View from Kandy to Colombo train

The view from the morning train from Kandy to Colombo.  Courtesy of Nicola David.

 

I recommend a hotel price comparison at:

Visit Sri Lanka - and take the train...

Taking the train is a great way to get around Sri Lanka, as it's cheap, safe and part of the experience.  On this page you'll find a beginner's guide to taking the train around Sri Lanka.

Train times for key routes...

  Colombo - Kandy - Nuwara Eliya - Badulla

  Colombo - Galle - Matara

  Colombo - Galoya - Polonnaruwa, Batticaloa, Trincomalee

  Colombo - Kurunegala - Anuradhapura - Vavunia - Pallai - Jaffna

Train travel information...

  How to check train times & prices

  Interactive route map

  How to buy tickets

Other Sri Lanka travel information

  Useful country information - currency, visas, dialling code...

  Travel to or from Sri Lanka by sea from India

  Flights to Sri Lanka

  Hotel & accommodation in Sri Lanka.


Useful country information

Train operator:

Sri Lanka Government Railways.  www.railway.gov.lk.  Also try http://colombofort.com or www.reddottours.com  

 

 

Time zone:

GMT + 5Ĺ all year.

Dialling code:

 

+94.

Currency:

£1 = approx 200 rupees,  $1 = 120 rupees     Currency converter

Tourist information:

www.srilanka.travel   Find hotels in Colombo, Kandy & Sri Lanka

Recommended guidebooks   Tripadvisor Sri Lanka page

Hotels:

 

Hotel search in Sri Lanka

Visas:

Until the end of 2011, UK, EU, US, Canadian, Australian & NZ citizens do not need a visa for up to 30 days, see Sri Lanka High Commission website..  However, an online visa will be required from 1 January 2012, which you can get at www.eta.gov.lk.

Page last updated:

7 July 2014.


Train travel in Sri Lanka

 

Interactive route map...

Click a route for train times & fares

How to check train times & prices...

The timetables on this page show the principal trains on the most popular routes.  There are many other trains, stations and rail routes in Sri Lanka, but note that trains no longer operate to Jaffna or Talaimannar (although work to rehabilitate the line is ongoing).  You can check routes and train times at the Sri Lanka Railways website, www.railway.gov.lk.  There is also train information at http://colombofort.com or www.reddottours.com.  If you visit Sri Lanka, feedback would be appreciated!

Colombo - Kandy - Nuwara Eliya - Badulla

Colombo - Galle - Matara

Colombo - Galoya - Polonnaruwa, Batticaloa, Trincomalee

Colombo - Kurunegala - Anuradhapura - Vavuniya - Kilinochchi

On board Sri Lankan trains...

How to buy tickets...

Colombo Fort railway station   A train at Colombo Fort station

Two views of Colombo Fort Station. Photos courtesy of  Paul White.

Can you help improve this page?

If you have comments, suggestions, more information or photos that might improve this page and help fellow travellers, please e-mail me!


Sponsored links...


Colombo - Kandy - Badulla

This scenic train ride is the way to reach Kandy, 121 km by rail from Colombo, or the hill station at Nuwara Eliya.  The ride onwards to Badulla, into the hill country, is also wonderful, and probably the best train ride in Sri Lanka.  Travel in the 1st class observation car is recommended, and if possible on an InterCity Express train.  Watch the video: Tea Country by Train.

 Colombo ► Kandy ► Nuwara Eliya ► Badulla

Km

Days:

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Note A

Daily

Daily

 Classes:

3

1,2,3,R*

ICE,Exo

1,2,3,R**

O,2,3,R,Exo,Raj

2,3

2,3

ICE,Raj

1

2,3

Sleeper

Train number:

1126

1005

1009

1015

1007

1019

1023

1029

1034

1039

1045

0

Colombo Fort depart:

-

05:55

07:00

08:30

09:45

10:35

12:40

15:35

17:20

17:45

20:00

115

Peradeniya Junc. arr/dep:

-

08:32

09:21

10:55

12:31

13:40

15:46

17:56

??:??

20:46

23:06

121

Kandy arrive:

-

08:42

09:31

11:03

|

13:52

16:04

18:06

20:03

20:58

|

121

Kandy depart:

03:30

08:47

-

11:10

|

-

17:05

-

-

-

|

173

Hatton (for Adam's peak)

07:07

11:12

-

13:26

14:28

-

19:53

-

-

-

01:35

207

Nanu Oya (Nuwara Eliya)

09:02

12:40

-

14:57

15:51

-

-

-

-

-

03:03

246

Haputale arrive:

11:45

14:15

-

16:31

17:26

-

-

-

-

-

04:55

?

