26th May 2016
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Travel safe: seven tips for a safer journey
Safe travel concept hands around plane figure

Over 8 million Australians venture abroad each year, so it is inevitable that despite how safe we all try to be, there are always some who’ll find themselves in tricky travel situations.

Many of these travel dilemmas are accidental, some are unavoidable and most are unexpected. But with a little common sense and our seven tips for safer travel, you can minimise the chance of travel troubles and have a safe and happy holiday.

1. Check the latest travel alerts
The Australian Government provides travellers with regular updates about security, health and natural disaster situations around the world. Before you head off on holiday, it always pays to check the Smart Traveller website for any incidents that may affect your trip.

2. Check your documentation
Before you travel, or once you’ve booked your trip, it’s a good idea to check your documentation, such as passports, visas, and entry and exit requirement papers. Familiarise yourself with what is necessary to enter your destination, as well as what is required to get out again. Make hard copies of your passports, visas and itineraries and leave them with a trusted friend or loved one. You can even store them online in a MyPost digital mailbox, or post copies to your preferred online storage facility. You should also register your travel plans with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) before you go, in case of an emergency.

3. Buy travel insurance
There are arguments both for and against travel insurance, but if you truly wish to be safe, then purchasing travel insurance is non-negotiable. Even if you’re travelling on a budget, there’s an ideal insurance policy for you. And the piece of mind you’ll have on holiday, knowing that you’re covered for any unforeseen incidents, will far outweigh any initial costs.

4. Have a paper map backup
Smartphones with GPS are great when there’s an internet connection, but what if you’re in the wilderness or your phone’s battery runs out of juice? This is when an old-fashioned paper map will help you out of a jam. It always helps to know how to read it too so, if you’re a map amateur, get your bearings on the map before you start exploring your new destination.

5. Do a first-aid course
It goes without saying that, should the unforeseen occur, knowing basic first-aid could be a life-saver on your next sojourn. If you don’t have the time or the money to do a full-blown course, there are plenty of websites and videos on YouTube that can show you the basics. It’s a skill that will be with you for life and not just on your holiday.

6. Travel with minimal cash
Whipping out a fat wallet is a sure-fire way to get yourself mugged, so try to travel with as little cash as possible at any one time. Cash passports and travellers’ cheques are a handy way around carrying cash, but if they’re not your cup of tea, and as long as you’re prepared to pay the transaction fees, then hitting the ATM at regular intervals is safer than carrying wads of cash. Here are some handy tips for how not to get mugged overseas.

7. Familiarise yourself with local laws
Knowing the local laws and customs is essential if you do not wish to attract the ire of the native residents. Not only that, but you could find yourself in serious trouble with the law if you don’t respect the customs. Some examples of customs that vary from Australia’s are:

  • modest dress is required in the UAE
  • chewing gum is not permitted in Singapore
  • you can’t photograph bridges in Peru
  • the Maldives do not permit alcohol to be brought into the country.

As with laws in Australia, ignorance is no defence, so being aware of and respecting the laws of your chosen destination could save you embarrassment, or worse.

By following these tips, you should have a safer holiday, but it’s always worth remembering these final pointers: be nice to people, don’t flash your cash, phone or camera around and don’t be rude. Stick with those tips and you’re bound to have a pleasant journey!

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    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    Pancake
    30th May 2016
    11:03am
    I like your tips. In relation to 'Tip 4. Have a paper map backup', I have found your phone can be useful without an on the spot internet connection. Look at the maps beforehand when you have an internet connection and take a screen shot photo which is saved in your gallery. You can do this before leaving for your holiday. Of course, there is nothing you can do when the old battery goes flat other than carry one of those portable battery chargers with you.
    SuziJ
    30th May 2016
    1:16pm
    There should be no excuse for any battery to run down.

    Most modern phones, tablets, GPS, cameras, etc come with USB charging cables.

    If you are travelling by car, you can purchase multi-chargers for both USB and plug in chargers which go into the cigarette lighter socket, both online and at any good auto store.

    If you are staying in hotels etc, you can purchase multi-USB chargers that have multi-country adaptors. I have a 6-port charger with Au, Eu, US & UK adaptors.

    Yes, you can take a screen shot, that's a great idea.

    Another 2 tips are:

    You can purchase a GPS in Australia which has capacity to have overseas maps put onto them. Available at any good electronics store. Some come with lifetime Australian & NZ maps. Before you leave for your overseas holiday, purchase the map/s you will need and then install them onto your GPS.

    Have a look at your charging cables. If they are the same, you will only need to take 2 cables - 1 for the car & 1 for the room.
    Don't forget to pack them when you leave the room/drop off the hire car. If you do, some hotels have spare cables that have been left behind and are quite amenable to you borrowing them.

    30th May 2016
    12:13pm
    There is a travel app called "Tripwolf" for iOS 7.0 or later which could prove invaluble when traveling or planning to travel. Over 500 destinations, POI's, restaurants, sights, accommodation, booking facilities, etc, etc.


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