New research reveals it’s not all sun, sea and sangria for Aussies travelling overseas, with nearly a quarter (22%) of those surveyed falling ill and a further 7% experiencing an injury on holiday.
Colds and flu are the most common illnesses (37%), followed by tummy troubles including gastro (33%) and food poisoning (24%). More unusually, 9% of cases overseas were caused by allergic reactions and 4% of travellers suffered from animal bites. The USA, which has some of the most expensive medical bills in the world, is the most common country where Aussie travellers get sick (19%) followed by Bali/Indonesia and Thailand (both 14%).
The research, conducted by Southern Cross Travel Insurance, highlighted that travellers under the age of 30 are significantly more likely to experience an illness on holiday than those in the 50-64 age bracket. Nearly a third (29%) of holidaymakers under 30 experience illness overseas, compared to just 17% of those aged 50-64.
Accidents and injuries are another minefield for Aussies abroad. 1 in 5 (20%) of those surveyed attributed their injury to a motorbike/scooter accident. However, it seems gravity is the leading enemy with 39% falling over and hurting themselves.
Extreme sports are another culprit, with skiing, mountain biking and climbing causing injuries for 21% of travellers. Watersports are not far behind with 16% of Aussies getting injured whilst diving, sailing, kayaking or rafting. The most common country where travellers suffer an injury is Thailand (18%) followed by Bali/Indonesia (12%).
Despite more than half of travellers (59%) requiring medical attention for illness, 18% did not have travel insurance, running the risk of having to pay mammoth medical bills.
Over two thirds (69%) of accident prone tourists had to have their injuries seen to, yet 14% had no travel insurance at all.
Craig Morrison, CEO for Southern Cross Travel Insurance, says: “Australians love to travel and while the last thing on most people’s mind is falling ill or getting hurt, unfortunately it can and does happen.
“Although the vast majority of mishaps are not serious, a significant amount need medical treatment. Bills can add up quickly and Aussies are at risk of running into hot water if travelling uninsured.
“We want all travellers to come home in one piece, without the financial hangover! If you need medical care overseas, ensure you seek treatment from a registered practitioner and be sure to keep all receipts and doctors notes. If your condition is more serious and you need to visit the hospital, call us on our Emergency Assistance number.”
In 2014-15, Aussies made more than 9.7 million trips overseas. During that time, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade provided services to more than 1,450 Australians who had been hospitalised for illness or injury.