Your Ultimate Guide to Handling Emergencies when you Travel
Travel requires a lot of planning. But even though we may think through things like what we’ll need to pack and how to fit in everything we want to see, we often forget one of the most important things to do:
Have a plan in case of an emergency.
Even though we don’t want to imagine that something might go wrong when we travel, accidents happen. And when they do, the outcome could be the difference between a near miss or true disaster. It all comes down to knowing what to do.
Think about the last trip you were on. Did you know how to get to the hospital? How to find your embassy? Or even how to communicate with the locals? If you answered “no” then it’s time to up your travel planning game. This guide is a great place to start!
How to Create a Plan in Case of an Emergency
Since it’s impossible to know what might come up while you’re traveling, the best thing you can do is to have a plan that covers the basics. For example: how to find medical care and how to communicate what happened (if you’re not familiar with the language). Below is a template you can fill in and follow for every trip. Create it once, pop it in your travel bag, and don’t even think about it again unless you need to!
- If traveling abroad, know where your embassy and consulate are located
When traveling abroad, your country’s embassy and consulate are your home base away from home. They play a role in helping you in emergency situations such as natural disasters, political strife, lost passports and more. Don’t avoid these buildings because they seem to be for bureaucrats alone – part of their role is to keep you safe.
- Write down the best (and closest) hospital to where you’ll be staying
Even though traveling could mean that you’ll be nowhere near your hotel most of the time (depending on how much or how little adventure you seek), it’s still a good idea to know exactly where the closest and best hospitals are to your hotel. Since they may not be the same, have both written down and choose one based on the urgency of the situation. You can also use apps like TravelSmart and mPassport to figure out where you need to go in a hurry.
While you’re at it, look into things like travel insurance and medical insurance for coverage abroad (since most medical insurance is only valid in your home country).
- Know all the options for getting around
Do you know how you’d get where you need to go in case of an emergency? Just in case, make sure you know what your best options are, whether they be taking a taxi, renting a car, riding the bus, and more. When emergencies happen it can be hard to think straight – so the more you know ahead of time, the better. You can even utilize apps like Transit App to help.
- If you don’t know the language, write down a few key phrases
If you don’t know the language – or even if you’re familiar with it but not fluent – then make sure you have a few key phrases written down. Remember what I said about not being able to think straight in an emergency? Depending on the gravity of the situation, even your native language could come as a challenge.
Some examples of important phrases you might want to have on hand are:
Can someone please call a doctor?
Can someone please call the police?
Can someone please help me?
Where is the bathroom?
Where is the nearest medical facility?
Does anyone speak [insert your native language]?
And if none of these are what you need in an emergency, don’t forget that you can use Google Translate in a pinch!
- Keep extra copies of your passport
If you were to lose your passport (or if it gets stolen), you may have a really hard time getting home. To prevent this difficulty, make sure you bring an extra copy of your passport and hide it from plain view.
- Keep a hidden pocket of money
Just like you’ll want an extra copy of your passport (and to keep it hidden), it’s just as important to have extra money hidden in your inside pockets and your luggage. Even better if it’s in the local currency.
Want to take another step for protection? Use a decoy wallet so, if your wallet does get stolen, it won’t be the one you actually need!
- Have a map on hand in case you can’t access your phone
Even though there are many great tools and apps that allow you to download maps for offline use, they still require you to actually have your phone. That means you could be in real trouble if your phone gets lost or stolen. Just to be safe, make sure you have an actual paper map on you as well.
- Give important information and documents to at least one loved one at home
It’s always a good idea to let at least one friend or family member know of your travel plans. That way if you do experience an emergency and need help from home, there will be at least one person there who’ll know what to do.
However, be very sure that you choose a loved one you trust – because you’ll want to give him or her a copy of your itinerary, a way to send you some money if necessary, and copies of your ID and passport. This is sensitive information that could be in just as much jeopardy at home as it is on the road if it gets into the wrong hands. But if you choose someone you trust, you can rest easy knowing someone back home has you covered.
- Keep a list of numbers and addresses you need to know
We talked about a few places to know, but it’s good to have an actual list of them written down and saved in your phone. A recap of the phone numbers and addresses you may need include:
- The local police station.
- Your embassy or consulate.
- The closest and best hospital to your hotel.
- A local cab company.
- Your hotel phone number and address – and your room number.
99% of the time travel is fun and exciting – but in that 1% of time when an emergency occurs it can quickly become terrifying. Ensure your travel safety by filling out this template anew before every trip you go on. Then you can sit back and focus on the fun!
Image Credit: Julia Caesar