Getting ready for a trip abroad? We know you’re probably tied up renewing your passport, finding the right voltage converter for your hairdryer, testing out that translation app you just downloaded, but have you thought about safety?
Preparing for emergencies abroad is an important step that most travelers miss entirely. As an air ambulance company that transports at least 3-4 travelers back to the United States each month, we know how important it is to prepare for the unexpected, and we’ve got your safety drill covered.
Here are the five safety tips will help you prepare so you can enjoy your travels knowing you’re set in the event of an emergency abroad:
1. Make Copies of Your Passport
Make sure you take a photo with your phone and of your passport and other identification cards and keep these photos stashed on your smartphone and email them to yourself for fast access. If your passport is lost or stolen, getting a replacement will be that much easier.
You can also use an app like TurboScan to keep your passport and other documents safe on the cloud.
Photo: Carlos Espinosa
2. Download Apps For Safety
Whether you’re traveling alone or with a group, it’s smart to have the following apps handy on your journey:
- Uber: When public transportation is hard to navigate, background-checked Uber drivers are available in most countries.
- BSafe: You’ll want to have your friends and family download this app If you are ever in a situation that feels unsafe, the app provides your friends with your location, has them “follow” you on-screen as you walk, and lets you send them an SOS alert if you are panicked. Even if they cannot physically come to your rescue, they can notify the local authorities who can.
3. Check in with the State Department
Most of us aren’t aware of all the great (and free) resources the State Department provides. Their site is frequently updated with safety details for every country in the world. You can use the site to vet out your travel destination with information on local laws, travel; warnings, vaccinations you’ll need and more.
Be sure to register your travel plans on the State Department’s Smart Traveler Program (STEP) page so they can contact you in the event of an emergency.
Save the contact numbers necessary from the State Department if you need emergency financial assistance. This kind of support can be a lifesaver if you have an accident in a country like Mexico or Bosnia where insurance isn’t accepted. Travelers may be forced to pay any and all medical fees before being discharged from facilities.
Photo: Carlos Espinosa
4. Travel Insurance (understanding your health benefits)
This might seem obvious, but having travel insurance is an absolute must before you ever set foot on a plane. A few insurance companies offer repatriation for medical emergency and evacuation coverage, in the event you need a lift back to the states. Check your plan summary or speak with a representative to make sure you understand emergency air medical repatriation benefits. Some plans will get you to the highest care available in a nearby country, but won’t cover travel to your home country.
Some credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve offer benefits that cover different travel expenses, including emergency air medical evacuations.
5. Leave your itinerary with emergency contacts
It’s essential to leave your itinerary with emergency contacts back home. Make sure you send your travel itinerary to trusted family members and friends and try to check in with them via a quick text on Viber or What’s App, or an email daily. That way they can alert authorities in the event of an emergency.