By Jessica Thiefels
You feel at ease on vacation—and you should—but that doesn’t mean you should completely let your guard down. Unpredictable circumstances can still happen while on vacation, from sickness and car problems to having a lost or stolen passport or getting injured.
While you can’t predict what will go wrong, you can prepare by taking these ten safety items with you.
Travel insurance is often overlooked and thought unnecessary, when really, it should be at the top of your vacation “to-do” list. Travel insurance provides necessary emergency care when you’re not near your regular doctor or medical facility. It can also help cover problems like flight cancellations, delays and baggage loss. Check with companies like Travel Insurance Services for plans ranging from basic to premium.
When you’re travelling, it’s important to carry an extra stash of cash in case you run into any emergencies or issues with your credit or debit cards. If you’re going to another country, take American money, but don’t forget to go to the bank beforehand and get the currency of the country you’re traveling to. Keep your extra money somewhere safe, like a travel safe hidden in your room.
Divide whatever money and credit cards you do have between yourself and your travel partner or significant other, suggests Carolyn Gatto, travel author and writer.
Your rule of thumb for travel should always be to expect the unexpected, and there’s no better way to be prepared for the unexpected than with a “go-bag.” A go-bag is pre-packed with a variety of items you may need in an emergency, like a whistle, flashlight, multi-tool, battery-powered cell phone charger, extra clothing, prescription medication, water and some non-perishable snacks, according to The Home Security Superstore. You can adjust the contents depending on the length of your stay, and the capacity you have to carry such extra gear.
Natural disasters and national emergencies don’t care if you’re on vacation, and having this bag will ensure you’re safe in an emergency. Not to mention the peace of mind you’ll have knowing you’re ready for anything.
Protect Your Money
The most common immediate money threats on vacation are pickpockets and thieves who prey on unsuspecting travelers. To avoid these potential emergencies, keep your money and important documents strapped on your waist at all times with a money belt.
That’s not all; before leaving, remember to, “Record all bank, credit card (including expiration dates, security codes, and PINs), and international customer service telephone numbers before hitting the road,” suggests Shermans Travel.
They continue, “Notify your card company when and where you will be traveling to, so they do not get suspicious of purchases overseas. Leave the information with someone trustworthy back home, and keep a copy of the info in the hotel safe or a secure suitcase compartment.”
Emergency Contact Info Card
Finding adequate medical facilities in the event of an emergency can be large concern regarding medical emergencies and travel. To feel at ease about this on your vacation, give every person in your travel party an emergency contact card. This should list a variety of contacts including family members, police institutions, local hospitals and other medical centers, in case someone gets lost or injured without anyone in the group nearby.
Copies of Important Documents
Bags get lost or stolen all too often in airports and highly populated travel sites. Keep photocopies of your important documents in a different place than the real ones. If your bag with the real passport or travel visa happens to go missing, you’ll still be able to get home with your copies; or get new ones expedited easier.
While they’re not infallible, backpack locks will help deter potential thieves from stealing your belongings. If you’re out at a café or in an airport, you can tether your bags to a table or chair so no one will be able to swipe them when you’re not looking.
This is also valuable with train travel, so you can nap without worrying about your belongings being taken.
Portable Door Lock
There’s always a chance that your hotel will be less safe than expected. Keep a portable door lock with you just in case you end up somewhere that isn’t exactly secure. This is especially true if you’re in a rental with doors and locks that may not have been updated in many years. These small devices can fit easily inside a small purse and usually cost less than $25.
If you’re going to a country where you don’t speak the language, a phrasebook will help you you talk to people when it’s most important: in an emergency. You’ll be able to ask simple questions on the spot, like how to reach the police or where to find a hospital.
Prepare some of these common emergency phrases with yourself and any children that are going, so you’re prepared just in case. This way, the first time you use the language isn’t when you need to know what to say quickly and clearly.
Your phone is an important way to find safety in the event of an emergency, allowing you to look something up or call the necessary help. Yet, being able to charge your phone and computer in another country isn’t always possible without a voltage converter. Find out what you need for the country you’re traveling to and make sure you have at least one for yourself or to share with your group.
BIO: Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a lifestyle blogger. She’s written for Reader’s Digest, AARP, Lifehack, Tripping and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 for money-saving ideas, health tips and more.