Are your prepared for an emergency on your travels?
As the events from the terror attacks unfolded across the media, the whole of humanity was appalled and saddened by the innocent loss of life in Paris and Beirut. This very summer on our travels in the Far East we had left Bangkok a few hours before several bombs shook the usual peaceful city. These events are extreme but natural disasters like the earthquake in Japan or even a family only emergency can happen at any time so I thought I would put together some simple steps on how family travellers can plan around possible emergencies and try and be prepared for an emergency on your travels.
Copies of passports
We always carry photocopies of our passport (and the children’ birth certificates) in our luggage and now also have photos of them on our mobile phones and saved on an on-line cloud system such as Dropbox.
Before we travel, we email a copy of our full itinerary to ourselves and also to two members of our family. We include copies of our passports, flights, accommodation and general travel plan ideas. We like this idea as you have a back up elsewhere in the world if you were to ever need it in any type of emergency. Even in cases of lost passports, you can find your local embassy and have someone email you copies across. In relation to plans, unless you are on a planned tour, you cannot always know what these would be in advance but where we can we inform family of where we will be especially if travelling abroad.
I am Scout leader so we really emphasise the need to know details of members of your family. In an emergency a child knowing a parents name will be much more helpful and will help find the parents that much easier. My two year old knows my full name and if he was to get separated, at least I know he would be able to tell the person my name whilst Maya knows our address and telephone number. We would encourage families to help their children remember their parents names, address and a telephone number. This is as important for international travel as it is for local travel and days out. Having the children able to recite contact details in an emergency is one of the most important skills you can encourage your children to learn.
Information your children should have
When we check into a hotel, we now take a business card of the hotel and give them to the children. Inevitably with children these can be misplaced but we do make a conscious effort that they have them on their person when we are leaving our hotel room and also know the hotel name.
I have seen a couple of great ideas of how to keep information on a child:
1. a money belt worn under the children’s clothes. Inside the money belt would be a card where the parents details, address, telephone number (also include your international code if you are travelling abroad) and also you can add cards of your current hotel into the money belt. Some money in case of an emergency is also a good idea. I would place these all in a ziplock bag so they are fully waterproof.
2. Luggage tag added onto a child’s clothing: I love this idea especially if you are visiting a busy place like a theme park or festival. On a luggage tag, details of the parents are added and then added to children’s clothing (belt, button) so the tag will always be on your child. It’s such a simple but so effective. We will definitely be doing this on our future adventures.
Plan of what to do in an emergency
When we arrive at a new destination we spend some time with our children explaining what to do in an emergency and where our emergency meet up point is. A meet up point is vital even if you have mobile phones or your children are older. It is vital for an emergency as most of your call to items like mobiles etc are usually defunct at this point and batteries can die and phones can be lost. Sometimes the old ways are the best ways. Again this is much more important when you are out for the day and arrange a place where we would meet in case any of the group was to get separated.
We have started to do this when using the underground as we have been using this a lot when in London and Singapore. The little adventurers know that in an emergency they should stay where they are and we would find them.
When we arrive in a new city we always find out where our local embassy is, for us that would be the British Embassy is and where the local hospitals are. There are lots of fab apps out there now which let you find the local English speaking doctor anywhere in the world.
We also have a rucksack which we always carry with us, which contains a spare pair clothes for the children, emergency snacks, contact details of family at home, a first aid kit, a small torch and details of the local embassy (if abroad)
I am a true lover of travel and though events which happened last week do make you think twice about travelling with your precious family, it is only momentary thought and my love for travel wins hands down. Our planet is beautiful and deserves to be explored, by letting those who reek terror on lives on innocent people we are letting them win. Emergencies can happen at anytime and can be of varying magnitude. You can never predict when these will happen, but you can make some small changes which would help in an emergency.
Have you any suggestions of how to travel safely? What would you recommend? Please let us know in the comments below.