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Preparing for a holiday emergency

Before you hit the road, take the time to prepare. Emergencies can happen everywhere.

Travellers head out to beautiful sunset with thought bubble wondering if they've prepared for an emergency.Picture yourself, ice-cold beverage in hand relaxing on a hotel balcony in the sun… maybe on an overseas tropical island or in an unfamiliar outback town.

Suddenly someone yells: “It’s an emergency! We have to get out of here!”

What do you do?

A situation very similar to this happened in Hawaii last week, when for nearly 40minutes people were in a state of panic. Closer to home, a number of Aussies experienced the same thing in Bali when they were told a volcano was set to erupt.

So what can you do to be ready for an emergency when you’re not at home?

1. Keep your emergency plan close at hand with the Get Prepared mobile app from Australian Red Cross.

Write down local consular assistance numbers and emergency assistance numbers.

Make copies of your travel documents and send one copy to a friend or relative, including:

  • scans of your passport
  • accommodation and itinerary
  • health insurance policy
  • travel insurance policy

2. Forewarned is forearmed - Do your research!

  • Overseas trips - check the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) Travel advice
  • Check weather forecasts and warning so you have the right clothing and equipment

3. Know where to get information once there

  • Overseas: Register with DFAT’s Smart Traveller for important alerts, and so you can be supported in an emergency.
  • In Australia: Find the ABC radio frequency - so you can get emergency alerts for that area. You can also follow State Emergency Service (SES) and the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), and or Regional Fire Service (RFS) advice for the area.

4. Pack for all possibilities

  • Pack for the most extreme weather possible in that season.
  • Pack extra medications and essential medical information.
  • Bring any safety equipment you might need: It may be hard to find good quality safety equipment like motorbike helmets or dust masks. In remote Australia you may need a GPS and an Emergency Position Indicating Beacon (EPIRB) for areas without mobile coverage, and solar charging devices. And don’t forget a First Aid kit!
  • Don’t pack irreplaceable sentimental items that would be safer at home.

5. Plan for delays

  • Let family and neighbours know how to care for your kids, pets, or home if your return is delayed. (e.g. Before my sister was stranded in Bali she’d thoughtfully mapped a daily schedule for her kids, so I could step in and bring them to school on-time in the right uniform).
  • Make sure you’ve got financial provisions set aside for urgent transport, incidental costs, and to make up for lost income. Insurance companies take some time to cover emergency costs.

No one wants to do extra work before their vacation. But think of it as a few simple steps to make yourself safer. After all, vacations are all about peace of mind, right? 

Download Get Prepared, co-created with general insurer IAG, to keep your emergency plan close to hand. Visit