10 tips offered by Tom Hall & Shawn Low to ensure safe wilderness travel

Update:17 Aug 2010
Strange insect bites can cause adverse swelling, but help is at hand.
 
THERE are some truly horrible things that can happen to you when you head overseas in search of adventure, but it doesn't have to be this way.
 
Lonely Planet Travel Editor Tom Hall and Asia-Pacific Travel Editor Shawn Low tell us how to keep you safe while still walking on the wild side.
 
1). MISS YOUR FLIGHT

I'm sure there are some of us out there who've missed a flight due to oversleeping (Me? Drunk? No way!), but what can you do?
 
How to avoid it: If you're nice to the airline counter staff and explain your (obviously) very valid reason why you couldn't make the flight, odds are, you'll be put on the next available one. And make sure you set the alarm this time.
 
2). LOST LUGGAGE

You arrive at your destination or home and your luggage didn't make it onto the carousel. Don't fret. 98 per cent of all "lost" luggage turns up.
 
How to avoid it: Make sure you have an address and contact number so your luggage can be delivered when it has been found.
 
The airlines/airport might try to push you to your travel insurer but if you're in urgent need of stuff, push back firmly but politely and tell them that brushing your teeth and fresh underwear are crucial and they will reimburse you for necessities purchased.
 
Another handy tip would be to take a photo of the luggage contents to remember your things for claims.

Of course, you would probably have the commonsense to pack that diamond bracelet in your carry-on, right?
 
3). BUMPED

This one might n
ot be the disaster it originally seems. You're late checking in, or your connecting flight didn't come in on time, so that once-a-week flight to paradise that you've got a ticket for can't carry you.
 
Smile, the airline has to put you up and put some money your way, but that'll be little compensation if it's your one-shot at seeing Easter Island or another inaccessible wonderland.
 
How to avoid it: Arrive at the airport early, check in quick and keep your hands down when they ask for those willing to be bumped.
 
4). THE STOMACH OF DOOM

You're just getting comfy in your seat on an all-day bus ride, when something down below begins to erupt. Quietly at first, then more insistent. You need the toilet. It is 300 miles to your destination. Bad for you, even worse for your fellow passengers.
 
How to avoid it: Use alcohol-based cleansing gel to keep your hands clean, watch out for ice made from impure water and filter what you drink that isn't bottled.
 
5). WHERE'S MY WALLET

Small children love tourists. In some places, especially big cities, they want to crowd around and make you feel welcome. While one of them goes through your pockets.
 
How to avoid it: Don't be a victim - watch out for unexpected crowding. Wear a security wallet which goes under your clothes and don't wear valuables out and about. In fact, don't take valuables away with you full stop.
 
6). NOWHERE TO CRASH

There aren't that many times when you run out of every option in town for somewhere to stay. If you've got the money, or even a winning smile, someone's brother's sister's cousin will have a sofa. The exception is if you're one of the thousands of revellers in town for the year's biggest party, when every space might already be taken. The options will be either no sleep or a few hours on the grass with several dozen other revellers.
 
How to avoid it: Book ahead if in town for big events, or stay in a neighbouring town. Or don't go to sleep.
 
7). SCAMMED

There's no excuse for this one. That Tuk-Tuk driver in Bangkok may have sounded convincing, and the gem store he took you too was staffed by very helpful people.
 
How to avoid it: Stop. Breathe. Pinch yourself. If it sounds too good to be true then it is. Pack your common sense.
 
8). VOLCANIC ASH/FLOODS

So, a huge volcano somewhere is belching smoke into the air? Flights have all but come to a standstill.
 
How to avoid it: Take the train or the bus. If you still want to fly, try changing your travel plans and taking a flight in the opposite direction of the ash. There's nothing like spontaneity.
 
If all else fails, check the travel insurance clause: most companies should cover you for cancelled flights and tours. Floods? Do the same but trying flying instead of taking road or rail.
 
9). STRANGE INSECT BITES

Many destinations, especially humid countries such as Asia, are home to numerous weird bugs and insects. Many leave nasty bites.
 
How to avoid it: If you're heading to countries where you expect to be mosquitoes' dessert, pack along insect repellent with DEET content. If you're bitten and want some relief, consider toting along some Tiger Balm. It really works wonders.
 
10). CREDIT CARD NOT ACCEPTED

Make sure you find out how widespread credit-card acceptance is overseas. Places like China barely recognise those pieces of plastic. Not great if you need a place to sleep and have no cash.
How to avoid it: Take plenty of cash. Another tip is to make sure you have a pin number for your credit card so you can withdraw cash from a Cirrus-enabled ATM.
 
If you don't want to get slugged with hefty interest charges, get a Visa debit card that's pre-charged with money. This way, you don't pay any interest on withdrawals.
 
Some credit-card companies also issue cards which don't hammer you with fees for ATM withdrawals.
 
Comments List
Your name:
Validation Code:
Comments: