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Banged up abroad: Sun, sea and sickness

Recording everything from animal bites and allergic reactions to colds, flus and falls, a new report reveals Aussle travellers’ medial mishaps abroad.

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A new study conducted by Southern Cross Travel Insurance documents the broad range of accidents and illnesses travellers experience overseas, and goes on to rank nationalities by how prone they are to experiencing these mishaps.


The research reveals nearly a quarter of Australians fall ill when travelling overseas with a further seven per cent experiencing an injury on holiday, proving it’s not all sun, sea and sangria for those from the Land Down Under.


Of those who fall sick, 37 per cent contract the common cold or flue, followed by 33 per cent who experience tummy troubles including gastro, and 24 per cent who fall victim to food poisoning.


More unusually, nine per cent of all overseas travellers who fall ill experience an allergic reaction with four per cent suffering an animal bite.


Unfortunately, Aussie travellers most commonly fall ill in the USA (19 per cent), which has some of the most expensive medical bills in the world, followed by Bali/Indonesia and Thailand (both 14 per cent).


The research also suggests that travellers under the age of 30 are far more likely to experience an illness on holiday with a third (29 per cent) indicating they’ve get sick overseas compared to just 17 per cent of those aged 50 to 64.


Accidents are another minefield for Aussies travellers. One in 5 (20%) of those surveyed attributed their injury to a motorbike or scooter accident while 39 per cent attribute their injuries to falling over.


Extreme sports like skiing, mountain biking and climbing count for 21 per cent of injuries with watersports like diving, sailing, kayaking and rafting not far behind accounting for 16 per cent of Aussies getting hurt abroad.


The most common country where travellers suffer an injury, as opposed to a sickness, is Thailand (18 per cent) followed by Bali/Indonesia (12 per cent).


Despite more than half of travellers (59 per cent) requiring medical attention for illness, the report found that 18 per cent did not have travel insurance in 2014-15, preferring to run the risk of having to pay mammoth medical bills.


Craig Morrison, CEO Southern Cross Travel Insurance, said, “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.


Written by: Jessica Zoiti
Published: 23 March 2016

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