Taking an overseas trip will always engender equal parts excitement and panic… and that is not necessarily a bad thing! That nagging fear of the unknown is what prompts us to take measures to inform and protect ourselves, like making inquiries, taking out travel insurance, and being vaccinated. Making assumptions when you are overseas can be a quick route to hospital, jail, and in extreme cases, a coffin. When it comes to informing yourself, nobody has better, more comprehensive and trustworthy evidence than the Smartraveller site run by the Australian government. Here we look at the site’s main sections and features, and why they create a form of primary travel insurance for you!
There are some things that even travel insurance, useful though it is, cannot protect you against. Illnesses and injuries can have lasting implications, beyond an immediate need for medical assistance or evacuation. Reimbursement of expenses for many victims of crime will simply not return their lives to the states they were in beforehand. That is why the Smartraveller site issues advisories for most countries around the world where Australia has a consulate. The site ranks countries according to five levels of security risk. These are:
* 1. Be alert to your own security
* 2. Exercise caution and monitor developments that might affect your safety
* 3. Exercise a high degree of caution
* 4. Reconsider your need to travel
* 5. Advised not to travel
The government bases this advice on reports and requests for assistance from Australian consulates overseas, intelligence reports from Australian missions and ASIO threat assessments, and advisories prepared by other allied countries like the UK, Canada, the US and New Zealand. The following countries are, at the time of writing, on the ‘Advised against all travel’ list – a knowledge of current events will make the reasons for these obvious:
* Central African Republic
The Smartraveller site offers you the option to subscribe to their travel advisories, as well as bulletins relating to current popular events in different countries. Bulletins cover events like the Hajj in Saudi Arabia (annual pilgrimage to Mecca), the soccer World Cup, pandemics, and new requirements for some countries.
Travel insurance advice
The Smartraveller site offers the very sage advice that if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. They give you quite a few case studies of instances where the Australian consulate has helped travellers who weren’t insured, and the third party costs that were incurred as a result. They also give you tips on how to choose a travel insurance policy, and what is not covered.
There are comprehensive, amazingly useful country guides for just about every overseas destination on the Smartraveller site. This information will cover things that travel insurance will not – for example, notable local laws that your insurance can’t help you if you break, health issues and which vaccinations are required, and safety and security issues.
There is an enormous section with information relating to many activities you can engage in no matter what country you are visiting. Some examples include:
* Arrested or jailed overseas
* International Driving Permits
* International Financial Scams
* Living and Working Overseas
* Mobile phones and other options for staying in touch while overseas
* Tips for travelling parents
* Travelling Seniors