloon.

Image by vasukibelavadi CC0

Cappadocia, Turkey

The natural splendour of the volcanic spires and pillars found in central Turkey’s Cappadocia region are best appreciated from the sky. Dubbed “fairy chimneys” these ethereal formations are now home to hipster cave-dwellers and have spawned a host of fairy-chimney hotels.

Image by SashSegal CC0

Château-d’Oex, Switzerland

Seeing snowscapes from the silence of a hot air balloon is undeniably spectacular, but witnessing hundreds of other balloons passing over the snow-capped peaks of the Swiss alps is a sight not to be missed. Book your tour in late January during International Hot Air Balloon Week if this is on your bucket list!

Image by Sam Nabi CC by SA 2.0

Napa Valley, California

Panoramic views of rolling hills, vineyeards, Mt St Helena, the Mayacamas Mountains, and even hipster haven San Francisco make Napa Valley the place to go for a hot air balloon ride.

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Atacama Desert, Chile

Viewing the driest place on the planet at sunrise is probably one of the most magical experiences you could have in a hot air balloon. As the sun rises over Valle de la Luna, known for its moonlike landscape of dunes, mountains and rock formations you’ll witness a spectacular array of colours.

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Did you know? Recreational ballooning is automatically included on our travel insurance policies! For a full list of sports and activities we can cover visit our sports and activities travel insurance page!

How To Avoid Food Poisoning On Holiday

According to the Centre for Disease Control, traveller’s diarrhoea affects between 30 and 70% of travellers – here’s what you need to do to stay well next time you go away!

image by Daniel70 CC0

What is food poisoning?

It is any food-borne illness caused by eating food or drink contaminated by bacteria, viruses and parasites, or their toxins. Contamination can happen at any point during food processing, production, or preparation.

How do foods get contaminated?

  • Not chilling certain products below 5 degrees.
  • Leaving cooked food sitting warm.
  • Not properly reheating cooked food.
  • Poor personal hygiene – dirty hands touching food.
  • Poor food hygiene – cross contamination of bacteria.
  • Washing food with contaminated water.

Which foods and drinks are high-risk?

  • Cheese and ice-cream as they can be made from unpasteurised milk.
  • Seafood can pose a problem even if well cooked.
  • Salads are difficult to clean so often remain contaminated by soil or flies.
  • Fruit and vegetable skins can also be contaminated by soil and flies – make sure they are peeled.
  • Raw meat, poultry, or eggs.
  • “Ready-to-eat” foods, such as cooked sliced meats, pâté, soft cheeses and pre-packed sandwiches.
  • Buffets – food at room temperature that may be repeatedly heated up is high risk – this includes sauces.
  • Any food that may have been washed in contaminated water.
  • Ice cubes – these can be made from contaminated water.

What should I eat and drink?

  • Fruit and vegetables that can be peeled.
  • Bottled water.
  • Freshly cooked hot food.

What other precautions can I take?

  • Wash your hands – you are capable of contaminating your own food!
  • Boil water for three minutes.
  • Brush your teeth with bottled water.
  • Always check the water of juice you are being served is from a sealed container – ask to open it yourself.
  • Wipe down cans and bottles before you drink from them.
  • Skip the ice in your drink.
  • Keep your mouth closed in the shower.

What are the symptoms of food poisoning?

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach cramps, and fever. These can manifest within hours of eating contaminated food, but you may not get all of them.

When should I seek medical help for food poisoning?

The NHS website says that most people recover from food poisoning within a couple of days as long as they drink plenty of (uncontaminated) water – even if you can only sip it. The main risk from food poisoning is dehydration – which can lead to severe illness, and could even be fatal. Seek help if:

  • Symptoms are severe.
  • If you’re unable to keep down any fluids.
  • Your symptoms don’t start to improve after a few days.
  • You have symptoms of severe dehydration.
  • You’re pregnant.
  • You’re over 60.
  • A baby or young child has suspected food poisoning.
  • You have a long-term underlying condition.
  • You have a weak immune system.

Can my travel insurance help if I have severe food poisoning?

Getting medical help abroad can be costly, especially if you need to stay in hospital for a few days. A comprehensive travel insurance policy can help recover the cost of medical expenses overseas, and may even enable you to recover lost holiday investment if your trip is cut short. For more advice call our travel insurance advisors on 01892 833338