With the end of winter in sight, we can't be the only ones whose thoughts are turning to summer holiday plans. While it's more fun to think about kicking back on the beach without a care in the world, there are some important safety tips to consider when you're travelling. It's not just about staying safe while you're abroad, it's also important to ensure you keep your home safe while you're away. If you're not careful, you might find yourself in a situation that stings more than your sunburn. We've put together these 5 tips to help you have the safest holiday yet.
It always pays to be informed about what's going on wherever you're going. From political unrest to disease prevention and even marine stingers, being prepared means avoiding any unnecessary nasties. You can take your travel savvy to the next level by registering with the Smart Traveller program provided by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Helping you to stay smart while travelling, this service can provide support should an emergency arise. By registering your travel plans, it makes it easier for friends and family to get in contact with you in the event of an emergency. It's also a good idea to ensure a trusted contact back home has copies of your itinerary, accommodation details and any local plans as well.
We all know that panicked feeling of not being able to locate your passport, only to breathe a sigh of relief when you find it buried in the bottom of your bag. But imagine if you actually lost it. Whether you accidentally left it on a packed train in Japan or it disappeared into the soft white sands of a beach in Fiji, being without a passport is a massive cause for concern for all travellers. Be sure to make a couple of colour copies of your passport information page and keep them in a separate place. For that extra measure of safety, leave a copy with your emergency contact back home and email one to yourself so that you can access it from anywhere with an internet connection. In the unfortunate event that you do lose your passport, these colour copies will go a long way to getting you a new one ASAP at your closest consulate.
It's always a tough decision which valuables to take away with you, if any. Expensive camera equipment is all part of documenting your trip and what's the point of celebrating your diamond anniversary without the rock to prove it? Unfortunately, flashy accessories can make you a target for thieves and con artists while on holidays. It also pays to remember that hotel room safes are only semi-secure and can be opened in seconds with the right device (usually kept on standby at the hotel for when guests inevitably forget their code). If you're concerned about valuables being stolen from your room, ask if you can store them in the hotel's safe deposit box. Sure, travel insurance can cover items lost or stolen, but certain things are irreplaceable when they're imbued with sentimental significance. Keep them with you at all times, or better yet just leave them at home.
Despite telling yourself that your bag is about to come down the baggage carousel at any minute, it's not until you actually see it on that conveyor belt that you can truly relax. Unfortunately, mistakes do happen and on the off chance your bag hasn't made it to the destination with you, labelling your bag means a better chance of getting it back. Resist the urge to label it with your home address though. Your name, phone number and email address is all you need to get your bag back. No point letting every passing stranger know that you're not home. Bonus points for taking a photo of your bag. If it goes travelling on its own in a country that speaks a foreign language, it makes it infinitely easier to explain what it looks like and hopefully get it back.
This is the classic case of an overflowing letter box, curtains drawn and the lounge room light that never goes out. They're all dead giveaways that you've gone on holiday. Inexpensive outlet timers are a great way to have your lights, TV and radio go on and off at different times to give the appearance of a lived-in house. Of course, it's also important to remember that sharing where you are, shares where you're not. Facebook is a fantastic tool for keeping in touch with friends, but it can also leave you vulnerable. It can happen to the best of us, as actress Hillary Duff can attest. The movie star posted photos of herself on holiday in Canada only for her LA home to be robbed a few hours later. It's always safer to post where you've been rather than sharing the fact that you're flat out on a beach while your house is empty and unguarded.