If you need to submit a travel insurance claim, then something has happened on your holiday and we’re sure you’d much rather have an incident free holiday. We’ve compiled the below list of tips for you to read and follow to reduce the chances of the most common travel incidents happening to you such as illness, injury or cancellation of your holiday altogether.
1. Check with your doctor that you’re medically fit to travel and get any vaccinations
It’s a good idea to see your doctor 4-6 weeks before you travel to have a health check. It could be an idea to arrange your annual health check before any overseas holiday. Your doctor may pick up on something that’s better to discover whilst you’re still in Australia, rather than while you’re on a cruise ship in the middle of nowhere, or at the mercy of the health system in a third world country. Let your doctor know when you’re going, where you’re going and for how long. They can check if you’re fit for travel, provide prescriptions for medication you’ll need whilst away, avoid medication changes and provide advice for the destination.
At the same time, you can get your travel vaccinations for your destination.
2. Avoid exposure to illness and risky activities in the 4-6 weeks prior to departure.
You don’t need to lock yourself in the house, but you may want to avoid hospitals, sick people in the workplace or lots of children, to decrease your exposure to illness. It’s also a good idea to take it easy in the weeks leading up to your departure. Avoid increasing your stress levels, strenuous exercise, climbing ladders, lifting heavy items, moving house etc.
3. If you have any recent or current health concerns, delay or cancel your holiday.
The stress of travel, change in lifestyle (food, exercise and weather) and increased exercise can all contribute to the likelihood of a medical episode for those who have current health concerns.
If something medical is to happen to you, Australia is probably the best place for it to happen. You’ll have access to some of the best healthcare in the world, your Medicare and private health insurance is applicable, your friends and family support network is here and you’re close to home for recovery. Being overseas when something happens puts you in a very different position and is something best avoided if it’s likely to occur.
4. Always seek safe food and water, which is most important in less developed countries.
Food poisoning or an upset stomach is certainly something to avoid on a holiday. Look for reputable and popular eateries, only use bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth, avoid ice and don’t eat food that may have been washed in the local water, such as apples or salads.
5. Don’t get on a cruise ship if you have any health concerns whatsoever. Cancel or delay your trip immediately.
A cruise ship is the last place you want to be if you have any sort of medical situation. As it’s a cruise ship, medical assistance is limited and you’ll be a long way, if not days from full medical help.
If you had to cancel your cruise because you have health concerns and don’t need to make a claim on your policy, we’ll happily refund your cruise travel insurance policy in full, no questions asked, even when outside our 14 day -no questions asked -money back cooling off period.
6. Pay attention to what you’re doing, take your time and use hand rails to avoid having a fall.
Extra concentration is recommended especially when it’s something you’re not use to doing like wheeling luggage. You’d definitely be surprised how many people trip over their bags, fall over when stepping off high gutters, slip on wet hosed down footpaths, walking up or down stairs or have accidents doing everyday tasks whilst travelling that would probably never happen to them at home.
7. Continue taking your medication as you normally would for all your holiday.
Becoming relaxed about when, how or even remembering to take your medication can start a chain of events resulting in a serious medical situation. Be vigilant about taking your medication as normal, and consult your doctor prior to your departure about when it is best to take your medication in a different time zone. If you lose your medication, seek a medical practitioner immediately to get your medication replaced.
8. Ensure you have enough prescription and over the counter medication for your entire trip and then some.
You want to make sure you have enough to cover your entire trip, plus an extra week in the event your trip is extended for any reason, such as you having a good time or a volcanic ash cloud.
9. Maintain your normal lifestyle as much as possible when on holidays.
On holidays everything can be different, which can have an impact on your body. Different food, water, weather or air conditioning in confined spaces (planes, cruise ship, hotels) are all things that your body needs to adjust to. So do as you would at home as much as possible to not put any unnecessary stress on your body, which could lead to a medical situation.
10. You’re on holidays, take it slow, relax and don’t overdo the exercise.
Going sight-seeing can mean that you end up doing more exercise than normal and this can put extra pressure on the body. If you have overdone it a bit one day and have shortness of breath or any chest or arm pain, seek medical treatment immediately.
11. Seek medical treatment immediately if you are not feeling well, especially shortness of breath or any chest or arm pain, however mild it is.
Especially if you are over the age of 60, it’s better safe than sorry in a foreign country.
