What To Do If You Have a Travel Disaster In A Foreign Country
Traveling can be dangerous and a bit scary sometimes. Even when you do everything right, there's always a risk of tripping on a curb, getting hit by a car, or having your bag stolen. Truthfully, these things can happen here in the United States too but when traveling in a foreign country it makes things that much more complicated since things work differently in various countries and there might even be a language barrier. Let's take a look at five things to do if you have a travel disaster when visiting a foreign country.
So imagine this, you're on your dream trip riding The Maharajas Express luxury train and you're heading off to Jaipur but somewhere during your visit to Amber Fort you trip, fall, and by the time you get up you realize your wallet is gone and so is all of your money as well as passport and drivers license. This is something that can happen anywhere but now you're halfway into your journey and yet you can't just stop or you'll literally miss the train that's going to take you on the rest of the journey.
Here's what you can do to protect yourself ...
Prepare For Disaster Before It Happens
When traveling, I always try to keep cash and cards divided up between different bags. This way, if you lose something or if a bag is stolen then the impact is less. Additionally, you should always have backups of your important documentation such as a passport. I generally keep the original back in my cabin, hotel room, or someplace secure and carry a photocopy with me. Another solution is to carry your passport card with you but leave your passport book behind in a safe. Additionally, I always have a scanned image of my documents saved to a secure location online. That's not to say that you can use these documents for crossing the border but it will help when you need to verify key details like your passport number or visa number while trying to sort stuff out with the consulate or embassy.
Keep Calm And Assess The Situation
Assuming you aren't physically harmed and don't need medical attention the biggest thing to do now is to stay calm. You don't want to make a bad situation worse and you need to be able to think clearly and communicate effectively. Assuming you have your phone and or camera with you, take photos of any injuries you do have as well as the physical scene of the incident.
Get Cash As Soon As Possible
All things in life can be made easier when you have cash available. While some places may take your American credit card or bank card, cash is king. Even in India where the government is officially trying to eliminate cash, this is still the preferred method of commerce for most transactions. As an American, it is easy to transfer money from the US to India, though you will need to provide a government-issued photo ID and provide the sender's details to verify the payment. With cash in your hand, you've eliminated one of the biggest headaches.
Contact The Local Police
Depending on where you are traveling the law enforcement people may be a good source of aid, though for petty theft they might not even be concerned. However, submitting a police report may be necessary to file a claim with your travel insurance company. You did remember that right?
Contact Your Travel Insurance Agency
Depending on the travel insurance policy you chose, your travel insurance agency might be able to help with getting you additional money, funds to replace clothing or other items, health care assistance, and expediting the reprinting of your identity documents.
Contact The U.S. Department Of State
While your travel insurance agency will be able to start the ball rolling on assistance, ultimately you may need to need to contact the local embassy or consulate for assistance. To report a lost or stolen passport you can call +1 202-501-4444 when you are overseas, or visit their website to find your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for additional assistance. Luckily, while it might take a month to get your passport back home, there are special contingencies to expedite the process in emergencies like this. Unfortunately, passports are stolen and lost routinely while traveling and most countries that you might be traveling to will have a consulate or embassy able to process your request within just a few days. They can even process a limited validity emergency passport if the timing is especially tight.
Don't Forget To Still Enjoy Your Journey
While a travel disaster can cause headaches, most issues are not life-threatening and so you shouldn't let it completely ruin your experience of traveling to a new place.
- Written by James Hills
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