As Aussies book holidays abroad in record numbers, so too do they get into more scrapes.
A DFAT spokesperson says “this is partly because Australians are travelling to more exotic and remote locations, and undertaking adventure tourism”.
But while some instances are simply a case of “wrong place, wrong time”, there are several measures that can help reduce the chances of a mishap.
Insurance is golden
Simon Pickup, the sustainable tourism manager for travel association ABTA, recalls a case of a young man from Kent who collapsed on a beach in Thailand when travelling with friends: “Because he didn’t have insurance, it was costing his friends £3000-a-day to treat him.”
It’s not uncommon for travellers of any nationality to forgo the added expense of travel insurance, but doing so is a major mistake, notes the DFAT, whose official take on the matter is, “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.”
Ashleigh Cheah-Lord, a London-based Aussie who was once hospitalised for anaphylactic shock while on a working holiday in Canada, said getting travel insurance was literally a lifesaver.
“Hospital fees are extortionate abroad,” she notes.
“Without travel insurance, I wouldn’t have been about to come back for the multiple visits I needed.”
Make risks calculated
“When you check your baggage in, don’t check your common sense out,” advises Pickup, who adds it’s easy to throw caution to the wind on holiday.
Cheah-Lord admits her behaviour changes when she’s on vacation.“I would never hitchhike at home! But you get the sense that nothing bad happens on holiday.
Famous last words, right?”The DFAT explains that it is particularly important to keep your wits about you, especially when dealing with the legal system of a foreign country.
“Travellers need to remember our capacity to assist is influenced by local laws,” the spokesperson says. “We cannot intervene in private court proceedings.”
Food-related illnesses are among the most common picked up abroad and, if you exercise caution, should be some of the easiest to avoid.
When travelling in remote areas, it’s important to be mindful of where your water and ice comes from, and you should always avoid raw fruits and vegetables.
Pickup adds that when eating out, “go for a restaurant that’s popular – if it’s packed full of locals, that’s usually a good sign”.
Know before you goIgnorance of the law will not save you should you get into strife, and it won’t protect you from illness.
Pickup advises reading up on a place to find out what diseases are prevalent (if the area is rampant with dengue fever, take lots of mosquito spray), and what the local customs are.
Find this info and more at smartraveller.gov.au