Is security (or lack of) one of the reasons you are hesitant to go it alone? I get it, it is tough to be in a crisis and you turn to your buddy to scream, “Oh No! What are WE going to do?!” and there’s no WE, just air…maybe an angry border guard who doesn’t ‘get’ your humour and there’s no one to calm him/her down. Of course there also isn’t anyone when you f**king miss the bus to Koh Phanan to fight with. But I digress.
I was thinking the other day about the challenges of being a solo traveller. The #1 thing for me is the thought of dealing with a crisis, be it getting sick or getting in the middle of political uprising or a natural disaster. Just typing it makes my stomach clench.
Well to get my stomach unclenched (and maybe help yours to as well) I decided to do something about it.
‘What?’ You ask.
How about developing a plan B… B for back up and covering your bases. The more you do before the trip the easier it will be to throw yourself into your adventure. Too often I fly out of Vancouver, willy nilly, barely managing to remember to get insurance and a tourist visa. (note to self – need to get visa for Mozambique soon) The result is a low frequency hum of anxiety that I have forgotten something. Well, no more I say!
So here’s what I’ve come up with:
1. Make photo copies of your passport, country visas, credit cards, insurances. Also keep them on-line where you can get access to them from any computer, like Drop Box or Cloud.
2. Find out what to do in an emergency when you are in a foreign country. Go to your government’s website and do some digging. Find out if you have an embassy where you are going and what you can reasonably expect from them and keep their address and phone numbers in your wallet. Remember – Knowledge is power.
For instance the Canadian embassy will:
- Arrest and detention
- Child wefare, abduction and custody issues
- Death abroad (I guess it would be hard to avail of that)
- Financial assistance (Good to know when I run out of money cause it isn’t worth anything now.)
- Forced marriage (Oh Good, I was worried about that! LOL)
- Hijacking, hostage takings and kidnappings
- Lost or stolen belongings abroad
- Missing persons (I‘m thinking they don’t mean when I get lost in a city without a map.)
- Natural disasters and civil emergencies
- Passport security
- Physical assault
- Sexual assault
- Sickness or injury
3. Find out your blood type and put it in your passport. In an emergency it will save a lot of time especially if you’re unable to speak…personally I can’t imagine a circumstance where I couldn’t at least gurgle, anyway that’s what my boss thinks.
4. Make sure you have important phone #’s like home, work, embassy as hard copy as well on the internet. . You may think you have some of them memorized but trust me, in a crisis, memory is the first to go.
5. Take a first aid course before you go and take a basic first aid kit. I know, I know… it takes up precious space in your luggage but go without that extra pair of shoes if you have to. ( !!!!!!!!! No, I did not just say that, did I?! ) Things to include:
- Polysporin – I swear by this stuff! It is the best topical antibiotic ever! They have a line-up of products but the one i use is the ointment.
- fill a prescription for a broad-spectrum antibiotic
- anti-nausea pills, acupuncture bracelets … what ever works.
- antihistamine (for those pesky reactions to bug bites and such)
- jet lag pills from the health food store – they actually really help.
6. Travel Insurance Don’t be a noodle head, get insurance. Don’t argue with me. When I hit the magic number 60 my travel insurance costs rocketed but I know I have to suck it and pay it. Best place to go first is Insure My Trip , they will compare tons of companies and lay them out for your perusal, they are the Travelocity of travel insurance . Then check out Nomad Matt’s post about the have-to-haves of travel insurance. He favors World Nomads, (fyi, they don’t cover 60+ ) you can check them out from a link he has in his article when you go read it, cause you are, right? But not until you finish my post and ‘like’ and leave a comment. 🙂
When you’re there, keep your hotel’s card on you. It will help when you’re dealing with cab drivers and when you’re lost.
Nail all that down and then forget about it, you’ve done what you can so just have fun and not fret about the shit that hasn’t and likely won’t happen.
Have I forgotten anything? What do you think? Would this list work for you?
Speaking of getting a visa for Mozambique, I almost got sucked in to spending hundreds of dollars using a 3rd party visa company. I just wanted to get it done and I wasn’t paying attention and then just before I hit “pay” something tweaked my hazy mind and I thought – wait. Let’s email the place I am staying and see what they say. Good thing. I can get it at the airport when I land for $80 us… of course at the rate the Canadian dollar is plummeting it will cost me a couple hundred anyway.