Over 50’s taking too many risks abroad

London: Bungee jumping, skydiving, abseiling, and swimming with sharks are just some of the adventures that the over 50’s are enjoying on their holidays – but the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) warns at the same time of an upsurge in cases of over 50’s needing consular assistance abroad.

Over 50’s now represent 35% of all trips abroad and the new research from the FCO reveals that nearly 70% of over 50’s say they are more adventurous with their trips now then ten years ago. Over a third have visited more than 20 countries and almost a fifth have taken part in adventure activities like bungee jumping or abseiling on recent holidays. And with 25% looking to swim with sharks or 15% wanting to skydive in future on holiday the FCO is advising the over 50’s to start making better preparations for their adventurous travels.

In recent years cases of over 50’s approaching Foreign Office consuls have increased – from more lost passports to cases seeking help with hospital costs because of a lack of travel insurance. The FCO believe the majority of the problems are due to over 50’s not making proper preparations before they leave.

Steve Jewitt-Fleet from the Consular Communications Team at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), said: “In our recent research we were surprised to discover that a massive 65% of over 50’s asked, didn’t take out travel insurance on their last trip and out of those, 47% felt they didn’t need it. In addition, nearly half didn’t research their destination and only 27% made a note of their credit card number. As we have noticed an increasing number of over 50’s swapping relaxing holidays in Marbella for treks in the Himalayas, we would like to see more over 50’s being better prepared for their trips to ensure they are fully covered for any eventuality.”

This trend has prompted the FCO to join forces with Lonely Planet to launch ‘World Wise’, an advice book aimed at older travellers which includes a host of simple advice to ensure that they are fully prepared to have the most exciting travels without any unpleasant experiences. ‘World Wise’ is available to download at the FCO website www.fco.gov.uk/travel or in all Hayes and Jarvis stores. The FCO has also produced a TV filler aimed at this audience advising them to be better prepared.

Tony Wheeler, founder of Lonely Planet, is sixty this year and says: “It is clear that not only are there more over 50’s than ever before, but that they are travelling more and being more adventurous with their travels. It is no longer all about two weeks in Spain or saving up for a cruise – we are the generation who thinks retirement is the chance to do all the things we ever wanted to, from safaris to sailing down the Mekong. It’s great to see the FCO thinking specifically about this audience and we were really pleased to work with them to launch World Wise.”

FCO advice to over 50’s travelling abroad

Take out fully comprehensive travel insurance that covers you for all activities you choose to do
Buy a guide book and read up on your destination so you have an idea of the geography – your hotel in relation to the main tourist area etc
Know the local laws and customs e.g. acceptable behaviour and alcohol laws
Check out the travel advice at the FCO website www.fco.gov.uk/travel, or by phone from the FCO’s Travel Advice Unit on (0870 6060 290)
Remember to check that your passport is valid, in good condition and that the ‘Next of Kin’ details are filled in. Take a photocopy and keep it with you
Ensure you take adequate back-up funds (credit or ATM cards, travellers’ cheques) for every eventuality and take copies of vital numbers
Keep the contact details of the nearest British Consulate with you; they could prove invaluable in times of trouble
In Europe apply for an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) – online at www.dh.gov.uk/travellers, by phone on 0845 6062030 or at the Post Office. This entitles you to reduced cost, sometimes free, healthcare in most European countries* should you need it. EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance