5 Apps to Help Deal With Vacation Emergencies

From Illness to Breakdowns and More

Helicopter evacuation
Keith Brofsky/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Nobody wants to deal with an emergency while they're on vacation – but sadly, that doesn't stop them from happening.

Whether you're suffering from altitude sickness, dealing with a car breakdown or tracking down insurance details for a claim, though, a little preparation and downloading these few apps will make sorting out major problems much easier.

Travel Health Guide

Dubious tap water, tropical diseases, unfamiliar viruses, unusual food. When you're traveling, there's an almost unlimited number of ways you can get sick, and it's not always easy to deal with whatever problem you've got.

Without a regular doctor, or even necessarily being able to speak the language, it's hard to gauge the severity of your illness, and exactly what you should do about it.

The Travel Health Guide app is backed by a 20-year travel medicine veteran and covers everything from altitude sickness to stomach problems, heat exhaustion to rashes and much more. The app lists ailments by type, with photos and descriptions to help quickly identify the problem, and suggested treatments and medications (including generic names).

$2.99 on iOS

In Case of Emergency (I.C.E.)

The above app is useful, but what if you're involved in a serious incident and unable to tell doctors or emergency workers your medical history, or other vital information? The ICE app lets you enter allergies, existing conditions and medications you're using, plus insurance, doctor and emergency contact details, ahead of time.

You can add a widget to your (Android) lock screen that allows people to access specified information even if they or you can't unlock your phone, and the app works in over a dozen languages for when you're overseas.

$3.99 on Android.


Take it from personal experience: finding a competent, English-speaking doctor when you're traveling is not always easy. Trawling through local forums and TripAdvisor reviews is all very well, but you've got no real way of gauging the accuracy of the information being provided.

The subscription-based mPassport service maintains a database of vetted, English-speaking medical professionals around the globe, accessed via the company's site and apps. There's contact information for hospitals, pharmacies, dentists and doctors, as well as translation of medical terms and phrases, plus local names and availability of medications.

The app is free on Android and iOS, but subscriptions cost $34.95/year.


Road trips can be fantastic – but not if your vehicle fails you. If you don't maintain an annual subscription to a breakdown service, check out apps like Honk instead.

The app links stranded drivers with roadside assistance in the US, from $49/call with no yearly fees. Whether you need to be towed, or the problem can be fixed on the side of the highway, the company promises 15-30 minute ETAs. Emergency calls are made via the app, so as long as you've got ​a cell signal, your location can be easily pinpointed.

Free on Android and iOS


One of the most useful apps you'll have in an emergency is one you may already have – but only if you take the time to set it up in advance. Dropbox lets you store secure, encrypted copies of documents, photos, and video in the cloud, and automatically sync them with your phone or tablet.

This makes it the ideal place to keep all of the information you'll need in an emergency. Save your insurance details, emergency contact info for banks, credit card companies, friends and family, receipts and serial numbers of your electronics, hotel and flight bookings and anything else you might want when there's a problem.

Even if your device gets broken, lost or stolen, the information will be available on the Dropbox site from any web browser.

Free, on iOS, Android and other platforms