Travel preparation: Here are the best tips

Woman on the train

Travel preparation: Here are the best tips

A lot can happen when traveling. These tips will help you, should things not go as planned.
No matter whether you're an assured globetrotter or if you're already worrying about what could happen to you during your holidays, it is always an advantage to be well prepared. 

The travel agency goes bankrupt

You've booked a trip, and the travel agency or airline goes bankrupt two months later. There is now the question of which claims you can make. According to travel law, you can get your money back for package tours, i.e. for trips consisting of two services (such as flight & hotel or hotel & rental car). In these cases, a guarantee fund intervenes in the event of bankruptcy. On the website of the Swiss travel industry's Guarantee Fund, you can find out which travel agencies are affiliated with the fund. However, you may not receive any compensation if you only booked flights. If you want cover for those, you must take out a separate travel insurance policy. When you take out a policy, make sure to find out whether this cover is included in it. Not every travel insurance automatically covers the insolvency of transport companies.

  • Tip 1: It may indeed happen that a travel agency does not fulfill its obligations. If you want to be absolutely sure that you will get your money back in the event of bankruptcy, you should check whether the travel agency is a member of Travel Guarantee.

You want to cancel the trip yourself

Sometimes you also have to cancel a trip because, for example, the security situation in the country has changed or an infectious disease such as SARS or Ebola and Zika fever has broken out there. If travel warnings already existed at the time of booking (for example, from the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, FDFA, or the Federal Office of Public Health, FOPH), neither the travel agency nor the travel insurance company are obliged to refund the money. If the situation changes after booking, the cancellation costs will be covered.
Therefore – and this is especially true for those booking trips themselves – you should get thoroughly informed about the holiday destination in advance. The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) provides good information on security, risks, precautions and entry regulations.

  • Tip 2: Check with the embassy of the country of destination in good time for information on entry and residence regulations. You may need an entry or transit visa for the destination country. Some countries even require an exit visa.

The room doesn't live up to what was promised

If the room doesn't live up to what the brochure or website promised, don't bottle up your annoyance. It is usually worthwhile to complain at the reception. You have a good chance of getting a new room or a discount. However, brochures that promise too much are not the biggest problem: bedbugs are becoming increasingly common, especially in large cities. In Germany, the USA and also in France, more and more guests are complaining about this vermin.

  • Tip 3: If a hotel in Switzerland does not keep its promise, you can also contact an ombudsman for the Swiss hotel industry. The website offers free consultations. 

An accident abroad

Anyone who has an accident abroad must report it immediately to their employer's accident insurer and, if applicable, to their travel insurance. Unemployed persons must report the accident to their health insurance company. In principle, only emergency treatment that cannot wait until you return home is covered by Swiss health insurance. Services are only provided if medical treatment abroad is urgently required and a return journey to Switzerland is not appropriate. The costs for repatriation flights are only covered by health insurance if there is no adequate medical care available abroad.

  • Tip 4: Find out whether and to what extent your health insurance covers treatment abroad. Additional insurance coverage may be required for rescue and return travel costs – for example, travel insurance

Illness before or during the trip

Many travel agencies offer cancellation insurance at the time of booking. This covers the costs if the trip has to be canceled due to ill health. This insurance can be taken out separately for each trip. In the case of an acute illness abroad, a health insurance fund's basic insurance covers the treatment costs for visits to a doctor or hospital abroad. However, these reimbursements are limited to twice the amount that the same treatment would have cost at home in the canton of residence. This cover is usually sufficient for Europe. In the USA, Canada, Japan and Australia, however, health care costs are high, meaning the cost of treatments can quickly reach more than twice as much as those in Switzerland. The health insurance company does not pay more than double the amount. If you would like higher coverage, then you must ensure this with additional insurance. 

  • Tip 5: In the case of several trips per year, it is worth taking out an annual travel insurance policy, as this eliminates the need for individual cancellation cost insurance when booking the respective trip. It is also advisable to check medical costs in advance. This will save you from any unpleasant surprises.

If cash, handbag or suitcase are lost

In the event of theft, cash will not be refunded – not even with the supplementary insurance "simple theft abroad". As a bare minimum, the theft coverage contained in contents insurance pays for items you carry with you, such as a camera or handbag – usually up to a value of CHF 2,000. Those who want to protect their expensive objects such as photographic equipment or a diamond necklace should take out insurance of valuables. Zurich allows each item to be insured individually. For items of a "lost" suitcase to be returned, its contents must be proven – preferably with receipts. If you no longer have these, you should photograph the contents of the suitcase before travel. Important: Mark the case clearly and visibly, for example with a colored band: some "thefts" are simply mistakes. If a passport is stolen, Switzerland's diplomatic mission abroad will obtain new documents. This often takes a few days, so it is worth keeping a copy of the passport separately. The diplomatic mission abroad also provides support in the form of bridging loans, which can be reimbursed at a later date. 

  • Tip 6: Security checks are also subject to theft. Never leave your wallet, jewelry or watch on display in the available trays. You're better off putting these in your hand luggage.

Vaccinations for tropical countries

Those who like to travel far and wide should get informed about the necessary vaccinations half a year in advance. For numerous long-haul destinations, vaccinations against hepatitis A and B are recommended. In addition, a yellow fever vaccination is required for entry into various countries. An entry in the international vaccination passport of the World Health Organization (WHO) is mandatory. There are often several weeks between the individual vaccinations. You should therefore draw up a vaccination plan with your doctor in good time. Also bear in mind that you cannot be vaccinated if you are ill. So don't leave the follow-up vaccinations until the last minute before your departure.

  • Tip 7: Vaccination card misplaced? is an internet portal that allows you to view vaccinations and childhood diseases from all over the world with a password.

Quickly at hand in an emergency: the first-aid kit

Although it is possible to find a pharmacy in most places, it is still helpful to have a few medicines handy. Searching for a pharmacy can upset travel plans, causing one to miss a bus or the loss an entire morning. This is a particular shame if it is only a matter of treating sunburn or annoying mosquito bites. We recommend that you also take medication for diarrhea, nausea, travel sickness as well as fever and pain. Bandages, disinfectant solution and an ointment against sprains are also important. If you travel with children, you should always have eye and ear drops with you. If you are on permanent medication, it is highly recommended to make a note of the active ingredient's name. Since the same preparation may be available abroad under a different name, the name alone is often of no use. Please note that you should pack important medication in your hand luggage. When traveling by car, this protects them from the heat in the trunk and means that they cannot go missing with your luggage on a flight.

Tip 8: If you're traveling far from civilization or to a tropical country, seek advice from a travel medicine specialist. You can find a detailed checklist for your first-aid kit at (German only) under the heading "Dienstleistungen".

Travel checklist

Before booking:

  • Review the destination's political situation
  • Check required documents (visas)
  • Take out travel insurance

Six months before departure:

  • Apply for any visas and check passport
  • Check vaccinations
  • Arrange insurance (legal protection, treatment costs)

Three weeks before departure:

  • Put together a first-aid kit and personal medication
  • Check your gear
  • Ensure you have payment and communication means for abroad and have them activated if necessary

One week before departure:

  • Give a copy of your itinerary to a loved one
  • Arrange supervision of your apartment
  • Copy travel documents and file them online, pay bills, put mail on hold

One day before departure:

  • Put your travel documents in your hand luggage
  • Check the current weather conditions in the country you are visiting
  • Pack and label suitcases

On the day of departure:

  • Leave no valuables lying around open
  • Close windows and doors
  • Disconnect the internet and telephone plugs

We wish you a nice, exciting and adventurous trip – don't forget your travel documents!


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