Traveling is wonderful, but sometimes things can happen that you definitely didn’t expect. Recently there have been several large earthquakes in Italy—which you probably didn’t even think could happen there. I wasn’t there myself but several friends were not too far away, in Rome, and felt completely unprepared to deal with the situation. It just shows you that issues can arise in the most unexpected of places, and while you shouldn’t feel panicked that something dreadful will happen while you’re off on your adventures, it never hurts to be prepared.
1. Make Sure You Have Health Insurance
Definitely make sure you have health insurance that’ll cover you wherever you’re traveling. You don’t want an unexpected sickness to happen and then not be covered for it. If you’re going to countries with a culture that’s rather different than what you’re used to, there’s a chance you could get sick from the food or climate conditions while your body takes time to adjust. If you’re planning on partaking in any extreme sports or activities, you may also want to add an additional level of coverage beyond the basics, just in case.
2. Leave Someone An Itinerary
If you have a set itinerary, or at least a general idea of where you’ll be on each day, leave it with someone back home. If something happens to you or they need to reach you urgently, they’ll know where you are. If they don’t hear from you for a certain length of time, they’ll be able to take the proper steps to alert the authorities, if necessary. This is especially important if you’re travelling in multiple countries or planning to go into more remote areas, particularly if you’re by yourself.
3. Review The Emergency Plan
Every hotel and hostel should have an evacuation plan. Usually it’s a map on the back of the door to let you know the quickest way out of the building. Always make sure that you’ve made a note of it and know where you’re going in case of a fire or other emergency. You don’t want to be scrambling in the middle of the night in an unfamiliar building with no clue what’s going on.
Have a look around and make sure you know the exact route. There could be smoke and you might not be able to see clearly when something happens. You’ll also be in an emotional state if something big were to happen, making it harder to think straight.
4. Pack A First Aid Kit
We’re used to having awesome doctors just a phone call away. But if you’re out hiking somewhere that you’ve never been before, it’s not that easy. Most of these places could have remote and difficult terrain, and doctors aren’t going to be close.
You’ll at least want bandages and disinfectant in case of scrapes or cuts. Research where you’re going to be and see if insect and animal bites are going to be a risk you’ll have to be aware of. Simple painkillers are always good, as are anti-sickness medications. You may also want to pack water purifying tablets, particularly if you plan on filling a water bottle from natural sources. Tap water is also not safe to drink in every country, so be sure to research this before you leave home and keep a stock of purification options on-hand for emergencies.
5. Know What To Do In Natural Disasters
This is something that we tend to think can never happen to us. The tourists in Italy when the earthquakes happened had the same thought before they left for their trip. Natural disasters are certainly hard to plan ahead for, but it’s best to do everything you can to learn the basics, just in case.
For hurricanes, it’s important to stay away from outside walls and windows where possible. If you can see outside, don’t assume that the storm has passed if you see clear skies and wait to go outside until authorities say that it’s safe to do so. Earthquakes are a little harder to predict, but should you get caught up in one, immediately get on the floor and cover your head with your arms. Aftershocks are also possible, so try to stay in open areas and away from buildings once you’re able to get outside.
In any emergency situation, it’s good to have a few days of food and water to hand, along with that trusty first aid kit that we mentioned. You’ll also want a flashlight and battery backup for your phone, as power is often the first to go in hurricanes, earthquakes and major storms. Keep your ID and some money in an easily accessible place, along with the contact details for your home country’s embassy in your travel destination. This will be particularly handy if you need to change travel arrangements as a result of the disaster and to get in touch with loved ones.
The key thing for traveling abroad is to try to be prepared for whatever your trip can throw at you. Equip yourself as much as you can and get ready for an adventure!
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