The first place for any smart traveller to begin their research is the Australian Government’s Smart Traveller website. Search for a country and you’ll be provided with a wealth of information on health, safety, local laws and prevailing conditions in the areas you’re planning to visit. The official advice on whether to travel to that country comes in four levels, colour-coded to highlight the severity: Green for ‘exercise normal safety precautions’, Yellow for ‘exercise a high degree of caution’, Orange for ‘reconsider your need to travel’, and red for ‘do not travel’.
What does it mean?
The green and red alerts are self- explanatory – and red should be taken seriously. ‘Red’ listed countries including Syria and Afghanistan are considered extremely dangerous and have a high threat of terrorist attack. However, yellow and orange countries may have clear safe and unsafe areas. You may even have multiple colours within the one country. Turkey attracts about 38 million tourists annually and, according to Smart Traveller, is overall yellow with certain orange provinces and red within 10 kilometres of its border with Syria.
Will insurance cover me?
It’s important to purchase travel insurance before you depart to make sure you’re covered for unforeseen circumstances. Check your policy carefully because claims arising directly or indirectly from acts of terrorism, or the threat or perceived threat of an act of terrorism, are not usually covered in travel insurance policies.
What do I do before I go?
Register your travel plans with Smart Traveller and subscribe to their updates. Don’t forget to buy travel insurance. Also keep a record of important contacts in case of emergency and make regular contact with family or friends back home so they know you’re safe.
What if I need help?
If while travelling the environment becomes violent or unstable or there is a natural disaster you can contact local emergency services or the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on +61 2 6261 3305. If you are ill, involved in a medical emergency or have your possessions stolen, contact your travel insurance provider first.
Should I stay or should I go?
This decision is up to you. Situations such as New York in 2001 and Paris in recent months show that cities can still be attacked even when they have a long history of peace and safety. It’s also hard to predict a flood or bushfire. Be aware of the situation in your chosen destination, take all threat alerts seriously and make an informed decision with the information you have.
Travel is unpredictable and you can’t plan for everything, so be smart, stay safe and enjoy your holidays.
Visit the Australian Government’s smartraveller.gov.au website for the latest travel warnings and other information on your intended destination.
Written by Amanda Willimott
March 01, 2016