In Search of Winter Sun – The practicalities and planning required!

If you’re retired, and don’t have to stick to the daily 9-5, you may be tempted to leave the UK for warmer and sunnier shores now that the Winter winds have  begun to bite. You may not want to leave the UK entirely, but going away to warmer climes for the winter, can reinvigorate your batteries, and give you a chance to experience another lifestyle and culture for part of the year, before returning to the UK just as it starts to thaw out in Spring.

There are several things to bear in mind when considering a long-term stay in another country, which we’ve highlighted below:

 Where to go?

Firstly, you should consider where you can travel for a longer-than-average duration. Do you need a visa, or are there any other restrictions in place? There are 125 countries currently that require a visa for British Citizens to travel to, and you can check the up to date list online at www.visahq.co.uk where they also specify the requirements for taking out a visa.

You need to apply for a visa if you’re staying for longer than 30 days in Thailand. But, it remains a popular choice for older travellers seeking some exotic winter sun. There is a misconception that Thailand is more suited to hedonistic 20-somethings, who are drawn by the more lurid aspects of the country’s reputation. However, there are a large number of older travellers who habitually travel to Thailand in the Winter months, drawn by the cheap living costs, delicious food, pleasant weather, beautiful scenery and wildlife, and the friendly locals – to name but a few reasons. The rainy season in Thailand lasts from May to November, so a trip between these times is definitely preferable.

If you want to have a taste of the American Dream, then a popular destination stateside, is the Sunshine State of Florida.  Well-known for its crowd-pleasing theme-parks, it also boasts beautiful beaches, wildlife expeditions and plenty of culture, such as the oldest American city (St.Augustine) and a rich native American heritage. It also offers great value-for-money when you’re deciding to spend your hard-earned travel pot.  The weather is much more cool and comfortable between March to early May, and also mid-October to late November.  May to September can be too hot and humid, with temperatures in excess of 35 degrees. An added bonus is that this is one of the friendliest states in America, where you will be welcomed and spoilt for choice with the activities (or relaxation) on offer.

If you want to cut down your flight time, and head towards a European destination, then the Spanish island of Tenerife,  can be a great choice.  The reliable all-year-round warm weather is the key reason that it is a great Winter Sun destination. The south-western resort of Los Cristianos, is quieter, and attracts more mature visitors. There is a fantastic “access for all” policy, which makes the resort very accessible for visitors who have disabilities. Tenerife is a confirmed Winter Sun favourite, flights from the UK to Tenerife are cheaper and more plentiful in Winter, but the hotel prices are at their highest. As the climate is so reliable all year round, there is no bad time of year to visit, but Winter is when the island comes into its own.  A favourite daytrip for visitors is taking the cable car to the summit of Mount Teide (Spain’s highest mountain) for wide-ranging views of the island. A destination that boasts more than its fair share of history , is La Laguna, the former capital, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

When considering where to go, take time to do a bit of your own research into the climate at that time of year, look into whether many attractions would be open at that time of year, and also have a look at the current Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice about travelling there. Something to be aware of, is that if the FCO advise against travelling to a certain area, and you still choose to go ahead and travel there, then most UK travel insurance policies would be invalidated.

Get Travel Insurance

Some people may make the mistake of thinking that they don’t need travel insurance if they are travelling to a holiday home abroad, or are travelling within Europe.  It is always a good idea to invest in the reassurance of comprehensive longstay travel insurance no matter the circumstances of your stay. If you are ill or injured abroad,  it is important that you have cover for emergency medical expenses, as well as repatriation back to the UK. In addition, travel insurance will also have cover for your personal possessions, and usually, for your money and travel documents too. Even if you are staying in a familiar place, or with friends and family, it is still a good idea to have cover in place.  Older people are statistically more likely to make a claim for medical treatment, and travel can have an unpredictable effect on our health or on any pre-existing medical conditions. It is important that you declare any pre-existing medical conditions to your insurer before you take out cover, as you will then be able to extend your cover (if necessary) to include treatment related to these conditions that might crop up whilst away.

Even if you have an EHIC card to cover medical treatment in EU countries, this only entitles you to the same conditions of treatment available to locals, which wont be as comprehensive as the NHS, for the most part. It is a good idea to get an EHIC card, as it is free, but it doesn’t replace travel insurance in terms of the scope of what is covered.

An important factor to bear in mind, is that if you are a regular ‘snow bird’ temporarily migrating away from the UK for the winter months, then you may not meet the residency requirement for setting up a valid  travel insurance policy. Insurers have different stipulations, but a typical example is that you are required to have been in the UK for at least 6 months out of the last 12. You are also often required to remain registered with a UK GP.

It may seem strange that you are asked to meet this requirement, as you are a British citizen, who still regards the UK as your home country, but insurers are reluctant to offer cover to people who habitually spend the majority of their time outside the UK, as you may lose your entitlement to free healthcare under the NHS. In this kind of scenario, it may be that it is more suitable to take out international private healthcare rather than a travel insurance policy.

Home and contents insurance for your home in the UK

It is important that you get the right kind of cover for home and contents insurance for your house in the UK. It may be that you will rent it out whilst you’re away (and will need to get the appropriate cover for that). If you’re leaving it unoccupied, then you will need to find the right cover that will accommodate this. Most insurers will not cover a property if it is left unoccupied for more than 30 consecutive days. Your home is potentially more vulnerable, whilst it is lying empty, to anything from a flood, to being targeted by vandals. You need to be covered should the worst happen.  Most firms allow you to arrange cover for 3, 6, 9 or 12 months, with the option to extend if necessary. Your house must be secure, with approved locks on the doors and windows, and preferably a burglar alarm. The insurer may also say that you have to remove all the valuables, drain the water system, set the heating to the frost-setting during winter to avoid burst pipes, switch off the utilities and regularly inspect the property.  It’s also advisable to make the place look lived in, maybe by installing timer switches for the lights and asking a neighbour to park their car in the drive.

This is a starting point of the practicalities to think of when travelling abroad for a prolonged period of time. There will obviously be more to set up initially on your first trip, but it should get easier once you’ve done it a few times, and become a seasoned Winter-Sun traveller!

We are a popular choice for travellers who are seeking comprehensive over 60’s travel insurance for their Winter sojourn in balmier climes, and attract many repeat customers who appreciate our cover benefits, competitive prices, and our fantastic customer service. You can get a quote for your planned travel here. You can take a look at feedback from customers who have bought our travel insurance, via the independent reviewer FEEFO and see how highly we are rated by travellers of all ages.

 

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