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
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
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.
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Department of State
Ohio State University Medical Center