Guest post by Maire Hunter
When getting ready for an overseas trip with the family, the whirlwind of preparations can seem overwhelming at times. There are passports to obtain, plane tickets to secure, suitcases to pack and children to corral. But part of your preparations should include creating a plan to handle an emergency, especially since navigating such an event can be surprisingly complicated overseas.
An emergency could include anything from a broken arm to a natural disaster like a hurricane or a tsunami, so it’s best to prepare for all possible contingencies. Here are a few tips on how to plan for the best but prepare for the worst on your overseas family vacation.
U.S. Consulate concerns
Depending on the type of emergency in question, you may or may not need to contact the nearest U.S. Embassy. If little Timmy cut his hand and needs stitches, that probably doesn't necessitate a phone call to the American Consulate — but if a member of your family has lost a passport or a natural disaster puts your lives in danger while overseas, that’s a good time to pick up the phone.
Before you leave home, find out the address and telephone number of the closest U.S. Embassy to where you’ll be staying. If you’ll be traveling in multiple countries, find out the contact information for the embassy in each region you plan to visit. Store this information in your phone or laptop, and write it on a piece of paper to be stowed in your carry-on luggage.
Doctors and hospitals and insurance, oh my!
If the emergency in question is a medical one, the first thing to do is to locate a doctor or hospital. This is another piece of information you should look up before leaving home: the location of the nearest hospitals or the name of a reputable doctor in the area(s) where you’ll be staying.
Once you've taken the injured or sick party in question to the hospital and made sure he’s receiving adequate medical care, your next step is to contact your travel medical company to report your claim. (You did purchase a travel medical insurance policy before your trip, didn't you?) Your policy number and the phone number of your insurance company are two more pieces of information you should carry with you at all times on your trip.
Perhaps the most important step to preparing for an overseas emergency is talking openly with your fellow travelers — in this case, your family — about how to avoid emergencies and also how to handle one, should it arise. Formulating a plan as a group can help avoid chaos and panic in the moment. Even small children should know what to do, even if that’s as simple as staying with Mom and Dad and not wandering off should the grown-ups’ attention be focused elsewhere.
Your overseas vacation with your family should be fun, not stressful. Get any emergency planning out of the way well in advance of the trip so you can focus on having a great time as a family. Take the above measures to make sure your bases are covered, and then concentrate on relaxing and enjoying your international vacation.