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Yes we can. No we can’t. What the British consul can do for you

March 5th, 2015

Yes we can. No we can’t. What the British consul can do for you

Consular Enquiries Paris Checklist

The British Consulate operates out of 227 countries across the world. As our representatives abroad they provide a string of vital services to protect us – British nationals – abroad. But there is a limit to what they can do.

While our man in Havana might be able to get you out of a sticky situation, if you lose your passport, help you if you are the victim of a crime or contact friends and family if you are detained abroad, there is only so far they can go. So it might be a surprise to some to find out that the British consulate is neither babysitter nor personal assistant. Neither are they there to act as your personal travel consultant while you are away either.

Of course not!

But that is exactly what some people appear to think. Last week the Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued a press release announcing the start of a new campaign to educate the travelling British public on what they will and won’t do for British nationals. They made the point by presenting a list of the things that consular staff have been asked to do. This included a man who called the Embassy in Mexico City to request that staff go to the airport to check whether he had left his mobile phone on a plane. Then there was the woman in woman in Italy who called up the Embassy to ask how she could synchronise her TV antenna to receive English channels.

All very funny, no? But calls like this – and they happen more often than you might think – take already pressed staff away from the work they should be doing, which is helping Brits in genuine distress. And that doesn’t include giving information on how to treat a cat’s infected paw, finding out if someone’s Albanian fiancé was already married, asking for the name of a chef to make haggis for a Burns Night event. It does happen.

In the press release the FCO said “The FCO’s priority is to protect the welfare of British nationals abroad, and consular staff will always do their best to assist people when they find themselves in difficulty. However, it is important for travellers to understand what services we provide before getting in touch. There are also some simple pre-travel steps that you can take to reduce the risk of getting into difficulty and needing our help, such as taking out comprehensive travel insurance, researching the destination and any health risks and ensuring access to emergency funds.”

The message is clear. Make sure you have funds, travel cover and that you find out about the place you are going. Don’t want to be disappointed when you can’t tune in to Coronation Street, do we?

What the FCO CAN do for you:

  • Issue you with an emergency travel document
  • Provide information about transferring money
  • Provide help if you have suffered rape or serious sexual or physical assault, are a victim of crime, are ill or in hospital
  • Give you a list of local lawyers, interpreters, doctors or funeral directors
  • Contact you if you are detained abroad
  • Contact friends and family back home for you if you wish
  • Provide help in cases of forced marriage
  • Assist people affected by parental child abduction

What the FCO CANNOT do for you:

  •  Help you enter a country if you do not have a valid passport or necessary visas
  • Give you legal advice or translate documents
  • Investigate crimes or get you out of prison
  • Get you better treatment in hospital or prison than is given to local people, but we will raise concerns if treatment falls below internationally recognised standards
  • Pay any bills or give you money
  • Make travel arrangements for you
  • Help your cat or tune your telly

Getting the lowdown on the countries you visit

We have compiled a number of ‘Essential Guides’ to start you off discovering new places. They include information about healthcare, currency, electricity, security and crime so you’ll know before you go. While they won’t take the place of a comprehensive guide, they will help you to make the first steps towards understanding the country you are about to visit.

There are lots more on the World First website but here are links to a few of the most popular:

Your quick guide to travelling in Spain

Your quick guide to travelling in Florida

Your quick guide to travelling in Australia

Your quick guide to travelling in Barbados

Your quick guide to travelling in France

The World First Wander – the Internet’s best travel blogs

February 27th, 2015

The World First Wander – the Internet’s best travel blogs

the Internet’s best travel blogs

Lessons learned from travel? There are many!

Welcome to another edition of our weekly collection of the best travel blogs, writing and articles from around the world.

As travel insurers we understand that travel isn’t always plain sailing. Sometimes things don’t go to plan. It’s one reason why it’s vital to make sure your travel insurance policy is in place before you leave.  But then again, as long as you are able to get out of a situation intact and can laugh about it later, mishaps and disasters can provide interesting reading, which is exactly what Adventure Han  has done in her latest post. Take a look at When travel goes wrong. Have you been through similar? I am sure we all have!

