Traveling away from home can be risky even when you’re traveling with friends. Whether you’re traveling to Morocco, Italy, or the United States, the following backup plans can save you in unexpected circumstances:
1. Bring cash in the local currency
When traveling outside your home country, it’s tempting to put off getting local currency until you reach your destination. However, you might find yourself in a situation where you need that local currency to reach your destination. For example, say you can’t get money at the airport for some reason and cabs only take cash. You’ll have a hard time getting to another cash machine.
If you’re attending a popular event and need cash to catch a cab to your hotel, they’ll probably have a cash machine. However, if that cash machine is empty or out of service, you’ll be out of luck.
Avoid relying on cash machines for everything you need. Arrive at your destination with a small cash reserve to fall back on.
2. Keep at least one photocopy of your documents in a safe place
Losing your passport or government issued ID while traveling abroad puts you in a difficult position. If that happens, it won’t be easy to obtain new copies of your documents in a timely manner. If you’re left with no identification, you won’t even be able to board a plane to fly home.
Each country has different rules but to replace a lost or stolen U.S. passport while overseas, you need a photocopy of your passport. It doesn’t hurt to also keep a copy of your driver’s license, birth certificate, and any other photo ID in your luggage. If you’re worried about losing your luggage, carry a photocopy of your documents in your wallet.
3. Have extra funds in case you’re denied entry
Travelers are routinely denied tourist visas and ESTA visa waivers to enter into countries for various reasons. This predicament can happen to anyone. Even well-known celebrities are frequently denied entry into the United States. For instance, Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) was prevented from reentering the U.S. after he traveled to Canada for his movie premiere. There was a mix-up concerning the status of his O-1 visa application because he didn’t get it stamped by the U.S. embassy in Toronto before returning to the United States.
Have a plan for what you’ll do if you’re denied entry into another country. Make sure you have enough accessible cash in your bank account for food and accommodations until you can figure out what to do.
4. Remind yourself to be patient
As a foreigner, you’re probably going to run into situations that will frustrate you beyond belief. Be intentionally patient no matter what you encounter. Whether you’re dealing with bureaucracy or thieves, keep your cool and don’t do anything that might get you in trouble with the law.
5. Don’t decide to move on a whim
After arriving at your destination, you might want to stay permanently. The visa application process seems straight forward, but don’t count on that being your reality. As this blogger learned, if your application gets buried, you’ll have to start from scratch. By the time he started the application process from scratch, he had no access to work or money, and he was taking care of two kids.
6. Know someone local and memorize their phone number
What will you do if you get arrested in a foreign country? Who will you call? If your cellphone gets taken, you’ll need to have phone numbers memorized but you may not be able to make an international call.
Before traveling to a foreign country, try to establish a connection with someone local that you can call in an emergency and make sure to memorize their phone number.
7. Never surrender your ID or passport
If anyone ever asks you to surrender your ID or passport, politely refuse. If you’re attending any kind of event that requires you to surrender your passport it’s probably not an event you want to attend. There is no reason to separate you from your identification documents except for criminal intentions.
Follow all normal safety tips for traveling
In addition to having a backup plan for the above situations, always follow basic advice for safe traveling. Tell someone where you’re going and check in with someone from home at least every other day just to let them know you’re safe.