TIP: It is important to have contact information handy in case of an emergency while traveling. It is best practice to have your emergency contact lists in more than one location so that if, for example, your purse is stolen, you have a back up copy in your
- A CLOSE FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER – This person should be someone who knows and loves you, that you trust explicitly, that is relatively calm, quick thinking, and is easily reached. This person should potentially be able to help you make strategic decisions, schedule travel arrangements, be able to contact the embassy if need be, provide personal and medical information if asked, and possibly even send money.
- THE EMBASSY OR CONSULATE IN YOUR HOME COUNTRY – This is generally your country of citizenship and the country that is represented by the passport on which you are traveling. Your embassy or consulate should be able to provide updated crisis information, help you with lost or stolen passports, give emergency directions or evacuation information, help with international incidences, aid with natural disaster relief, keep you informed, and strive to act on behalf of your safety.
- ANY CREDIT/ATM CARDS WITH WHICH YOU ARE TRAVELING – In the event of a lost or stolen ATM or credit card(s), you should have the phone number of each issuing bank, which is generally listed on the back of each card, and if possible, each account number. It is important to report lost or stolen cards as soon as possible, especially if you are relying on that card for the remainder of your travel. Often a card can be express mailed to you in this situation, and sometimes cards can even make arrangements for you, for example, a hotel stay, until your card arrives. You may also need to contact your bank if your credit card is being declined. This sometimes happens if you are moving around a great deal or if you forgot to let the bank know you’d be traveling.
- AUTO INSURANCE COMPANY – In case of an accident, theft, or the need to clarify proof of coverage, you should always be clear on who to call. Often people purchase car insurance through a third party or a rental agency themselves. Even if it is your own car that you have purchased abroad, there is usually a mandatory policy.
- RENTAL CAR COMPANY – When renting a car that you are unfamiliar with, there is a risk that it could break down, or a feature is difficult to find or operate. I remember not being able to find the fuel cap release on one car! It is important to be able to communicate with the rental company and/or any roadside assistance that you have.
- MEDICAL AND EVACUATION INSURANCE – It is extremely important in an emergency medical situation for a foreign doctor or hospital to be able to contact and verify your insurance. Calling your company may also provide you assistance on finding an appropriate medical facility and even helping you schedule appointments, translate terms, or arranging an airlift.
- AIRLINE HELP DESK – If you have missed or need to change your flight, confirm it, get a seat, or find lost
luggage, you will need to be able to contact your airline carrier.
- LOCAL AUTHORITIES – In case of a robbery, theft, rape, or other incident, you should know how to contact the emergency number for the local police or authorities.
- LOCAL EMBASSY OR CONSULATE – For evacuation strategies in a local disaster, terrorist attacks, other situations, or even in the event of a lost passport, you may need to contact your nearest home embassy or consulate that is located in your destination country. It is also advised to contact your local home embassy or consulate to let them know you are traveling in the area with your arrival and departure dates. If an unfortunate incident does occur, someone is aware that you are there.
- ANYONE YOU MAY KNOW CLOSE BY – Often when traveling, you may know someone in the country you are visiting, or in a nearby country. Sometimes when you mention you are going somewhere, an acquaintance will provide you a contact they know and tell you if you get in to trouble, or are near the vicinity, or need anything, call this person. There are also the people you may meet while traveling. Even though you may not know your contact well, in an emergency situation, people tend to act humanely. If this person is the only one near by, speaks the native language, or understands how local things work, this may be an important contact in case of an emergency. I never would take advantage of someone’s generosity, but in a true situation, this person may give you great comfort and assistance.