Australian Highway Patrol


It's bad enough to have an emergency at home—but when you're travelling abroad things can get a lot more complicated. We all want to believe our trip will go off without a hitch, but more often than not unexpected situations arise. Should you encounter any disaster scenarios on holiday (and remember, these may be different given your level of travel experience), follow these steps to avoid total catastrophe.

Before you go: be prepared

The best way to solve any disaster scenario is to avoid any disaster scenario. Plan for every foreseeable travel mishap before you take off. Consult with others who have travelled to your destination before, make sure your passport is up-to-date well in advance, download a packing app, and purchase travel cover from a company you trust. The more steps you take before your plane leaves the gate, the fewer headaches you'll encounter down the runway.

Enrol your trip

Register your trip with the Australian government to make sure they know where to find you, especially if you are going to a particularly-dicey destination. This process involves enrolling with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade using your name, date of birth, travel dates and locations, passport number and emergency contact details. It's not as labour-intensive as it sounds and can literally be a life-saver.

Know your destination

Not all travel destinations are quite holiday-worthy. Keep up to date with countries the Australian government deems travel risks with Smartraveller. If the country alert says 'do not travel', it's probably best to follow the advice, as long as your trip is not absolutely necessary. If you must travel to that location, be sure to contact your travel insurance provider to confirm that all benefits are still applicable.

Consider travel insurance

While travel insurance can't protect you in the event of every emergency, and some exclusions apply, it has helped many people out of unforseen situations. Shop around and make sure you feel comfortable with the policy you purchase. Read the document thoroughly and adjust your cover if the standard plans don't meet your needs.

Back up your information

Make electronic and paper copies of every document you may need in an emergency, including passports, travel insurance information and boarding passes. Don't leave anything to chance when it comes to documentation.

Get to the gate on time

The most common travel disasters aren't really travel disasters at all—they're more like at-home disasters. Don't get stuck in traffic, or in the security line, or in the line for a brekkie sandwich and miss your plane. Always anticipate airport headaches and get to the terminal well in advance to ensure you actually make it on holiday.

When you're there: stay calm

The stress of a snag in your plans abroad can make everything seem worse than it is. Don't dial each issue you encounter up to 100. If you have a problem, take a beat to think about whether it really is a disaster or just an inconvenience. If you are able to laugh off the small problems you encounter, your holiday will be much more enjoyable.

Know who to call

Know the emergency numbers for the country you plan to visit. In a crisis scenario, you won't have time to think about where you're calling—and dialling 000 may not get you anywhere. Download the Global 000 app before you go to ensure you call the right emergency number every time.

Document everything

When personal disaster strikes, it can be difficult to remember every detail—but if you need to make an insurance claim, documentation is key. Take notes and pictures of everything and make sure to get a copy of all official documents, such as hospital forms or police reports. These may be of immense value later.

Don't unnecessarily escalate

Small problems can escalate quickly if you don't follow the proper procedure. No matter where you are, when dealing with the aftermath of an emergency, proceed with caution—especially if you are unfamiliar with the country's laws or customs.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Highway Patrol Images; cropped from original