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How to Deal with Emergencies While Traveling Abroad

It’s the dream of many to spend their retirement or annual vacations traveling the world. If you’ve learned to spend smarter and use discounts to save on travel, you can experience this dream. But before you take off on that fabulous European cruise or excursion across Asia, make sure you’re prepared for accidents or emergencies that can, and probably will, happen.

Medical Emergencies

Imagine falling ill in a foreign country, unsure of whether it’s just something you ate or your appendix rupturing. You head to the nearest medical facility, only to find that your insurance isn’t valid and they won’t treat you without an upfront payment. Contact your insurance company before you leave to see if your insurance plan will cover medical expenses in foreign countries.  If it does not, you should consider purchasing a short-term international travel health insurance plan, such as those offered by HTH Worldwide and GeoBlue.

Loss of Money

No amount of budgeting can prepare you for having your money stolen. Before you leave, contact your bank to let them know your itinerary. They can then point you to a bank they have a relationship with if you have a problem.

Protect yourself from the potential of theft by hiding cash in strategic places on your person. Don’t keep all of your credit cards and cash in just one place.  Keep some in your wallet or bag, and also use a hidden pocket or one of those money belts that lies flat under your shirt or around your waist under your clothing. This way if your bag is stolen or your pocket picked, you will still have some cash.

If you’re traveling with traveler’s checks or a credit card and are the victim of theft, contact the bank to have them canceled and have replacements sent, if possible. If you are completely stranded with all of your money or other forms of payment lost, visit the U.S. Consulate or Embassy for help.

 Loss of Your Passport

Your passport is your ticket to enter the country you’re in and return home. If yours is stolen or lost, seek immediate help. Prepare ahead by making copies of your passport and other vital papers to store in a variety of places, such as in your hotel room or the hotel safe. If you have a smart phone, scan your documents into a file and keep it on your smart phone.  If your passport is lost, take a copy to the nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy for assistance. You can also have a friend or family member contact the Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747 to help from the states.

Missed Flight

The thought of being stranded in an airport surrounded by people who don’t speak your language is not a pleasant one. If you miss a flight and you booked it through a travel agent, call the agent for help. If the delay is due to mechanical difficulties, the airline should provide vouchers and a place to sleep. Otherwise, talk with the people at the ticket counter for specific instructions on what to do, and don’t be afraid to ask if they have someone on hand who can speak English.

Need for Legal Assistance

While it’s a rare occurrence, you could find yourself facing arrest or another legal issue while overseas. Because you’re under the law of the country you’re visiting, an American lawyer will do little good. Instead, you’ll want to contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for the contact information for advice.

Emergencies at Home

It happens…an unexpected storm, accident, or other emergencies can occur while you are gallivanting in some remote, exotic location. The best way to deal with this possibility is to make sure you have family, friends, or neighbors who are aware of your travel plans (with your contact information) and who can step in to deal with such emergencies until you can get back ASAP. Also be sure to provide important information for typical emergencies (examples: the vet’s information for the dog sitter, how to reach the person who will put up the hurricane shutters if one develops, and so forth). Having people you can trust can relieve a great deal of anxiety while you are on travel. And these favors are things you can gladly reciprocate.

For most people, the only problems faced when traveling outside of the country are cultural or language mishaps, which can be humorous or embarrassing. Should you face a more serious emergency, preparing ahead of time and knowing where to turn for help will be a tremendous advantage.

We at InvestBetterSpendSmarter.com (IBSS) believe the blogs on our site can help you to invest better so you can spend smarter on fun things like traveling abroad. Be sure to check out some of the investment posts (especially about My Optimal Asset Allocation) and also some of our travel posts.

Happy Travels!

Your IBSS Team


Travel Responsibly, Informed & Protected (trip) – Common Travel Emergencies

Budget Travel – How to Survive 10  Emergencies while traveling


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Jim Tso wants to “give back” and share his 35+ years of successful personal money management experience to help others to achieve their financial goals. Jim created this InvestBetterSpendSmarter blog (IBSS) to provide you with free investing, planning, savings, retirement, and inspirational tips derived from his unique, innovative, and proven approaches to money management. He welcomes and appreciates your feedback.

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