Are you ready to travel?

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Doing the paperwork won’t take much time but could easily save frustration, pain and a $215,000 hospital bill.


We’ve all heard the horror stories because they regularly appear in the news. While on holiday someone falls off a scooter in Bali, gets food poisoning in India, has their luggage lost in France, has a fender-bender in England, has their appendix out in the US.

What do you think happens if they don’t have travel insurance? These scenarios all happened to friends and thankfully they had travel insurance.

Travel insurance is essential for all international travel to protect you and your belongings from unforeseen circumstances. When choosing a policy check it carefully to make sure you have the protection you need, as policies may not cover you for travel to some regions or for certain ‘risky’ activities such as motorcycle riding, winter sports or driving a car overseas.

If you’re planning to drive or hire a vehicle you want to make sure you’re covered in case of accident or damage. Even the smallest scratch could cost you thousands. When hiring a car overseas you will almost certainly be offered insurance by the provider. In the event of accident or damage you only pay an excess. In some cases, you can even pay an additional fee to waive the excess.

However, if you chose your travel insurance policy wisely, you may already be covered for car hire excess. Only take out the optional insurance offered by the dealer if your travel insurance policy doesn’t cover you, or if you’re travelling domestically without travel insurance.

If you make two or more international or domestic trips each year then it’s worth looking into an annual or multi-trip travel insurance policy.

For information on RACV travel insurance visit:


What do Belgium and Slovakia have that Romania doesn’t?

Belgium and Slovakia, along with Austria, Spain, Greece and 21 other countries in Europe, are parties to the Schengen Convention. You don’t need a visa to enter countries in the ‘Schengen area’– if you’re a tourist spending fewer than 90 days within a 180-day period. However, don’t try to cross the border from Poland into Ukraine without a valid Ukraine visa, as Ukraine is one of 15 European countries that are not part of the ‘Schengen area’, and you will need a visa to enter.

A visa is written permission for a non-citizen of one country to enter, transit or remain in a foreign country. There are different visas for tourists and business travellers, short-term or long-term travellers.

To apply for a visa, contact the embassy or consulate ( of the country you intend to visit well in advance of your departure.

Most countries require you to get a visa before you depart Australia. Visit for current entry and exit requirements. It’s worth bookmarking this webpage because requirements can change, particularly if travel alerts have been issued. Keep in mind that a visa doesn’t guarantee entry and immigration officials could still refuse entry. Be honest on your application, stick to the conditions and don’t overstay your welcome.


An international driving permit (IDP) is a special permit for tourists, recognised in more than 150 countries, which allows you to drive overseas with your Australian driving licence.

If you’re planning to drive in another country then you may need one to legally drive a car or ride a motorcycle. There is no hard and fast rule for whether or not you need an IDP – for example, you need one for Austria but not The Netherlands – so check out permit and licensing requirements here.

In Australia, IDPs are only issued by state and territory motoring clubs. Counterfeit IDPs can be found on the internet but these are illegal and can get you into a lot of trouble.

Road rules vary from country to country and it’s important to know about the road conditions of your destination and traffic culture before making the decision to get behind the wheel. Always ensure you have adequate insurance cover.

For more information visit the international driving permit page.

A couple travels on a scooter
A tourist is lost and needs some help
Driving through a European city
Written by Amanda Willimott
August 03, 2015

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