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Travel Tragedies - How to deal with the unexpected

February 15, 2012 by Connie Cornelius

It’s the traveler’s worst nightmare…and no one likes to think that it could happen to them, but I’ve seen my share of travel tragedies during my tenure as a Tour Manager. Here are some tips for avoiding or dealing with just a couple of possible Passporttravel tragedies that could happen to you.

Lost Passport

  • When you discover a lost or stolen passport, act immediately! If you think you lost it, ask someone who is calm and collected help you search your room and belonging with you.
  • If it is still missing, contact the local police and your embassy. You will need to apply for an emergency passport at the embassy, which will only be valid for a limited time, but will get you back home.
  • Once you are back in the US, you will have to apply for a new passport.

My best advice is to pack a photocopy of your birth certificate or passport before you leave. It will save you time and money should the worst happen. If you are going on an extended trip, you might consider putting together an “emergency passport kit”, containing everything you would need for getting an emergency passport:

  1. Passport application form DS-1, print out one from the State Department website
  2. Three passport photos (some embassies only require two)
  3. A photo ID such as a driver’s license
  4. Proof of U.S. citizenship (such as a copy of your birth certificate, social security card or Certificate of Naturalization)
  5. Copy of your airline ticket, booking confirmation or itinerary
  6. Phone number of the embassy or consulate for the countries you will be visiting (available from the Department of State)

Injury or Illness

While the quality of healthcare is improving worldwide, it can be harrowing to locate a doctor or hospital in a foreign country. Of course the more rural the area, the more challenging and risky obtaining healthcare can be. Should you have to deal with an illness or injury while traveling, keep these suggestions in mind:

  • Contact a health care provider as soon as possible. If you are at a hotel with a non-emergency injury or illness, contact the front desk or concierge and ask for medical care. They may be able to arrange for a doctor to come to the hotel.
  • For greater emergencies requiring hospital care, take a cab to the nearest facility. To locate a hospital, you can call the local emergency number or a good guidebook should have this information.
  • If you run out of vital medications while traveling, call you family doctor and they will be able to call in a prescription to a local pharmacy. Be sure to get the pharmacy location before contacting your doctor.

Preparation is very important if you are traveling with children, have an existing medical condition, or are taking part in a potential dangerous activity (think rafting, rock climbing or horseback riding). Here are more tips on how to be prepared: Illness

  1. Always pack the following information and keep it with you:
  • Phone numbers for your doctor (office and home)
  • Insurance company contact information
  • Embassy contact information
  • Contact information for a relative at home, especially if you are traveling alone!

2. If you are traveling domestically, get a list of in-network hospitals and doctor at your destination. You can find this online at your insurance company's website.

3. For travel abroad, you can get a list of medical services at your destination's Consulate . You can also find a list of doctors and hospitals abroad on the U.S. State Department's website.

4. Be aware of any disease risks in the destination that you are traveling to and get the proper immunizations before you leave.

And finally, if you are camping or staying in a remote area, pack a first-aid kit. Also, give a copy of your itinerary to someone at home. Should something happen to you and you are unable to call for medical help, you need someone to know where to find you.

If you think like a Boy Scout and are always prepared, then you reduce the risk that a tragedy will ruin your trip!

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