InsurancesafeNZ provides three different travel insurance policy categories: Studentsafe, Workersafe and Explorersafe. This means that if you’re travelling to New Zealand, travelling within New Zealand or temporarily leaving New Zealand, we have something to offer you. Use the Policy Finder to narrow your policy search and get a quote. Our website is also packed with great information on how to keep safe, how to make the most of your time abroad and how to understand your travel insurance policy better. If you need further assistance contact one of our friendly staff on our toll-free number 0800 486 004 (within NZ) or +64 9 488 1638 (outside of NZ).
No matter where you go in the world, someone will tell you to keep safe and often there’s a good reason for it. When travelling or moving somewhere new it can be tempting to step outside of your comfort zone and give everything a go. While this is a great attitude it’s important to explore your new surroundings in ways that will keep you safe and healthy.
Ensuring you’re familiar with the customs and cultures of your new home will help you take in to account things you may never have thought to look out for before you moved.
Learn the road rules
Learning the road rules is essential to safe driving and will help you know which direction to look in when you’re crossing the road. In New Zealand we drive on the left-hand side of the road which can be confusing for many people coming from countries where one drives on the right-hand side. You may also find that the steering wheel and indicators are in a different position to what you are used to. Before you set out on an adventure it’s worth familiarising yourself with the car you’re driving. If you own your own vehicle, it’s also a good idea to invest in car insurance.
Looking after yourself
Big lifestyle changes often cause weight gain, which can cause many people to experience changes in their mood (often for the worse). Make sure you are looking after yourself by having at least five servings of fruit and vegetables every day to maintain a healthy weight and immune system, combat illness and keep your mood sunny!
If your body isn’t used to certain foods from your new local cuisine try introducing them into your diet gradually by having small amounts at a time at first. This will allow you to ensure you aren’t allergic to new foods and if you are, the effects should be minimal due to the small quantities you’ve eaten.
Being surrounded by new and exciting experiences often means your exercise routine goes to the bottom of the list of things to do. However, keeping fit is important for maintaining a sound mind and to reducing illness and injury. Don’t let your body down – consider joining a local gym, social sports team or community activity centre just by searching online. This is also a great way to meet new people in your local area who share your interests.
Being safe around water
If you live somewhere like New Zealand that’s surrounded by water, it’s worth enrolling in swimming lessons to ensure you stay safe. Your local YMCA or leisure centre should be able to point you in the right direction. Water safety and swimming lessons are also vital for kids who may not have had much experience in and around bodies of water. If you’re out on the water in a boat, kayak, canoe or even a paddleboard, always wear a life jacket even if you’re a strong swimmer. You never know what could happen and if you go overboard a lifejacket will help you to float, prevent fatigue and help you be visible to rescuers.
If you’re at the beach in New Zealand and lifeguards have flags on the beach make sure you only swim in the area between them. These flags indicate the safest place to swim and will be where lifeguards focus their attention should anything happen. Many New Zealand beaches have rips (strong underwater currents that can pull you out to sea) just off the shore. Rips appear as flat, glassy sections of water – familiarise yourself with that they look like and keep yourself and kids away from them when swimming.
If you head out for a walk it’s important to be equipped for anything as the weather can change any minute especially in New Zealand! Pack a bag with sunscreen, a waterproof jacket, a water bottle, charged mobile phone and an extra top layer just in case the weather turns.
When hiking make sure you tell someone where you are headed and what time you are expected to be back. Many people not familiar with their local terrain get lost or trapped in remote areas. Check the weather conditions before you head off and pack a bag with the essentials; food, water, extra layers of clothing, a torch, a pocket knife, and a charged mobile phone.
Take a note of local support organisations
When moving to a new country, learn the numbers for local support organisations like your student support office and emergency services such as the police, fire station and ambulance. In New Zealand the emergency services line is 111.
Have a buddy
Safety really is in numbers so wherever you are, it’s always worth having a buddy. When walking home late at night check to see if anyone you are out with is walking in the same direction as you are, and walk together. When catching a taxi get the name and cab number and send it to a friend so that you have a record should anything happen. If you’re going away for weekends try and get a group together rather than setting out on your own. If you do go out alone, let a friend or family member know where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
Hopefully you won’t need to claim anything on your insurance while you are studying abroad, but it’s a good idea to have insurance anyway in case something unexpected happens. Travel and medical cover are the most important types of insurance to get while overseas. Make sure you read through your policy carefully, as you may not be covered for certain things, such as accidents that happen under the influence of alcohol. It’s also worth checking that your insurance covers your belongings as many policies have clauses stating that items have to be on your person or in a safe to be covered.
Know your local areas
When in a new country, it can be exciting to step out of your comfort zone and live on the wild side. While it is great to get off the beaten track and explore, talk to local people or consult a guidebook for things to do (or not do, as the case may be!) first. In some areas you may need to watch your belongings closely or avoid walking around late at night, but it’s not always immediately obvious if this is the case, so insider knowledge is extremely valuable. If a local has advised you against going to a particular area, it’s worth listening to their advice – they won’t give it without having a good reason.
Think about where you want to live
Your living situation can affect your life hugely so before you leave or when you first arrive in a country, prioritise arranging accommodation. When considering flats or houses think about things like how far away you’ll be from local shops, amenities and schools. If you’re a social person try to arrange to live somewhere where there are lots of other people to interact with, as opposed to living on your own as this may colour your experience. Finding a room in an established flat is easy – there are lots of groups on social media, so do a bit of research. If you prefer to have some space and greenery you may struggle living in an apartment, so somewhere suburban or rural is likely to suit you better. If you’re a high internet user check with your landlord what the internet access is like to make sure that you don’t get hit with massive bills if there is a low data cap. Some universities provide campus accommodation and if they don’t they will often be able to assist you to find a flat with other students.
Check your rental agreement
Always check rental or flatting agreements before signing and take some time to read over the details carefully so you know exactly what to expect. Take note of the notice period you are required to give when moving out and what notice landlords will have to give you should they want to sell or renovate. Some places may lock you into a year-long contract which means it can be hard to leave when you want. If there’s a 21-day notice period for a shared flatting situation this can be a good thing if you suddenly realise you are living in an area where you don’t feel comfortable.
Research the country you are moving to
If you have a basic understanding of the customs, traditions, ethics and culture of the country you are going to before you leave, you’ll be far better prepared when arriving. It’s worth taking note of words, gestures and actions that are considered rude or aggressive so you know what to expect and how to stay safe. For example, in New Zealand the thumbs up signal is a sign of approval or agreement whereas in the Middle East the same gesture is considered offensive.
There are a number of things you can do before moving to a new country to put yourself in the best position possible for when you arrive. Make sure you’ve done your research and are prepared for the culture you are about to enter into. Using your common sense, being aware of your situation and being polite and respectful will take you a long way. While there are many things to think about initially as you adjust to your surroundings these will become second nature allowing you to focus on having fun and creating memories that will last you a lifetime!