Elle arrive:

13:24

15:14

-

17:27

18:22

-

-

-

-

-

06:05

292

Badulla arrive:

14:30

16:06

-

18:32

19:25

-

-

-

-

-

07:10

* This train is the PODI MENIKE, new Chinese-built blue train.    ** This train is the UDARATA MENIKE, new Chinese-built blue train.  

How to buy tickets     Hotels in Sri Lanka     Watch the video: Tea Country by Train

Exo = One or two privately-run ExpoRail air-conditioned carriages are attached to these trains, with at-seat catering & WiFi see www.exporail.lk with online booking available.  See this news article with photos.  The special fare from Colombo to Kandy is 1,450 rupees, children aged 3-11 1500 rupees.  Colombo to Badulla costs 2,250 rupees, children 1,700 rupees.

Raj = One or two privately-run Rajadhani Express air-conditioned carriages with reclining leather seats are attached to these trains.  Special fare Colombo-Kandy 1,100 rupees, Colombo-Badulla 1,750 rupees, see www.rajadhani.lk for more info & online booking.  It runs daily on the 15:35 Colombo-Kandy & 06:15 Kandy-Colombo.  On the 08:15 Colombo-Badulla it runs daily except Wednesdays.  On the 10:00 Badulla to Colombo it runs daily except Thursdays.

ICE = InterCity Express, with 1st class observation car with reserved seats, 2nd & 3rd class reserved seats.

Sleeper = NIGHT MAIL, 1st class sleepers (2-berth compartments), 2nd & 3rd class reserved sleeperettes (reclining seats), 2nd & 3rd unreserved seats, buffet car.

Note A:  Runs from Colombo Friday, Saturday, Sunday, from Kandy Saturday, Sunday, Monday.  InterCity train introduced June 2013, 1st class only, fare Rs.500.

O = 1st class observation car with reserved seats, not air-conditioned.

1 = 1st class air-conditioned reserved seats

2 = 2nd class seats.

3 = 3rd class seats.

R = buffet/restaurant car.

You can check train times using the official Sri Lanka Railways website, www.railway.gov.lk, but please check all times locally.

Additional Kandy trains on Saturdays & Sundays:  Colombo depart 08:50, Kandy arrive 11:26;  Kandy depart 16:50 & 17:30, Colombo arrive 19:25 & 20:05.

Nuwara Eliya (City of lights) is a colonial hill station 2,000 metres above sea level, surrounded by tea plantations  It's easy to reach by train.  The station is Nanu Oya, 6 km from central Nuwara Eliya, with plenty of taxis and auto-rickshaws available.  It's also possible to walk.

Peradeniya Junction is 6km (3Ĺ miles) from Kandy.  Take a taxi or tuk-tuk or bus here to board trains for Hatton, Nanu Oya, Elle & Badulla if they don't call at Kandy.

 Badulla ► Nuwara Eliya ► Kandy ► Colombo

Days:

Daily

Note A

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

 Classes:

2,3,R

1

ICE,Raj

2,3

3

3

2,3

1,2,3,R**

ICE,Exo

2,3

1,2,3,R*

O,2,3,R,Exo,Raj

2,3

3

Sleeper

Train number:

1040

1033

1030

1036

1520

1541

1024

1016

1010

1020

1006

1008

1035

1596

1046

Badulla depart:

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

05:45

-

-

08:30

10:00

-

11:00

18:00

Elle depart:

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

06:40

-

-

09:24

10:57

-

12:06

19:07

Haputale depart:

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

07:45

-

-

10:25

12:00

-

14:25

20:22

Nanu Oya (for Nuwara Eliya)

-

-

-

-

-

-

05:30

09:25

-

-

12:02

13:50

-

17:15

22:17

Hatton (for Adam's Peak) dep

-

-

-

-

05:10

08:45

07:10

10:39

-

-

13:31

15:12

-

20:00

23:43

Kandy arrive:

-

-

-

-

07:59

12:16

09:56

12:43

-

-

15:56

|

-

23:42

02:36

Kandy depart:

05:10

05:50

06:15

06:30

-

-

10:40

12:50

15:00

15:30

16:06

|

19:39

-

02:36

Peradeniya Junction arr/dep

05:22

??:??

