Travelling Overseas: Guide to Safe and Healthy Overseas Trip

Rates and Fees verified correct on December 9th, 2016

What to do before leaving for overseas

If this is to be your first overseas trip you will need to remain aware that you will be travelling in countries with a different culture to that which you have been brought up in Australia. Many people in other countries look on Australians as being wealthy in comparison to themselves and they often treat us as such finding it hard to understand that you might be scraping the bottom of the barrel to get overseas experience. Wealth however is relative and to a houseboy in Bali we are indeed much better off. A $AU50 tip in Bali could represent a month's wages in some instances.

You will be taking on an exciting challenge

Your first overseas trip will be full of exciting challenges however and you will no doubt come home with the knowledge that all people of the world are amazingly alike despite the obvious differences. Children especially are much the same in all countries and it is only as we become older that cultural differences start to show. If you remain conscious of these differences and make allowances for them, you will learn a lot and have a very good time, as well as make a lot of lasting friendships. Some laws may differ to that back home as well. Remember you are not at home now and no matter whether you agree with the laws or not you are obliged to abide by them. If you do not you will displaying an unwelcome arrogance and could suffer a stern penalty.

One of the most important differences in some places can be that of clothing. Here in Australia we are used to a very liberal tolerance as far as clothing is concerned. We can move around freely dressed in a singlet, shorts and thongs and not think anything about it. This kind of dress can be quite offensive in some countries. In some places leaving your shoes on can be severely frowned upon while at the same time the showing of bare arms or bare feet are definite no-nos.  Even the hand you eat from can cause concern in some middle east countries. When visiting religious sites many of these customs are more strictly enforced that in the streets generally so it is advisable to take a long sleeved jumper with you at all times, even in the heat of summer.

Don't forget your health cover

Besides making sure you have sufficient money available if you experience an emergency you will want to make sure you have adequate health insurance cover. Cover that will protect you under all circumstances. You might be young and healthy now and you might be fastidious in the way you stick to a healthy routine both with good eating habits and well as giving yourself regular exercise, but not all countries of the world practice the same basic health practices as most Australian do and because of this you could be vulnerable to many illnesses you haven't even heard of back home. Travel insurance often includes a rather comprehensive health cover as well.

You can't avoid those immunisations

Of course you will be aware that you must undergo certain immunisations before you can travel through some countries. You will be made aware of what you need do in this regard  by your doctor before you leave but as a further precaution you should also take some medication with you and make certain that you use it as prescribed. Malaria pills are a prime example if you are visiting Asian countries close to the tropics where the malaria carrying mosquito is commonplace. In some cases immunisation can become expensive but you must treat yourself of it even if the costs seem exorbitant.

Don't drink tainted water

It might sound rather basic but here in Australia we take good quality water for granted. Even then we often have a habit of buying inferior bottled water in preference to drinking our world class tap water. In many countries overseas their water is highly contaminated. You might see locals drinking it because they have built up an immunity to its impurities. You won't have done this so be very careful what you drink or you could end up quite ill. If bottled water is not available you will have to boil the water first and if this is not practicable you will have to resort to chlorine tablets. You could also keep in mind that the local beer is probably made from the local water supply so you might not be able to acquire a taste for it as your could the local beers back home.

Make room for your medical kit

Even though you might be carrying a lot of luggage and are forced to looking at ditching some of it don't even consider leaving your medical kit behind. Your basic medical kit should contain a supply of painkillers, hand sanitisers, band aids as well as any prescribed medication you may have to take. It is a good idea to take enough prescribed medication with you to last your entire trip no matter where you will be travelling. Pharmacies might not be as readily available as they are in Australia and you might need to visit a local doctor to be able to prescribe the closest medication they have to that prescribed by your Australian doctor. You can never be certain just how close that medication will be. If you are to take your own medication with you make sure they are all fresh and the expiry dates will see out your trip.

Documents are important in proving who you are

While moving about in Australia nobody worries about checking your documents unless it is a policeman wanting to see if you are licensed to drive or not, or if you are baby faced and want to enter a nightclub. When you go overseas you will be visiting someone else's country and your documents proving you are an Australian entitled to be in their country takes on a different meaning altogether. Treat your personal identification documents as being a part of your being. Without them you are nobody, so guard them astutely. Make sure you make copies of all your documents and put these copies in a safe place where you can always call on them if required, take another set with you as a back up while you travel. The type of documents you will need to take with you include the following:

  • Emergency contacts are important if something goes wrong. This list could contain friends you know in the country you are visiting but make certain the phone number and address of the Australian Embassy in that country is included. Contacts back home so that your identity can be verified are also important.
  • Insurance policies. Especially your travel and health insurances.
  • Accommodation details. You should have addresses and phone numbers, booking details, dates and payment proofs of where you are staying and where you intend to stay in the future.
  • All your travel plans. This should  include flights, booking references, dates, times and payment proofs.
  • Your passport. Guard this intently along with your visa's that give approval for you to enter the relevant countries you are visiting while away from home.

Help from your government

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs have a website www.smartraveller.gov.au. This website gives a budding overseas traveller all the information you could wish to acquire before heading off on your travels. One of the best features of this website is that it allows you to register online as a 'smart traveller'. Once registered Australian authorities will be able check on your safety while in other countries. If you are registered it will be a lot easier for you to get assistance if required, whether the assistance needed is in the form of a private family emergency, a natural disaster or a civil disturbance.

Covering your tracks

Before leaving make sure you have someone who can visit your home frequently to remove mail building up in your letterbox, cut the lawns and turn a light on at night. This could be a relative or a friend but you could arrange to pay a neighbour a small amount to do these things for you. Empty your fridge before leaving otherwise leave it turned on. By now you must be ready to catch the taxi to the airport. If so make certain you have some Australian money on you to buy yourself a coffee before flying out.

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2 Responses to Travelling Overseas: Guide to Safe and Healthy Overseas Trip

  1. Default Gravatar
    Liz | June 7, 2013

    Hi we will be travelling to South America soon and I am investigating taking a travel card. It seems most only let you convert to euro or US dollars. Are there any available that will be easier in South America? Also, travel card vs debit card. What do you think?

    • Staff
      Jacob | June 7, 2013

      Hi Liz. Thanks for your question. Travel cards will let you convert Australian Dollars to a range of currencies, the most convenient for travelling in South America would be USD – none currently let you convert AUD to Pasos, the Real or Sol. My understanding is that some of the main stream ATMs will let you withdraw both USD and the local currency, so you can convert AUD to USD and withdraw over there without getting hit with the currency conversion fee twice (as you may have been had you convert AUD to USD and then withdrawn in Pasos or Real for example. Taking a debit card overseas can be expensive as you will have to pay international and local ATM fees in addition to a currency conversion fee, you could be look at up to $10 per withdrawal (just for ATM fees). Travel money cards do not charge a currency conversion fee if you’ve loaded funds in to a currency bucket on your card. So it really comes down to whether or not it’s cheaper to have access to USD, which you need to change in to the local currency to use (although USD is accepted in most places in S.A), or whether it’s cheaper to use your Australian debit card to convert to the local currency and withdraw from an ATM. I believe the latter is more expensive. Furthermore, if you open up a Citibank Plus Transaction Account, you can transfer to a Citibank account in Mexico or Columbia free of charge and withdraw from Citibank ATMs free of charge.
      Some information for your consideration:
      Compare travel money options.
      Read about using travel money.
      Jacob.

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