Once you are overseas - Staying Safe

There are a number of practical steps you can take to avoid running into difficulties and dangerous situations and stay safe overseas.

Money and valuables

Before departure:

  • Organise a variety of ways of accessing your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques and cash.
  • Check with your bank whether your ATM card will work overseas.
  • Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

While overseas:

  • Don't carry cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.
  • Wherever possible, leave passports, travellers' cheques and other valuables in a safety deposit box at your hotel.
  • If you have to carry them with you, keep your passport and valuables in something that can be worn around the neck under your clothes and out of sight. (Eg.money belt)
  • Lock your baggage when unattended particularly at airports, train stations and on buses.

Personal Safety

While overseas:

  • Be wary of food and drink spiking. Never leave food or drink unattended.
  • Comply with local dress codes and cultural sensitivities (this applies to both male and female travelers)
  • Don't hitchhike
  • Avoid unlit and back streets at night.
  • Avoid traveling alone in train carriages and keep the carriage door locked on sleeper compartments.
  • Keep your hotel door locked and meet visitors in the lobby.
  • Never give out the name of the hotel where you are staying or your room number to strangers.
  • Think twice before accepting an invitation to go out with a stranger alone.

Drugs

Don't use carry or get involved with drugs overseas. Every year Australians are arrested overseas on drug charges. Don't be fooled into thinking it is worth risking carrying or taking drugs overseas.

Australians do get caught. Strict legal penalties, including death sentences do apply to foreigners. The Australian government cannot get you out of jail.

To minimize your chances of getting into trouble with drugs overseas:

  • Obey the law don't purchase or travel with drugs.
  • Lock your bags as a sensible precaution against tampering or theft.
  • Don't leave your bags unattended in public areas.
  • Don't leave your bags in the care of a stranger.
  • Never carry anything into or out of another country for someone else.
  • Ensure your medicines are not considered illegal drugs overseas by contacting the nearest embassy of the country you are visiting before departing.
  • In some countries the presence of illegal drugs detected in blood or urine samples is considered possession. You may also be charged with possessing drugs if trace amounts of 0.05 grams or less can lead to guilty verdicts.

In the event that you are arrested on drug charges overseas, be aware that countries like Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam do impose tough penalties including life imprisonment and the death penalty.

  • As soon as you arrive in another country, you are subject to that country's laws.
  • Ignorance of local laws is not a valid defence.
  • If arrested you have the right to contact the Australian Government, but consular assistance cannot override local law even where local laws may appear harsh by Australian standards.

We strongly recommend that before you depart you take out comprehensive travel insurance.

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Published on December 12-th, 2008 in Travel Insurance
Damon Rasheed is the CEO of Rate Detective, an Australian financial service comparison sites specialising in Life Insurance, Income Protection Insurance and home loans. Damon holds a Master's Degree in Economics from the University of Melbourne and has been involved in many start-up internet businesses.

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