How to choose a safe travel destination | Fast Cover

How to Choose a Safe Travel Destination

Safety is a key concern whenever you travel overseas. If you’re planning a holiday, there are a few tips to help choose a safe destination where you can relax and enjoy yourself.

How to Choose a Safe Travel Destination

So you’ve decided it’s time for a holiday – but where will you go?

There are so many different places to choose from, deciding which one is the perfect place for your next trip can seem like a difficult task!

Of course, there are the restrictions of budget and time to consider, and these can whittle down your potential list of destinations. But there’s also one other essential factor that’s important to consider, and that’s your safety at your intended travel destination.

Whether you’re travelling solo or with a partner, family, friend or group of friends, safety should always be a priority.

You can never be one hundred percent certain you won’t get unexpectedly sick or injured. Cameras, phones and other personal belongings can also be lost, damaged, or snatched by an opportunistic thief anywhere in the world.

Some travel destinations pose more risks than others. It’s important to be aware of the most common risks at a particular destination before you travel so that you are properly prepared to manage them.

Top 10 Safe Travel Tips

  1. Thoroughly research your travel destination to understand the most common risks you may encounter there.
  2. Book a health check-up and organise your vaccinations well in advance of your trip.
  3. Pack a first aid kit and stock up on your prescription medications.
  4. Remember tap water can be contaminated at some destinations. Know when you have to stick to bottled water to avoid getting sick!
  5. Save the emergency contact numbers for the police, ambulance, local embassy or consulate and your travel insurer.
  6. Consider carrying an emergency cash stash in a separate bag to your main day bag in case it gets lost or stolen.
  7. Keep in regular contact with friends and family so they know where you are and where you’re headed.
  8. Register your trip itinerary with Smartraveller.
  9. Don’t leave your belongings unattended in a public place for even a second.
  10. Purchase travel insurance before you leave so that you have cover for emergency expenses and can contact the 24 hour emergency assistance team from anywhere in the world.
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Safety risks to consider when choosing a travel destination

There are a few general things to consider when choosing a safe travel destination:

What are the medical risks?

  • How much would medical assistance cost such as staying in hospital or seeing a doctor?
  • Where will the nearest hospital be?
  • Would you be comfortable going to the nearest hospital?
  • Will you be in a remote area where there’s the risk of having no mobile reception in an emergency?
  • Do you have any pre-existing medical conditions which will be exacerbated at a destination, such as asthma which can become worse around smog?
  • Will it be difficult to find a doctor who speaks English?
  • Will eating and drinking food be risky? For example, does your chosen destination have a high risk of food poisoning or water contamination, or have travellers experienced methanol poisoning?
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Is there a high risk of crime?

  • Does the destination have a reputation for petty theft such a pickpocketing?
  • Is there a risk of bag-snatching?
  • Is there a high risk of more violent crime?
  • Have travellers been the target of drink-spiking?
  • Are foreigners likely to be the target of crime?
  • What are the risks of being scammed by taxi drivers, street vendors or hostels and tour companies?
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What are the other potential risks and dangers at that destination?

  • Is the destination free from civil unrest or heightened security threats?
  • Are the roads dangerous?
  • Is there a high risk you’ll be involved in an accident?
  • Will you be able to access emergency help easily and at any time?
  • Will you be able to afford emergency medical assistance with your current budget?
  • Are the emergency services like police or medical assistance reliable?
  • Where will the nearest embassy or consulate be?
  • Are you able to easily contact the local embassy or consulate for assistance?
  • What have other travellers said about the destination online?
  • Are there any particular areas you should probably avoid?
  • What is the current travel alert level at your destination?
  • Will your travel insurance provider cover you to travel there?
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The most common risks around the world

There’s different risks in every travel destination, but here are a few examples of the most common risks from each region:

Southeast Asia:
  • Food poisoning and water contamination
  • Petty theft
  • Higher chance of traffic accidents
  • Lack of access to quality hospital care in various areas
  • Language barrier to medical care
Europe:
  • Medical care can be expensive in some areas
  • Petty theft
Pacific:
  • Petty theft
  • Food poisoning and water contamination
  • Diseases such as Malaria and Zika Virus
Middle East:
  • Security threats
  • Laws in some areas can be quite different to Australian law
United States:
  • High cost of medical care
  • Petty theft

Always research your chosen region and destination on Smartraveller before you book your flights or a cruise to get an update on any other risks, such as civil unrest or security threats.

