Traveling Abroad To See Family: Is It Possible?

can I travel to see family abroad

As of June 2024, there are no legal restrictions on travelling abroad from the UK. However, it is important to plan in advance and be aware of any risks or requirements for your specific destination. For instance, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises against travelling to certain countries or regions due to potential conflict or unrest, and travelling against their advice may invalidate your travel insurance. Additionally, staying with friends or relatives abroad may increase your risk of travel-related infections due to longer stays and closer contact with local communities. Therefore, it is crucial to follow health and safety guidelines, such as maintaining good respiratory and hand hygiene, and consider travel insurance that covers medical treatment and repatriation if necessary.

Characteristics Values
Travel insurance Important
Vaccines and preventative advice Required
Travel for leisure Not permitted
Travel for essential reasons Permitted


Travel insurance and health precautions

Before travelling abroad, it is important to consider your insurance options and take the necessary health precautions. Here are some key things to keep in mind:

Travel Insurance:

  • Trip Cancellation Insurance: This type of insurance covers your financial investment in your trip, such as flights, cruises, or train tickets. It is important to carefully examine the policy to ensure it covers your specific needs, including cancellation due to illness.
  • Travel Health Insurance: This type of insurance is crucial if you need medical care in another country, as you will likely have to pay out-of-pocket for any services. Even if your current health insurance covers emergencies abroad, it may not cover pre-existing conditions or adventure activities. Therefore, it is recommended to purchase a short-term supplemental policy that provides direct payments to hospitals.
  • Medical Evacuation Insurance: This insurance covers emergency transportation from a remote area to a high-quality hospital and is especially important if you are travelling to a place with limited healthcare facilities. It can be purchased separately or as part of your travel health insurance policy.
  • Region and Duration of Travel: Ensure that your travel insurance covers the region(s) you will be visiting and the duration of your trip.
  • Emergency Medical Care and Transport: Your insurance should cover emergency medical care and medical transport back to your home country.
  • Travel/Accommodation Costs: Consider insurance that covers travel and accommodation costs in case of unexpected delays or cancellations.
  • Pre-existing Conditions: If you have any pre-existing conditions, make sure your insurance covers them.
  • Activities: Be aware of any activities you plan to engage in and ensure they are covered by your insurance.
  • 24-hour Contact Line: Choose an insurance company that provides a 24-hour contact line so that you can reach them at any time during your trip.

Health Precautions:

  • Check Your Health Insurance Coverage: Before travelling, understand what medical services your health insurance will cover overseas. Carry your insurance card and a claim form if your policy covers you internationally.
  • Medications: Bring enough medication for your trip, and if possible, bring extra in case of delays. Keep medications in their original, labelled containers, and carry a letter from your doctor describing your medical condition and any prescription drugs, including their generic names.
  • Vaccinations: Check the recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) for your destination and ensure you have the necessary vaccinations.
  • Medical Emergencies: Enroll with the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to help locate appropriate medical services and inform your family or friends in case of an emergency.
  • Blood Type and Medical Conditions: Prepare a card that identifies your blood type, any chronic illnesses, medications you are taking, and your allergies. If possible, have this information translated into the local language of your destination.
  • Pandemic Precautions: Review the CDC's website for information about pandemics and how they may impact your travel, including travel restrictions and border closures.

By taking these insurance and health precautions, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable trip when visiting family abroad.


Travel restrictions and rules

As of August 2022, France has lifted all travel restrictions for incoming travellers. Travellers are no longer required to present a health pass, proof of a "compelling reason" for travel, or a sworn statement of non-contamination. These rules apply to travel to both mainland France and overseas territories. However, foreign countries may have specific entry measures in place, so it is important to check the requirements of your destination country before travelling.

Canada has also lifted many of its COVID-19-related travel restrictions. Proof of vaccination, pre-entry testing, and quarantine upon arrival are no longer required. However, travel documents are still necessary, and it is recommended to wear a well-constructed and well-fitted mask or respirator while travelling.

In the United Kingdom, as of March 2024, travel abroad during lockdown has been illegal for almost a year, with travellers warned against leaving the country unless for essential reasons. Non-essential travel was banned to prevent new COVID-19 variants from entering the country. A "green list" of countries was introduced, where travellers do not need to self-isolate upon their return to the UK. Those returning from countries on the amber list must self-isolate for two weeks and take a test, while travellers from red-list countries must quarantine in a hotel at their own expense.

When planning to visit friends or relatives abroad, it is important to consider the higher risk of developing a travel-related infection. This is due to a longer stay, closer mixing with local people, and the possibility of underestimating the risk of infection in a familiar place. Travel insurance is crucial, even when visiting friends and relatives, as it covers costs associated with medical treatment and transportation back to your home country. It is also important to check foreign travel advice and be aware of any changes to entry requirements.


Planning and timing


The first step is to choose your destination. Consider factors such as the time frame (how much time you have for your trip), your budget, inspiration or any specific places you've always wanted to visit, and visa requirements. Research the visa requirements for your chosen destination, especially if you're staying for an extended period.


Decide on the timing of your trip by taking into account the weather and the peak season for your chosen destination. Travelling during the off-peak season often means fewer crowds and more affordable prices. Check for any specific travel advisories or alerts for your destination, as they can impact your safety and security.


Determine your budget by researching the costs associated with your destination, including accommodation, transportation, food, and activities. Consider the style of travel you prefer, such as luxury hotels or backpacking and staying in hostels. Plan your budget early so you have enough time to save if needed.

