While travel can be a rewarding and exciting experience, not every adventure ends with perfect memories. Instead, many travelers every year experience one (or several) travel emergencies while far from home. These travel emergencies can run from the annoying and mundane (like losing a wallet) to life-threatening (like getting in an accident). Regardless of the severity, time is of the essence when facing a travel emergency – and quick action can help travelers recover their property, or even save a life.
As with anything in life, proper planning is critical to successfully navigating a travel emergency. Savvy travelers make sure they are prepared for any situation that may happen around the world. Here are four easy solutions to some of the most common situations travelers face.
Lost credit cards or passport: contact authorities immediately
Losing a credit card or passport can happen to any of us. According to BBC News, over 160,000 British travelers lost their passports between 2008 and 2013. No matter how it happens - from mishandling personal items, to falling victim to a pickpocket - losing a credit card or passport can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, and affluence.
When a passport or credit card is lost, the first thing to do is contact the local authorities and file a police report over the lost items. In the report, detail where the item was lost at and what exactly was lost. From there, how to respond to a lost credit card or passport differs.
For lost credit cards, contact your bank immediately to have the card deactivated. In certain situations, the bank may be able to send a replacement overnight to your hotel. For lost passports, contact the local embassy immediately. Americans applying for an emergency travel document will be asked to fill out form DS-64 (Statement Regarding a Lost or Stolen Passport), along with a new passport application. For those who have a contingency travel kit for emergencies, a photocopy of the lost passport can help obtain a new passport quickly and efficiently.
Rental car accident: file a police report immediately
Auto accidents are one of the most common travel emergencies many people face every year. Even the best drivers are at risk for getting into an accident while driving. Although any automobile accident is an emotionally charged event, it is critical to stay calm and collected during and after the accident.
The first thing to do is file a police report immediately, detailing everything that took place leading up to and during the accident. The police can help travelers collect information about the accident, as well as collect witness statements about how the accident occurred. Next, contact your rental car provider to alert them of the situation, and work with them on options for the remainder of your trip. If you purchased an insurance policy through them, you may be able to file a claim as part of the process.
Finally, contact your auto insurance provider, your travel insurance provider, and your credit card company. Although auto insurance providers may not be able to assist those traveling outside their home country, your credit card provider or travel insurance provider may offer some coverage for the accident.
Medical emergency: seek medical attention immediately
Medical emergencies while traveling are troubling for everyone involved in the situation – especially those caught in the middle of them. Once again, it is essential to not panic, but instead respond to the emergency methodically.
Should you experience a medical emergency during your travels, seek out local medical help immediately. If medical assistance isn't obviously available, then contact the local medical services through the local medical emergency number. If a phone is not available, travelers behind a language barrier may be able to use hand signals to convey their troubles until local emergency assistance responds.
If the episode is not a life-threatening situation, then travelers may be able to receive assistance through their travel insurance company. By contacting a travel insurance company's assistance number, travelers can get directions to the nearest emergency room, and receive translation assistance.
Stuck in an airport: shelter in place
Being stuck at an airport is actually a common travel emergency, with a equally simple remedy. While nobody wants to be stuck in an airport overnight – but it commonly happens during inclement weather, system wide delays, and other situations. If you get stuck in an airport, remember: there are a lot worse places to be alone in the world.
The first call to make is to a travel insurance provider. In the event a trip is delayed overnight, trip delay coverage may be able to cover a hotel room and other incidentals. In the event your situation does not qualify, then contact the airport's passenger assistance department, as many airports have temporary overnight shelters for passenger's use.
No matter where you go, danger is always a prevalent threat to travelers. Through care and preparation, travelers can set themselves up for success, no matter what happens during their adventures.