This post is something that has been on my mind a lot lately. It really can apply to travel anywhere but in this case since we are Australia and New Zealand specialists it applies to our region….so here are my tips to stay safe when visiting Australia and New Zealand.
1/ If you are planning to go on a day hike or just wander away from a main area then please please tell someone. It can be as simple as letting the manager of the hotel know that you are going somewhere for a day hike ” Hey I am going here today for a hike, if I am not back by 6.00pm please send out a search party!” To popping into the local police station. If it is in a remote area you can even stop in at the local service station (Gas Station) and let them know that you will call back at xyz time and where you are going. Be wise!
2/ When self driving if you also plan to wander away from your car and hike the unknown then leaving a note on the passenger seat facing upwards is a good idea. Write the date, your names and the time you expect to be back and an emergency phone number, if there is a set trail you are taking write that down as well. You do not have to write your life details down but enough that if someone discovered your car in the parking lot later on i.e a ranger they would know who you are/how many of you and that you are actually in trouble. Also remember to bring water with you at all times.. lots of it!
3/ This really goes without saying. But leave valuables at home.
4/ If you are using public transport then be mindful of what time the train/bus departs and arrives. In most major cities around the world the bus/train stations are known not to be located in the best areas.
5/ There has been a recent spate of sexual assaults on flights. Yes I know it is hard to believe but it is happening. These are crimes of opportunity especially on long flights and night time flights. The cabin is dark, the crew are not around as much. The recent one that I just read about was a woman who was asleep and woke up with the hand of the man next to her down her pants. Many times people are to scared to call out as they are in shock and worried that they are on a plane in the middle of nowhere and can not be helped or that they are imagining things. For this reason I would suggest that single travelers namely female think about requesting an aisle seat. This way you will not be scared to get out of that seat if need be and not feel like you are trapped next to a window. This is not to say that everyone who sits next to you on a flight will harm you. It is just a safety suggestion which you may wish to consider.
6/ Being wise when choosing a taxi. I see this time and time again when I travel that the taxi drivers quite often like to pounce on people when they arrive at airports/train stations etc. If you need to get a taxi then always go to the actual rank itself. Especially if a random stranger is walking up to you and offering you a ride in their so called taxi at a certain price. I always say no and then make my own choice once I am in an area where there are a lot of other cabs. We usually book GoWalkabout Travels clients on transfers. This means when you arrive you know who is meeting you and that you are safe!
7/ Walking around at night time. Whilst both Australia and New Zealand are known to be pretty safe we do have the same issues as in North America. You need to be wise about where you walk. When you arrive into a new city ask the hotel reception ” Can you show me on a map the areas I should avoid please.” Using common sense and avoiding alley ways or anything that looks seedy or wandering around at 3am is for your own safety!
8/ Swimming at beaches that have lifeguards patrolling them! This is one that really annoys me as I see way to many people usually tourists just freely swimming in our beaches with no idea on how dangerous they can actually be. We have rips/ we have rocks/ we have jellyfish and yes I know we have sharks. For your own safety go to a beach which is patrolled and swim between the flags that they have set up on the beach. If you do not and you are rescued be prepared for some very harsh words from some Aussie lifeguards. Also do not forget to slip/slop/slap with the shirt/sunscreen and hat. The sun can get harsh!
9/ Watching where you walk on the roads. Be prepared we do not give way to pedestrians unless it is at traffic lights with the walk man symbol or at a cross walk. So when wandering around car parks or down footpaths be mindful of cars that could come driving around and not even think about slowing down. Also remember to triple look for cars before you cross the road as we drive on the opposite side to Canada and the USA.
10/ Last but not least and this is a real no brainer. Always make sure you take out medical insurance. If you can afford to travel to Australia and/or New Zealand you can afford to pay the few bucks per day to cover yourself in an emergency. It has been my experience that the medical emergencies that usually happen are the ones you think would never ever happen to you.
So there you have it my top tips on how to stay safe when visiting Australia and New Zealand.
Like everywhere this really just come down to using your common sense. Sometimes this can go out the door when people are relaxed and having a great time. Please stay safe!