With popular travel destinations being targeted lately by terrorist attacks, civil unrest, or health issues across the globe, everyone’s safety becomes priority. We know too well that every holiday requires careful planning. But how much prepared are we should emergency situations occur while we’re on a vacation? Here’s a travel checklist to keep you and your traveling companions safe.
1. Enroll your trips with your local embassy. Government websites provide helpful traveling tips and offer assistance to traveling citizens. A great example is STEP or Smart Traveler Enrollment Program where US citizens can enroll their trips online. It provides travel alerts and warnings regarding safety conditions in the country you are visiting. In case of emergencies, the embassy or consulate will keep you updated through mobile phone or e-mail should natural disasters or civil unrest occur. In extreme situations, the Department of State can arrange transportation for US citizens to leave the country. Yep, think humvees and helicopters.
What if I am not a US citizen? You can sign up for STEP’s Travel Alerts and Warnings e-mail subscription service to receive valuable information about your travel destinations.
2. Be aware of the latest travel updates in your country of destination. A helpful website I frequently check before we travel is Gov.UK. No, you don’t need to be a UK resident to be able to make use of this website. The page Foreign Travel Advice lists 225 countries with the latest updates on safety and security, terrorism, health, etc. It lists areas to avoid, entry requirements such as vaccination certificates or visa advice.
3. Find out where your embassy is in the country you are visiting. Emergency assistance is generally available 24 hours a day in government embassies.
4. Keep emergency phone numbers handy. Emergency numbers vary from country to country. 911 in the US is very much known to many. In the UK (and many other countries such as Hong Kong, Malaysia, UAE, etc), 999 responds to urgent and emergency situations. 112 is the common emergency number that can be called free of charge from most mobile phones and some fixed telephones in various countries (eg. France, Germany, Greece) for emergencies including ambulance, fire and rescue, and police.
Gov.UK lists emergency numbers of different countries.
5. Keep all your required travel documents safe. Some countries require that passports be valid for at least six months beyond the dates of your travel. Ensure that your passports and visas are valid. Make it a habit to keep photocopies of your passports, foreign visas, credit cards, driver’s license, and itinerary in your ‘go-bag’ while traveling.
6. Send your itinerary to a close friend or family member. In case of emergency or in the event you are unable to reach home via phone or internet, it’s best that someone has your itinerary in order to get a hold of you easier. E-mail your flight details, accommodation, bookings or reservations, and schedule to someone you trust.
We hope this article will be useful to you. We all love to travel but we have to admit that we rarely consider these things when we do. It’s time to turn things around and travel smart, travel safe!