Travel emergencies and issues – we’ve all had our fair share, right? Ben and I recently had a couple of pretty delayed flights when travelling to and from Disneyland Paris, but that pales in comparison to my family’s pretty disastrous skiing trip recently where they came home with my dad in a sling with a shattered shoulder and my sister on crutches with a knee injury. I’m no stranger to minor travel issues such as getting ill and delayed flights – there was the time we were stuck in the plane on the tarmac in Chicago for 7 hours, missing our next 2 flights that day – but there are ways you can definitely be prepared for some of these eventualities. Check out my travel checklist for emergency situations to find out how you can alleviate some of the worry and prepare for some of what travel can throw at you:
An obvious one, but it has to make the checklist! If you’re travelling outside of the UK, you need a passport to do so. And your passport needs to be in good condition and not damaged or it may not be accepted as valid proof of your identity.
If you’re abroad and travelling home but have found you’ve lost your passport, have had it stolen or it’s damaged, you have options that mean you don’t have to miss your flight home. As soon as you realise, get in touch with the British embassy in the country you’re in and you can arrange to have an emergency travel document issued. This costs a fee and is only a temporary document, but will allow you to get back home where you can sort yourself out a new passport. Find out more about how this works here.
This is absolutely key to covering most emergencies you may encounter when abroad: travel insurance. Apparently 24% of people travel without insurance, and I’m pretty shocked at that number.
Travel insurance is so easy to buy and shouldn’t be too expensive, but it’s always worth it. It can cover delayed flights, cancelled accommodation, injury, medical problems and more. Our travel insurance comes as part of our bank account – we pay to have a premium bank account which has extras like this, so that’s always an option – or you can buy it separately elsewhere.
Always have back ups of your travel documentation somewhere, whether these are printed paper copies of flight booking confirmations and travel insurance purchases, or copies saved of your accommodation bookings to your emails or somewhere online like Dropbox. If you’re in a situation where someone is claiming one thing when you know you’ve booked something else, you have proof with your documents. These will also come in handy if you do need to make a travel insurance claim. Also make sure to carry your EHIC card with you in Europe which will give you free healthcare within the European Economic Area – find out more about EHIC cards here.
The worst thing ever is getting ill on holiday. You’ve booked a few weeks off in the sun or exploring a new culture, and of course, as soon as you hit foreign sands, the dreaded cold strikes. Or you’ve let your guard down and eaten something bad in a restaurant. I always make sure we’ve packed a good basic medical kit that includes everything from blister plasters and hand sanitiser to paracetamol, ibuprofen and rehydration sachets – these were the number one recommended item on my trip to Greece where we were out in the blazing sun all day long, every day.
Wherever you’re travelling to, make sure you know how to get in touch with the emergency medical services in the local area and how they work. Find out 999 equivalent phone numbers and log them in your phone – you never know how you might react in an emergency situation so having them already stored will help. If you’re in doubt, the emergency number 112 can be called from the vast majority of mobile phones, is free to call and can even be used on most locked phones or phones without SIM cards.
It might also be helpful to understand how medical practice works in the area you’re travelling to as it may be different to what you’re used to or you might not understand the language used to describe a particular medical condition or situation when you’re in a foreign country.
There are plenty of reasons to panic in emergencies when travelling, I know that. But try not to do so – it won’t help. You may struggle to understand the language, you might not know what to do or what is going on, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. Have emergency numbers pre-programmed in your phone, approach a local authority for help or find someone that can speak a language you understand.
Have you had to deal with an emergency situation when travelling? How do you prepare for them?
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