12. You aren’t 35 anymore, choose activities that match your current abilities’ age.
We’d all love to be younger, fitter and more agile and sometimes an overseas trip can make us think we are, especially when we get the chance to do something we don’t normally do at home.
But before you sign up for the 10km hike, zip lining, bike ride or run across a road to beat the traffic, take a second to consider any injuries you have, how old you actually are and the last time you were able to do those activities comfortably.
13. Ask about seatbelt availability when booking tours and airport transports and wear a seatbelt on all transport including planes and buses.
You’d never ride in a car in Australia without a seatbelt. Be vigilant about your own personal safety by always requesting a seatbelt for any booked transport and checking a taxi has seatbelts before you get in.
14. As cars come from a different direction in most countries, check twice as much and always cross at lights and zebra crossings.
With cars driving on the right-hand side of the road, or any direction in some countries, it can take some getting used to. So the best option is to always cross at zebra crossings and the lights. If this isn’t possible, look to the left first and double check both ways before you step off the curb.
15. Obey safety warnings and instruction signage, they’ve been created for a good reason, such as bath mats in showers.
Warnings, cautions and danger signs in hotel rooms, on cruise ships, on bush walking trails etc have been created because there’s been a reason to do so. Follow the signs and reduce your chance of an incident.
16. Seriously reconsider your need to ride or be a passenger on a moped, scooter or motorbike.
Poor roads, lack of traffic rules, the number of vehicles on the road, disregard of road rules in some countries and your inexperience can all lead to an increased likelihood of something going awfully wrong on a moped, scooter or motorbike.
If you have to ride a moped or scooter, your travel insurance will likely require you to have a valid Australian driver’s licence. For riding a motorcycle, you’ll need a valid Australian motorcycle licence. Whichever one you choose to ride, you’ll also need to comply with the local licensing requirements.
17. Take only luggage and items that you’ll need, and leave your valuable and favourite items at home.
Your goal should be one bag per person and one carry-on/day bag for you or one between two people. We all take items on holidays that we never wear and never use. Reduce the number of your bags you take by minimising the shoes, clothes, electrical gadgets (phones, tablets, kindles, cameras, laptops etc) and jewellery you take, to minimise the chance of the items being damaged, lost or stolen.
If you leave your valuable and favourite items at home, there’s also no chance of them being lost, stolen or broken on your holiday.
18. When you leave anywhere (taxi, restaurant, train, plane, hotel etc) and you think you’ve checked you have everything, check again.
Travellers lose luggage, passports, handbags, wallets, mobiles, coats, sunglasses and umbrellas etc on a very regular basis. Double check you have everything and if you do lose something, report it to a relevant authority (police, airline, hotel etc) within 24 hours.
19. Pack the right footwear (flat soled and grippy shoes like joggers) for your holiday and wear them as often as possible.
Thongs and sandals may be comfortable, something with a heel may be fashionable, but all aren’t the ideal tourist shoe, as you’ll be doing considerable walking and navigating numerous hazardous surfaces throughout the day and night. Be extra careful:
- Boarding any transport – trains, busses, trams, boats
- Uneven and neglected footpaths and roadways
- Going up and down stairs, especially at historical sites and on cruise ships
- Any wet surface such as boat decks, mopped floors, hosed down footpaths and when it’s been raining.
- On shiny surfaces like hotel lobbies and marble museum floors.
20. Always keep all your luggage within your sight and easy reach.
As hard as we might try, a local thief can spot us as tourists from a mile away. They’re also very opportunistic, so make sure you keep your eyes on your belongings and don’t give them the chance to pick up your mobile, camera, handbag, jacket etc when you’re on public transport, in a restaurant, visiting a tourist spot or reading a map.
21. Free public wi-fi is handy and will save you money, but for security reasons, avoid logging into your bank account or entering passwords when using them.
If you log into your bank account using public wi-fi, criminals may be able to intercept your personal information and your holiday may cost more than you had planned.
22. Allow ample time and double check how much time you have given yourself to make it to airports, bus tour departures, cruise terminals or any tour with a predetermined departure time.
Airport security, traffic, delayed flights, immigration lines and language barriers etc are all out of your control, so allow sufficient time. In the event something does go wrong, you won’t miss the predetermined departure time.
Taking the necessary precautions for your holiday can take a little extra time, however, that could mean the difference between the holiday of a lifetime or one fraught with stress and headache.
With the above tips, we hope that you’ll be able to come back relaxed, reinvigorated and ready for another holiday!