POST LEAVING CERT HOLIDAYS
Every year, thousands of students travel abroad to celebrate their exam results, and to date, incidents involving theft, injury, illness and death are increasing. To ensure that you have an enjoyable and well-deserved break after your exams, we recommend that you read the following tips:
GET TRAVEL INSURANCE
It is strongly recommended that you take out comprehensive travel insurance, including medical insurance, to cover medical treatment, accidents and unexpected losses such as cancelled flights, or stolen cash, cards, passports or luggage. Include enough cover to allow for the extra cost of travelling home (which might require an air ambulance) in an emergency. If you already have private medical cover, check with your insurer whether you are covered for foreign travel and, if so, find out how to avail of this cover.
You should be aware that the Department of Foreign Affairs does not provide funds for emergency medical repatriation or for repatriation of remains. If you do not get travel insurance prior to travel, and become ill, suffer an injury or die abroad, this will incur significant expense and hardship for your family.
If you are travelling to another Member State of the European Union, you should also obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) free of charge which entitles you to emergency medical treatment. This card is NOT a substitute for travel insurance. See EHIC for further details. The EHIC replaces the Form E111, which is no longer valid.
KEEP YOUR PASSPORT SECURE
Lost or stolen passports are a regular problem for post Leaving Certificate holidaymakers every year. Replacement travel documentation can be obtained at the nearest Irish Embassy or Consulate. However, this adds to the expense of your trip and can cause you significant delay and inconvenience. Keep your passport safe at all times and try not to carry it in public. You should bring alternative photo identification with you, such as a driving licence. You are also advised to keep a photocopy of the identification page of your passport in a secure place in case you have to apply for a replacement passport.
KEEP YOUR MONEY SECURE
Unfortunately, every year, students celebrating abroad lose their money or have it stolen. This can be avoided if you take a few commonsense precautions. Take a mixture of cash, traveller's cheques and credit cards, and don't keep all your money in one place. If your hotel room or apartment has a safe, use it. Don’t carry all your money on you at one time. If you find yourself in a situation where you have no money, you should contact your family immediately. They can wire money to you using Western Union, which has outlets worldwide.
BE CAREFUL WITH ALCOHOL
When consuming alcohol, know your limit. You are more likely to have an accident if you are drunk and probably won't be covered by insurance. Do not drink and drive or use a motorcycle or scooter under the influence of alcohol.
The use of drugs can and does result in death. Purchase or possession of drugs can result in arrest and imprisonment. Penalties for such offences can be higher abroad than in Ireland.
Do not swim after consuming alcohol or food. Do not swim or surf in areas that are not patrolled by lifeguards. Obey all the usual safety rules that apply in any properly run pool e.g. no running, no running dives, no horseplay etc. The Irish Water Safety Council has further guidelines on water safety abroad.
RENTING MOTORBIKES, SCOOTERS & QUADBIKES ABROAD
Accidents involving motorbikes, scooters and quadbikes are common every year and frequently result in severe injury and fatality. If you decide to rent such a vehicle abroad, you are advised to take the same precautions as you would at home. These include wearing a helmet, obeying speed limits and not driving under the influence of alcohol. Be aware that, failure to wear a crash helmet, or to have the necessary driving licence may invalidate your insurance if you are involved in an accident. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is also likely to invalidate insurance coverage.
Take the same precautions as you would at home. Be aware of what is going on around you and keep away from situations that make you feel uncomfortable. Avoid potential 'no-go' areas, in particular after dark. Do not accept lifts from strangers. Do not walk alone after dark; try and travel in groups if possible. Be aware of drugs - these have been used in incidents of rape.
KNOW THE LOCAL LAWS
Respect local laws and customs and avoid excessive consumption of alcohol and undesirable locations. While our Embassies and Consulates will provide you with every assistance if you are arrested, they cannot get you out of jail or help you evade trial.
KEEP IN TOUCH
Keep your family informed as to your whereabouts and your travel plans. Bring a mobile phone that works abroad so that you can be reached in case of emergency or crisis. If you do not have an e-mail account already, set one up. Many of the web-based e-mail accounts are free, such as Yahoo!, G-mail, and Hotmail and are an easy and inexpensive way to keep in touch with your family and friends. Please bear in mind that if you do not maintain regular contact with your loved ones or friends, it can cause them significant worry and needless anxiety.
CONTACT DETAILS FOR IRISH MISSIONS ABROAD
The Department of Foreign Affairs has Missions throughout the world which provide consular services to Irish citizens. Contact details for all Irish Embassies and Consulates abroad, are available here. Make a note of the nearest Embassy or Consulate to your holiday resort before travelling abroad.