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Know before you go. (travel).

British travellers are often ignorant, unprepared and uninsured -- at least that's what a Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) study has found.

Over 53 million overseas trips are made each year from the UK, and eight million of these are probably uninsured. World travel is becoming easier and cheaper, and we do seem to be increasingly blase about visiting lands very different from our own.

Know Before You Go is a FCO campaign to irradicate ignorance, increase traveller safety and cut costs for the taxpayer, who foots the bill to bail out thousands of tourists in trouble.

Incredibly, the report found that 70 per cent of travellers do not research their destinations, while some of those who are insured are unaware that it doesn't cover legal advice. Some policies do not cover you in countries which the FCO says are not safe to visit. These are listed on its website.

Nearly a quarter of those questioned said they had experienced a major problem on a trip that prevented them from enjoying it. In just one year, 10,000 emergency passports were issued to Britons abroad, highlighting the need for better care and the need to be vigilant of crime.

FCO is currently targeting independent travellers in an effort to redress the worrying statistics. "It's not about trying to ruin people's fun," said Beth Chesney-Evans, Know Before You Go Campaign Manager. "It's about preparing for a trip in order to prevent things going wrong." And some countries, she said, have laws very different to those in the UK. The first you may know of them is when a police officer arrests you for breaking them. It is illegal, for example, to sunbathe topless on Florida's beaches, while taking pork products into Yemen carries the death penalty.

More travelled than most is bushcraft and survival expert Ray Mears, who supports the campaign. "The FCO website is the first place I go to get the latest travel information on a country," he told Geographical. "A lot of people think it's not trendy to be prepared for a trip, but by preparing, you get the most out of it."

Keep abreast of developments. Go to: www.fco.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo

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Title Annotation:safety and security
Publication:Geographical
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 1, 2002
Words:365
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