Viewing Internet travel sites or perusing brochures is one of those delightful things to do during those endless cold, wet winter evenings. We can dream of sun drenched beaches, sparking white sands and beautiful evenings sitting in a favorite bar enjoying the sunset with our favorite drink, or indeed our partners…

For many it is as advertised. However, I have lived and worked long enough in tourist resorts, mingling and chatting with tour operators and visitors to realize that there is a rather more chilling side to our overseas holidays. It is an area that no one will talk about. What does happen if you or your beloved should happen to expire abroad?

Obviously death on holiday is not one of the features advertised in your glossy holiday brochure, but as inconvenient and thoughtless as it is, it really does happen and with alarming regularity too; indeed, tour companies have departments dealing solely with such issues. The stress of flights, dashing across the runway, over-relaxation (yes, there really is such a thing), too much rich food, too much alcohol, too much sun and, basically too much of everything can lead to strokes, heart attacks and much worse.

Indeed, I know of several people on our holiday islands that specialize in getting you back to the UK in one piece, albeit dead or alive, in a box or in an urn. If one is dead, one can usually assume that there will be a rather speedier check in, better quality service, less crowding, no passport control, no screaming kids, but sadly no in-flight meal either. All very reassuring, isn’t it? Death really does happen on our holiday island. I heard of one very sad true story recently of a couple that came on holiday to enjoy the sun, which I will share with you.

Sadly, the wife passed away during an unfortunate incident at a display of flamenco dancing with an added fire-eating act at a high quality hotel. It was a tragic combination of too many pina colada cocktails and an unfortunate experience with a cocktail cherry that led to the good lady’s early demise. She was pronounced dead as a doormat by the attending physician, and taken away to the local mortuary. It was a shocking end to a wonderful evening and fellow guests wondered how they would get through the remainder of their holidays. However, they found ways to cope with their grief.

The poor lady’s husband continued to enjoy his much needed break and as he was ‘all inclusive’ he took advantage of every breakfast, lunch and dinner on offer, as well as all the evening shows, excursions to the local market and free cocktails until it was time for his departure to the UK. He packed his bags and took the courtesy coach to the airport and duly checked in for his flight to Gatwick.

It was a few days later when the tour company received an anxious telephone call from the mortuary that was holding the body of his dear, but very dead wife. Sadly, the holidaymaker had returned home without making arrangements for the disposal or return of his wife. So, the tour company really were left ‘holding the body’.

Such things happen on holiday, so do please make sure you have a discussion about “What happens if…” before you leave home. Quality insurance cover, together with a decision about burial, cremation or burial at sea is always a good idea and does add a little ‘spice’ to holiday planning. Above all, do have a relaxing and enjoyable holiday!