To me, one of the most important rules of travel is to always be prepared. It goes without saying to prepare for any emergency, but we often get caught up in the excitement of the trip, that it seems almost pessimistic to think of the worst case scenario. Who wants to be a Debbie Downer, right? I'm guilty of being really cautious (paranoid) when it comes to travel. No matter how many times I get on an airplane, my ritual is always to read the emergency evacuation procedures before take-off. Until last week, I never even saw an airplane land on water, but I knew what to do in case it happened. I've known since I was 5. So, for my sanity, I've compiled a list of possible sticky situations, and how to avoid or get out of them.
Photo by Davitydave (Flickr)
1. Losing Money
I have had this happen only once and believe me that is all it took to learn my lesson. Having your purse or wallet stolen can seem like the end of the world and in my case it almost was. The best remedy for me is using travelers cheques. It's accepted worldwide, it's easy to use, and most importantly, it's replaceable in case of theft. When using travelers cheques, be sure to keep your check stubs separate from your actual checks, so that you can put a stop on any lost/stolen cheques. Of course, another alternative is carrying your trusted credit card. Credit cards may or may not be accepted at your venue, but travelers cheques are almost universally accepted as cash. Plus, you don't have to rely on technology (i.e. credit card machines/internet) in order to use cheques.
2. Lost Passport
Oh yes, this is definitely a nightmare that I've replayed in my mind over and over again. I keep thinking I'll be stuck in an international airport, like that Tom Hanks character, if I lose my passport. Of course, I know that's not how the movie went, but still I compare myself to that. Passports take forever to get (6-8 weeks), and you can't help but wonder how long it would take for you to replace a lost or stolen passport abroad. Never fear. Make sure to photocopy your passport, and keep a copy in your suitcase, and always apart from your actual passport. It's a good idea to also entrust a copy to a friend or family member back home, in case you need it faxed to you fast. With this copy, you can expedite the process of getting a replacement passport at the local U.S. Embassy.
3. Getting Sick
Ugh! Sickness away from home. No one wants to think of getting sick when on vacation, but it does happen, especially if you drink the water, or go on a cruise, or are just exposed to different germs than you're used to. I was once so sick abroad, that I was not permitted to fly, think of that insurance nightmare! Combat this by purchasing travel insurance, that will also provide a way for you to see a doctor when you're away from home. This is especially useful for international travel, when your domestic health insurance won't cover you.
4. Flight Canceled
Finally made it to the airport, and your flight is canceled, or worse, overbooked. What can you do? Not a whole lot. One thing to consider is if a flight is overbooked, you can volunteer to take a later flight, and most decent airlines reward you with a complimentary ticket for your next trip. Not a bad deal, when you think about it. The best you can do if this happens is spend your time perusing the over-priced duty free shops, and maybe buy a magazine to get you through. My favorite activity when this happens is to people watch, no greater place to do it than the airport. If your flight is canceled, and you have to stay overnight, make sure you have the number to your favorite hotel chain. Sleeping overnight in an airport terminal is only for Tom Hanks movies.
Leave me a comment on your travel emergency.