_Chances are you or someone you know has a story about a trip that went wrong at some point. From broken limbs to natural disasters, unexpected things can get in the way of those perfect travel plans. Whether you are traveling by yourself or with other people, around the corner or in a foreign country, you need a plan. Not just a plan of where you are going, where you are staying, and what you will experience but also a plan for what you will do if things don’t go according to plan. It doesn’t take long to get a plan together. Here are a few key things to do:
Preparation– Get your things in order.
ID:Make sure you have a copy of the important pages of your passport and the visa of the country you are visiting. If you are in your home country consider making a copy of your driver’s license or residence permit. Put these documents in a safe place in the event you lose the original. You might want to give a copy to your emergency contacts.
Insurance:Make sure you have your insurance information up to date and find out if your insurance policy covers emergency medical treatment out of your home state or country. And if they do cover it, is there a different process for getting full coverage or a certain process you will need to follow. If it doesn’t provide good coverage you might want to consider taking out a travel insurance policy. Two major things to consider are medical evacuation coverage and the ability for you to choose the hospital or doctor.
Medical:Get your medical information together in one short document. Do you have allergies, vaccinations, what medications you are taking and what is the dosage? Some countries might consider your prescription an illegal drug so do your research before you head out on your next adventure. You may need your doctor to issue a letter about your condition or medication along with an extra prescription should your stay be longer than your current supply of medicine.
Emergency contact:On a small card put a list of three people to contact in case of emergency and make sure you have all their current phone numbers and email addresses. At least two of these people should not be traveling with you. Keep this card on you when you travel. It is great to have it in your phone but also have a hard copy in your wallet. Phone batteries don’t last forever and if your phone breaks you will still have a hard copy. Most passports also have a place for emergency contacts so make sure this is up to date. If you are traveling outside your home country check with your government about registering with them so they will know where and when you are traveling. If there is a natural disaster the government will know to start looking for you and where to try and find you. Most governments have great information resources too. Make sure to provide your travel itinerary, insurance, and medical details with your primary emergency contact.
Itinerary:If you have an existing medical condition you should familiarize yourself with the places in the area you are visiting that are able to treat your condition. This could be very helpful if you need specific medication during your visit.
Information– Do your research about where you are going. Of course you’ll want to know about all the sites and the fun places to eat but also make sure you know about all the potential hazards, local laws and customs, the ability to communicate with people in your destination and the ability to communicate from within your destination to contacts elsewhere. Will your mobile phone work? Do you speak the local language? If you are traveling with other people, do you have a way of contacting them? Most importantly I recommend having a designated place to go should there be a problem or if you get separated from the people traveling with you. The two places should not be near each other. Why two? If your first choice is near a problem you’ll want to have another place to try and meet up. Easy examples include: the hotel and the nearest hospital.
Observation – Be aware of your environment. Part of the joy of being a traveler is learning something about the local culture. What do they eat? Where do they go? The same strategy will pay off during times of trouble too. Stay current on local news and how locals are responding to the news during your visit.
Communication – If something happens make sure your emergency contacts/others know where you are. Sometimes phone lines get bogged down when everyone is trying to make a call at the same time. Most people find texting, emailing, or status updates via social networks the best way to inform your family and friends that you are safe. If you are injured and unable to notify people yourself, make sure your ‘In Case of Emergency’ contacts know whom to notify about your location and condition.
Hopefully none of you will ever need to utilize your plan but you’ll be very grateful you took the time to put it together if you do end up needing it. Here are some helpful sites:
US Gov travel registration:
US Gov Tips:
If you find more sites that you have found helpful please feel free to add them in the comments section.