06:25

06:43

-

-

10:58

12:35

15:10

15:48

15:46

17:15

19:28

-

02:20

Colombo Fort arrive:

08:23

08:42

08:52

09:45

-

-

14:11

15:27

17:36

18:55

18:57

20:25

22:25

-

05:17

 Fares

One-way adult fares..

3rd class

reserved seat

2nd class

reserved seat

1st class

observation car

1st class

sleeper berth

Colombo-Kandy by InterCity Express

Rs.180  (£1/$2)

Rs.280  (£1/$2)

Rs. 500  (£2/ $3)

-

Colombo-Kandy by normal train

Rs.105  (50p/$1)

Rs.190  (£1/$2)

-

-

Colombo-Badulla by normal train

Rs.400  (£2/$3)

Rs.600  (£3/$5)

Rs. 1250  (£9/ $10)

-

Colombo-Badulla by overnight train

Rs.400*  (£2/$3)

Rs.600*  (£3/$5)

-

Rs. 1250  (£9/ $10)

Children under 12 pay half fare, children under 3 travel free.  * = Reclining sleeperette seats

Traveller's reports...

Traveller Antony Smith reports  "All the windows in the 1st observation car opened fully so, though it was a baking hot day, the carriage was wonderfully breezy and naturally cooled. And yes there are only two pairs of seats with uninterrupted views through the rear observation window, but to be honest the best views are to the sides anyway rather than back down the track.  And there's a great child-like pleasure to be had from sticking your head out of an open side window, which you can't do in the seats directly in front of the rear observation window. I do agree about not wanting to be locked into a 'tour bus' environment with only other tourists for company, but passengers in the 1st observation car on the day we travelled were a real mix of Westerners and Sri Lankans. We took a peek at the ExpoRail 'luxury' carriage (which now also does the train we were on, the 05.55 Podi Menike from Colombo).  It is undoubtedly comfortable, though not luxurious in my opinion, and has the advantage of online booking and on-board catering.  But it lacked the old-fashioned charm of the 1st observation car and looked to be a 100% tourist only experience, mostly tour groups."

Traveller Graeme Thorley reports "I thought the observation car to Kandy was okay although it requires you to travel backwards (in my case at least) which is not to everyone's taste. It also got incredibly hot (36įC at one point) due to the large window and there were only a limited number of seats that had a really good view. Rather irritatingly on my outbound trip two of these were occupied by people who slept for most of the trip..! The other point is that the carriage was occupied almost entirely by Westerners - this might be considered a good thing but personally I felt it left me more remote from the travelling experience.  On the train to Anaradhapura several locals stopped to chat, practise their English, exchange complaints about the delays etc. I also bumped into one of the families I had met on the train whilst sightseeing (they recognised me) and we had another chat. I find that sort of thing an important part of travelling."

Traveller Paul White reports "Donít panic if you canít get a ticket for the 1st class air conditioned trains to Kandy.  2nd class is more than adequate, but do try & get a window seat. The best side to sit on for scenery is the right hand side as you face forward from Colombo to Kandy, as this will give you the best views once you get past Rambukkana.  Do be brave and try the food on the trains! Many vendors will wander up and down selling cold drinks, fruit, spicy snacks and so on at reasonable prices."

Also see www.bootsnall.com for a good account of this trip...

The classic trains...

Great scenery from the train in Sri Lanka   1st class observation car on the train from Colombo to Kandy, Sri Lanka

Travelling by train in Sri Lanka is a great way to see the scenery...

 

1st class observation car at the rear of the train, its window looking back along the track.

The photos above courtesy of Bill Wood of Massachusetts.  A visit to Bill Woods website, www.billwood.com, is highly recommended to see more photos of this journey.

The first class observation car on a Colombo-Kandy train   2nd class seating on a Sri Lankan train

Observation car:  The Colombo-Kandy 1st class observation car at Colombo Fort.  Photo courtesy of Graeme Thorley

 

Ordinary 2nd class seats on a Sri Lankan train.  Photo courtesy of Ciao Monteiro

Scenery from a Colombo-Kandy train   Looking back along the track from the 1st class observation car

On the train to Kandy.  Photo courtesy of Marilyn Le Ruyet

 

Looking back along the track from the observation car.  Courtesy of Marilyn Le Ruyet

The new Chinese-built Blue Trains...

