Tips for staying safe while travelling overseasEveryone loves an overseas adventure – all that planning, dreaming and anticipation leading up to what should be one of the best experiences of your life. In addition to booking tickets, tours and hotels, it is important that you put some significant planning into ensuring the safety of you and your family while travelling. Here are our top tips for making sure you have a safe and enjoyable holiday overseas.
Check the government advisories for your destinationThe Australian government constantly monitors the political environments in many different countries, particularly those considered to be higher risk. Be aware of what the government recommends in relation to your destination and keep in mind that the support you may receive from the Australian consulate in your destination may be impacted if you go against an advisory warning for a particular country. Make sure you have the contact details handy for the Australian Consulate in your destination(s). Also ensure you register your travel with the Australian governments website – smartraveller.gov.au to ensure that should an emergency situation arise, the Australian Government will be aware of your destination and be able to assist you should you need it.
Consider your packingMake sure you protect yourself from loss and/or theft by carrying minimal luggage. The less pieces of baggage you have, the easier it is to keep track of each of them. Some countries such as the USA also have specific requirements for locking of luggage – make sure you are aware of these requirements and follow them. Always pack your bags yourself, do not allow anyone else to access your luggage and do not carry anything for anyone else – especially across country borders.
Always follow the law of your destination countryRemember, for the most part laws are there to protect people, by following the laws of your destination country you will avoid safety and other issues that you may not have been otherwise aware of. It is important to be aware that if you break the laws of your host country, the Australian Consulate cannot intervene in the judicial system of that country. Also be alert to your surroundings while in a foreign destination – ensure you know the areas that are high risk for crime and avoid those areas.
Stay healthyEnsure that you are aware of, and have received all the health checks and vaccinations that are required for your destination. This will help avoid unnecessary exposure to preventable diseases. Make sure you have adequate quantities of any prescribed medication you will need to take while you are abroad and ensure that these medications are legal in the countries you plan on visiting. It is also a good idea to carry a letter from your doctor verifying that you have a condition requiring this medication and that you have been legally prescribed it. Check the recommendations on food and water consumption in your destination country and follow them – for example if your hotel recommends only drinking water from a bottle or water that has been boiled.
Hotel SafetyMany hotels are now equipped with a safe. Use this to store any valuable items and the travel documents you have with you while they are not in use. Don’t allow anyone into your room that you do not know well and make sure you keep your door locked at all times.
Respect the customs of your destination countryEnsure you are aware of the local customs of your destination and show respect for these customs – this may include dressing appropriately, eating only certain foods or removing your shoes when you enter particular dwellings. Always ask permission before taking pictures of someone else or their property.
There are lots of things that you need to do while overseas to ensure you stay safe, but there are also a number of critical elements you should look at before you depart on your holiday, these include:
Ensure your affairs are in order before you leave your home country
Get Travel InsuranceTravel insurance is a must when travelling overseas – if you do not have travel insurance, you and/or your family are liable for covering costs, including medical bills associated with any incidents or accidents that may occur while you are overseas. Make sure you make full disclosure to your insurer about where you are going, how long you will stay and what activities you will be undertaking while you are there. Double check that your coverage includes medical as well as theft and damage to property.
Make a willMaking a will means that should the unthinkable happen your loved ones will know what your wishes were and be able to follow through with them.
Create and carry duplicate copies of all of your travel documentationLeave a copy of your travel document with friends or family at home, but also take a duplicate copy with you and carry them in a different location to your originals. Of course you also need to ensure (ahead of time!) that your passport and all of your other travel documents are in order and have sufficient time left before they expire – the amount of time needed on your passport will vary depending on the length of your trip and the country you are visiting. Also make sure you have all required documentation to meet the visa and immigration requirements of your destination country.
Ensure you have access to multiple sources of moneyDon’t just take all cash, or a single credit card. If one source of funds is lost, ensure you have a backup plan. Contact your bank to discuss the options you have available for accessing your money while overseas.
The best way to enjoy your well-earned break to is to stay safe, these tips should put you on the right path, but the Australian Government also provides a wealth of information on travelling overseas on smartraveller.gov.au and dfat.gov.au.
Here is also a quick reference checklist for you.
Safe Travel Checklist
- Check for any government travel warnings for your destination
- Get contact details for the Australian Consulate in your destination(s)
- Register your travel at www.smartraveller.gov.au
- Pack any prescribed medication with a letter from your doctor verifying that you have a condition requiring this medication
- Check food and water consumption recommendations in your destination
- Get appropriate Travel Insurance to cover your trip
- Make a will
- Have duplicate copies of all of your travel documentation
- Have access to multiple sources of money