Let’s face it: some of us are not meant to stay in one place. The world is literally our home. But when you’re away, you can’t always prepare for every emergency situation, particularly in certain countries. As a fellow citizen of the world and someone who has had more than her fair share of travel emergencies in this lifetime, here are a few key things to do when you find yourself in a travel emergency.
DO NOT PANIC! I cannot stress this enough. Depending on where you are in your journey, this may be near impossible as others that identify the emergency may want you to react or display some form of emotion, but panic or over-emoting will not help during the most critical time in your emergency, which is every single moment until you have set your solution in motion.
Make friends with your travel airline agent and (if possible) the airline manager on duty. In the event that you need to change your airline ticket due to delays getting yourself sorted out, it helps tremendously having someone directly connected to the airline who can help you rearrange your travel plans.
Call your next of kin in your home country. In the event that your host country and home country’s nearest embassy can’t help, your next of kin is your best bet at getting out of a jam as quickly as possible. Make sure that the next of kin that you call can provide the following assistance:
1) call the passport office to file relevant documentation on your behalf
2) get pertinent materials at home, such as passport photos
3) have access to banking sources to sort out delivery billing issues and get you extra emergency funds (as needed)
Call your consulate in your host country. Check for the location of your consulate or embassy in your host country. Find them and find out what you need to do in order to sort out your travel emergency as soon and as smoothly as possible. If you don’t have a consulate, locate your nearest embassy or consulate and call the immigration authority in your host country.
1) In the event that your home country has no consular or diplomatic representation where you’ve travelled, find your home’s nearest embassy or consulate and find out what you need to do to rectify your situation.
2) If your host country has agreements to help citizens from your home, you will need to find your host country’s nearest passport office or immigration authority and get there to file relevant documentation.
3) If you’re a citizen of a Commonwealth country or a former colony and your home has no consular or diplomatic representation in your host country, you have to find out if your home country and host country have agreements to help its citizens in the event of emergencies.
Find a reasonably-priced hotel or hostel. This is just in case your travel emergency makes it impossible to actually depart; for certain emergencies, your airline may provide accommodation, so this may only apply to you if your emergency is unrelated to your airline. Make sure it’s near your home country’s embassy or consulate, your host country’s immigration authorities or the airport. Where you need to stay depends on the travel emergency and who you will need to contact most urgently for assistance.
I think those are the key things to do. Oh yeah, one more… did I mention do not panic? Travel emergencies can be unnerving, but with the right tools and knowing what to do and who to call, it doesn’t have to completely spoil your outlook on being a citizen of the world.