If things go wrong then it’s comforting to know that you have people with you who are on your side. But what if you are a solo traveller? Many of us would prefer to travel within the safety of our family or with friends but some people love to travel alone – or have no choice.  The Travel Tester is someone who has travelled solo so is well qualified to write her latest post 5 things they don’t tell you about solo travel. If you have anything to add, please let us know!

Whether you travel solo or with family or friends there is no doubt that there are things to be learned from travel. And it doesn’t matter if you travel by cruise ship, on foot, by motorhome or bicycle! Our next post, from Frances Thompson, looks at lessons learned ‘on the road’. There are 33 of them because Frances recently turned 33. They are really interesting – and some, like number 21 – are just plain hilarious. How do you find that out? Only one way I suppose. Anyway, read 33 Lessons learned about life, travel, writing, snowboarding, dancing and love and enjoy a smile.

I enjoy following Ed Rex because of the way he writes. His articles are interesting and full of life. In this latest post he goes on dates with 6 of his favourite travel bloggers. Actually that’s not true. He asks his favourite travel bloggers where they would take him on a date, if they were to. So it’s a blog by a blogger about what bloggers do on virtual dates with bloggers. And I’m blogging about it! Anyway, it’s a bit like blind date but well worth a read all the same…. I dated 6 travel bloggers. If only he had asked me…

Our last post this week is from A Bird in the hand who is looking forward to her 30th birthday. In this post she takes a look back (remember she’s only 30!) at some of the things she has wanted to achieve in her life. It’s titled The bucket list and why you should ignore it and it’s about how ignoring the ‘bucket list’ can be a liberating thing. I love bucket lists and have ticked off a few on mine, but maybe I should take a leaf out of her book and just chuck it away.

Do you have a ‘bucket list’?  What’s on it?

Until next week









The very best beach in the world? Or is it?

February 25th, 2015

The very best beach in the world? Or is it?


Wild and wonderful: Derrynane Beach

Everyone has a favourite beach. It could be somewhere far from home, a palm fringed beauty on an unspoiled paradise island perhaps. Or it could be right here in Blighty, on a wild stretch of coast where the wind blows and the waves crash. It could be in the most unlikely of places, a hidden gem in an otherwise dreary landscape. A ray of light and hope in an otherwise hostile city. Or it could also be brash and bold, with twinkling lights and Ferris wheels, revelers and sun worshipers.

The point is that ‘favourite’ or ‘best’ is always subjective. Everyone has different tastes, and we are no different. My favourite beach, for example, is Derrynane Beach in County Kerry in Ireland. It is a white sand crescent beneath high mountain passes, dotted with huge round granite boulders that create rock pools that are big enough to snorkel in and is lapped by clear blue water and white capped rollers. Even in a storm it is beautiful. But then it is in Ireland and storms are a regular occurrence there. So for those who like it hot, it really wouldn’t rate too highly.

Another of my favourites, Bathsheba beach in Barbados is a world away from the wild shores of Kerry – and no less beautiful – but I wouldn’t rate it as highly as I do Derrynane. Why? Because I like Ireland and I like wild beaches and mountains and it has something that many other beaches I have visited simply don’t have (and I have visited a lot of beaches). OK so it has none of the sand made from crushed coral, the palm trees and the tiny rum shack resonating with the sound of cracking dominoes that Bathsheba has but it’s still a very special place. How would you rate it? I suspect many of you would prefer to be in Barbados than Ireland any day.

So what is the world’s best beach?

This week Tripadvisor, the peer review website announced its list of the World’s Best Beaches as voted for by their users in the website’s Traveller’s Choice 2015.

And if you doubted that it’s a valid list, Trip Advisor will remind you that their site is the world’s largest and that it contains over 200 million reviews. It’s hard to argue with that.

