How to Handle Emergencies while Traveling Abroad
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How to Handle Emergencies while Traveling Abroad

Shannon McMahon, | December 9, 2015

Travel Advice and TipsAlthough rare, travelers sometimes find themselves in an emergency situation abroad. Whether it be a natural disaster or an act of terrorism, here’s how to avoid emergencies while travelling abroad and what to do if you do end up in one. Unfortunately, today, there seem to be an increasing number of terrorist attacks throughout the world. When cities experience high terror alerts, travelers often cancel their flights and accommodations rather than take the risk, but this can result in high fees, especially if they did not purchase travel insurance.

Here’s how to prepare for, respond to and prevent repercussions if you experience an emergency while traveling abroad.

Know Your Options

Before you depart, find and store your embassy’s contact information as well as any other relevant emergency numbers. It’s best to keep this information saved in your phone AND written down in case you can’t access your phone. Be sure to at least learn how to ask for assistance, give your location and basic emergency phrases in the local language. If you do find yourself in an emergency situation while traveling abroad, you won’t want to waste any time searching for an emergency number or translating to the native language. It’s best to be able to contact local authorities right away and give as much pertinent information as possible. Once things have settled and you are safe, alert your embassy of the situation and your status.

 Stay Informed

Emergencies can happen completely out of the blue, like the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. However, while traveling abroad it’s best to avoid areas that are dangerous or experiencing any unrest. It’s best to avoid areas where there are protests, for example. Always do thorough research before traveling to a foreign country and keep up with the local news when there. It’s best to be aware of what’s happening around you in order to always be prepared.

Receive Travel Alerts

The State Department contacts US citizens traveling abroad during times of crisis such as attacks or natural disasters. Sign up for these alerts prior to departure. They can assist in providing departure or evacuation assistance. During times of crisis such as attacks or natural disasters, the State Department contacts US citizens traveling abroad to assist them

Purchase Travel Insurance

There is much debate over the usefulness of travel insurance, but you’ll be happy you spent the extra money if you’re ever in an emergency. Travel insurance could potentially save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars–and some packages cost only a few dollars per day. Certain policies cover everything from flight or hotel cancellations, to theft and medical care or evacuation. Research different policies and get all the details before purchasing one. After all, it’s better safe than sorry while traveling abroad.

More from SmarterTravel:

     Packable Items That Can Save Your Life in a Disaster

     Best Apps to Prevent Travel Disasters

     The Ten Most Important Safety Tips for Travelers

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  1. Molly Meldon

    Thank you for your comment, JC! Great advice about looking up elections and holidays as well.

    December 16, 2015
  2. JC Lightcap

    Great info, I put into practice all your suggestions! Research for me also includes looking up elections and holidays; two events which can lead to demonstrations and/or public transportation issues.

    December 16, 2015


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