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Surviving abroad when your travel plans go wrong

When making travel plans, the idea of things going wrong tends to be at the back of our minds. We’re too busy thinking about the cocktails we’ll be sipping on the beach, and the temples we’re going to explore.

It may not have happened to you yet, but it’s all too easy for things to go wrong abroad. The anxiety of having your luggage going missing or losing your passport can too much for some travellers, especially if they have decided to go away alone.

Some of these situations can be prevented with a bit of preparation, but not all. Here are some tips on how to survive when things don’t go to plan.

Preparation is key 

Whether you’ve been to your chosen holiday destination ten times or never before, it’s vital to do some research about the country you’re visiting. The latest scams you need to watch out for may be completely different, or there could currently be a reason why it is unwise to travel to that country. Check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website for any travel warnings – don’t just rely on news reports. Media outlets may claim that tourists should not travel to Egypt at the moment, but what they likely mean is there is just one area of the country that needs to be avoided.

If you’re travelling somewhere particularly exotic, you need to check that you get the right vaccinations. It’s best to speak to your doctor, as if you’re on any medication you can ask them for advice about travelling with your condition – there may be things you need to avoid or be more aware of. Double check that your medication will be allowed into the country and that you have plenty of it before you leave.

Buy travel insurance

You should never go abroad without buying travel insurance – even if you’ve been lucky in your adventuring so far. Don’t buy insurance just because it’s cheap either; you may find it doesn’t cover something important until it’s too late. Medical costs in other countries, particularly the US, can be astronomical – even for the most minor injuries and problems.

Insurance can also cover you for lost luggage, flight cancellations, theft and more. It’s not just for medical emergencies!

Dealing with theft

Thief stealing mobile phone from back pocket of a man walking on the street. Pickpocketing smart phone from back pocket of man.

Being mugged is never a nice experience, and it often leaves the victim feeling shaken and vulnerable. Some people take a dummy wallet with them abroad, which is full of old/expired cards, so if they are mugged they can hand this over rather than their real purse. However it is all too easy to turn your back on your camera bag or rucksack whilst you’re on a train or sat in a café. The next thing you know, your passport or wallet is missing.

The important thing is to stay calm – double check your possessions have actually been taken, as you may have moved them to your coat pocket and forgotten about doing so. If you’re sure something has been taken, report the incident to your nearest police station within 24 hours. Take your passport – or a photocopy of it – with you so you can prove who you are.

Coping with travel delays and cancellations

We can all aim to get to the airport several hours before our flight, but no matter how prepared you are, travel delays and cancellations can lay ruin to all of your plans. If your flight/train/boat is cancelled or delayed for any reason, try not to get too stressed. Remember, it’s not something that’s within your control, so there’s not much point getting overly worked up about it. Why not pass the time doing something that you can control instead, such as brushing up on the local language or reading a relaxing book? It may help reduce some of the anxiety.

What to do if you get sick

Young woman with heatstroke on a beach

Young woman with heatstroke on a beach

There is always a chance you could come down with a virus or get food poisoning whilst abroad, as the food and hygiene standards in some countries can differ hugely from what you’re used to in the UK. If you’ve been suffering from vomiting, diarrhoea or both for more than eight hours you should go to A+E, as you will likely be seriously dehydrated.

Of course, if you have a pre-existing condition, it may flair up or become particularly bad whilst you’re away too. Your rule of thumb should be this: if you feel so unwell that you would normally go to the doctor at home, then you need to do the same when you’re abroad. All your medical costs should be covered by your travel insurance.

Keeping your money safe

Some of us take a huge amount of spending money away with us on holiday – after all, there are so many souvenirs to buy! No matter how safe the destination you’re going to is, you need to have a back-up plan in case you lose all your money.

We suggest that you take at least one credit card with you – make sure it will work in the country you’re going to and that you tell the bank where you’re going beforehand. Read up on the charges too; you don’t want to withdraw money abroad only to return to a huge bill when you get home.

Although it can be stressful when things go wrong, it can also be a blessing. Sometimes the unplanned turns out better than expected. Remember that holidays are an adventure, and you should be able to take almost any problem in your stride. If you do need assistance, contact your insurance provider and they should be able to sort out a solution.

 

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