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Travel Top Tips

Preparing to travel can sometimes be overwhelming and if something happens to you while on your journey, it can be frightening not knowing what to do. In understanding your concerns we have put together some information that might help ease your worries. Check out our great tips that will help you know what to do before you leave and what to do if

Get a grip on winter driving

Escaping the summer heat in search of exciting winter activities isn’t just about packing your skis and hitting the slopes – you’ll also need to prepare for long drives to remote alpine destinations.

Driving can be a great way to see the sights, but rain, sleet, fog and snowstorms can make roads dangerous, even for the most seasoned drivers.

The next time you head overseas for a winter adventure, take a look through our practical driving advice to help limit breakdowns and the risk of accidents.

Equipment

  • A basic rule is to check your tyre pressure. As soon as the temperature drops below 7°C, it’s advisable to have winter tyres, which provide better traction on slippery roads (fit all four wheels so you have the same level of road adhesion in the front as in the rear.)
  • If you’re going to the mountains, invest in snow chains. When you choose them, be sure to take into account how easy they are to put on and remove. You don’t want their installation to turn into a nightmare in the snow!

Test

  • In general, we recommend that you test all of your car’s cold-sensitive parts: the battery, ignition system and power supply, and windscreen wipers. Remember to also check washer and antifreeze levels.
  • Ensure your lights are in perfect working order.

Planning

  • Another useful precaution is to prepare a cold kit. This should include a snow and ice scraper, gloves, rags to clean icy windscreens and windows, blankets, a torch, warm clothing and water bottles in case you are forced to stop.
  • Always carry a hazard warning triangle and an emergency vest.
  • Carrying a mobile phone car charger is also a wise precaution, in case of a long unplanned stop.

Safety

  • Be twice as vigilant behind the wheel
  • It is important to see and be seen. Regardless of the time of day, light is not as strong in the winter, which makes it difficult to perceive the environment around you.
  • Drivers must pay close attention to those who are more vulnerable on the road, like poorly lit cyclists, or pedestrians wearing dark winter clothing.
  • If your visibility is less than 50 metres, your speed should not exceed 50 km/h, regardless of the road conditions.
  • Turn your low beams on as soon as the light begins to fade.

Driving

  • Skidding is another danger that threatens drivers. Whatever the equipment, be aware that your braking distance can more than double on a slippery road.
  • In very cold weather, drive slowly and allow extra time to get where you’re going: skidding can occur when the driver is going too fast and does not take the road conditions into account.
  • When it’s snowing, the roads can be 15 to 20 times more slippery. It’s also extremely important and necessary to lengthen the safety distance between you and other vehicles. And of course, avoid all untimely passing and sudden braking.
  • If your car aquaplanes or slides on snow, the primary rule is do not panic, and avoid any sudden change of direction. Even if this is not a natural reflex, a slight counter steering often helps to return the car to a stable grip to the road. Instead of stepping on the brakes, it may be better to use engine braking.
  • And finally, if there is a weather alert, it may be wise to consider postponing your departure.

Ski trip risks: how to improve your safety on the slopes

Allianz Global Assistance has seen a significant increase in snow-related injuries and claims, with 20-25 year olds making the most claims.

Every year, many Aussies don their ski boots and scoot across the globe for snow adventures in countries including Canada, the United States, Japan, New Zealand and France. Unfortunately the hazards of skiing means Allianz Global Assistance attends to a number of severe, potentially life threatening situations involving medical repatriations each year.

The most common injuries in the snow are:
  • Ligament sprains & other soft tissue structural damage
  • Fractured bones
  • Skiers are much more likely to damage knees
  • Snowboarders are more likely to damage wrists and hands.

