Travel safety: Avoid These 5 Rookie Mistakes

An overseas holiday is exciting - exposing yourself to new cultures and cuisines.  But unless you take travel safety very seriously, it can all go south. Here are five common mistakes people make when travelling.

Overindulging on the flight

It’s the start of your holiday. You’re ready to celebrate and unwind. For some, the temptation of complimentary alcohol might hard to resist.

In very serious cases intoxicated passengers have made headlines after causing disturbances on flights, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing.

In less extreme cases, those who overdo it on alcohol can wind up dehydrated and feeling unwell when they finally make it to their holiday destination. Combine that feeling with jetlag and it’s not the ideal start to your trip.

Under national guidelines, healthy Australian men and women who choose to drink should keep to two standard drinks a day - and not have more than four standard drinks in one sitting. That doesn’t change, whether they’re in the air or have their feet firmly planted on the ground.

Travel safety tip #1: Drink plenty of water on your flight to avoid dehydration.


You’ve spent months picturing the golden glow you’ll have after  a hot and sunny escape.  But skipping the sunscreen could be a big mistake. Instead of looking brown and beach ready, you could end up lobster red, dehydrated and miserable.

And it’s not just the beach holidays you need to prepare for; travellers are commonly caught out when holidaying in the snow or on cold, overcast days when there is a high UV index. 

Sunburn won’t just make you uncomfortable on your holiday; it can damage your skin and potentially increase your risk of skin cancer (including melanoma).

It’s always best to seek shade where possible, wear protective clothing, slap on a broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30+ sunscreen and wear a broad-brimmed hat and quality sunglasses.

But if the damage is done, avoid any further sun exposure to the affected areas.  Use a moisturiser or aloe vera gel to soothe the skin and drink plenty of water. In some cases sunburn can be so severe medical attention is required.

Travel safety tip #2: Sunscreen can be expensive in some countries, so it’s best to take what you need in your suitcase. And check the expiry date if you haven’t used it in a while!

Drinking unsafe tap water

If you’ve ever experienced a case of ‘Bali belly’ or the like, then you’ve learned the hard way not to assume water from the tap is always safe.

While in many cases it’s fine for the locals, a plethora of micro-organisms commonly give foreigners diarrhoea.

In some cases drinking water can carry serious diseases including hepatitis A and E, typhoid, dysentery and cholera.

You also need to be careful of foods that may be washed in local water. In some countries, things like salads (which soak up moisture) may still contain bacteria that can make you sick - even though you’re not drinking it.

Travel safety tip #3:  The best way to make sure the water you’re drinking is safe is to use portable water purifiers, or buy bottled water with unbroken seals from a reliable source. 
young people talking in street

Running late for the airport

It sounds like a no-brainer but if you’ve ever been caught out running through the airport with minutes to spare, you know it’s far from a relaxing start to a holiday.

There’s nothing like the thought of missing your holiday altogether to get the heart racing for all the wrong reasons.

It only takes a traffic jam or a long line at immigration to miss your flight, which is not only costly but ruins the vibe of what is supposed to be a good time away. 

Most airlines recommend arriving no less than two hours before an overseas flight.

Travel safety tip #4: Allow plenty of time for connecting flights to ensure you’re not caught out or left stranded because of airline delays.

Losing your passport

If there’s one item you don’t want to lose on an overseas holiday, it’s your passport. By law you’re required to report a lost or stolen passport to the nearest Australian embassy, high commission or consulate immediately. You can also report it lost online

Getting a new or temporary passport is time consuming and can throw your travel plans into disarray. It’s important that your passport is stored safely at all times. The Australian government says you should also make sure your passport is valid for at least six months before you head overseas as some countries won’t allow you in or out if your passport is due to expire. 
Travel safety tip #5: Carry passport photos in case your passport is lost or stolen and send a scanned copy to your email address so that you can access them from anywhere.

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Bupa Travel Insurance is distributed by Bupa HI Pty Ltd ABN 81 000 057 590 an authorised representative of the issuer, Insurance Australia Limited ABN 11 000 016 722 AFSL 227681. Any advice is general only and does not take into account your personal circumstances. Consider the  Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to see if this product is right for you.

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