These are the important things you need to be aware of before you depart for your school trip.
With everything booked and just the finer points of your trip to settle, there are a couple of things that you'll need to think about before you travel.
To make sure everyone can travel, we’d advise that the following information is checked as early as possible:
One of the most important things to check is that all tour participants have their passports ready!
It's important to note that some countries do require a certain period of validity on passports after your proposed date of exit from the country.
We strongly recommend visiting the website of the FCDO website for the most up-to-date information on passport requirements.
The FCDO also has a page dedicated to providing the most up-to-date information regarding passport requirements for travel to Europe after Brexit.
And if you have any tourists who are not British citizens, we would recommend that they contact the relevant embassy for information specific to them.
It’s also advisable that you make a photocopy of everyone’s passport before you travel. It might also be worth making a second copy that you can keep at school. This could help in the case of any lost or stolen passports.
With regards to visas, again, the website of the FCDO has the most up-to-date information regarding requirements – and those who are not British citizens should certainly check requirements with the relevant embassy, as with passport validity.
If travelling to the USA, you won't need a visa (if you are a British citizen or an eligible national of a Visa Waiver Program country) but you will need an in-date ESTA. An app has been released to make this process quicker and easier, as you can submit the ESTA request directly through the app on your smartphone or tablet. The app is available on both Android and iOS.
If you have an existing EHIC, the good news is that this will remain valid until its expiry date.
If your card has expired or you don't have one, then you'll most likely need to apply for the new GHIC. This is completely free via the NHS website, where you'll find all the relevant information regarding EHIC/GHIC.
You may need vaccinations before you travel. It’s advisable to contact your GP at least 4-6 weeks before you travel, to check what vaccinations you may need, if any.
Pre-existing medical conditions
When it comes to the medical needs of everyone on the trip, it’s important that you have all the necessary details, to ensure that they remain safe.
And it’s important to make sure your insurance provider has the details of any pre-existing medical conditions, to ensure you are properly covered.
Travelling with medication
It’s also worth checking that everyone who will need to bring medicine with them is able to do so as some medicines that are available over the counter in the UK are restricted in other countries. More information can be found on the Travel Health Pro website.
It’s recommended that travellers who will need to carry medication with them visit their GP around 4-6 weeks before the trip to check whether their medication contains a controlled substance.
And they should then check the website of the FCDO and possibly also with the relevant embassy.
All medicine and medical equipment must be carried in their original, correctly labelled packages and should be carried in hand luggage (although do double check this with your airline), along with a copy of the prescription.
It’s a good idea to pack a spare supply of the medication in hold luggage, also with a copy of the prescription. This means that if either the hand luggage or hold luggage goes missing, the person will still have access to their medication.
And if anyone will be travelling with oxygen or injectable medicines such as insulin, the airline should be contacted in advance to advise them of this.
It would also be useful for those who are travelling with medication to take a letter from their GP (as well as a copy of the prescription) stating the details of the medication, including its generic name (and not just the brand name). This could help at customs and if the traveller does require medical assistance on the trip.
The NHS offers lots of useful information on what to do before your trip if you will need to carry medication.
Local Laws and Customs
It can be a great exercise for students too – they can research the local laws and customs and you could discuss these with them to help them gain a deeper insight into the culture.
As ever, the FCDO offers excellent guidance on the local laws and customs in the country you’re visiting.
Taking photographs or making videos, which are typical activities, can be misunderstood by the authorities in some countries, so this is something to be aware of.
Generally, military bases, government buildings and train stations are the type of buildings around which taking photos can cause an issue but, again, more information can be found on the FCDO website.
And if you’re taking pictures of the locals, it’s always best to ask whether they’re happy to be photographed – most will be happy to oblige!
Just being aware of these things in advance will mean you and your group are fully prepared for your trip, helping it to run smoothly!
And remember, if you have any questions at any point, please don’t hesitate to contact us – we’re always very pleased to help.