As you plan your next adventure, you’re probably thinking about all the exciting things you’ll discover while booking your rooms and deciding where to stay.
There’s another crucial aspect of travel planning that we don’t want to think about: travel problems.
Numerous problems can arise while you’re on vacation, but planning ahead can ensure a minor inconvenience doesn’t morph into a giant problem.
Here’s how to prepare for a trip with the worst-case scenarios in mind.
What is the Worst That Can Happen While Traveling?
A lot can go wrong on your trip. Murphy’s Law tells us if something can go wrong, it will.
Here are some things that could turn your dream vacation into a nightmare:
- Lost documents
- Identity theft
- Violent Crime
- Natural disasters
- Canceled flights/services
The possibilities range from the everyday, like misplacing your wallet, to the horrific, like finding yourself amid a violent protest or natural disaster.
Although even the best plans can’t account for all the extreme circumstances, thinking about what could happen and mitigating the risk will provide peace of mind and give you the best opportunity to enjoy your epic adventure.
How To Prepare for a Trip: Before You Go
We can’t stop bad things from happening. The best we can do is prepare ourselves for the best possible outcome if something terrible happens.
Prepare before your trip by making passport copies, learning your embassy locations, and having a communication plan with people back home. You should also consider having multiple bank accounts and checking the State Department’s travel advisories.
Make Passport Copies
If your passport gets lost or stolen, having a copy for the embassy will help you get a replacement. Keeping one safe with a relative at home will help in the worst-case scenarios (fire, highway robbery, etc.).
Make two full-color copies of your passport. Leave one at home with someone you trust and keep the other in your luggage away from your passport.
Keep in mind that copies never replace the actual document. Copies help the embassy expedite the processing of a new passport should the original get stolen.
The United States has embassies scattered across the globe. Research the closest embassy to your travel destinations before you go, and keep copies of the addresses on hand.
The Embassy can help travelers who lost their passports get back home, but it’s also the best place to go if violent protests or natural disasters erupt. One of the embassy’s primary missions is to keep its citizens safe.
I love solo travel, and although it’s liberating, there’s always the fear in the back of my head that something will go wrong. What if something happens to me? How will my friends and family even know to start looking?
Before every trip, I create a communication plan with someone back home. I give them my itinerary so they know where and when to expect me and of any long trips where I’ll be away from Wi-Fi.
The communication plan can be simple, like posting to social media once a day, or more complex, like sending regular emails and updates. You could get an international SIM card and keep in touch on apps like WhatsApp or Discord.
With our interconnected world, keeping friends and family in the loop about your safety is easier than ever. It will give them vital information about where you’re supposed to be and where you were when they last heard from you, should they need to alert local authorities.
Know the Problems
You should always check the State Department’s website for travel advisories before an international trip. The advisories offer vital information about crime, political unrest, scams, and other dangers you may encounter while abroad.
Armed with this information, you can decide how to dress, where to carry your money, and which areas to avoid.
Multiple Bank Accounts
The first international trip I ever took was to London. I stepped off the plane, excited to start my adventure, and went to buy a coffee. The coffee shop declined my bank card.
I had saved up for this trip! I had the money in my account! This must be some sort of mistake!
I logged onto my bank account, and to my surprise, it was negative $500. My identity had been stolen. They took all the money out of my account and then some. At first, I panicked; I was embarking on my first international trip, and I had no money!
But then I remembered my other bank! I have two banks with multiple unlinked accounts. Thankfully, I decided to bring both cards “just in case.” The second bank was untouched by the ID theft.
I sighed a heavy relief, knowing that my trip was safe, and then I called the first bank and got a lock on my account. I told them what had happened and that I was out of the country.
Bank of America has a bad rap as a giant megabank, but they were so helpful. Not only did they lock my account and create an action plan for me, but they also offered to advance me money before the investigation so I could enjoy my trip! I declined because I had the other bank, but I was thankful for the effort,
The point here is that identity theft can happen to anyone at anytime. Thieves can max out credit cards and drain bank accounts. It’s always best to have a backup source of cash, especially when you’ll be away from home.
More Ways To Plan Ahead
All trips come with risk, regardless of where or how you plan to get there. If you’re embarking on a road trip, get a tune-up and proper maintenance before you go to avoid disasters on the road. Plan your route and book rooms in advance so you don’t have to sleep in the car.
Budget extra money to pay for any unforeseen circumstances. When I was traveling in Peru, I booked a train to travel from Cusco to Puno. When I got to the station, I learned the train was canceled due to a problem with the rails. Thankfully, I had enough money to book a last-minute flight instead, ensuring the train issue didn’t completely derail my travel plans and leave me stranded in Cusco.
Planning for Disaster While Traveling
Your travel planning doesn’t end when you arrive at the airport. You must remain vigilant during your entire journey to ensure a safe vacation.
Here are three extra steps you should take while traveling to stay safe.
Use the Hotel Safe
If you’re staying in a hotel, lock some of your valuables in the safe. Most aren’t accessible by the hotel staff, and you will have more confidence wandering around the unknown city, knowing that even if you lose your wallet, you will have a stash back at the hotel for the rest of your trip.
Multiple Money Locations
Never store all your credit cards and money together. Keep a few stashes on your person and hidden in your room.
Maybe it’s overkill, but I always have money in at least three different places when I’m out and about. Of course, I’ll have my purse, but I’ll also have pocket money and a spare twenty tucked away someplace secret.
If you’re the victim of a mugging, the robber will most likely be happy with the wallet and won’t care enough to search you for an extra few bucks. That extra pocket money will ensure you can return to your room.
I don’t keep all my extra money locked in my hotel safe, even if I have a secure room. I’ll lock some cash and a credit card in my safe, but I’ll keep some hidden in my mess of laundry and luggage. Someone needs to be desperate to go through all that just to steal a credit card and a few extra bucks.
Often, staying safe is a matter of paying attention to your surroundings. When traveling alone, I take my personal safety seriously, and you should, too.
Watch your surroundings. Be aware of your belongings and the people around you at all times. Keep an eye on the news for signs of unrest, and always look like you are present in the moment.
Your Trip Will Be Great!
Don’t let my overabundance of caution deter you from having a spectacular trip. Millions of people travel yearly, and the vast majority have fantastic trips.
Ideally, you’ll join them, and your travel plans will go off without a hitch. But if it doesn’t, you’ll be happy you prepared well in advance so you know how to navigate the problems that arise.
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and you won’t go wrong. Bon Voyage!