Recent events in Egypt over the past few days show how easy it is for political situations to change in foreign countries. Situations can deteriorate rapidly. If you happen to be in a country when things change, are you prepared? By taking a few simple steps before you leave, as well as remain “in-touch” while you’re traveling, you can be ready for most things that come you’re way.
Register Your Trip
In the US, you can register with STEP, at the US State Department. In the UK, you can register with LOCATE, a service of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Each service allows you setup an account, so it makes future registrations quick and easy.
Travel insurance is always a good investment. If unrest or an emergency situation breaks out before you leave home, your policy may help protect your travel investment. Make sure to check policy coverage before you purchase to make sure you’re covered in these types of situations. Some companies like Global Rescue or Red24 provide evacuation or extraction services while traveling.
Know Your Options
Before you leave on your trip, take a few minutes to know what your options are should you need to leave a country unexpectedly. Last year, we went to Thailand during the protests in Bangkok. Even though we were headed to Koh Samui, over 500 miles away, Bangkok was our main airport gateway back to the US. We researched other options of leaving Thailand by air from other cities, just in case there was a take over or shut down of the Bangkok airport.
Vacations and holidays are for relaxing. Getting away from the rat race and “checking out” of daily life. Unfortunately, the rest of the world carries on and things happen. As difficult as it might be, you should tune in to world news on a TV from time to time, so you can stay posted on developments. BBC World is carried in most hotels worldwide. It’s an excellent source for up-to-date information and repeats it’s top stories every few minutes. Many hotels in foreign countries provide their guests with one-page mini-newspapers from outside countries during breakfast.
Knowing who to contact in an emergency situation is key. Before you leave home, program the phone number of your Embassy in the country your traveling to, as well as their address, into your wireless phone. Even if your phone doesn’t work in your destination country, you’ll have the information available to use on a land line. Also take the phone numbers and websites of other airlines that you may need to use, if you can’t go back to your arriving airport or if your original airline stops flying. Many people in Egypt were unable to leave Cairo because many of the major airlines stopped flying when unrest broke out.
Don’t rely on the internet when traveling abroad. Egypt severed all internet connections as the situation grew worse. If your wireless phone won’t work in the country your traveling to, consider purchasing a cellphone that accepts SIM cards. You can purchase a SIM card when you arrive in your destination country and insert it in your phone. That will allow your phone to work on the local cell network.
Taking a few minutes before you leave to plan for unexpected emergencies, can help you cope with any situation that may arise. Most of all, remember to stay calm.
Last modified: January 6, 2014