This Mother's Day, as we approach the peak mid-year travel period, Smartraveller is urging Australians to put the safety of their loved ones first and make smarter travel decisions.
The number of Australians encountering unexpected strife overseas continues to climb, with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) fielding 201,660 requests for consular assistance in 2010-2011, up from 186,235 the year before. This includes over 1200 hospitalisations, 1142 deaths and 28 medical evacuations of Australians to another location.
"DFAT urges Australians to make Smartraveller an integral part of planning and booking trips overseas," said Paula Ganly, Assistant Secretary for Consular Policy.
"Mother's Day is a good reminder to make the necessary preparations to protect those we love in the lead-up to the peak mid-year travel period.
"No-one wants to become a burden on their families if they get into difficulty overseas and have not taken adequate precautions, like insurance."
To ensure holiday makers have a safe and enjoyable mid-year break, Smartraveller recommends registering travel itineraries on www.smartraveller.gov.au, subscribing to travel advice updates and taking out appropriate travel insurance.
"Travel insurance is crucial to protect yourself and your family while overseas, especially where medical expenses are concerned," Ms Ganly said.
"In the scheme of things, travel insurance is a small additional holiday expense when compared to the potential costs of an accident."
According to Smartraveller, hospital costs in Southeast Asia regularly exceed $800 a day, the return from Europe of remains of family members who have passed away can be in excess of $10,000, and medical evacuations from the United States range from $75,000 to $95,000, and sometimes reach as high as $300,000. The Department has even handled medical evacuations from Bali where costs have exceeded $60,000.
DFAT consular officers work hard to help Australians who find themselves in trouble overseas. Every year they deal with over 20,000 serious cases of Australians in difficulty.
For more information about Smartraveller and DFAT's consular role, visit www.smartraveller.gov.au.