Registering your travel plans with the “Smart Traveller” service is spruiked as a way to enhance your safety while travelling overseas. Registering allows the Australian government to keep track of you, so they can contact you if there is an attack or natural disaster in a part of the world you are travelling to. The government may also alert you about any changes to the political situation at your destination that you should be aware of.

Recently the question was asked whether AFF members take the time to register their plans before travelling overseas. The question drew mixed responses. Some members do not feel there is an advantage in the government knowing their whereabouts. They believe that informing family and friends of their plans is sufficient.

As long as a friend or relative knows where I am, I can’t see any reason to tell the government.

Nonetheless, most agree that registering with Smart Traveller is as sensible a precaution as taking out travel insurance. It provides another layer of protection in case things do go wrong and could prove invaluable if there is an emergency.

I feel that I am best placed, given my awesome experience and world-savvy ways, to look after myself. BUT, even if you really feel the same way (I was being a bit sarcastic), maybe consider this: When the sh_t does hit the fan, the Aussie authorities then face a huge task of trying to track every possible Aussie citizen, and then help then. If we all register, this reduces their overall workload at a time when they will be struggling.

While many acknowledge the benefits, some members do not regularly use the service because they either forget, or they find the process too time-consuming. The online form requires that a page of information is filled out for each destination. This means that for a long trip, such as a round-the-world trip, the process of registering travel plans online could take hours.

I recall starting to do it some years ago for a xONEx and, IIRC, it ran out of fields to enter destinations. Certainly it was a pain one way or another, so I gave up. I thought the concept was good but the implementation not so good.

Despite this, the overriding advice from our members is to remember to register your travel details. You never know when something might go wrong overseas.

Meanwhile, our members have suggested some improvements to the process to make registration simpler and quicker. One member has a particularly creative suggestion…

maybe we could ask DFAT if we could just share our Tripit with them

Share your experience HERE.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]