Today I am pleased to highlight a fantastic guest post by travel writer and blogger Ben Reed. Ben is an Orlando-based Travel Blogger that will try (almost) anything once. His travel blog Adventures with Ben encourages readers to do the same as they learn how to plan, explore and enjoy some of the world’s top destinations. Ben also hosts a weekly podcast about Florida Travel & Tourism called Florida Travel Cocktail. And for the record, he planned his “Epic Trip to Australia” way before Oprah did. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
1. Automatic Breathalyzers
When an accident happens in the Northern Territory, regardless of perceived intoxication, both parties will need to take a breathalyzer. The blood alcohol limit in the Northern Territory (and much of Australia) is .05 (the U.S. by comparison is .08). With a much stricter limit, don’t take any chances drinking (even one drink) before driving.
2. Hurt Someone; You’re Going to Jail
“If you’re the driver-at-fault in an accident and someone needs to be transported to the hospital, you could spend the night in jail”, said the officer to me while we were processing paperwork. Yikes! Drive carefully. Spending your vacation in jail is miserable. Injuring someone else – even worse.
3. Pay Your Ticket in the Territory You Received It
You’ll have 21 days to pay your ticket (if you received one). You can pay it at the local post office, but you have to pay it in the same territory you received it. Fly to another territory and you’re looking at another, needless hassle. And if you don’t pay… a warrant with your name on it will be waiting for you on your next return. Don’t be a fugitive, pay your ticket. Australia is too wonderful of a country to only visit once.
4. Read Your Contract Carefully
There was a discrepancy between what was entered into the computer and what was signed on my contract. I narrowly avoided a $3600 damage fee (see tip #5) because I read my contract. At the end of the day, the contract prevails. If you change something after the contract has been signed, ask for an updated copy. Make sure you understand the contract fully.
5. Don’t Take a Chance, Buy the Excess Reduction
If your vehicle is damaged in Australia, regardless of fault, you may have to pay upwards of $4,000 in repair costs; called an Excess Reduction. You can avoid this by paying an additional $30/day on your rate to bring that bill down to $400 (depending on the company). Your trip to Australia is expensive enough, don’t double it’s costs needlessly. Buy the excess reduction for peace of mind, or see tip #6. Accidents are called accidents for a reason.
6. Check With Your Insurance Company Before You Depart
Cell phone strength isn’t great in the Outback. Don’t add additional stress to your day. Call your automobile insurance company before you leave and find out what, if anything, they cover. You may get lucky and get reimbursed for that excess reduction that you foolishly decided not to pay. Not covered? See tip #7.
7. Check With Your Credit Card Company Too
Your credit card company may offer additional protection that your insurance company doesn’t. Yes, that means that you may be able to recoup some of your losses, but it will come with a lot of paperwork. Be sure to get as much documentation as possible from the police offer, car rental company and your own insurance provider.
Whether you’re cruising through the Outback or meandering along the Great Ocean Road, driving is the best way to explore Australia. Don’t let my accident deter you from renting your own car. Accidents happen, but with proper planning beforehand you’ll be able to quickly get back on schedule with limited financial losses.