If you are travelling alone you are 100% responsible for your own health and safety. Nothing can ruin your trip faster than theft, injuries and illness.
Taking a few precautions before you leave home could save you from some unpleasant and expensive mishaps.
Visit the Australian government Smart Traveller website. It is an excellent resource for keeping up to date with the latest travel advice.
The Smart Traveller travel check-list is a great ‘at a glance’ guide for Australians travelling overseas. The check-list provides information about what to do before you leave, some tips for your journey and information about returning to Australia.
Register your travel destination and travel dates with Smart Traveller so that the Department of Foreign Affairs can contact you in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency.
Subscribing to Smart Traveller will ensure that you are kept up to date with any safety and security risks related to your destination.
Visit the travel doctor before you leave
Ensure that all of your vaccinations are up to date and check if any additional vaccinations or medications are needed for the region that you will be visiting.
Ask the doctor about any prescription medications that you may need to carry to keep you in good health.
If you wouldn’t take the risk at home….
Be on your guard and be aware that public health and safety standards will not be the same or enforced by law in every country that you visit.
It is up to you to determine if the activities you are participating in (motor bike riding, catching tuk-tuks, water sports, walking around at night alone, catching taxis, etc) will cause you injury or put you in a risky situation. There is many stories about tourists making poor choices and having to live with the consequences for the rest of lives. Always seek out reviews for any tour operators before committing to a booking.
If you need transport from the airport to your hotel when arriving in an unfamiliar place, check to see if the hotel can provide a shuttle service or a driver and a car as this can be much safer than catching a taxi.
Drivers of taxis and tuk-tuks often get kick backs from local businesses for delivering customers. Be wary if your driver recommends and insists on taking you to a particular hotel, shop or restaurant. I have heard stories of people not being able to leave until they have had their credit card swiped.
Keep your valuable documents safe
Your passport is your ticket home or to the next destination and should be kept in a safe and secure place at all times. Never let any business take your passport as security for any reason.
Make copies of all your valuable documents and any such as visas, passports, and itineraries. Check your wallet and remove any cards that you will not need while you are away. Make copies (front and back) of any cards that you will carry with you such as your credit cards and drivers licence.
If you are particularly concerned about theft, Pacsafe make a great range of slash proof and RFID proof travel accessories.
Lookout for scams
“A fool and their money are easily parted” so the saying goes. It doesn’t matter where you go there will always be someone keen to take your hard earned travel money. There are plenty of scams around, but here are some of the more obvious ones.
Sometimes the scams are designed to tug at your heart. Gangs may strategically place maimed and dirty beggars around the streets or use children in tatted clothing to attract your donation.
Be aware of credit card fraud, never let the card out of your sight and if you don’t feel comfortable handing over your card shop elsewhere or pay cash. Don’t keep valuables in your pockets. Keep your chipped cards and passports safe by placing them inside RFID proof folders or wallets. Stealing your dollars and your identity can be as easy as bumping into you in the crowd.
If the price is too good to be true, the item is also too good to be true. I have heard many sad stories of people being conned into paying top dollar for fake fashions, jewels, antiques, pharmaceuticals, alcoholic drinks, gem stones and the list goes on. Some of these products are unsafe and may endanger your health.
Never follow anyone in the market who says they can offer you a great deal if you will go with them… these things rarely end well.
Be wary of tuk-tuk and taxi drivers who say that they will take you to a restaurant, hotel, shop, etc. that you will love… I can almost guarantee that you won’t be happy.
Be wary of anyone who tries to hard to engage you in conversation or win your trust, you never know what they may have in mind.