With the festive season approaching, many Australians are heading overseas for a well-earned break or to visit family and friends.
As everyone gathers in the Christmas markets and at public celebrations, it's important to be security aware. Although it's not festive to think about, some risks are greater during the holiday season, including
Unfortunately, there remains a threat of terrorism across the world.
Terrorists can attack anywhere, anytime, including destinations that are typically at lower risk. Be prepared for the possibility, no matter where you go. Take extra caution in higher-risk destinations.
Terrorists use different methods of attack. They target both locals and foreign tourists. Many recent attacks have been by lone actors or small groups.
You might find increased security in places over the festive period, including at
- Christmas markets
- shopping malls
- clubs, pubs and restaurants
- hotels and other accommodation including hostels
- places of worship
- transport hubs
- places popular with tourists
- major events and large crowds.
Reducing your risk
Before you go
- Research where you're going before you book. Find out which destinations have a higher risk of terrorism. Read the travel advice for your destination and subscribe for updates.
- Check the advice level and understand what our advice levels mean.
- Decide if you feel safe travelling to your planned destination.
- Be aware of key dates and current affairs in your destination.
While you're travelling
- Be alert to possible threats, especially in public places or mass gatherings.
- Report anything suspicious to the police.
- Monitor the news for any new threats.
- Take official warnings seriously.
- Follow the instructions of local authorities.
If there's a known or suspected terrorist incident, leave the area as soon as it's safe. If the incident isn't near you, avoid the place where it happened and monitor the media for updates.
Some northern hemisphere destinations experience extreme weather during winter. Aside from impacting air and road travel, it can bring serious health and safety risks if you're unprepared. Check local weather forecasts. Take precautions when blizzards and extreme cold are forecast.
In our hemisphere, the South Pacific tropical cyclone season typically runs from November through until April. All islands in the South Pacific can be affected by cyclones.
Bad or severe weather can cause travel delays in any season. During the holidays, airports and roads are often already busier than normal. Before you travel, check the forecast for your departure and the airport in your destination. Airlines may cancel flights when there's a severe weather incident.
Understand that driving and riding overseas can be very different from back home. In winter, roads can be icy. In some countries, you need to use winter tyres. You need insurance whether you're driving, riding or a passenger. Otherwise, all your costs are on you.
Rates of petty crime can increase during the holiday season. This includes pickpockets and bag snatchers. Most of these crimes are opportunistic. Take extra precautions to protect yourself and your belongings during this time.
- Before you go, research your destination. Find out if theft, robbery and muggings are common in particular places.
- While you're away, keep money and valuables out of site. Avoid looking like a tourist.
- Stay alert in public places. Especially where there are lots of people, including other tourists.
Spiking, through drinks or needles, is a risk. Tourists, especially women, may be targeted by criminals.
Be aware that some destinations have strict laws about alcohol consumption. Read your destination's travel advice to ensure you're not breaking the law. And remember that driving with alcohol in your system may void your travel insurance in the event of an accident as well as get you in trouble with local law enforcement. Check your policy details before travelling,
- Read our general advice on theft, assault, partying safely and local laws.
- Learn what to do if you're the victim of a crime overseas.
Final tips before you go
- Read the travel advisory for your destination and research the common risks.
- Subscribe to get an email when we update your destination's travel advice.
- Get travel insurance before you go. Make sure your insurance policy covers you for cancellations or changes. Understand that most insurers exclude claims relating to acts of terror or severe weather while you're away. Check the fine print including around alcohol consumption.
- Be aware of scammers. Scammers especially take advantage of the influx of tourists.
- Know how to get help in your destination. See the emergency contact details in the travel advisory for your destination.
To contact the Australian Government in an emergency
- contact the nearest Australian embassy, high commission or consulate
- phone the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305.
The Australian Government is limited in how and when it can help Australians overseas. It's important you understand our limits. Read the Consular Services Charter