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Mar 10, 2018

As much as you plan, you can never truly predict what will happen while traveling. As scary as it is to think about an unexpected emergency or disaster, it is always good to prepare should something happen. Next time you travel, think about preparing an emergency bag that you can grab in a flash if you have to evacuate your hotel and may not be able to return. It may be a good idea to keep this bag on your person at all times just in case. Prior to leaving your home country, it is very important to do some preparation as well.

These are our suggestions on what to include in your emergency bag:

  • Wallet – Leave the big wallet at home. Take a debit card and a credit card or two. While American Express may be your preferred card, it is not accepted everywhere, so make sure you have a backup. Make sure you always have your driver’s license or other ID, and if you belong to Priority Access lounges, bring those as well, and don’t forget to pack your Global Entry card if you have one. Be sure to take photos of each card, both sides, and upload them to a cloud storage account like Google Drive or Dropbox where you can access the files from any phone or computer. In case they are lost or stolen, you’ll need the information to contact your bank in order to cancel and replace them. You can also leave a copy with a family member who may be able to help while you are away.
  • Cash – Have on hand a few hundred dollars in both US and local currency. The cheapest way to get cash without paying transaction fees is to use a debit card at an ATM once you arrive in your destination. It is best to use a hotel or indoor bank ATM to avoid being robbed
  • Passport – Make sure your passport is valid for 6 months beyond your trip or you may be denied boarding. Before you go, scan all the pages of your passport and place them in a cloud storage account. It will expedite the replacement process if you lose it. If you do lose your passport, there is a good chance someone would return it if they know how to contact you. Put a sticker on the back cover letting the finder know who to call or email if found.
  • Cell phone
  • Portable cell phone charger
  • Note pad and pen or pencil in case your cell phone dies. It might also be a good idea to take any important phone numbers with you on paper for the same reason.
  • Car and/or house keys
  • Glasses
  • Map of the area in the event the GPS on your phone doesn’t work. Make sure you pin point where the closest embassy is located.
  • Flash light – Luci EMRG lights are solar powered and inflatable so they are lightweight and don’t take up a lot of space.
  • If you travel with your laptop, you may want a bag large enough to hold it as well. Be sure to remove all sensitive data from your local drive and store it on the cloud before leaving home. 

Good to Have in Case You are Stranded

  • Multi-Functional toolkit – Amazon sells one for $22.95. It includes waterproof and shockproof case, a compass, carabiners, a whistle, a pen, a survival knife, paracord bracelets, a Saber card, a flashlight, a Firestarter kit, an emergency blanket, and more.
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Water purification tablets or drops for when boiling water is not possible
  • Two plastic foldable water containers – one for gathering water, the other for water that has been purified
  • Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and/or Disinfectant wipes

Before You Go

The US State Department has a checklist you should review. It provides links to destination information, travel warnings, embassy locations, and more. You should also enroll in STEP when traveling abroad. This allows the US Embassy to get in touch with you in the event of a disaster and will help family members to do the same. The State Department also published a category-by-category guide of every nation in the State Department database listed by level of precaution. Geopolitics change quickly, so be sure to confirm any State Department advisories and language before planning to travel abroad.

Related Blog Posts:

Protecting Your Data While Traveling

Scams to Watch Out for While Traveling Abroad

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