New Zealanders love to experience the thrill of travel. But sometimes travel brings nasty surprises.
You might get caught up in civil unrest, a natural disaster or an act of terrorism. Getting sick, having an accident or being a victim of theft can also be much more complicated when far away from home. Even something simple like losing your passport can spoil your trip.
If you plan ahead, you can reduce these risks.
Make sure you are prepared to tackle anything unexpected that comes your way. Reading official travel advice, registering your details on SafeTravel and taking out travel insurance can make a world of difference.
1. Check the latest travel advice at safetravel.govt.nz
SafeTravel is run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade and is New Zealanders’ official source of travel advice. Subscribe to receive email notifications every time the advice for your destination is updated. MFAT can tell you about safety concerns or other specific risks.
2. Register your travel and contact details at safetravel.govt.nz
This information is kept absolutely confidential and only used if there is an emergency. For example, it means MFAT can give you warning of an approaching tropical cyclone, give you advice on what to do if there’s major civil unrest, and check your well-being if there’s been a terrorist attack.
3. Take out travel insurance
You need a comprehensive policy that covers any activities you plan to undertake, from scuba diving to motorbike riding, medical treatment and any pre-existing medical conditions. Even minor medical treatment can be very expensive overseas – particularly if a medical evacuation is required. The Insurance Council of New Zealand provides more information on travel insurance and a list of Insurance Council members on their website.
4. Keep in contact with family and friends
Give a detailed copy of your itinerary, including accommodation details and your travel insurance policy, to a relative or friend. If you change your itinerary, let your loved ones know. If you find yourself caught up in an overseas emergency situation, don’t forget to phone or email to let family know you are OK.
5. Check health precautions
Ask your travel agent or doctor if any vaccinations are recommended for the areas you are travelling to. A health professional can also provide information on how to stay well while travelling.
6. Make sure you look after your passport while you are travelling
It is a valuable document and is necessary for any international travel. Losing your passport can create real difficulties and could even cut your travel short. Take a photocopy of your passport with you and leave a copy at home with a family member or trusted friend. Check your passport validity before you depart: many countries require a passport to be valid for at least six months beyond your intended departure from that country. Information on obtaining a New Zealand passport can be found on the Department of Internal Affairs website.
7. Check visa requirements and make sure you have at least one clear page in your passport for immigration stamps
Your travel agent or the Embassy or High Commissions of the countries you intend to visit or transit through can tell you about visa and entry requirements, which you should check well in advance.
8. Take a mixture of money
Check with your bank or credit card company what they recommend and whether ATM facilities are available where you are going. Have some cash already exchanged, for your transit and arrival. Before you leave New Zealand, decide how you will get emergency funds if you need them.
9. Obey local laws
The penalties for breaking the law are the same for a tourist as for a local. Being a Kiwi does not equal a “get out of jail free” card.
10. Know where your nearest New Zealand Embassy/High Commission/Consulate will be
You can find out at safetravel.govt.nz