Of the world’s beaches reviewed on Trip Advisor, the ‘world’s best’ has been announced as Baia Do Sancho, in Brazil, with over 2,250 5 star reviews. The best in Europe is Rabbit Beach on Sicily. The best UK beach, which ranked 13 in the world chart and 4 in Europe, was Devon’s Woolacombe Beach.  But are they right?

See the World’s Top 25 Beaches here.

See the UK’s Top 25 Beaches here.

See Europe’s Top 25 Beaches here.

Let us know what you think! Have they got it right? Have you got a hidden gem for us?

We’d love to hear from you.


The World First Wander – the Internet’s best travel blogs

February 20th, 2015

The World First Wander – the Internet’s best travel blogs

best travel blogs

Will your holiday bring health benefits? You bet!

Welcome to another edition of the World First Wander, our weekly take on what’s hot in the world of travel writing and blogging. Each week our social media man Tristan Rothwell scours the internet to find the best travel articles published over the last 7 days so it’s easy for you to can stay right up to date. This week we save money using social media, discuss the similarities between pregnancy and travel and visit the cheapest cities in Europe.

First up this week: saving money. Now there is a phrase we all love! In fact, here at World First we have been saving people money on their travel insurance since 1973. So we know a good deal when we see it. Some of the money saving tips in Budget Traveller’s  latest post are pure gold, especially if you are a social media fan.  If you want to save some money, check out How to save money on travel; with social media.

Staying with our money saving theme, our friends over at Hand Luggage Only have put together a great list of 15 of the cheapest cities in Europe that you need to visit . Scroll down to number 12 and feast your eyes on the photo of Bruges. If that doesn’t have you packing your bags immediately then nothing will!

Another topic close that is close to my heart at the moment is pregnancy. If you didn’t already know my  fiancé and I are due to hear the patter of tiny feet on the 2nd June. Naturally, anything pregnancy related is catching my eye at the moment. The Travel Hack’s next post, How being pregnant is a lot like travelling, was one I was always going to spot! Read it and see if you agree.

A friend recently sent me an email with a link to a recent post on her Life Beyond Borders Blog with an interview with The Greek Evzones, the soldiers who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens. I have to admit I had never heard of them so I was instantly intrigued. They sound like pretty tough chaps. Anyway, give it a read as it’s fascinating stuff. Read Interview with Former Evzones – Soldiers of the Greek Presidential Guard then decide if a soldier’s life is for you!

If none of the above have made you want to fire up your computer and book that next trip then maybe our last post will. It’s from Becky and Gray, two UK based bloggers who are also known as Global Grasshopper. I have follower them for quite a while as their blog is a great source of travel inspiration. They have written a great article entitled Why you should take a break: the health benefits of a vacation which highlights a whole bunch of reasons why you should take a break and get on to your travel agent right away!

I hope you have enjoyed my selection of travel blogs this week. Please let us know what you think. Do you agree that pregnancy is like travel or have you saved money using social media? Tell us all!

Until next week.

The World First Wander – the Internet’s best travel blogs

February 13th, 2015

The World First Wander – the Internet’s best travel blogs

travel blogs

Mousehole, Cornwall. Worth the walk.


Welcome to another edition of the World First Wander, our weekly compendium of the very best in travel writing and blogging. Each week we scour the internet – so you don’t have to – in search of blogs and stories we think you’ll love. It is compiled, as always, by our social media man, Tristan Rothwell.

This week we head to Prague, avoid pickpockets, take in a beautiful walk and find out where to take the kids in London this half term. Read the rest of this entry »

Dechox for the British Heart Foundation

February 11th, 2015

Dechox for the British Heart Foundation

British Heart Foundation

Make more time for exercise: BHF’s recommendation for the 10 Day Challenge.

February is National Heart Month. This year, people all over the UK will be invited by the British Heart Foundation to take ten minutes each day, for ten days, to make a difference to their heart’s health.

The ’10 Day Challenge’ aims to get all of us making one small change each day for ten days. It couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is swap unhealthy snacks for fruit or vegetables or fit ten more minutes of exercise into your day.

