Mum’s the word, says travellers calling home in crisis


Aussie travellers favour mum over dad in an emergency says recent findings from New research has shown that most of us (19%) would call mum before calling dad (6% of respondents), or even the authorities (17%) when we’re in a spot of trouble overseas.

Unsurprisingly, age played a factor in the findings with those under 25 most inclined to call mum before anyone else (52%).

Nationally, South Australians proved to be the most reliant on mum with a whopping 32% opting to call on mum in a crisis. A third (33%) of Aussies over 25 years of age would dial their spouse or partner first if in distress. Troublingly only 12% say they’d call their insurance

“The first 24 hours after an incident occurs overseas is crucial. Though the instinct to call your loved ones may be stronger, in the event of a medical emergency, you must remember to notify your insurer as soon as possible,” director Natalie Ball said.

Emergency assistance teams deal in many languages and can quickly assess the best options for medical treatment and evacuation if required. They will communicate with all vital services including the local hospital, doctors, authorities, and get in touch with your family (mum included) to ensure that you receive the best care and can focus on getting well.

Take note that there are certain situations where you are obliged to get in touch with your insurer as soon as possible.

“It’s unlikely that an insurer would penalise their customers for not notifying them quickly enough in a time of crisis. However should you require hospitalisation overseas your insurer will want to know about it, particularly if your medical fees start to soar,” Ball said.

The proof is in the pudding

Our initial instinct to call mum when we’re in trouble could be biologically ingrained says a new US study. The study examined a group of children aged 7 to 12 who were given either a tricky maths puzzle or a public speaking task, sending their stress levels soaring.

Later the children were either comforted in person by mum or on the phone. Both groups displayed greatly diminished stress levels, proving that mum’s voice can raise oxytocin (the ‘feel-good hormone) while lowering cortisol (stress hormone) in our systems.

Study researcher Leslie Seltzer says that the findings make sense from an evolutionary standpoint.

“While males might respond to stress with a fight or flight response, it might make more sense for females with offspring in tow or slowed by pregnancy to use social bonding (through either touch or soothing words) as a stress remedy,” Seltzer said.

Lost luggage lifeline

Graphic designer Jill Hayes (aged 24) says mum would be on speed dial were she to find herself in some kind of trouble overseas.

“My gut response when I have a problem is to call my mum; I just know she’ll calm me down when I’m panicking,” Hayes said.

Hayes immediately contacted her mum when her luggage was delayed on holidays to Europe last year.

“She was helpful and reminded me to stay calm and that it wasn’t the end of the world. Luckily, my luggage arrived later that week,” Hayes said.

Travel disasters abroad can come in all shapes and sizes. From luggage delays, lost passports, natural disasters, to accidents and injuries, you can never quite predict how you’ll react in the moment. However, being prepared and staying calm (as opposed to losing the plot altogether) can mean the difference between a small hiccup and a full-blown crisis.


Before you leave, in addition to giving mum your itinerary, be sure to register your travel plans online with DFAT. This will keep you updated regarding travel warnings, travel alerts, and other information relevant to the country you are travelling. knows it’s not always easy to stay sane when a scary situation unfolds on your trip, so the following tips are worth keeping in mind when tackling a problem abroad:

6 expert tips on dealing with a crisis on holiday:

  1. Take a deep breath: Any type of calamity can seem catastrophic when you’re abroad and rightly so. But freaking out and losing clarity can make the problem seem much worse. Once you have a clear picture of the situation you can begin to make decisions.
  2. Have a plan: Disasters can strike at any time – so be prepared. Come up with a contingency plan for a range of scenarios such as illness, theft, accidents or loss of important documents. Make copies of your passport, organise your travel insurance well in advance, locate your nearest embassy or consulate and know which hospitals are safe and reputable.  It may sound fatalistic but traveling prepared will help you out should a crisis arise.
  3. Know who to call: When you buy your policy your insurer will provide you with a 27/4 emergency helpline number. Make sure you’ve got this handy so you know who to call in an emergency. Remember that your insurer can help to put you in touch with the relevant authority or medical service and guide you through the process.
  4. Contact the authorities: It may be the last thing you feel like doing, but notifying the policy or local authority after a mugging is a must. Without official documentation for your lost or stolen items your claim would not be valid.
  5. Report your incident to your insurer: You don’t have to lodge your claim during your holiday, but you should let your insurer know that you intend to.  It is usually outlined in most policy documents that you must notify your insurer within 48 hours of your incident…or as soon as you can.
  6. Get proof: Flight delayed and had to buy food in the airport? Visited the doctor and paid an arm and a leg for the prescribed antibiotics? Just remember that anything you intend to claim for when you get home must be accompanied with written proof. Little things like doctor’s notes, police reports or flight delay documents from your airline could make all the difference between a paid or unpaid claim.

A final word

No matter where you’re heading, it’s impossible to be sure of what might happen. You can’t predict when a natural disaster might occur, nor when an injury or illness will force you to seek urgent medical care. While it’s important to contact your loved ones in a crisis, having an expert emergency assistance person next on the line is the type of advice we’re sure mum would stand by.

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