Some of the world's most beautiful travel destinations can also be among the most hazardous for travellers. It’s not that you shouldn’t visit these places, but if you do, it is worthwhile taking some steps to make sure you’re as safe as possible.
Here are a few things to think about before and during your trip, and steps you can take to help ensure your holiday is memorable for the right reasons.
One of the most common crimes to be wary of when travelling is pickpocketing, but of course crimes can also be more serious than this.
Where possible, stick to common areas and avoid wearing anything that will make you stand out, like expensive jewellery or designer handbags that may be targeted by thieves on motorbikes, for example. If you have secure accommodation, leave what you can in your room when you head out.
Keeping your money safe
Be careful, too, of card skimming or ATMs that don’t look quite right. It’s good practice when travelling, to regularly check your account balance to make sure there are no suspicious transactions or signs of irregular activity. If something happens that you need to let us know about, you can report your card as lost or stolen or lock, block or limit your card through NetBank or the CommBank app at any time.
Eating and drinking
Food health and safety standards vary in every country.
Drinking bottled or filtered water is a way to minimise the risk of catching a water-borne disease. And when it comes to eating, choose foods that you can see have been cooked and try to stay clear of foods like salads that may have been washed with local water that isn’t safe to drink.
Keep an eye out as well for popular restaurants. Eating somewhere where you can see other people eating is another way to potentially reduce your chances of getting sick.
Before you set off on your trip, visit your doctor to see if you need any vaccinations.
Mosquitos can be one of every traveller’s biggest enemies – they can carry illnesses like yellow fever, Zika virus, dengue fever and malaria. If the country you’re going to is known to have these, make sure you speak to your doctor about any advisable precautions such as packing insect repellent, taking a supply of any recommended medication and wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants wherever you can.
If you do fall sick, the local medical institutions may not be up to the standard you expect and you may need to be taken to a bigger city or even flown back home for treatment, which can be expensive.
Travel insurance can be a big help in such cases. Check the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) of your travel insurance policy to make sure you have the level of coverage you would like.
Driving in foreign countries can be stressful at the best of times. Try not to embark on any big road trips straight off the plane when you’re still likely to be very tired, and stay alert while on the road.
Although the basic principles of driving are generally the same across most countries, the way people drive can be very different – especially when it comes to merging lanes, overtaking and parking. Again, check your travel insurance policy’s PDS to see what level of coverage you have, should something go wrong.
In terms of public transport safety, trains are typically considered to be safer than buses or cars. But if you do choose to hit the roads, be aware that ride-sharing companies are not as widespread in other countries as they are in Australia, so you may need to get cabs. If you do, always choose a registered cab, as unregistered cabs in some countries can be unsafe.