10 Solo Travel Tips If Things Go Wrong Abroad

10 Solo Travel Tips If Things Go Wrong Abroad: If you do plan to get overseas for a vacation from time to time, what are the best ways to avoid problems that can spoil your trip? Here are our ten updated tips. Bear in mind, that some safeguards must be taken before and even AFTER you come home!

10 Solo Travel Tips If Things Go Wrong Abroad:

Tip One:

Before you leave home, make a copy of the first page of your passport and visa, and keep them separate. If you have an extra passport-sized snapshot, take it with you. In addition, these are the other key documents helpful if you lose your passport abroad, or if it is stolen: government ID, such as, a birth certificate or copy of your lost passport/visa; plane/train tickets and as mentioned above, any police report, if you have it (Insurance will need it if there are claims).

Tip Two:

If you are a US citizen or national traveling or living abroad, take a look at the free “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program” (“STEP”) at the State Department. It enables you to enroll your trip abroad with the US Embassy or Consulate. There are three key benefits: (i) To get safety information as you plan your trip, (ii) To make it easier for the U.S. Embassy to reach your if there is an emergency and (iii) To assist your friends and family to reach you if an emergency arises at home.

10 Solo Travel Tips If Things Go Wrong Abroad:

Tip Three:

Make a plan to have cash wired from home in an emergency. This is key if there is a natural disaster, serious political unrest or other unexpected crisis at your destination or you lose your wallet or are robbed. As to the latter, get a police report if you can. The last one can be tricky as I found out. I was robbed on a train in one country. Since the train took off quickly, I could not get a police report there. The train went on through a second country. When I arrived at my destination in a third country for a few days stay, there was no way to get an official report. (I highly recommend wearing a money belt (unseen) under your waistband to hold your passport, cash and credit cards. Luckily, I had done that when I was robbed in broad daylight in Europe.  Unfortunately, this enterprising band of 4-5 pickpockets did get my train ticket. I had to buy a ticket with cash at two different borders. Since I was not able to use a credit card on the train, I wondered if I ran out of Euros/other local currencies, if I would be put out in the snow!)

This can also be important if a strictly financial crisis arises. The most recent example was the bankruptcy of the fabled Thomas Cook Group.  Per press reports, at that time, there were some 5,000 of their travelers abroad. In such a case, those who are stranded after their travel company’s collapse may have to purchase new airline tickets and be surprised to find themselves having to book and pay for more lodging and travel expenses.

Tip Four:

Take phone and email contacts for your consulate/embassy abroad.  I once found myself (passport in hand) in a small town in India with a visa issue. Although we may think visas are just needed to go to a country, try leaving when you have a visa problem! I tried to reach the correct in-country US staff via email.  I had limited online access and could not reach the right person to solve the problem. When I went to leave a few days later, it took me some time to get through outbound passport control apparently because of a visa issue. (Do read your visa for errors to get it corrected prior to leaving home.)

10 Solo Travel Tips If Things Go Wrong Abroad:

Tip Five:

If you lose your passport abroad or it is stolen, the first thing to do is to contact your country’s consulate or embassy’s Consular Section where you are. (You will likely have to wait for standard business hours.) Plan to go in. For US citizens, to replace a passport, you must file a Form DS-11 (a passport application).  If your passport was stolen, you must also submit a Form DS-64 which explains the circumstances as to its theft. Although you aren’t required to file a police report, we recommend it. When I flew home from a trip, a fellow traveler told me of his plight that Sunday. His US passport was stolen abroad. When he went to get it replaced, fees applied to get a new one. Since his cash and credit cards were stolen, he couldn’t pay the fee. He spent most of that day trying to reach someone back home in the US to wire money to him.

In any case, you may just get a limited, emergency passport.

Tip Six:

Have a plan B in mind in case of an emergency. As has happened with the Coronavirus, many people have been stranded around the world as flights were cancelled and national borders were closing.  On 9/11 when I was on solo travel abroad and stranded for 8 days, I didn’t have an alternative plan. When my flight was cancelled and there was a ground stop on all air traffic in the US, I came up with what seemed like the right plan. I when down to the airlines’ city office and was surprised when two different foreign carriers informed me they could not sell me a ticket to Canada where I could look for a train or bus to the US. The reason? There were tens of thousands of Americans stranded in small towns in eastern Canada.  I didn’t have a Plan B and was so focused on my initial exit strategy I overlooked an obvious alternative.  I very likely could have flown to Mexico and then mad the long journey into the US via train or bus.  In the heat of the moment when an emergency arises, it is easy to overlook alternate options. While it is unlikely that you will need to make use of a Plan B, it is better to have one in mind even if it goes unused.

10 Solo Travel Tips If Things Go Wrong Abroad:

Tip Seven:

While away, immediately contact your bank and credit card companies in case of loss or theft of credit cards or ID’s. Why do that before you get home? A lost passport is a real “gift” to those engaged in the growth industry of identity theft. This can haunt you for months or years to come.

Tip Eight:

If you must miss your flight home because of an emergency, see if  your airline will waive fees to book a new flight.

Tip Nine:  When you return home, continue to watch your credit cards and bank accounts.

Tip Ten:

If you received a limited, emergency passport, check back on how to get a standard one.

 

Go to our Contacts page and send us you own tips.

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