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How to Be Prepared for Emergencies when Traveling

No one wants to think about having an emergency while on vacation. You’ve probably been planning your trip for months, so you are focused on all the wonderful things you will see and do. Still, if you want to ensure that you will have a great time on your trip, it is very important that you take steps to prepare for traveling emergencies. “Travel Emergencies” can take many different forms. Here are just a few of the things that can happen to an unlucky traveler: 

  • Lost passport or identification: Think it’s not an emergency? Try explaining to the purser why he should let you back on your cruise ship….without I.D.
  • Lost money or wallet: Sometimes “lost” means “stolen”! Be wary of sticky fingered pickpockets, especially in crowded terminals or events.
  • Becoming a victim of assault or other crime: You may be more likely to be a victim when you travel than on your home turf. Being familiar with your surroundings is one way to deter criminals.
  • Extreme weather disaster: Hurricane, tsunami, tornado, blizzard. Bad weather can squash your travel plans in a big way.

One of the best things you can do to prevent financial emergencies is to convert as much of your cash as possible into traveler’s cheques. Typically, traveler’s cheques are insured, so if they are lost or stolen, you can get your money back. When you get your traveler’s cheques, be sure to ask how to make a claim at your vacation destination if necessary.

Of course, it’s much better is your money doesn’t become lost or stolen at all. One good way to prevent pickpocketing while on vacation is to keep your money in your front pants pocket – never in your back pocket or a purse. This will make it far more difficult for a thief to take your money without your awareness.

If you will be traveling abroad, be sure to get information about the embassy or consulate in your destination city. If you lose your passport, you will need to visit the embassy to find out what to do. If you are on a cruise ship or traveling with a tour, have fun exploring a new city, but don’t be the last one back on the ship. If you discover you are missing your passport, you may miss your boat as well. Keep an extra copy of your I.D. in a safe place, separate from the original, just in case.

Before you leave, research your destination city to find out in which areas crime is common. You might assume that staying in tourist areas will keep your safe, but in some areas, the vast majority of crimes are perpetrated against tourists. Typically, these are limited to pickpocketing and other scams to relieve you of your money, but more serious crimes do sometimes occur.

You can reduce your chances of becoming a crime victim by staying in well-lit areas where plenty of other people are present. Also, traveling in a large group will help keep you from becoming a target for criminals. If you normally practice good safety habits, don’t relax them while you are on vacation—you should be even more vigilant when you are in a strange locale.

Research the hospitals and medical clinics in your destination city before you depart.  Find out where these medical facilities are located, and how to get to them if an emergency arises. If you are traveling to a different country, you should also find out how to summon police and emergency personnel from a cell phone or pay phone. A hospital in a foreign country may not accept your health insurance as payment, so you will need to find out what steps you need to take to ensure that medical services will be available.

Natural disasters do happen, even while you are on vacation. If you do run into some bad weather, get to a safe spot or shelter, and resist the urge to get a closer look at nature at work. Before your trip, take a look at the local weather, you may be able to tell in advance that trouble is brewing.

A safe traveler is a prepared traveler! Learn about where you are going, and don’t forget to research any stops along the way, just in case.