A travel emergency can be anything from losing your money or passport, to having your flight severely delayed, or perhaps the worst-case scenario, which is returning home because of a sick family member or a death in the family. While you cannot foresee these events or prevent them from happening, there are a few steps to follow in order to be prepared.
When flying be sure to check in on time and leave at least ninety minutes for domestic travel and at least two hours if traveling internationally. If possible, try to take nonstop flights or flights that leave early in the morning. This can make it less likely for you to miss your flight. If you miss your flight because of delays going through security, the airlines are not obligated to put you on another flight.
It is a simple precaution, but it just does not occur to everybody. If you are flying for a cruise, a wedding or another event that you cannot miss, arrive a day earlier than you need to; that way in case of flight delays, you can still be where you need to be. Most cruise lines try to accommodate you by allowing you to board at a future point of call if this happens but the problem may be changing your airline tickets without having to pay extra money to do so.
One of the most effective steps you can take to help deal with potential flight delays is to pack efficiently. Your carry on bag should contain everything you need in case your checked bag is lost or delayed. These important items are your passport, plane ticket, toiletries, prescriptions and medication and a change of clothes. To minimize the chances of your checked luggage going astray, make sure it is clearly labeled with your name and address both inside and outside, in the event of the outside label coming off.
Everybody who travels overseas should have adequate travel insurance and you may already have coverage through your credit card company. You may not need extra medical travel insurance if you already have medical insurance. It just depends on the policy. If you are going to be traveling overseas, especially for a long period of time, the first thing you should do is to check your current medical insurance to see if you are covered while traveling abroad. Check to make sure that your policy covers any pre-existing medical condition.
Trip cancellation insurance covers any costs incurred from your trip being canceled, by either yourself or your airline or cruise line, including cancellations caused by weather delays, bankruptcy and strikes or labor disputes. If you are planning to take part in certain risky or dangerous sports or activities, such as skiing, diving or mountaineering, you may need to increase the coverage and cost of your travel insurance.
Perhaps the worst travel emergency is the need to fly back home early in the event of a family member falling ill. If this happens to you, explain the situation to your airline and they are empowered to work with you and come up with a solution that not only gets you back home, but also without costing too much. Many airlines have special fares called emergency or compassion fares.
Another option you have is to take out travel insurance that covers the cost of emergency air transportation. This is sometimes known as an air ambulance. If you are so sick that you need to get to a hospital or specialized facility, the insurance may cover the cost of transport. Without emergency evacuation insurance, the cost of paying for it yourself is high and the typical evacuation can cost over $50,000. Some policies also cover the cost of flying family members out to be with you.
Having your passport stolen or lost while traveling overseas can be stressful. Prepare for this by having a photocopy of your passport along with the page with your photo and details on it. You should keep these in a separate location from your passport. You still have to go to the closest US consulate, but it can speed things up. It is also a good idea to keep photocopies of your driving license, plane ticket and any other travel documents.
If your wallet or purse is lost or stolen while traveling, you should notify your bank and credit card companies as soon as possible. Before your trip, you should write the phone numbers of your bank and Credit Card Company so you can call them immediately if a problem occurs. If you lose your copy of an electronic plane ticket, it should be replaced at no charge.
Hopefully you never have to experience a travel emergency, but if it happens to you, it is always good to be prepared.
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