Over 508,000 people travelled to the UK from Australia in 2012-13, representing 6 per cent of total short-term departures from Australiai. All travel, however, be it to Bristol or Belfast, comes with potential risks. From cancelled flights to sudden sickness, there is always something that can put a spanner in the works of your planned journey.
Your health and wellbeing should be priority when travelling. Before you head off to the country of Shakespeare, Harry Potter and Yorkshire Pudding, make sure that you've packed clothes appropriate for the (often cold and rainy) English weather, have received your routine vaccinations and that you are healthy enough to travel, as well as prepared yourself for the long flight to the UK.
Once you've arrived in the UK, as an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you can partially rely on the reciprocal healthcare agreement that exists between Australia and the UKii. This agreement allows access to GP services and hospital treatment free-of-charge should you fall sick or become injured during your travels, or need to seek treatment for a pre-existing conditioniii. However, you may still be charged for prescription medicine, or even surgery or medical evacuation. If you do not visit a medical service provider that complies with the National Health Services (NHS) Scheme you may have to pay additional costs for treatment and adviceiv. These costs can turn into a significant financial burden if you're not covered by travel insurance for medical emergenciesiii,iv.
Although the UK is very similar to Australia in many respects and is generally considered a safe country to travel in, it is not free of crimeiii. Visitors to the UK should pay attention to their belongings at all times and be wary of their personal safety especially when travelling at night or alone. Travel insurance can help protect you from financial loss if your valuables or cash are stolen while overseas.
Travellers should also remain cautious of pickpockets who commonly operate in groups at tourist destinations and in public places. There has been an increase in credit card and phone theft in the UK, so keep these items close to you at all times and remain vigilant of strangers when using ATMsiii.
When navigating the bigger cities like London, it's advised that you use a licensed and metered minicab or at least request a quote for the ride before hopping into the vehicleiii. There have been reported incidences of taxi scams, sexual assault and robbery instigated by drivers of unlicensed minicabsv, so it's important to be especially wary if you choose to use one. When travelling at night by public transport, such as by tube, train or bus, keep safe by selecting a carriage filled with other passengers or choosing a seat near the drivervi.
If you're interested in hiring a car to travel around the UK, the UK Government allows those with a full and valid Australian driver's licence to drive/ride a car or motorcycle for 12 months from arrivalvii. Vehicle insurance is a legal requirement in the UKviii, which can be conveniently purchased from your rental car company. If you are involved in an accident, Allianz Travel Insurance can help cover the excess on your rental car.
Ensuring that your visit to the UK is a safe and enjoyable one is simple when you prepare and consider all aspects of your journey, including purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance is recommended by the Australian Government for any Australian wanting to travel overseasix.
Travel Insurance can help cover the costs incurred if your passport, credit card or phone is stolen, or if you fall sick and need to return home to Australia sooner than expected on the advice of a medical professionalx. Allianz offers Comprehensive Travel Insurance and Multi Trip Travel Insurance for your trip overseas. Contact Allianz for a quote today!
For more information on travelling to the UK, read our Travel guide for the United Kingdom. You can also find out more by visiting the Australian Government Smartraveller website.
i Australian Bureau of Statistics 2013, 3401.0 Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, June 2013, viewed 12 December 2013, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/products/961B6B53B87C130ACA2574030010BD05
ii UK Government, Foreign travel advice, Australia, Health, viewed 12 December 2013, https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/australia/health
iii Smartraveller, United Kingdom, Australian Government, viewed 12 December 2013, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/United_Kingdom
iv Department of Human Services 2013, Participating RHCA countries: United Kingdom, Australian Government, viewed 12 December 2013, http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/medicare/reciprocal-health-care-agreements/participating-rhca-countries#a13
v Transport for London, Cabwise, viewed 12 December 2013, http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/gettingaround/taxisandminicabs/taxis/default.aspx
vi Transport for London, Travel safety advice, viewed 12 December 2013, http://www.tfl.gov.uk/gettingaround/19459.aspx
vii UK Government, Driving in Great Britain on a non-GB licence, viewed 13 December 2013, https://www.gov.uk/non-gb-driving-licence/y/visitor_to_gb/other
viii UK Government, Vehicle insurance, viewed 13 December 2013, https://www.gov.uk/vehicle-insurance
ix Smartraveller, Travel insurance, Australian Government, viewed 12 December 2013, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/tips/insurance.html
x Allianz Travel Insurance Product Disclosure Statement, https://api.agaassistance.com.au/Content/allianzB2C/attachments/PDS.pdf, 4b