The following commonsense travel tips will assist travellers to experience safe and secure travel, particularly whilst overseas.
Planning Your Trip
Before Leaving Home
- Make copies of your key documents, (passport, visas, tickets, traveller's cheques details etc) and keep the copies in a separate place to the originals whilst travelling.
- Check the latest DFAT (Smart traveller) advice before you commence your trip. Where the available travel information reveals high risk or concern, contact the University Security Advisor for more specific advice.
- Do not carry 'sharps' of any description on your person, or pack them in cabin baggage as they will be detected by the security scanners and confiscated by Airport Security Staff.
- Do not pack hazardous items in your baggage - your ticket will explain hazardous items.
- Do not take irreplaceable 'family heirloom' items overseas. Eg jewellery etc. unless absolutely necessary and apart from taking all precautions to ensure its safety, check that its value fits within the policy limits.
- Do not store valuables, eg ( cash, jewellery ) in your luggage. Consider leaving non-essential credit cards at home.
- Make sure your luggage is securely locked. Placing a strap around each bag can also be an excellent deterrent against pilfering. A uniquely coloured strap also makes it easier to identify your bags particularly as black bags are the predominant colour on the luggage carousel.
At the Airport
- Never carry or agree to look after luggage or parcels belonging to someone else.
- Never leave your luggage or personal effects unattended.
- Do not tag your luggage with a business card or identify your position or employer on such articles. This can make them more attractive to a potential thief or they may attempt to extort money for their safe return. Just name and basic contact details.
- If possible ensure you maintain visual contact with your personal items / laptop / mobile phone etc when they are going through the security scanning devices.
- Hail buses, cars and taxis only at authorized pick up points and avoid anyone offering you supposedly cheaper transport.
Travel by Taxi
- Always remove your luggage and personal items from a taxi before settling the account. It is common in some countries for drivers to drive off with your property.
- Be mindful of protecting your personal and business information when conversing with taxi drivers. Such information could make you a potential victim.
Travel by Car
- Do not drive if you are tired after lengthy air travel without having had adequate sleep.
- Use only reputable car rental companies and take out the maximum liability insurance available.
- Rent a model of car whose controls you are familiar with or if this is not possible ask the Rental Company to explain the controls to you.
- Check the vehicle carefully for any existing damage / faults and ensure they are marked on the documentation before you accept the vehicle.
- Get specific directions to your final destination before you leave the airport and use a map to plan your route.
- If you become lost, go to the nearest public place to read your map or ask directions.
- When stationary in traffic, try to leave sufficient manoeuvering distance between your vehicle and others to enable you to move off in case of an emergency.
- When parking in a parking lot, always take your parking ticket with you. Leaving it in your car allows a thief to exit the parking lot with your car.
- Do not leave your car engine running unattended.
- Activate your car's anti-theft system.
- Keep doors locked and windows up while driving. When parked, remember to do the same and take the keys with you.
- Avoid leaving an extra set of keys in a 'secret' hiding place. It is difficult to fool a car thief.
- Never leave packages or valuables visible in a parked car.
- Never leave laptop computers or valuable luggage in the boot (as thieves often break into vehicles with a rental 'logo').
- While driving, if you are bumped from behind or flashed by headlights, or see someone who indicates they need help, do not stop. Drive to the nearest well lit public area and dial the police on the local emergency number.
- Never pick up hitch hikers.
- Sound the car horn if someone suspicious approaches your vehicle whilst stopped at a traffic light or sign.
- Park in well lit areas and check the interior of the vehicle and surrounding areas before entering the car.
- Understand the local 'rules' for response should you be involved in a traffic accident. In some cases, stopping for an accident could put your life at risk.
While you're away
- Register with the Australian Embassy or Consulate in the country you are visiting.
- Avoid using handbags that do not have a secure closure. Try to keep your hands on the closure or your handbag tucked close to your body.
- Carry your wallet in an inside coat or trouser pocket. Never place it in a rear trouser pocket.
- Be alert to where you have valuables whilst in crowds.
- Be alert to possible staged distractions by a pickpocket team. If you are jostled, bumped or crowded be aware that a pickpocket may be in action If your pocket is picked call out immediately for assistance.
- Never display large amounts of cash when making simple purchases. If possible use credit cards or travellers cheques for major expenses.
- Treat credit cards the same way you treat cash.
- In high risk environments consider carrying a secondary wallet to 'give up' if threatened.
- Make sure your credit card is returned to you after each transaction.
- Educate yourself of any pending events, (elections, demonstrations and anniversaries) that may cause civil disturbance and avoid unnecessary risks.
- Politely decline food and drink from strangers.
- Carry official identification with you at all times.
- Do not take shortcuts through remote or unlit areas.
- Travel with others when possible.
- If you are confronted don't fight back - give up your valuables. Your money and passport can be replaced, but you cannot.
In your Hotel
- Do not open the door in your hotel or motel room without verifying who it is.
- If a person claims to be an employee, call the reception and check that someone from staff is supposed to have access to your room.
- When returning to your hotel or motel late in the evening, use the main entrance of the premises. Be observant and look around before entering the carpark.
- Close the door securely whenever you are in your room and use all of the locking devices.
- Do not draw attention to yourself by displaying large amounts of cash or expensive jewellery.
- Do not invite strangers into your room.
- Place all valuables in the hotel or motel safe deposit box.
- Check that any sliding glass doors or windows and any connecting room doors are locked.
- If you see any suspicious activity, report it immediately to hotel/motel security or to reception.
- When at the pool or beach never leave purses, wallets or keys unattended.
- Meet visitors in the lobby.
- Let someone know when you expect to return if you are out late at night.
- Read the fire safety instructions in your hotel room.
- Ask your hotel/motel for specific directions when you are driving and for the most direct and safe route to your destination.
Hopefully these tips will ensure that you have a safe and secure trip.