Natalie Hensby was involved in a horrifying accident in 2010 when two speedboats collided near the resort island of Koh Samui on their way to Thailand's legendary Full Moon Party.
The then-19-year-old was so badly injured it was thought she wouldn't survive.
Ms Hensby had registered her contact details with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and bought travel insurance before setting off on her backpacking adventure.
Her decision saved not only hundreds of thousands in medical bills, but also her life, and she's now encouraging other Australians to think about their options in a new Smartraveller campaign.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says Australians make more than nine million overseas trips every year and it's important they are as self-reliant as possible.
Seeking consular support should be a last resort, although some accidents are unavoidable.
"When you think of some of the natural disasters that have occurred in our region in recent times, let alone elsewhere, having your travel plans registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is absolutely essential," she told reporters in Sydney on Thursday.
She assured travellers their details would not be used by the federal government for any other purpose.