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Travel tips to keep you safe

11 December 2017

As summer holidays fast approach, I’m sure many of you are counting down the days until you’re taking off on that well deserved getaway with your family and loved ones. I know full well the richness traveling can add to our lives. I also know how quickly it can end a life if you relax your safety standards too far. For me, that life was my beautiful sister, Nicole. At just 24 years old, Nicole was killed in a motorbike accident whilst holidaying in Koh Samui, Thailand, in 2012. Nicole would never have hopped on a bike here without a helmet, yet fell victim to the far too carefree mentality of the local culture.

Determined to save others from her tragic fate, I left my corporate job and established a travel safety charity in her honour – the Nicole Fitzsimons Foundation.

For the past four years I’ve travelled Australia sharing my sister’s story and providing safety advice to more than 50,000 high school students. I’m grateful for the opportunity to pass along some of my thoughts to you.

No matter what age we are, it’s all too easy to let the ‘no worries, no rules, no fear’ attitude dictate our behavior and choices whilst we’re off on holidays. We like to think ‘nothing bad happens’ in such beautiful places, but the reality is it does - far too often. In fact, on average, an Australian tourist now dies in Thailand every two days.

To ensure your holiday is the safe and enjoyable one you deserve, here are my top five tips to best prepare for your overseas trip to minimize your risk and maximize your memories.

Research your destination on Smartraveller

On the site you’ll find a valuable overview of your destination: differences in culture, laws, safety and any security issues. You’ll know what to be aware of when you’re there. It also provides important information on how to best prepare for your trip – such as advice on whether you need special visas or vaccinations before leaving Australia. Check it out here.

Buy Travel Insurance

The cost of medical bills overseas can be astronomical. (My sister’s accident was over $50,000.)

Please buy travel insurance tailored to your needs and activities before you leave Australia. For more advice on the right insurance policy for you, visit Understand Insurance.

Subscribe to Smartraveller’s Travel Advice Updates

Get the latest safety and security information for your destination delivered straight to your inbox. You can subscribe for free here.

Make copies of all important travel documents (passport, itinerary, insurance policy, drivers licence, etc.) to take with you. Leave copies at home with someone you can contact quickly in case of emergency.

Download the free Travel Guard app

Using your phone’s GPS (no internet needed) the app determines your location and provides you with all the contact information you need to quickly get to the closest hospital, dentist, embassy, etc. It also gives the latest Smartraveller travel warnings for the country you are in or where you’re travelling to next. You can download it for free here.

I wish you and your families all a very safe and happy holiday season. After another big year of working hard I hope you do take this time to relax and unwind, but please remember, none of us are invincible. So, whether you’re overseas or on home soil, resist the temptation to fall too far into ‘holiday mode’ and take unnecessary risks.

Life is fragile no matter where you are in the world.

Kate Fitzsimons, Director - Nicole Fitzsimons Foundation. For more information, visit here.