You can take better care of yourself as you hit the slopes by being aware of the potential risks and taking necessary precautions. To help ensure a fun and safe snow holiday consider the following:

  1. Ski and snowboard lessons: Even though it might look easy, lessons are essential for beginners to make sure you master the right techniques and if you’re not a beginner, don’t forget the value of a refresher lesson if you haven’t skied in a while.
  2. Weather conditions: Wanting the next adrenalin rush can be tempting, even when the weather is poor, but don’t put yourself at risk. Check conditions before you leave and ensure you stay close to the resort if conditions are due to deteriorate.
  3. Physical form: Snow sports are physically draining so fatigue can affect even the most experienced skiers. If you’re feeling tired take the morning or afternoon off, rest up and hydrate. Most accidents happen when people are tired and lose concentration.
  4. Know your runs: Familiarise yourself with the resort and runs before you set off and only go off-piste if you’re experienced or with an instructor.
  5. Ski equipment: Depending on different countries and resorts, wearing helmets may be mandatory. Even if they are not, wear a helmet and ensure you have appropriate, well-fitting equipment and clothing.
  6. Après-ski: Ski resort nightlife is very much part of the snow culture but know your limits and use common sense when necessary.
  7. Right insurance: It’s important to do your research to find the right insurance for what you need.

Taking precautions and ensuring you have adequate travel insurance can pay off. Take the example of Nathan Evans, who was skiing in Japan when he broke his leg. The accident resulted in overseas medical expenses totalling $13,000 that included: car transfers, flights to send him home, and a DVT (deep vein thrombosis) injection. Fortunately, he was covered through Allianz Global Assistance travel insurance.

Terms, conditions, exclusions and limits apply. AGA Assistance Australia Pty Ltd ABN 52 097 227 177 AFSL No. 245631 trading as Allianz Global Assistance issues and manages this product as agent for the insurer Allianz Australia Insurance Limited (Allianz) ABN 15 000 122 850 AFSL No. 234708. We do not provide any advice on this insurance based on any consideration of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before making a decision please consider the Product Disclosure Statement . If you purchase a policy, we receive a commission which is a percentage of your premium – ask us for more details.

Tips for travelling with babies and young children

Thinking of booking a holiday but dreading the thought of flying with a baby or child under two? You can take to the skies more confidently with the right information and preparation. Babies can make a short flight from as early as one week of age, and go longer distances from 3-4 weeks of age. However, you are strongly advised not to fly if your child develops a cold.

We offer parents the following solid, simple advice for a more agreeable flight:

Before take-off:
  1. If travelling overseas, your child will need a passport.
  2. Alert your airline carrier that you’ll be travelling with a baby when you reserve your ticket. Certain airlines allocate specific seats to parents with very young children.
On the plane:
  1. Limit the effects of a change in cabin pressure during take-off and landing by ensuring your baby has something to drink. Swallowing helps alleviate ear pressure. A pacifier may also help to calm your baby during these stressful moments on the plane.
  2. In addition to your usual carry-on luggage, you’re allowed to take your baby’s nappy bag onboard. Powdered milk formula is also OK but you’ll have to ask the flight crew to provide you with spring water heated to the right temperature to prepare your baby bottles. You may also take baby food and any medications that your infant may need during the flight.
  3. Have on hand everything you may need in terms of extra clothing, nappies and baby wipes -it’s easier to opt for wipes instead of cleansing lotions. Lotions must meet air safety standards: less than 100ml, placed in transparent plastic bags and presented at security.
  4. On longer flights the temperature is often kept quite cool inside the plane. Take your own baby blanket and extra warm clothing, such as your baby’s usual sleeping bag and a cap.
  5. Ensure you provide an appropriate meal for your baby if the flight lasts more than 2.5 hours.
  6. Be sure your baby drinks a lot during the flight. Infants become dehydrated much faster than adults due to the dry, pressurised air.
  7. It can be hard to keep babies and small children occupied during flights. Bring your child’s favourite soft toys, books and games. Or if you manage to book a flight that coincides with nap time, even better. You can reserve baby cribs with airlines directly.
  8. A novel idea for getting your baby to sleep during the flight: take along their car seat. It can create a more cosy, familiar feeling that helps babies drift off more easily. But make sure you have the airline’s permission in advance.
When you arrive:
  1. If your trip results in a change of time zone, babies less than 6 months old are usually unaffected but older infants can suffer more. Help them adjust by gradually delaying or advancing their bedtime.
  2. You may also need to adjust meal times to help your child settle. Help your child by offering them a light a light snack, like applesauce.