1st class air-conditioned carriage on a blue train   One of the new Chinese-built blue trains on the way to Kandy

New Chinese-built 'Blue trains' have been introduced on several departures on the route from Colombo to Kandy & Badulla.  Above left, the 1st class cars on these trains are air-conditioned and even have video screens, although they are already a bit knocked about!  There is no observation car on thee new blue trains.  Photos courtesy of Roger Smith.

Blue Train in Sri Lanka between Colombo & Kandy   2nd class train seats

Whilst most tourists buy first class tickets without thinking it through, you may actually prefer the 2nd class non-air-conditioned cars (pictured, above right) on these 'Blue Trains', as the windows open with a cool breeze wafting in, there are no distracting video screens and it's much easier to see and photograph the scenery.  Photos courtesy of Chris Rowland.

The Expo Rail carriage...

Scenery   Expo Rail carriage on a train from Colombo to Kandy

Expo Rail carriage: A couple of trains on the Colombo-Kandy-Badulla route have a privately-run Expo Rail carriage attached, see www.exporail.lkPhotos courtesy of Seran Karunaharan.

More scenery from a Colombo-Kandy train   Kandy railway station

Scenery from the train. Courtesy Sudip Nandy

 

Kandy station.  Courtesy of Sudip Nandy

Watch the video Through Tea Country by train, from Badulla to Colombo

Traveller Murray Cox takes one of the new Blue Trains through Tea Country from Badulla to Kandy & Colombo...


Colombo - Galle - Matara

A great way to reach the cities of Galle and Matara, by train along the coast...  2nd class is the recommended option, as 3rd class gets too crowded.  The Colombo-Galle fare is only about Rs.65 (£0.50/$1) one-way in 2nd class for the 116 km.  Colombo to Matara is about Rs.90 2nd class.  Engineering work that affected this line last year is now over.

 Colombo ► Galle ► Matara

Km

 Notes:

2,3,Raj

2,3

2,3

2,3

2,3

Mon-Fri, 2,3

3

Mon-Fri, 3

Sat, Sun, 3

3

0

Colombo Maradana depart:

06:30

-

-

14:15

15:40

16:40

17:20

17:50

17:50

18:45

2

Colombo Fort depart:

06:55

08:35

10:30

14:25

15:50

16:45

17:25

18:00

17:55

19:30

116

Galle arrive:

09:26

10:49

12:42

16:31

17:34

18:37

20:03

20:23

21:26

22:55

159

Matara arrive:

10:53

11:50

13:50

17:48

18:20

19:30

-

21:33

-

-

There's no 1st class on this route.  Unless shown otherwise, trains run every day.     How to buy tickets     Hotels in Sri Lanka

2 = unreserved 2nd class seats;

3 = unreserved 3rd class seats;

Raj = Daily except Thursdays, a privately-run Rajadhani Express air-conditioned carriage with reclining leather seats is attached to this train.  Special fare Colombo-Matara 990 rupees (£5.50 or $9), see www.rajadhani.lk for more info & online booking. 

You can check train times using the official Sri Lanka Railways website, www.railway.gov.lk, but double-check train times locally.

 Matara ► Galle ► Colombo

Notes:

Mon-Fri, 3

Sat, Sun 3

3

Mon-Fri 2,3

2,3

2,3

2,3

2.3

2,3,Raj

Matara depart:

-

-

-

04:55

06:05

06:10

10:15

13:35

14:10

Galle depart:

03:40

04:15

05:00

05:50

06:55

07:25

10:55

14:45

15:30

Colombo Fort arrive:

07:00

07:46

07:47

07:51

08:43

09:30

13:30

17:20

18:05

Colombo Maradana arrive:

06:58

07:35

07:48

07:57

08:49

09:36

-

17:25

18:12

 

 Fares

One-way adult fares..

3rd class

reserved seat

2nd class

reserved seat

1st class

seat

Colombo - Matara

Rs.130  (£1/$1)

Rs.230  (£1/$2)

  -

Children under 12 pay half fare, children under 3 travel free.

