The international borders have finally reopened for air travel and the travel industry is reporting pent up demand from Australians desperate to travel again. As one of Australia’s few holiday accident solicitors, I have seen too many overseas trips disrupted by injury. If you are ready to dust your passport off, here’s my top 5 safe travel tips for travelling internationally.
1. Take out travel insurance
In my view, travel insurance is not an optional extra. The cost of a policy is minimal compared to the expenses that you could incur if you are involved in an accident overseas or suffer a medical emergency.
I recall a particular client who booked a bargain holiday. She did not take out travel insurance because, due to her age and health conditions, the premium would have cost the same as the trip. She was injured in an accident when she got there.
My client could not afford medical treatment. She spent the last days of her holiday in bed in her hotel room taking Panadol until her scheduled flight home.
My client was fortunate that she only suffered a sprain, and did not make her injury worse by not seeking treatment straight away. If she had suffered a serious injury that required hospital treatment or medical repatriation home, it would have cost her thousands of dollars (which she didn’t have).
The moral of the story? All holiday accident solicitors will tell you – if you can’t afford insurance, you can’t afford to go.
2. Share your itinerary
Before you head overseas, give a copy of your itinerary to a friend or family member so that they know where you are at all times. That way, if there is a natural disaster such as an earthquake, volcanic eruption or tsunami in the region where you are travelling, or civil unrest in the country where you are staying, your loved one can alert the authorities that you are in danger.
If you are travelling independently, keep in touch with loved ones back home so that they know where you are.
3. Make a copy of your passport
Holiday accident solicitors will tell you that when you are overseas, your passport is your most valuable possession. It of course enables you to come home, but also to access services overseas such as Australian consular services or free medical treatment in countries with a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia (along with your Medicare card).
If your passport is lost or stolen, it will make life a lot easier if you can show the authorities a copy. I therefore recommend that you take a photocopy with you and save a photo of it on your phone.
For extra precaution incase your bag containing your passport and phone is stolen, upload a copy of the photo to a cloud so that you can access it anywhere. Also send a copy to the loved one who you’ve given your itinerary to.
4. Subscribe to Smartraveller travel updates
Smartraveller is an information and advisory service for Australians travelling overseas provided by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
It’s website lists travel advice for 177 countries which it frequently updates. I urge all travellers to check the current travel advice for your destination before booking a trip.
Additionally, I recommend that you subscribe to Smartraveller’s travel advice and update service for your destination. That way you will be alerted when Smartraveller updates its travel advisory for the countries that you are visiting.
You can also subscribe to receive critical SMS updates from Smartraveller. If there is an urgent warning in your destination, for example about a terrorist attack, natural disaster or civil unrest, you will be contacted directly by SMS.
5. Have a holiday accident solicitor’s phone number handy
In my line of work, I have sadly seen too many holidays ruined by accidents and injury. I therefore truly hope you have safe travels and never need to contact holiday accident solicitors.
However, if you are injured in an accident overseas, taking some simple steps such as:
- reporting motor vehicle accidents to the police, and
- bringing home copies of your foreign hospital records
can make life much easier when it comes to claiming on your travel insurance or having follow up medical treatment.
These steps can also make a huge difference to your overseas accident compensation claim if you later choose to bring one.
I therefore recommend that you have the contact details of holiday accident solicitors such as Victory Travel & Cruise Lawyers saved in your phone in case you have an accident. I have a proven track record of successful accidents overseas compensation claims. If you are injured overseas you can contact me and I can advise you on what steps to take before you come home.