Planning the ultimate trip is quite possibly one of the most fun things you can do – aside from actually taking the trip itself. Whilst it can be a little stressful when you’re in the process of sorting everything out, once it’s all done, there is such a sense of relief and excitement that everything leading up to your departure just seems insignificant!
But what happens if your dream trip isn’t the dream you’d always hoped? Sometimes, just one little flaw can set things way further off the beaten track than you could have ever imagined, and before you know it, it’s become a nightmare. It’s not pleasant to think about, and thankfully, it’s very rare, but here are a few ideas on how to cope when something goes wrong in a strange land…
1. Before you leave, ensure that you’ve purchased travel insurance. It’s not a gimmick, nor is it a waste of your time and money – it’s potentially going to save you thousands. No matter how much healthcare costs where you’re from (or doesn’t cost, in some cases), things are very different abroad and you won’t necessarily be covered like you are at home. Thousands of dollars in bills aren’t going to be any fun, particularly when you’ve spent a fortune on your journey to begin with.
2. Changing money into the currency of the respective country or countries that you will be visiting is an absolute given. Often, when you arrive there won’t be many places to do this, unless the place you are going to is super-touristy. A great modern way to organize your travel money is by preloading currency onto an International debit card. If all else fails, you’re going to want a backup plan – that’s why it might be a good idea to have family and friends on standby to lend you, if there are some emergency expenses. There are now a few cheap ways of transferring money to anywhere in the world, using services like Azimo, which can even be used over social networking profiles like Facebook.
3. Make a list of any important phone numbers that you will need, both on your mobile device and on paper, to be stored in a safe place. If you get into any legal or medical difficulty, you’ll need not only to contact your family, but also any relevant authorities back home and in the place you’re staying. Store numbers of your next-of-kin under ‘ICE’ in your phone, too, so that somebody knows who to call if you’re in a situation where you can’t tell them yourself. There are some great apps that you can use to keep your costs down whilst travelling, such as Skype and Viber. Remember, roaming charges will inevitably cost more than at home, usually even if you have an inclusive allowance.
4. Ensure you’ve got copies of your passport and other forms of Identification, in case of loss or theft. Back these up digitally, so that you can regain access, at least temporarily. It’s always worth finding out where the nearest consulate is for your own country – they can provide you advice or support in the case of anything from a natural disaster to terrorism. You can find more about consular provision for US citizens and UK citizens before you leave.
5. Make friends. When you go somewhere new, you can seem potentially isolated, especially if things don’t quite go as you were expecting. It’s a good idea to have someone on hand who knows the law of the land, or who can help you with things like language barriers and practicalities. Failing that, it’s a very good idea to equip yourself with some basic language skills of your own, as well as an idea of how to observe cultural practices in the place you are visiting. This can be really important – things that are acceptable where you are from may be offensive or even illegal elsewhere.