Your health and safety while on your trip is of the utmost importance to us. We operate in many countries around the world, all of which have differing standards and local regulations that may not always meet the high standards we’re used to in North America.
We’ll always endeavour to provide as much information as possible about local conditions. However, we do recommend that you carry out some background research about the destinations you’re going to and any inherent risks involved in visiting these countries or in undertaking particular activities. The information below is designed to help ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable trip.
Government travel advice
We monitor the US State Department travel advice very carefully at all times. On occasion, this means we may have to cancel trips or make changes to itineraries at short notice, if the advice changes. We’ll ensure this is fully explained to you, and you can rest assured that any decisions taken will be in the interests of your safety and security.
We strongly recommend that you read the government travel advice for the countries you’re visiting. Not only does this give useful background about where you’re going, but it also provides practical information about entry requirements, health, security, terrorism risk, and local laws and customs.
Some countries do unfortunately have issues with crime and security, and foreign visitors may be viewed as an easy target. Most street crime is opportunistic, so you should take care with valuables when walking around.
Take care not to flaunt items such as cameras and phones, and keep bags close to you and securely fastened at all times. Be aware of distraction techniques such as someone spilling drinks or ice-cream on you then offering to clean it up.
We recommend that jewelry and expensive watches are left at home. Consider buying a cheap watch to use instead when you travel. Make use of the hotel safe for passports and money, but always keep a photocopy or digital photograph of your passport in a separate place.
Always listen to the advice of your guides and to the hotel staff. This is particularly important if you have free time and will be exploring on your own or going out at night. Local advice is always the best source of information for knowing which areas are safe to visit, the best way of getting there and which taxis or other transport options to use.
While the chances of being caught up in a terrorist attack remain extremely low, no destination can be guaranteed completely safe. Be vigilant in crowded public places, particularly those that are popular with foreign visitors.
Follow local and government advice during significant religious occasions and avoid demonstrations or large gatherings of a political nature. If the worst happens and you do find yourself involved in an incident, follow the three key steps: Run, Hide, Tell.
The local safety standards that apply to activities you undertake while away may not always be the same as they would in your home country, or they might not be subject to any regulation at all. Always follow instructions and wear life jackets and helmets, where appropriate, asking for them if they’re not automatically made available. Don’t participate if you have any concerns about safety, and report your concerns to us as soon as possible.
If your trip involves activities specifically designed for animal observation, or if you encounter wildlife while out walking, please remember that these animals are wild and can be unpredictable. Be cautious in all situations, don’t attempt to feed or touch the animals, and do respect their space.
Vehicles and driving standards
We insist on our suppliers using a high standard of vehicles and drivers. If you’re unhappy about any aspect of the vehicle or the standard of driving, please advise the driver, guide, our local agent or us immediately.
Please be aware that in many of the countries where we operate it isn’t a legal requirement to have seat belts fitted in the back of vehicles. We ask our suppliers to use vehicles that do have rear seat belts whenever possible, but this can’t always be guaranteed.
If you’re hiring a car and driving yourself, please ask about local speed limits and traffic laws before setting off. These are likely to be different to those in your home country and can even vary within the same destination where traffic rules are governed by state or provincial laws rather than national laws. Always obey the speed limits, do not drink and drive, and plan your journey carefully to avoid driving at night.
When on foot, be careful crossing roads, particularly in cities. Traffic might not stop as a matter of course at pedestrian crossings and may be coming from an unfamiliar direction.
Fire and gas safety
When you arrive in a hotel, do take a moment to acquaint yourself with the procedures in case of a fire, your escape routes and the nearest fire exit.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is invisible and has no taste or smell. It’s extremely poisonous and can be fatal, even at low levels. Gas-powered appliances such as stoves, fires and boilers, paraffin heaters and solid-fuel heaters, wood burners and open fires are all capable of producing carbon monoxide if they’re not installed properly and maintained, or if flues and chimneys aren’t kept clear.
A yellow/orange flame in a gas appliance is a possible sign of incomplete combustion, meaning that carbon monoxide could be present. A healthy flame should be crisp, vibrant and blue. Never use barbecues or burn charcoal indoors.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can easily be confused with flu or consumption of excess alcohol: headaches, nausea, dizziness and general lethargy. Severe poisoning makes the body change to a cherry-red color. If you suspect that you or a companion is suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, get out into the fresh air quickly and call for medical help.
Consider traveling with a portable carbon monoxide alarm. These are easily and cheaply available at hardware stores. It’s important to choose an alarm that will wake you up if you’re asleep.
Balustrade heights may be considerably lower than the recommended measurements in Europe or North America, and gaps between uprights may be wider, too. Please take care when using balconies, particularly if you have children. If you’re uncomfortable with the balcony situation in your allocated room you should request an alternative.