With the Phillipines struggling through the aftermath of the most catastrophic storm ever recorded, I thought it timely to bring up this next topic, and was actually surprised that I hadn’t written about it before.
Disasters take place all across the world and in this day and age where everyone can enjoy the pleasures of travel, more and more of us could be placing ourselves in positions of risk we may not necessarily be akin to at home.
Imagine being on vacation in Japan in March 2011 when the massive earthquake, which caused a tsunami and the subsequent meltdown of Fukushima’s nuclear plant hit. Sure, you’ve got your mobile and your laptop. But so has everyone else. And with communications across the country interrupted, there’s no guarantee that you would be able to contact anyone to let them know you were ok. How would people know if you are in the affected area or whether you have moved on? Worse still, how would they know if you were injured or even still alive?
Well, this is where Smart Traveller comes in. It’s an Australian Government initiative (by the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trading) and you can find it at www.smarttraveller.gov.au. The site contains a lot of useful information and advice. But best of all, you can register your travel plans, which allows the government to track the location of its citizens in times of trouble. And lets face it, trouble can come in many forms – not just climatic conditions, but civil unrest, family emergencies, piracy and kidnapping, which as far out as they may sound, do actually happen, and not just in countries with dangerous reputations either. Basically, you enter all your personal details, next of kin, countries and contact details for each location. And voila!
You can also sign up for travel updates, find out how to insure yourself and your belongings (did you know that some insurance policies will not pay out if you are drunk or intoxicated?), what to do if things go wrong (anyone watched Banged Up Abroad or Scam City?) and how to stay healthy.
Your registration helps to provide DFAT with details to be able to contact or find you in an emergency. It may also be used to pass other information to you, such as important travel advice updates, election notices and other matters relevant to travellers and expatriates.
So it’s a great idea to put your mind to rest and that of your family and friends!