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How to Travel Abroad Safely: Six Important Tips You Need to Know in an Emergency

Millions of Americans enjoy the adventure and experience of traveling abroad each year. But even the best-planned vacation can turn into a nightmare in the face of a natural disaster, terrorist attack, civil unrest, illness or other emergency situation.

Fortunately, with a little forethought you can prepare for your trip in a way that offers you the most security and peace of mind even while visiting international locations.


Always let family or friends know your detailed itinerary before leaving for a trip abroad.

1. Have the Right Paperwork.

A valid passport, current and with the emergency page complete, along with any necessary visas, is essential. The U.S. Department of State recommends that you make two copies of the identification page of your passport--one to keep with you (if you lose your passport this will help you get it replaced) and one to leave with your family or friends at home.

2. Do Your Homework.

Take the time to read up on the country you are visiting. Pay attention to local customs and laws. Remember that once you leave the United States, U.S. laws no longer apply. Also, watch out for travel warnings and consider postponing or relocating your trip if danger is present.

3. Tell Your Friends and Family Where You Will Be.

Leave a copy of your itinerary, including flight numbers, hotels and contact information, and any other plans, with your family or friends at home. In the event of an emergency, they'll have a starting place of where to look.

4. Register With the Nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

These agencies help close to 200,000 Americans each year who fall victim to crime, accident or illness or whose family is trying to contact them due to an emergency. In the event of a natural disaster like Hurricane Wilma, which stranded thousands of tourists in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, it's the embassy or consulates job to locate Americans and help them.


Taking an extra week's worth of medication with you overseas will ensure you won't run out during an emergency.

If you register your trip with the agency, it will be much easier for them to locate you. Also be sure to take the addresses and telephone numbers of U.S. embassies and consulates in the countries you will visit with you on your trip.

5. Be Prepared Medically.

Make sure to take your insurance cards with you and determine what medical services are covered while you're overseas. The U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs also recommends that you carry a letter from your physician describing any pre-existing medical conditions and names of medications, along with any medications you take (in their original containers with labels). You may also want to take an extra week's worth of medication with you in the event of emergency.

6. Make Sure Your Cell Phone Has International Access.
Not every cell phone will work once you travel outside of the United States. Making sure that your cell phone does work when you're abroad makes it much easier to stay in touch with loved ones at home in the event of an emergency.

Recommended Reading

Twelve of the World's Most Dangerous Countries: A Very Brief Tour

Six of the World's Grimmest Tourist Destinations


U.S. Department of State

The Ohio State University Medical Center

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