Many of the issues and procedures for overseas visits will be the same as for those within the UK. However, there are a number of additional factors for educational visits overseas to consider which are outlined below.
There are two excellent national guidance documents:
OEAP National Guidance: 7.1r Overseas Visits
OEAP National Guidance: 7.1q Overseas expeditions
British Standard 8848 is nationally recognised as an important way in which organisers can demonstrate that they have good safety practices in place when offering to provide any venture outside the UK. Many of the major providers of educational visits overseas are declaring conformity with its requirements.
Some of the additional factors to consider are outlined below – this is not a comprehensive list so please refer to the national guidance links above for more information.
Leader and staff competence
Consideration should be given to what specific skills and competencies are required beyond what might be required for a similar trip in the UK. Knowledge of the destination, competence in the language and/or the services of a local guide/interpreter. Medical provision at the destination and the possible need for more advanced first aid and medical knowledge in the visit leader team.
Support following an incident
It is sensible to include the possible need for a member of staff to travel from the UK join the group if an incident, accident or illness were to occur. Have a member of staff on ‘stand-by’ just in case this is required and ensure they are aware of the logistics required to join the group. If the logistics are difficult – visa required, remote location, complex travel etc then it makes sense to consider this at the planning stage when determining the staffing requirements for the trip and include the contingency for the illness/injury of a staff member when staffing the trip.
It is invaluable to have support at the destination. When working with an external provider it is good to ask in advance ‘what support to do offer in the country?’ and ‘who will this support be provided by and is it 24/7?’
Check that 24/7 emergency assistance is provided. Useful to make contact prior to the trip to check that this is in place and functions.
Contact details for British Embassy/Consulate
Know where to find your nearest embassy.
Check FCDO Foreign Travel Advice
Find out the current security information on the destination and brief the group. Brief the group on relevant legal and cultural differences.
Monitoring and inspections will be different from those in the UK and may be less rigorous or not take place at all. Ensure that the competence and experience of any in-country provider has been assessed and if you are working with an third-party provider, such as a tour company, seek assurances that they have carried out these checks.