Could you do that? Easy? You can get one simple health challenge from BHF each day from the 16th February by signing up to their 10 Day Challenge HERE.

If that sounds too easy, how about giving up any kind of chocolate for March as part of BHF’s “Dechox”? Once you’ve completed the 10 Day Challenge you’ll be in the right –and righteous – frame of mind to take up this sponsored ‘event’.

All you have to do is pledge to give up chocolate, chocolatey drinks, cakes and ice creams for March.  And the more you raise for heart research by getting sponsorship for your “Dechox” the more chance you have of winning prizes. Raise just £75 and you could win a special heroic Dechox medal. It’s edible, of course.

OK, so giving up chocolate during March won’t be as tough as giving up something that’s actually proven to be physically addictive for Lent or giving it up altogether. But it’s a step in the right direction. And if you find it difficult to forgo those sweet treats then you can get plenty of help from the “Dechox” website HERE. They will even let you nominate friends for days off (on the understanding that it’s mutual we assume) or special treats as long as you are willing to pay a fine on their behalf. So your friends can cheat and still raise money!

But come on! You aren’t that weak, are you? It might be a fun campaign with a handy ‘way out’ but it has a really serious side.  There are a lot of very good reasons to cut down on your sugary, fatty intake.

According to BHF one in four of the UK population is lost to heart and circulatory disease every year and there are currently seven million people in the UK living with the disease. And we all know having a few too many sweet treats can be a real danger to your good health. Chocolate is a high-calorie food and is high in sugars and saturated fat and too much of it can contribute to weight gain, which is a risk factor of cardiovascular disease.

How much is too much chocolate?  Let’s put a little perspective on it. The BHF tell us that one chocolate bar averages 250kcal. This is equivalent to around 10% of a man’s and 12% of a woman’s recommended daily intake. In order to lose the energy from just one chocolate bar, someone who is 50 would have to walk for at least 45 minutes. Think about it and it soon begins to add up.

Now where did you put those walking boots?

Travel cover for your heart condition stopping you travelling?  We can help. Get a quote from us and see the difference.

The World First Wander: the Internet’s best travel blogs

February 10th, 2015

The World First Wander: the Internet’s best travel blogs

kitesurfing travel insurance

Welcome to another edition of the World First Wander, our guided tour of some of the best travel writing and blogging from all over the globe.

We are going to begin this week with a few suggestions for places to visit in February. If you are anything like me and have had enough of the cold weather, and are longing for some sun, then skip straight to the part where it says ‘for sun seekers’ in this next post. It’s another good one from Hannah, who is also known as @AdventureHan. Where to travel in February offers a tempting list of places to go and things to see this month but it’s the thought of seeing the Nile that grabs it for me. I loved watching the recent Levison Wood series ‘Walking the Nile’ so a cruise down it would be a great – but easier – option!

As you may have read on our Travel News  page recently, Tokyo has been voted the safest city in the World by the Economist. It is with this in mind that we head to the great city now with a regular to the Weekly Wander, Vicky Flip Flop.  What to expect on the streets of Tokyo tells you what to… well you get the rest.

If being in, on or next to the water is your idea of a great holiday then you may have considered a spot of kite surfing.  We have insured Kite surfers for many years and our MD, Martin Rothwell, was a pioneer of the British Kite surfing scene back in the 90s. He has tried and tested our policies to their limits all over the world but has yet to make a comeback this century – although he keeps threatening to. And this brings me neatly to… an article I found recently on the National Geographic Website. That is part of their “Beyond the Guidebook” series. Read Kite surfing in Turks and Caicos and you’ll soon be planning your own comeback tour of the islands!

Some people like their ocean-going vehicles to be a little bigger than a surfboard. In fact I am pretty sure that many of you would prefer it to be a cruise ship. But beware! Blogger Danielle, who writes the excellent Cruise Miss website has been gathering experiences to bring us a tongue in cheek look at What the Cruise Lines DON’T tell you. Been on a cruise? Some of her points will surely raise a smile.

