This blog post was updated on August 14, 2019.
With today’s online connectivity, travelers can feel a lot safer when seeing the world than they would have a few decades ago. There’s always a number to call, a review of how to get help, or a detailed online guide on how to fix your situation. But, there are some emergencies that are too urgent to wait for help or to research, especially in a foreign country where you could have limited access to the Internet and where language could be a major barrier. Even if you’re traveling domestically in the US, there’s always a chance a small breakdown on a deserted stretch of road with no cellphone reception or a sudden accident while hiking in an isolated mountain path could turn catastrophic if you’re not properly prepared. To help your time on the road go as smoothly as possible, we’ve rounded up how you can prepare yourself for some of the most common travel emergencies that may occur.
Research Before You Go
This may be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many times travelers fail to do their research about the destination they’re visiting. Reading up on the country or city in general, about customs and cultures, about the proper accepted social etiquette, can all help you avoid any misunderstandings due to something being lost in translation. Giving yourself this know-how before you even leave on your trip is the best way to know what to expect, which areas you should show a bit more caution while traveling through, and what are the safest times to go exploring. Plus, make it a point to read US government travel advisories for the place you’re visiting and also read up on what weather conditions and natural disasters the area is prone to — a little reading could spare you a lot of trouble down the line.
Learn Some of the Local Lingo
With all the research you’ve done for the point mentioned above, this one should be covered too. It’s always good to know a few basic phrases in the native language of the place you’re visiting. Whether you need to ask directions to a hospital or police station, or just want to bargain for goods in a friendly manner, knowing a few words will definitely help. Get that language app for you phone, or get some handy pocket books with useful phrases. Whether it’s Bangkok or Barcelona, you’ll find that being able to say even “hello” and “how much?” can help you get in the locals’ good books, and thus help you when you hit a snag on the road.
Tell Someone Where You’re Going & Keep in Touch with Them
It could be a trusted friend or family member, but it’s always a good idea to keep someone abreast of your travel plans. This is especially important if you’re thinking of a solo trip. It’s a good idea to tell someone about flight details, what time you’re arriving and departing a destination, and your mode of transportation between airports and accommodation. If there is any change on your travel plans, if there are any unexpected delays or a sudden change in your route, then make sure to drop this person a quick message. Also, it’s always a good idea to have a point person you can touch base with regularly on your trip, this way you know you have someone who’s expecting a call from you once you’ve made it from Bucharest to Bratislava in one piece!
Don’t Forget to Have These Items Packed & Ready to Go
Always remember to have the following items ready to go and close at hand so that even in the maddest rush, you’ll be certain to be prepared for any emergencies:
- A simple first-aid kit, with meds for common stomach bugs, headaches, and motions sickness.
- A basic hygiene kit, with toothbrush, toothpaste, and other personal hygiene products
- Some calorie food bars, which last a while and are good for nutrition on the go.
- A small pouch or plastic bag for all you travel documents, including tickets and IDs.
Having these ready so you can chuck them in your bag before rushing to the airport can make all the difference in an emergency.
Make Extra Copies
Make copies of your passport, your travel insurance paperwork, and even your credit cards and remember to store them safely somewhere (remember to never carry them around with all your originals). In case of loss or theft of any of these valuables you’l be able to prove your identity and speed along police reports and other paperwork.
Pay for Travel Insurance
We don’t want to sound like your parents, but it is important to get travel insurance! Trust us, you don’t want to be the one spoiling your group getaway when you have a jet skiing accident in Miami or rupture a eardrum while scuba diving in Indonesia. Having travel insurance just gives you a safely net that you’ll be taken care of and that in itself, is a great shield against any potential emergencies.
Be Cautious Outside Tourist Areas
Knowing your surroundings can be crucial to having a safe holiday, especially if you’re a traveler who likes to go off the beaten path into more “authentic” local neighborhoods. Some places may be rougher and more unwelcoming to foreigners than you may think, and there could even be the risk of fraudsters and pickpockets to contend with. Just using common sense and a bit of instinct can help you avoid any unpleasant situations.
Got any other tips to help you prepare for emergencies when on the road? Let us know in the comments.