Health & safety
It's great travelling in your own country. Being on holiday is relaxing and fun - you're more open to new people and experiences. Combine your common sense and your sense of adventure, and you'll come home with a bunch of great memories.
Here are some points to help you travel safe and stay healthy in Australia.
Top ten travel essentials
- Comfortable daypack or carry bag
- Water bottle
- Mini-first aid kit
- Phonecard (for public phones)
- Mobile phone (may not operate in all areas)
- Medicare card and any private health cover details
- Condoms (if you're sexually active)
- Chocolate (always a handy pick-me-up)
Your choices can make your journey more enjoyable and safe. Check out our 'Driving Interstate' page for further details.
First up, cross hitchhiking off your to-do list. As dozens of tragic news reports show, it's just not safe. Don't risk it.
If you're travelling by car, get it serviced before you head off, with a full safety check of tyres, brakes, steering and lights. The Transport Accident Commission (TAC) (new window) website has great tips on safe car travel.
For bike travel you'll need to be fit, well-organised and informed about local conditions. Whether you're hiring a bike or travelling longer distances, bike helmets and sun protection are essential.
Getting around by train or bus gives you a chance to relax and enjoy the scenery. Wear a seatbelt if there's one available. Chill-out and pass the time getting to know your fellow travellers, reading or listening to music through your headphones.
Tip! Headphones or reading can also give a gentle message to another passenger if you're feeling pestered, or don't want to talk. Shift to another seat, or get help from railway staff or the bus-driver if you need to.
You're very vulnerable when asleep. Keep your wallet and any other valuables close by, so it's hard for anyone else to get to them.
Money & valuables
Keep your money and valuables out of sight and close to you at all times. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash but remember that some really remote regions may not have lots of ATMs or EFTPOS facilities.
If you find yourself in a 'your money or your life' type situation, let the money go. You only get one life, and serious injuries and trauma can affect you for a lifetime. You can always get more money.
Friends & foes
One of the best things about travelling is getting to know people you might not ordinarily meet. A person who is genuine and trustworthy will respect your choices, and accept it if you say 'no' or don't want to do something. Trust your own common sense and gut feelings.
If you feel uncomfortable, or unsure of where a situation is leading, say 'no', move away or leave. Act confident and polite but be firm. Resist and yell or phone for help if the situation gets out of control. Theft, assault, rape and other criminal acts can happen to anyone. Don't let anyone think you are an easy target.
In unfamiliar territory, things you might take for granted at home or not ever think about can be life or death issues.
Always check reliable local information about:
- Fresh drinking water
- Road conditions
- Hazardous wild life such as snakes, stingers and crocodiles
- Isolated places like underground caves and deserts
- Health risks like dengue fever (new window) and gastro
A bit of planning can go a long way to ensuring your holiday is safe.
Get a health check before you head off, and update your tetanus and other immunisations. While you're on the road, sun protection and plenty of water will keep you in top form. Maintain your health and energy levels by eating well. You can cook your own fresh food cheaply using hostel kitchens, or the barbecues in many public parks.
If you do get sick, take time to rest and recover properly, so you can get on with your trip in decent health. If you need a doctor, look for a local community health centre or ask at a local chemist.
Being on holiday doesn't discount the risks involved with alcohol, drugs and unsafe sex. Being drunk or stoned in an unfamiliar environment can make you especially vulnerable. Use your common sense when it comes to partying.
Staying in touch
Always let someone know when and where you've headed off, for instance when bushwalking or sailing. Regular phone calls, postcards or emails can reassure family and friends that everything is okay. Give them a general itinerary before you go.
Links for health and safety
Better Health Channel
Numerous articles about health and safety issues to do with travel and holidays.
Transport Accident Commission (TAC )
Excellent tips for safe car travel, including a long trip checklist, driving conditions and fatigue.
Visit Victoria - Travel Information
Information about travelling in Victoria including maps and charts to help you plan your trip.
YHA Australia - Tips For Travellers
Health and safety tips for travellers, with information about youth hostels and lots of other useful stuff elsewhere on the site.