Our last travel blog this week is from another regular, the now heavily pregnant Monica Stott AKA The Travel Hack, who has given us some reasons to be happy and shake off those winter blues.

Monica and I both have the same reasons to be happy! Baby socks !

Until next week


Going above and beyond to dispel travel insurance myths.

February 9th, 2015

Going above and beyond to dispel travel insurance myths.

Going above and beyond to dispel travel insurance myths.

With us medical problems don’t always have to mean an end to travel.

We were contacted recently by Tony Lowe from the North and East Devon Prostate Support Association (NEDPSA). Tony was looking for someone to speak at the association’s quarterly meetings and chose to call us because we are based locally, but also because some of the members of the group had discussed and expressed difficulty and frustration at trying to get travel insurance cover for their cancer. He hoped we might be able to shed some light on the situation.

It just so happened that it was our Senior Customer Services Administrator Shushanah Tolley who picked up the phone. Shushanah was the perfect person to take the call as she had nursed her father through prostate cancer, so could easily relate to the group and its members. She agreed to go along and speak about World First, how travel insurance premiums are worked out and her experiences with her Dad’s prostate cancer.

The first job of Shushanah’s talk was to win the group over. It wasn’t easy as some of the group had had difficulty getting cover in the past from other insurers. It’s understandable, as many of our competitors simply won’t talk to people with serious conditions. However, sure enough, when Shushanah began to talk about her father, his diagnosis and prognosis and the fact that he had planned to take a dream cruise but never could, the room began to soften.

Shushanah was able to tell the group a little of her story and its tragic end, as well as reinforce the message of early tests, regular check-ups and constant vigilance. Shushanah’s Dad was diagnosed too late to treat as he had lived silently with his pain for a long time.

How did all this relate to travel insurance? Well, Shushanah was also able to explain why she would have to ask so many seemingly intrusive and difficult questions about someone’s medical condition. It wasn’t just to be difficult

She explains, “I said that I know I ask a lot of questions when people call for a quote! But, as I explained, we aren’t in the business of stopping people from travelling. Far from it. We want them to go on that dream cruise because sometimes we are able to completely understand what they have been going through. We want to see our customers travel, but our underwriters have to weigh up the risks, which is why we ask so many questions.

Shushanah was also able to explain the possibilities of different types of cover and how we, as medical travel insurance specialists, can get much cheaper premiums for our customers than other insurers can. She gave examples of the types of medical questions they would be asked by us in screening their prostate cancer and, of course, answered a barrage of questions, all of which she was able to answer.

Shushanah said “I found that all the audience had a pre-disposed opinion of travel insurance people. Sometimes that’s just the way it is. However, this was soon dissipated when I shared my own personal experience with cancer and they could see me as a person too. In the end I was able to dispel a few myths about travel insurance and left having made a lot of new friends.”





The World First Wander: the best writing on the Internet

February 3rd, 2015

The World First Wander: the best writing on the Internet

travel blog

Snow rarely settles in Devon, but when it does… it’s difficult to stay in the office!

Each week we take a look around the internet to bring you the very best travel blogs and articles from around the world. As always this brief roundup of what’s hot in the world of the travel bloggers is compiled by our social media man Tristan Rothwell.

We are going to start off with some great winter destination ideas from Ana Silva O’Reilly, who is also known as @Mrsoaroundworld. It is definitely looking winter like out of the office window today as it has just started snowing here in Exeter. So this post is the perfect antidote.  Have a read of Mrs O’s Top 5 Destinations for Winter and brighten up the winter gloom.

If you are a fan of the winter season then this next travel post will be perfect for you. I really loved the photos in this post. They are truly stunning. The post, Exploring cold weather around the world, is from Matt Long’s Landlopers Travel Blog. A very inspiring photo essay!

