A few minutes spent before departure and shortly after arrival may save time, money and distress:
Accidents & Emergencies (see also: Doctors / Health & Safety)
Sometimes happen, both at home and overseas. Before you depart, leave your contact details – name of tour company (if any), airline, where you’re staying – with a friend or relative. In resort, make a note of essential phone numbers: the local medical centre / doctor, taxi drivers and, if you're on a package holiday, the tour company’s emergency phone number. If you’re taking a mobile phone on holiday ensure you have enough credit and the battery charger. Otherwise, buy a 'phone card and know where the nearest phones are. If you have children with you, make sure they have your mobile 'phone number (in case they get lost). If you / one of your party are ill / have an accident, be sure to inform the tour company (if on a package holiday). Dialling 999 from a UK mobile in Greece should automatically transfer you to the Greek emergency services.
Air travel baggage rules
The UK and Greece have strict security measures in place to keep dangerous items from being taken on board a flight, the rules are subject to change, the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office links below are regularly updated. Note that airport security staff may confiscate anything they consider dangerous - even if the lists say the item is allowed in your luggage. Contact your airline or departure airport if you have any questions.
Hand baggage rules
Make a note of their numbers and keep this separate from the cards. If you have more than one, only carry one and leave the other/s in a secure place. Keep a note of the number to contact should they part company from you.
Death on holiday
In the tragic circumstance that a member of your party dies while on holiday the tour company you are travelling with will provide every assistance they can, nevertheless this information from the British Embassy in Athens may be useful, especially if you are travelling independently: Help if someone dies. There's more detailed information in this downloadable .pdf from the British Embassy in Athens: Deaths involving British nationals in Greece. Information removed from website of the British Embassy in Athens.
Prescription drugs: Generally, it’s best to keep all valuables in your room. If you are taking medication and there is any chance that you may be ill while out, carry enough medication with you, plus a prescription, or at least the name of the medication.
Illegal substances: In Greece, penalties are severe for anyone who uses or traffics illegal substances or who associate with traffickers.
Note: Although available in the UK, codeine is an opiate. It's illegal to bring it in to the country and it's illegal for pharmacists in Greece to dispense it without a prescription. If necessary, the local doctor will be able to prescribe codeine, or an alternative.
European Health Insurance Card - EHIC
If you have an accident or suddenly become ill you’ll receive the necessary state-provided medical healthcare on the same terms as insured nationals of the country you’re in, provided you have a European Health Insurance Card, more information from the N.H.S. An EHIC card is essential, especially in the event of serious injury or health problems. It is not a substiture for adequate travel insurance, although that may be of more practical use in minor cases.
If you need any medical treatment it may be useful to have this with you at the time you see the doctor, although local doctors may not have the facilities to accept payment other than in cash. Therefore, should you wish to make a claim on your insurance, you should (try to) obtain a receipt for all consultations / treatments / medications. Some holiday insurance polices exclude ‘dangerous activities’ such as riding motorcycles and scooters, water sports, etc.
Travellers Cheques are the safest way to carry money. Carry only as many as you need for the day, preferably in a money belt or inside pocket, and keep a separate record of all the numbers, as well as the contact details of the issuer. Sign them upon receipt and take your passport when you wish to cash them.
Only carry your passport when you need it, e.g. to change money. Should you lose your passport it will be easier and quicker to obtain a replacement if you have a note of your passport number.
Keep your airline tickets in a safe place. If you lose them inform the tour company / airline a.s.a.p. In an emergency, replacement tickets can usually be issued at the airport but there is normally an admin fee.
Greece is, on the whole, a very safe country for residents and visitors. Crime does exist but it’s mainly in certain areas of Athens and in ‘party’ resorts such as Laganas, Zakynthos, where the perpetrators are usually fellow tourists. Where safety deposit boxes are available it's usually as an optional extra but the small cost could save a larger loss. However, they aren't always available as, on most islands, the crime rate is very low.
Greeks are basically honest and respectful of others’ property and possessions but you can’t always be sure who else has come on holiday so, when you’re out and at night, it’s prudent to keep doors and windows locked.
What happens if the airline or tour company goes bust?
All companies selling package holidays must offer protection to:
* prevent you losing money
* help you sort out any practical problems
if they, or the airline you are flying with, go bust.
Tour operators selling package holidays by air must hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (ATOL) from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Your invoice from the tour operator will show that you are ATOL-protected, or you can
Check an ATOL
If an airline fails before you travel, your tour operator must offer a replacement holiday or a refund. If you are abroad on a package holiday and your airline fails, your tour operator will take care of you at no extra expense.
If the tour operator fails, and it has an ATOL, the CAA will:
* get you home if you are already on holiday
* give you a full refund if you have not travelled
A package holiday includes at least two of the following:
* tourist services, such a tour representative or day trips
This type of holiday is booked in advance and is sold at an inclusive price, meaning you pay for everything all together. It must also cover a period of more than 24 hours or include overnight accommodation.
As a consumer, you are protected by the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992. Be aware that many holiday arrangements are not covered by the package travel regulations. For example, if you make up your own package on the internet using different suppliers for transport and accommodation.
Some airline websites link to other sites where you can book accommodation or car hire. This is a separate purchase from a different company. It does not count as a package holiday and does not include package holiday protection.
If you book a flight directly with the airline, you will not be covered by ATOL if the airline fails when you are abroad. However, if you wish you can protect yourself when booking by:
* booking through an agent that offers protection under ATOL or another scheme – check what's on offer
* paying by credit card (for sums over £100) or Visa debit card – check what cover your card issuer offers
You can also take out extra travel insurance if you think it is worthwhile.
More information from the Civil Aviation Authority.
Finally… in the unlikely event that you lose your passport, wallet, watch… etc, there is a reasonably good chance that it will be handed in, possibly to the local police or, more likely, to the taverna, bar or shop nearest to where it was found. If it can’t be found inform your rep and obtain a police report if you intend to claim on your insurance.
See also: UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office Travel Advice for Greece