Travelling abroad? Here’s some top tips on getting emergency help

Accidents, illness and injuries happen, even when travelling. However, when you’re abroad, it can be more stressful. I found this out for myself when I was travelling in Vietnam.

Whether you need to call local authorities or visit a hospital or pharmacy for treatment, it’s disorientating when you’re not somewhere familiar. However, you’ve got to stay calm.

To help you keep a level head, I have gathered some top tips on getting emergency help abroad. Check them out and put them into practice for your next trip. I hope you don’t have to use them – but they’ll make coping with an emergency easier, should the worst happen.

Learn key phrases

Learning basic phrases in the local language is helpful generally, but also in emergencies. You don’t have to be fluent, nor do you have to understand all the possible responses, but knowing how to inform others you’re in trouble could make all the difference in an emergency.

Know emergency numbers 

Look up the right emergency number to call for the country you’re travelling to. Key ones include Europe (112), the UK (999) and US (911). You can easily find emergency numbers for all countries. Remember – some countries have different numbers for fire, ambulance and police services. Make a note of all of them.


Find out where the nearest pharmacy and hospital are beforehand

It’s also advised to find out where your nearest pharmacy and hospital are. It might seem excessive, but a quick bit of research could save precious time if an emergency does occur. It’s worth having the peace of mind that you’d know exactly where to go and the best route to take to arrive safely.

Take an emergency travel pack

It’s not as daunting as it sounds. You’ll probably have a lot of the essentials already packed. Charlotte Quenet-Meintjes, head of Workaway, International South Africa, spoke to Travel Ideas and suggested taking:

  • Multiple copies of your passport and/or visa
  • A copy of your insurance information
  • A copy of area maps of your destination and/or other places you may visit
  • Multiple copies of your electronic air ticket, with confirmation and ticket numbers highlighted
  • Special medical needs treatment, if applicable (a medical bracelet is recommended)
  • Copy of your home country’s driver’s license and identification document
  • Cell phone with a sim card that will work overseas and sufficient airtime
  • ATM/credit card (e.g. Visa or Mastercard) as well as currency
  • Emergency / first aid kit


Listen to the locals 

Theft, flooding, injury or assault – emergencies are varied. But few people are in a better position to help you than locals. As a foreigner, it’s important to take advice from those who know the area well. Local authorities and other trusted local individuals (e.g. hotel staff) will have more insight into possible solutions.

Have you had to cope in an emergency abroad? Please share your stories in the comments below.

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