For those with children, half term is looming! So if you are struggling to come up with new and exciting things for them to do you might need to take a look at the latest blog from Cathy Winston, AKA Mummy Travels.  There are some great ideas for keeping the tots, toddlers and teens happy here in Family days out: February half term 2015.

We have featured quite a few walking posts here recently as they always seem to be really popular. So I would expect this one to gather just as much interest. It’s from Paul Steele’s,  The Bald Hiker, a man who knows a thing or two about hiking. If you have yet to visit the Peak District then take a look at A tranquil walk on Hathersage Moor and then go fetch your hiking boots.

We stay ‘up north’ for another visit to one of our favourite travel bloggers, Zoë Dawes, AKA The Quirky Traveller . It’s a blog that a definite ‘must-read’ for anyone who enjoys travel writing. In this post Zoë takes us to Burnley for an inside look at the former mill town. A Burnley weekend with a Lancashire twist is a lovely read.


See you next time.

The World First Wander: the best travel writing on the Internet

January 26th, 2015

The World First Wander: the best travel writing on the Internet

travel blog

Another best of the West: Exeter Cathedral

Welcome to this week’s World First Wander, our weekly look at the best travel writing and blogging from around the world with our social media man Tristan Rothwell.

We start our journey this week with a spot of hiking, something that is great for the body and good for the soul. We featured part 1 of Heather Cowper’s ‘Hiking the Dry Stone Route in Mallorca’ in December’s World First Wander so naturally we wanted to include part 2. This time Heather takes us from Lluc Monastry to Port de Pollença. Great hike and great read.

If Heather’s post gives you a yearning  for the trail then this next blog will definitely be one to follow. It’s the London Hiker, although that doesn’t mean the hikes are in or around the Capital. This is a blog full of ideas for people who happen to dwell in London but love hiking. The latest post, Ideas for your hiking year ahead offers some really great ideas for getting out of the city and hitting the trail.

If you have been keeping up to date with the World First Travel Blog you will know that my fiancé are I are expecting a baby in June. If you are in a similar position and are thinking it might curtail your travel plans, give us a call about getting great cover, then take a look at our post why your pregnancy doesn’t have to stop you travelling.

I guess I shall soon be asking the burning question ‘can you really keep travelling with a baby in tow?’ that Cathy Winston answers very eloquently in her blog Mummy Travels. The answer, I think, is yes. Her latest post 11 things travel has taught me about parenting is packed with good tips and advice for travelling parents. I will be referring back to it once the baby arrives.

As we are Exeter-based it’s obvious that we should be biased in this next choice of blog. But it is not without very good reason. Polly Allen’s post South West England’s 2015 hotspots highlights just a few of the fabulous places that are on our doorstep, from Burton Bradstock to Salisbury Cathedral. The South West is full of undiscovered and underrated gems and this blog is a great place to start if you plan on visiting this year.

We stay in the southwest (sort of) for our final article of this week’s Wander. It’s one of our regulars, Devon lad Chris Stevens. He has compiled a list of Travel Bloggers to follow. There are a few on there I have yet to catch up with so it’s well worth a look if you, like us, enjoy your travel blogging and writing.

That just about wraps it up for this week. Don’t forget if you spot a great travel blog this week let us know!

Until next week.

Rothwell & Towler Tourism House Woodwater Park
Pynes Hill Exeter EX2 5WS

World First is a trading name of Rothwell & Towler (2013) Ltd and is an appointed representative of Crispin Speers & Partners Ltd who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, FCA register number 311507. Travel insurance premiums and availability of cover may vary depending on individual circumstances. If you are a consumer insured (i.e. a person buying insurance wholly or mainly for personal purposes unrelated to your employment), you have a duty to take reasonable care to answer questions fully and accurately, and that any information you volunteer is not misleading. This duty exists before the cover is placed, when renewed, or altered at any time throughout the duration of the policy. If you do not do so, your Insurer may be able to void your policy from inception. Rothwell & Towler (2013) Ltd, Registered in England No. 08294942. Registered Office: St Clare House, 30-33 Minories, London EC3N 1PE.

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