By Amileh Begum, Student Brand Ambassador for the FCDO

Amileh shares some tips and advice to help you stay travel aware on your next holiday abroad.

As we approach summer, like many students, I’m looking ahead to what trips and holidays I might be able to save for and plan. There are many holiday destination dupes that have caught my eye, trading in some of the more expensive travel destinations for lesser known, cheaper alternatives.

Think Maldives with Albania, Santorini for Paros, Seoul for Taipei, or Lisbon for Palermo.

But when you’re doing your research, it’s also advisable to check up on the local laws and customs to help you stay out of trouble abroad and ensure you’re informed.

A great place to start is the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Travel Advice and if you’ve got a shortlist of destinations, it’s worth signing up for travel alerts for those countries as you’ll get notified if anything changes, which saves you checking back while you’re planning the rest of your trip.

What to look out for?

Travel laws

There can be various entry requirements (for example, ESTAs in the United States), and things you can’t take into countries, such as particular medication or perishable food, and you need to be clear on even before you’ve got onto your flight.

If you’re thinking of hiring a car when you’re travelling, you need to ensure you’ve got the right license and international licence requirements for your destination. Many countries will have other specific requirements too – such as winter tyres or emergency kits in your vehicle. These can vary considerably so read up before you go. In some countries, like Albania it is a requirement to wait for the police to turn up if you’re involved in a minor traffic accident.

Then, there may be other lesser-known laws you are unaware of; for example, it is illegal to remove sand, shells, or pebbles from coastal areas in Italy, and you could receive a large fine if you do.

Your ID

You should always carry some form of personal ID with you, and this is typically your passport. A photocopy can be used in some countries and cases, but check the travel advice page for your destination to ensure that is the case for your destination.

It’s always worth having a copy of your passport anyway, because if you lose it while away this can speed up the process of replacing it.


Prescribed medications that are legal in one country can be banned in another. There are several steps you can take to ensure you are bringing in legal medicine;

-          Check the list of controlled substances for the destination country

-          If your medicine contains a controlled drug, check the rules with the foreign embassy

-          Have proof from a prescription or doctor’s letter that it is yours

Drug laws

Drug laws and the severity of penalties vary widely across countries. Possession of marijuana, even a small amount, can incur a lengthy prison sentence in some countries like Nepal. This includes products containing CBD.

Again, make sure you are checking the FCDO travel advice page before you travel which provides you with information on drug laws and prison sentences.

What to do if you are arrested abroad

The FCDO provides guidance and support if you are arrested or detained abroad. Check the ‘Getting help’ section under the relevant country’s Travel Advice page on for more information.

You can contact the FCDO directly online or by phone. You can also contact the nearest British embassy, consulate, or high commission.

The FCDO has information packs on for British detainees/prisoners and their family and friends. If you are a British citizen arrested overseas, you are also entitled to support from Prisoners Abroad, who work closely with the FCDO to deliver their overseas support. If you or a loved one has been detained abroad, you can find more information on contacting Prisoners Abroad here.

Are you Travel Aware?

The Travel Aware campaign is run in partnership with the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) to make people aware of information that might prove useful whilst travelling abroad.

Learn more