Coastal scenery from a Colombo-Galle train   Galle railway station

Scenery from the train. Courtesy Sudip Nandy

 

Galle station.  Courtesy of Sudip Nandy

Locomotive change at Galle station   Colombo to Galle in the Rajadhani coach

Changing the engine at Galle station. Photo courtesy of Sudip Nandy

 

Travelling to Galle in the privately-run Rajadhani coach.  Courtesy of Sudip Nandy


Colombo - Trincomalee / Batticaloa

2nd class is recommended on this route, as 3rd class is too crowded.  The Colombo-Trincomalee is 296 km.

 Colombo ► Trincomalee, Batticaloa

 

 

 Trincomalee, Batticaloa ► Colombo

 

Days:

Daily

Daily

Sat,Sun

Daily

Daily

Days:

Daily

Daily

Daily

Daily

Km

Classes:

2,3,R

2,3

2,3

Sleeper

Sleeper

Classes:

2,3

2,3,R

Sleeper

Sleeper

0

Colombo Fort depart:

06:05

(06:05)

08:00

19:15

21:00

Trincomalee depart:

07:00

-

19:30

-

227

Galoya arrive/depart:

11:19

15:30

|

00:30

02:54

Batticaloa depart:

|

07:15

|

20:15

260

Polonnaruwa arrive:

12:08

|

|

01:34

|

Polonnaruwa depart:

|

|

|

22:25

350

Batticaloa arrive:

14:20

|

|

04:00

|

Galoya depart:

08:50

10:15

21:55

23:20

296

Trincomalee arrive:

-

17:20

16:00

 

05:10

Colombo Fort arrive:

(15:25)

15:25

04:05

04:52

(06:10) = Depart Colombo 06:10, arrive Galoya 11:19, change trains, depart Galoya 15:30 for Trincomalee.

(15:25) = Arrive Colombo at 15:25, having changed at Galoya, arrive 08:50, depart 10:15.

ICE = InterCity Express. On this route ICEs have 2nd & 3rd class reserved seats & buffet car, plus a first class reserved seat car.

Sleeper = 1st class sleepers (2-berth compartments), 2nd & 3rd class reserved sleeperettes (reclining seats), 2nd & 3rd unreserved seats, buffet car.

You can check train times using the official Sri Lanka Railways website, www.railway.gov.lk, but please double-check all train times locally.

 Fares

One-way adult fares

3rd class

reserved seat

2nd class

reserved seat

1st class

sleeper berth

Colombo-Trincomalee

Rs.205  (£1/$2)

Rs.370  (£2/$3)

Rs. 750  (£5/ $7)

Colombo-Batticaloa

Rs.230  (£2/$2)

Rs.420  (£3/$5)

Rs. 1250  (£6/ $10)

Colombo-Batticaloa by sleeper

Rs.450*  (£2/$3)

Rs.600*  (£3/$5)

Rs. 1250  (£6/ $10)

Children under 12 pay half fare, children under 3 travel free.  * = Reclining sleeperette seats.

A train at Batticaloa   Batticaloa railway station

A train at Batticaloa. Courtesy Osala Lanith

 

Batticaloa station.  Courtesy of Osala Lanith


Colombo - Anuradhapura - Vavuniya - Jaffna

Trains link Colombo with Anuradhapura and Vavunia.  Since 1990 trains no longer operate as far as Jaffna or Talaimannar Pier (previously the ferry terminal for India) because of the security problems in that area, but in September 2013 trains were reinstated as far as Kilinochchi, and from early 2014 as far as Pallai.  The line to Jaffna will be reinstated soon, probably June 2014.

 Colombo ► Vavuniya, Kilinochchi, Jaffna

Km

Daily:

2,3

ICE

2,3

ICE

ICE

Sleeper

0

Colombo Fort depart:

05:45

06:50

13:15

14:45

15:55

20:15

205

Anuradhapura arr/dep:

09:43

10:03

18:11

18:16

19:47

01:09

254

Vavuniya arrive:

11:21

10:50

19:42

19:08

20:55

02:40

302

Kilinochchi arrive:

12:35

11:48

-

20:05

-

04:10

358

Pallai arrive:

13:21

12:27

-

20:28

-

04:40

?

Jaffna arrive:

-

-

-

-

-

-

ICE = InterCity Express.  On this route ICEs have 2nd & 3rd class reserved seats & buffet car.  The 16:20 from Colombo & the 05:45 from Vavunia also have a 1st class air-conditioned car with reserved seats.

Sleeper = NIGHT MAIL, with 1st class sleepers (2-berth compartments), 2nd & 3rd class reserved sleeperettes (reclining seats), 2nd & 3rd unreserved seats, buffet.