What safety precautions should I take before I travel?

Whichever travel destination you choose, there’s a couple of steps you can take to better ensure your safety.

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1) Research

Doing some research can help you understand more about what risks a destination poses, and how to avoid them. Research questions like:

  • Where are the safest places to eat?
  • Are there any neighbourhoods I should avoid?
  • What are the local laws I’ll need to be aware of?
  • What cultural expectations may impact me, particularly in regards to dress, and how should I interact with locals and police?

The more you know before you travel, the more likely you’ll be prepared for potential risks and avoid running into a problem.

A good place to find reliable and up to date information is Smartraveller.gov.au

2) Prepare an emergency medical kit

Pack a first kit with bandages, disinfectant wipes, paracetamol, throat lozenges and antibacterial cream.

This can help treat small injuries and illnesses on the move, or until you can reach a hospital or medical centre for help.

Also, make sure you take enough of your regular prescription medications to tie you over until you get home, plus some extra in case you get delayed.

Remember to also check whether your prescription medication is legal at your travel destination. You may need to provide a letter to immigration from your doctor.

3) Make copies of all important documents

It’s a good idea to make multiple copies of all your travel documents and keep them stored separately in case one of your bags gets lost or stolen.

This includes copies of:

  • Your passport
  • Your confirmation for tickets, accommodation and tours
  • Any medical information, such as allergies or regular prescription medications
  • The contact details of your travel insurer

You may also wish to scan your documents and email yourself a digital copy. This way you can still access your important travel documents from anywhere in the world.

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1) Research

Doing some research can help you understand more about what risks a destination poses, and how to avoid them. Research questions like:

  • Where are the safest places to eat?
  • Are there any neighbourhoods I should avoid?
  • What are the local laws I’ll need to be aware of?
  • What cultural expectations may impact me, particularly in regards to dress, and how should I interact with locals and police?

The more you know before you travel, the more likely you’ll be prepared for potential risks and avoid running into a problem.

A good place to find reliable and up to date information is Smartraveller.gov.au

prescription medication icon

2) Prepare an emergency medical kit

Pack a first kit with bandages, disinfectant wipes, paracetamol, throat lozenges and antibacterial cream.

This can help treat small injuries and illnesses on the move, or until you can reach a hospital or medical centre for help.

Also, make sure you take enough of your regular prescription medications to tie you over until you get home, plus some extra in case you get delayed.

Remember to also check whether your prescription medication is legal at your travel destination. You may need to provide a letter to immigration from your doctor.

travel documents graphic icon

3) Make copies of all important documents

It’s a good idea to make multiple copies of all your travel documents and keep them stored separately in case one of your bags gets lost or stolen.

This includes copies of:

  • Your passport
  • Your confirmation for tickets, accommodation and tours
  • Any medical information, such as allergies or regular prescription medications
  • The contact details of your travel insurer

You may also wish to scan your documents and email yourself a digital copy. This way you can still access your important travel documents from anywhere in the world.

Why travel insurance is important wherever you travel

Travel insurance does not prevent travellers from running into problems overseas, but it can provide valuable assistance in emergency situations.

Travel insurance can provide cover for various unexpected emergency expenses, and connect you to a professional emergency assistance team.

Some of the things travel insurance can do:

  • Provide cover for unexpected hospital expenses like emergency surgery, treatment or even medical evacuation if required.
  • Cover the costs of flights, accommodation and tour bookings if you have to unexpectedly cancel your trip due to a medical reason.
  • Provide cover for lost or stolen personal belongings.
  • Provide cover for lost, stolen or damaged travel documents such as passports.
  • Help organise emergency flights home if you become injured or seriously ill.
  • Monitor your medical care or organise transfer to a different hospital.
  • Organise a translator if required.
  • Get in touch with your family and workplace if you’re involved in an accident or are in hospital overseas.

You can never predict if something will go wrong when you’re travelling. But if it does, travel insurance may be able to provide you with cover.

Safety is an essential aspect to travel anywhere, even if you’re travelling domestically within Australia.

Wherever and whenever you decide to travel, remember to invest in your safety and do a bit of research first. This could help you to potentially avoid dangerous situations, so you can relax and enjoy your holiday without incident.

 

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Fast Cover - Laura

About the author

Laura is a content writer at Fast Cover. Fuelled by a passion for adventure travel and inspired to learn more about the world, she specialises in writing about travel insurance and health topics which are published across numerous travel forums and websites.

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