Travel Documents

Ensure you have all the necessary travel documents, including a valid passport, visa (if required), and an International Driver's Permit if you plan to drive. Processing times for passports and visas can vary, so start the application process well in advance.

Transportation and Accommodation

Book your transportation and accommodation as early as possible to get the best rates. Compare prices on different websites and consider using transportation other than airplanes, such as cars or trains, to save money. When booking accommodation, research the various options available, such as hotels, vacation rentals, Airbnbs, or hostels, and choose the one that best suits your preferences and budget.

Health and Safety

Check for any necessary shots or immunizations required for your destination, and schedule an appointment with your doctor in advance. Additionally, consider purchasing travel health insurance to cover any unforeseen medical expenses during your trip.

Local Laws and Customs

Research the local laws, customs, and cultural norms of your destination. Be respectful of the local culture and avoid any offensive gestures or behaviours. Check the dress code and packing requirements, and be mindful of any food or drink restrictions to prevent illness.

Travel Insurance and Money

In addition to health insurance, consider purchasing comprehensive travel insurance that covers trip cancellations, delays, or other unforeseen circumstances. Notify your bank about your travel plans to avoid any issues with your credit or debit cards while abroad. Research the local currency and exchange rates, and consider bringing multiple payment options, including cash, cards, and travel money cards.

Activities and Attractions

Research and make a list of places you'd like to visit and activities you'd like to do. Check for any popular attractions that require advance booking to avoid disappointment. Look into city passes or discounts that can save you money on admissions.

Remember to stay updated with the latest travel advice and requirements for your destination, as they can change frequently.


Vaccines and preventative measures

Routine Vaccinations:

Before embarking on your journey, ensure that you are up to date with all your routine vaccinations. These vaccinations safeguard you from infectious diseases such as measles, which can be prevalent in unvaccinated groups. Many diseases prevented by routine vaccinations may not be common in your home country but could still be widespread in your destination country.

Destination-Specific Vaccines:

Different countries have varying health risks and vaccine requirements. Consult the official health websites, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, to identify the specific vaccines or medicines you may need for your travel destination. Some common vaccines that you may need to consider include Japanese Encephalitis, MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella), and Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis).

Medical Consultation:

Schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider or a travel health specialist at least one month before your departure. They can provide you with destination-specific advice, vaccines, and medications. During this consultation, discuss your health concerns, itinerary, and planned activities to receive tailored recommendations. Some vaccines require multiple doses, so it's best to see your healthcare provider as early as possible.

Malaria Prophylaxis:

If you are travelling to a region where malaria is prevalent, your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to be taken before, during, and after your trip. It is essential to follow the recommended dosage instructions to ensure adequate protection.

Yellow Fever Vaccine:

If the country you are visiting requires a yellow fever vaccine, you must obtain it from an authorized vaccine center. Only a limited number of clinics provide this vaccine, and you must receive it at least 10 days before your travel date.

Travel Alerts and Notices:

Stay informed about the latest travel alerts and notices for your destination. These updates can impact your travel plans and help you make informed decisions regarding your health and safety.

By following these measures, you can help ensure that your trip to see your family abroad is as safe and healthy as possible. Remember, it is essential to plan ahead and allow sufficient time for your body to build up immunity after receiving any necessary vaccinations.


Transport and accommodation

When it comes to transport and accommodation for international travel, there are several factors to consider. Firstly, it is important to plan your trip well in advance, although sometimes you may have to travel abroad at short notice. When selecting a mode of transport, you can choose from various options, including flights, trains, buses, ferries, or even hitchhiking. For example, if you're looking for a more budget-friendly option, you might consider taking a bus or train, as these are often cheaper than flying, especially if you book in advance or take advantage of supersaver tickets. On the other hand, if time is a priority, flying may be the more convenient option, especially for long-distance travel.

When choosing accommodation, it is crucial to consider your budget, location, and the type of accommodation that best suits your needs. If you're travelling on a budget, staying in a hostel or renting an apartment where you can cook your own meals can help you save money. On the other hand, if you're looking for a more luxurious experience, a 4- or 5-star hotel with spa facilities and other amenities might be more suitable. Location is also key – do you want to stay close to the city centre or further out? If you're travelling for work, staying near your workplace can save you time and reduce the hassle of commuting.

When booking accommodation, it is always a good idea to read customer reviews to get an honest opinion of the place. Additionally, if you're travelling with a group, you may want to look into accommodation that offers group discounts or packages. It is also important to be aware of any health risks associated with your destination and take the necessary precautions, such as getting vaccinated or taking antimalarial medication if necessary.

Furthermore, don't forget to consider the transportation options available at your destination. If you plan to use public transport, research the different options and their reliability. Alternatively, if you prefer more flexibility, you might consider renting a car, but don't forget to check the parking facilities at your accommodation.

Lastly, travel insurance is essential, especially when visiting friends and relatives abroad. It can provide you with peace of mind in case of unexpected injuries or illnesses during your trip.

Frequently asked questions

You can, but only if you have a good excuse. Essential journeys are possible: for work, medical treatment, legal purposes or urgent compassionate reasons.

Essential journeys are possible for work, medical treatment, legal purposes, or urgent compassionate reasons such as visiting a dying relative.

When travelling abroad to visit friends and relatives, you are at a higher risk of becoming unwell from a travel-related infection than a tourist traveller. This is because you may stay longer and spend time mixing closely with local people, increasing your risk of exposure to infections common at your destination. It can also be more difficult to take sufficient precautions to protect your health when staying with friends and relatives.

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