Ways To Mitigate A Travel Emergency

Ways To Mitigate A Travel Emergency

For over 14 years I have been an Emergency Planning professional which involves writing plans for potential emergencies in my local area and business continuity plans which ensure services can keep running even if disrupted. Over that time I have implemented a lot of things from my professional life into my personal life and I feel it has made me a more well-rounded and resilient person.
However, no amount of planning and preparation is enough for some situations that crop up when travelling. Luckily we have never had to face anything too major, however, we have had a few issues that we’ve had to deal with over the past 11 years we have travelled together. Here are a few of them and the measures we have put in place to ensure that we can mitigate future travel emergencies as much as possible.

Ensure You Have The Right Travel Insurance

Planning for Travel
This might seem like the most obvious thing ever, however up until around 18 months ago, Mr ESLT and I travelled without travel insurance – how stupid were we? Seriously, it was certainly more luck than judgement that we never had to make a claim. What we have since learnt is that not only is travel insurance essential but it is also vital you have the right insurance – you MUST read the small print. You need to decide what level of cover you want depending on the trip you are taking and the excess you want to/are able to pay should you need to claim.
We now opt for annual, worldwide cover, meaning we only have to sort it out once a year. It covers us for medical emergencies, including dental, flight cancellation and lost property amongst other things. If you plan to take part in extreme sports, ensure you get an enhanced policy which covers them, as standard ones usually don’t and you certainly don’t want to be hit with a massive medical bill if you have an accident.

Have Alternative Sources Of Cash In Mind

Cash For Travel
There are loads of ways you can be left strapped for cash when travelling, including being the target of a pickpocket, losing your purse or wallet, having your card cloned or simply by overspending. I’m sure even the most budget-savvy traveller has been there at least once. There is no worse feeling than not knowing how you are going to pay for your next meal, let alone for your accommodation or even flight home. Even if you have relevant travel insurance cover, it still takes time to submit a claim and have it approved, meaning you need to consider alternative sources of cash to call upon should you need it.
The main way to prevent such an issue is by keeping your debit card and credit card separate so if one gets stolen or lost you have the other as a backup. However, should that not be possible the obvious option is to ask family or friends to put some cash in your bank account but not everyone has family or friends that are able to do that, even in an emergency. Therefore, you may need to consider installment loans, which are designed for short-term cash flow issues and are not intended to be a long-term financial solution, proving ideal for this sort of situation.

Keep A Mini Emergency Telephone Directory To Hand

Mobile Phone Battery Died
This is something that I produce at work – a directory of everyone that I would need to contact in an emergency and because I have seen what a great resource it is in the workplace not only for me but also for my colleagues I now produce one every time I take a trip. I start by listing everyone that I could possibly need to contact whilst travelling from my bank and the airline I am flying with to my best friend back in England. I then add at least one telephone number by each company or name, two were possible.
I ensure that I have the list and numbers in my phone for quick and easy access should they be needed in the event of an emergency. I also ensure that I print a copy of it out and keep it with me at all times, you never know when technology is going to fail you and your mobile phone battery will run out. The last place I leave a copy is back home with a relative or friend whose number I have memorized of course. Therefore, if my mobile phone battery dies and my printed out copy gets lost or stolen I still have access to the numbers I need.

Have Copies Of All Your Travel Documents As A Backup

Passport Stamps
Again, as with the telephone numbers, most people, us included, rely on electronic copies of things – boarding passes, hotel booking confirmations and relevant emails. However, phones go missing, batteries die etc so it’s important to print everything off as a backup. Imagine having a flight to catch and not having access to your boarding pass, I know I for one would freak out. Therefore, I still do something my mum always used to do when we travelled, I buy a cheap plastic folder, print everything off and put it in the folder in the order we will need them. I have only ever had to use the folder on a couple of occasions, but it was at those times that made me realise how important having it is.
It’s not just the electronic documents that I print off and keep a copy of, I also ensure that we have a copy of our passports with us. Fortunately, we have never misplaced or lost our passports (phew!) as it is my worst nightmare. Obviously you can not travel on a photocopied copy of your passport, however, it will make it easier to get a new one from your nearest embassy. It will also enable you to prove you are who you say you are if needed. Just remember not to keep the copies with your actual passport just in case you lose both.

Protect Your Possessions But Don’t Panic If They Go Missing

Luggage
Another prime example of why you need travel insurance is just in case your stuff goes missing or is stolen. The ideal solution is of course not to take anything valuable with you when travelling but that’s often not possible, especially when you are a travel blogger – one camera alone can cost a few hundred, add onto that list a laptop and other technology and the cost can run into thousands. Therefore, once again, make sure you have the right level of cover to ensure you can replace anything that is lost or stolen.
If your technology is stolen or lost it is infuriating (that’s putting it mildly), however, your trip can still go ahead, just remember to back up photos etc to the cloud as you go along as equipment can be replaced but your memories cannot. The thing that I used to panic about the most was losing my checked in luggage and not having any clean clothes at the other end. Of course, I could buy some if necessary, however, depending on where I was travelling too, sometimes that just wouldn’t be possible. Therefore now I always ensure I carry at least one full set of clothes in my hand luggage which would see me through until my lost luggage turned up or I could make it to a shop. This is something I recommend to everyone – imagine not having any clean underwear, especially after a long flight!!!

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1 Comment

  1. December 14, 2017 / 11:03 am

    Great post and lots of excellent advice there Vicky, most (if not all) of which I implement.
    I also send myself an encrypted copy of our ‘Private List’ to my roaming email address which has all our bank details (including the telephone number to contact about lost cards), camera equipment serial numbers, insurance claims details, passport details (including a scanned copy and a copy of the visa for the country we are visiting if appropriate), next of kin etc. We also put house insurance details there (and leave a copy with friends who have keys) so that if something was to happen to the house while we were away, it could be easily and quickly sorted.
    I also put the contact details of the local embassy (in my case Norwegian and the British for David) on my phone. If the worst were to happen, that is one less thing to stress about.
    As well as taking a complete change of clothes in my hand luggage, we also put one complete set in each other’s checked bags – then at least if one bag only goes missing, we’ll have a little extra with us (although out of the six times our bags have gone missing on a flight, only once was it just one of them, the other five times both were delayed)
    Another thing I do is to print out a list of all the names and addresses of hotels that we have pre-booked. This came in handy in India recently, when the driver had no idea how to find one of the hotels. Even so, we ended up driving around for 1.5 hours trying to find it – for our next trip I have printed out the map I found online, ‘just in case’. I also take a business card from the hotel when we venture out on town, in case I get lost or need to take a cab back to the hotel. This is particularly useful in countries where they use a different script as not everyone can understand the Roman alphabet.
    As far as travel insurance goes, I cannot stress the importance of reading the small print thoroughly and being totally honest with the insurance company about any pre-existing conditions. In case of a claim, the insurance company will use anything they can to wriggle out of paying up.
    Like you, luckily we have not had any major incidents while travelling, but it is good to be prepared.