How-to Handle Travel Emergencies

End of Life Management Toolkit #9 | by Team Passare and Y Colaborative

7. What to Know if you Travel Abroad

Nothing evokes the spirit of adventure more than traveling to an exotic place, like a foreign country. Foreign travel can bring special challenges, so go prepared, to increase your enjoyment. Follow our recommendations here when you plan a trip to a foreign country:

  • Check the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) website for important information on travel warnings and alerts for the country or countries you will visit.
  • Read travel blogs for the most up-to-the-minute conditions and weather.
  • Register with your home country’s embassy soon after you arrive. Keep a list of your country’s embassy telephone numbers for each country you will visit so your government can contact you in an emergency.
  • Verify your overseas medical insurance coverage. Ask if your policy applies to overseas travel, and if it covers emergency expenses such as medical evacuation.
  • Remember, you are responsible for understanding the laws of any foreign country you visit, and are subject to the enforcement of those laws by authorities.
  • Carry extra bottled water while you are traveling.
  • Get properly vaccinated for the part of the world where you will travel. Keep extra medications on hand in case you are delayed.
  • Carry extra cash in case you need overseas medical care. If possible, keep extra cash in both US and local currency in a secure place other than your wallet.
  • Learn key phrases in the language spoken in the country you visit, such as: “I need a telephone,” “I need a doctor,” “I am lost,” or “Please help me find…”
  • Remain open to new experiences. A good attitude can make an important difference in whether you get help.
  • Pack a compact, easy-to-carry first aid kit. Be sure its contents are fresh and complete.
  • Take precautions to avoid being the target of a crime. Avoid carrying or wearing excessive or expensive jewelry.
  • Do not leave unattended luggage in a public area, and do not accept packages from strangers.
  • If you are incarcerated abroad, call the local US Embassy or Consulate.
  • Pack clothing appropriate for the climate where you are traveling and be prepared for changing weather conditions.
  • Bring a good pair of walking shoes.
  • If you are driving in a foreign country, find out whether you need an international driver’s license.

Important Note: Check the section, “Your Travel Emergencies Resource List” in this eBook for more information on travelling outside the US.


What to Know if you Consume International Food and Drink

Remember these general guidelines to stay safe while eating, drinking, and swimming in a foreign country:

Foods that are usually safe to eat include:
  • Cooked food, served hot
  • Hard-cooked eggs
  • Fruits and vegetables washed in bottled water, or that you peel yourself
  • Pasteurized dairy products
Foods that may be unsafe to eat include:
  • Food served at room temperature
  • Food from street vendors
  • Raw or soft-cooked eggs
  • Raw, rare, or undercooked meat or fish
  • Unwashed or unpeeled raw fruits and vegetables
  • Salads
  • Unpasteurized dairy products

TIP: If you have allergies, special medical needs, or a weakened immune system, always carry safe food you can eat, and bring medications to avoid common traveler’s illnesses.

Drinks that are usually safe include:
  • Water, sodas, or sports drinks that are bottled and sealed
  • Water that is disinfected either by filter, boiling, or other chemical treatments
  • Ice made with bottled or disinfected water
  • Hot coffee or tea
  • Pasteurized milk
Drinks that may be unsafe include:
  • Tap or well water
  • Fountain drinks
  • Ice made with tap or well water
  • Drinks made with tap or well water, such as reconstituted juice
  • Unasteurized milk
What to Know if you Bathe or Swim in a Foreign Country

Unclean water can make you sick if you swallow or inhale it while bathing, showering, or swimming. It is sometimes difficult to know when water is not clean, so be safe rather than sorry. People who have weakened immune systems should take the following precautions when swimming or bathing in a foreign country:

  • Avoid getting water in your nose or mouth
  • Avoid steam and water vapor that can be inhaled, such as in showers and hot tubs
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