1 = 1st class air-conditioned seats car with reserved seats;

2 = unreserved 2nd class seats; 

3 = unreserved 3rd class seats;

R = buffet/restaurant car;

You can check train times using the official Sri Lanka Railways website, www.railway.gov.lk.   How to buy tickets     Hotels in Sri Lanka

 Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Vavuniya ► Colombo

Daily:

2,3

2,3

ICE

2,3

ICE

Sleeper

Jaffna depart:

-

-

-

-

-

-

Pallai depart:

-

-

06:50

10:40

14:15

20:00

Kilinochchi depart:

-

-

07:12

11:08

14:38

20:32

Vavuniya depart:

03:20

05:45

08:10

12:38

15:40

21:57

Anuradhapura arr/dep:

05:00

06:40

09:05

13:55

16:35

23:30

Colombo Fort arrive:

10:10

10:28

12:50

18:25

20:05

04:40


Sponsored links...


Hotels & accommodation in Colombo, Kandy & Sri Lanka

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...


Sea travel to Sri Lanka

Ferry service to/from India re-started June 2011, suspended again Dec 2011...

After many years of being cut off from each other, a new ferry service started between Colombo in Sri Lanka and Tuticorin in India in June 2011, website www.flemingoliners.com.  The modern cruise ferry 'Scotia Prince' started sailing twice a week in each direction, leaving at 18:00 and arriving at 08:00 next morning, although sailing days changed from week to week.  All passengers got a sleeping berth in a cabin, fares ranged from 2,243 Indian rupees (about £47 or $77) in an economy class single-berth cabin to 2,760 Indian rupees (£58 or $95) in a super deluxe single-berth cabin, all fares included a non-alcoholic 'welcome aboard' drink and a fixed-menu dinner.  They had aspirations to make it a daily service in due course.  However, due to a dispute over money owed to the caterers(!), the ferry was impounded in December 2011, and isn't currently running.  The operator isn't sure when (or if) it will resume.  A second ferry service, between Rameswaram and Talaimannar was rumoured to be starting by the end of 2011, but again no details are available and nothing seems to have happened.  So currently no ferries at all link India with Sri Lanka.


Flights to Sri Lanka

1)  Check flight prices at www.opodo.com...

2)  Use Skyscanner to compare flight prices & routes worldwide across 600 airlines...

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3)  Lounge passes...

Make the airport experience a little more bearable with a VIP lounge pass, it's not as expensive as you think, see www.loungepass.com


Guidebooks...

Rough Guide to Sri LankaRecommended guidebooks...

To get the best from Sri Lanka, you'll need a good guidebook.  For independent travellers, the best guides are probably either the Rough Guides or Lonely Planets.

Buy Rough Guide to Sri Lanka online at Amazon.co.uk

 

 


Travel insurance

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Get travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash (up to a limit) and belongings.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year (I have an annual policy myself).  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

In the UK, try Columbus Direct or use Confused.com to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65 (no age limit), see www.JustTravelCover.com.

        If you're resident in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you're resident in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get a spare credit card, designed for foreign travel with no currency exchange loading & low or no ATM fees...

It costs nothing to take out an extra credit card.  If you keep it in a different part of your luggage so you're not left stranded if your wallet gets stolen, this is a form of extra travel insurance in itself.  In addition, some credit cards are significantly better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.  Taking this advice can save you quite a lot on each trip compared to using your normal high-street bank credit card!

You can avoid ATM charges and expensive exchange rates with a Caxton FX euro currency Visa Card, or their multi-currency 'Global Traveller' Visa Card, see www.caxtonfx.com for info.

Get an international SIM card...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, and if you're not careful you can return home to find some huge bills waiting for you.  I've known people run up a £1,000 bill in data charges just by leaving their iPhone connected during a simple trip to Europe.  However, if you buy a global SIM card for your mobile phone from a company such as www.Go-Sim.com you can slash the cost by up to 85% and limit any damage to the amount you have pre-paid.  It cuts call costs in 175 countries worldwide, and you can receive incoming calls and texts for free in 75 countries.  It's pay-as-you-go, so no nasty bills when you get home.  It also works for laptop or PDA data access.  A Go-Sim account and any credit on it doesn't expire if it's not between trips, unlike some others, so a Go-Sim phone number becomes your 'global phone number' for life.

 


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