Staying Safe With A Traveler's Insurance Kit
GoNOMAD MINI GUIDE: A Traveler’s Insurance Kit: Emergency Safety for the Road
By Kent St. John, GoNOMAD
Senior Travel Editor
BEFORE YOU GO
Before you leave for your adventure, there are a few things you should gather. Do some pre-trip research and purchasing. Travel Safety Information
The first place to visit is the State Department Consular Affairs site at travel.state.gov. This site offers travel advisories, warnings, and other important information pertaining to visas and official type things. Vital when traveling to areas that have seen uprisings, wars or political instability.
Purchase travel insurance
Travel insurance is getting more affordable and more necessary. Make sure to purchase trip cancellation insurance, including medical and emergency evacuation coverage, before you go. If you plan a longer trip, or multiple trips, check out the new multi-trip policies that cover you all year long (See Safe All Year )
Get your immunizations
Make sure to be up to date on your required immunizations, and if you are traveling to a malarial area, make sure to bring plenty of anti-malarial medications (enough to last at least four weeks longer than you plan to stay…just in case).
Get your visas
There’s nothing worse than arriving someplace without the necessary visa for entry. While you can often get visas for other countries once you arrive in your destination, it is important to check that first and make sure you have any visas you might not be able to procure en route.
BUILDING YOUR KIT
There are several items to include in your kit, which is to be carried with you when you go. It’s a good idea to make several copies of each of these things. Put one copy of everything in the same place as your passport and money. Hide another copy somewhere in your luggage, and give the third and fourth copies to people back home–Guardian Angels–who can help you with any emergencies from home. Guardian Angels should be willing and able to overnight you all the information in your kit, wire funds, whatever. If you can, choose several angels--sometimes connecting with just one can be difficult.
- Write down the names, addresses and phone numbers of your consulates and embassies in the countries you are visiting. One of the consular section’s primary functions is to provide emergency services to travelers–such as replacing a passport, locating medical assistance, arranging the transfer of funds, and locating you if a family crisis occurs.
- Carry several passport photos and several photocopies of the first two pages of your passport. The passport photos will be useful in any event for acquiring a visa for last minute destination choices throughout Southeast Asia. For example, to get a visa in Bangkok for Vietnam you will need at least two photos.
- A copy of your birth certificate is also a big time saver if you need to replace a lost or stolen passport.
- Make several copies of your plane tickets and itinerary. All airlines have different policies on lost or stolen tickets, but copies will get you better results and possibly get you home more cheaply!
- Make copies of your travel insurance claim and contact information. Necessary if you need to file or contact them in an emergency.
- Make copies of your immunization record. You may need it in an emergency or as proof of your vaccines for visas.
- Make copies of that all-important credit card info: issuers, numbers and the phone numbers to call when they are missing. Replacement cards can be sent far quicker if you know where to call, locally if possible. (see CONTACTS for local numbers)
- Add copies of all prescriptions that you require or are taking.
- Make a copy of your Guardian Angels’ names, addresses and phone numbers with a big heading that says, "Contact in Emergency."
Nothing can tighten your throat like reaching for money that just isn’t there anymore. Always keep a very hidden and untouched supply of money (enough to survive for three days) and, if possible, a few checks and one credit card. It may take a few days to have new credit cards delivered or funds wired. If you have a credit card, you can use an ATM machine--the front line of emergency cash. In an emergency, have your Guardian Angel make a payment or deposit to your bank or card company. (You can leave them some cash to do this with!)
- If possible, carry an American Express Card. You can cash a personal check at hundreds of AMEX offices throughout the world.
- Western Union (800-325-6000) is another possible way to send money worldwide. It is costly and someone back home must come up with the money, but it’s a viable alternative.
- The Overseas Citizens Service, part of the US Department of State, can also be of help in transferring money overseas. This process is the lengthiest but full information can be found at travel.state.gov/money.html or by calling 202-647-5225.
The best way to keep a "no worries" attitude is to travel with your wits about you.
- Keep your valuables in a place not accessible to thieves and pickpockets.
- While lodging, have your documents locked up or kept on your person (a neck pouch, waist or ankle belt are great places to stash your stuff).
- In the event of a theft or other emergency, file a police report and then, if necessary, contact your nearest embassy or consulate.