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Creating An Effective Travel Emergency Action Plan

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Traveling is thrilling, yet unpredicted emergencies can turn the excitement into a nightmare. Consider that just taking the time to be a little prepared by making an effective Travel Emergency Action Plan can make all the difference during a travel emergency. This step-by-step guide will empower you with strategies for preparation, from financial readiness to evacuation plans.

So let’s dive into making your own travel safety net!

What You Will Learn

  • A good travel emergency plan guides you through all possible risks you could experience.
  • Make copies of important papers and have a list of key contacts ready. 
  • Always have extra cash on hand.
  • Plan ahead for health and safety risks. 
  • Get the right travel insurance for your needs.
  • Use online tools offered by the U.S. Department of State.

Importance of Having a Travel Emergency Plan

Creating a Travel Emergency Plan is a proactive approach to handling the uncertainties of travel. While we can’t predict every challenge we might face, we can equip ourselves with the tools and knowledge to navigate them effectively.

Keep your travel emergency action plan on your phone, save it to a document in your cloud, or write it down on paper and tuck it in your luggage when you go on a trip, especially if you’re old school. The plan should include steps to deal with the different scenarios of bad things that can happen on your journey. The hope is that you will never need to use it, but if you do you will be grateful to have it if you find yourself in an emergency situation. 


The Most Common Travel Emergency Situations

Type of Emergency Examples
Medical Emergencies
  • Sudden illness or injury
  • Chronic conditions flaring up
  • Food poisoning or waterborne diseases
Theft or Robbery
  • Pickpocketing, especially in crowded areas
  • Bag snatching
  • Hotel room break-ins
Lost or Stolen Documents
  • Passport, visa, or ID theft
  • Lost or stolen airline tickets
  • Misplaced credit/debit cards
Transportation Accidents
  • Road accidents, especially in countries with different driving standards or conditions
  • Public transport incidents, such as bus or train accidents
  • Boating or ferry mishaps
Natural Disasters
  • Earthquakes, tsunamis, or volcanic eruptions
  • Hurricanes, typhoons, or cyclones
  • Floods or landslides
Political Unrest or Civil Disturbances
  • Protests, strikes, or riots
  • Terrorist attacks
  • Sudden changes in government or military coups 
Scams and Frauds
  • Overcharging or fake ticket scams
  • Deceptive taxi drivers or unofficial tour guides
  • Rental scams, especially with motorbikes or cars
Travel Delays or Cancellations
  • Flight cancellations due to weather or technical issues
  • Missed connections
  • Lost or delayed luggage
Cultural or Legal Misunderstandings
  • Unintentional disrespect of local customs or traditions
  • Accidentally breaking local laws or regulations
Wildlife Incidents
  • Bites or stings from local fauna
  • Dangerous encounters with wild animals
Adventure Activity Accidents
  • Injuries during activities like hiking, diving, or skiing
  • Equipment malfunctions or failure
Isolation or Getting Lost
  • Losing one's way in remote areas
  • Being stranded due to transportation breakdowns

Steps for Creating an Effective Travel Emergency Action Plan

A diverse group of travelers planning their travel emergency action plan.

Assessment and Research

During the planning process of your trip, you’ll want to research everything from the weather to the social atmosphere of the destination you will travel to. This includes researching potential risks in the activities you will doing, food and drink you will consume, and areas you will visit. 

It may seem like a downer to do this, especially when you likely are planning a relaxing or fun getaway, but taking just a little more time and this extra step to ensure your travel safety can help you avoid some simple pitfalls that others will have to suffer through. For example, by looking up the weather forecast, and understanding the season you will be traveling in (i.e. if it is a rainy or dry season) could help you prepare the activities you will do and gear you pack (i.e. a travel fan or poncho), while other travelers are left out in the rain or suffering through heat.

You should also look at things like health threats, cultural customs, and local laws.

Creating a good travel emergency action plan needs this step. Don’t skip it! You want to know about all dangers before they happen, not after! Knowing these things will help keep your trip safe and fun.

Documentation Backup

Keep important papers safe when you travel. It’s simple enough to scan into your smartphone your passport, driver’s license, and visa. Also send a copy to your email or cloud so that you can access it from any computer. Some people still also like to make physical copies. Also keep the names, contact info, and addresses for your tickets, transfer, and accommodations. These backups will help if the real ones get lost or stolen.

Emergency Contacts Compilation

Take the time to have a couple of emergency contacts. This part of your travel safety plan helps you reach out fast to people who can help you during an issue.

You can also store this in your phone’s note area and pin it to the top or go old school and create an index card and keep it in your carry-on or wallet.

  1. List the phone numbers of close family or friends who are your emergency contacts. 
  2. Add the contact details for your country’s embassy or consulate in your travel location.
  3. Put the local police, fire department, and hospital numbers on your list.
  4. If you have a medical condition, do write down your doctor’s contact number.
  5. Write down the hotline numbers for lost credit cards or passports.
  6. Get a contact at your travel insurance firm. You may need to call them if an issue crops up.

Financial Preparedness

Having cash on hand, in particular local currency, is also part of your travel emergency action plan. Take steps to keep your money safe. Also, have bank cards or credit cards handy but secure.

Visa and Mastercardare the most commonly accepted cards. So I recommend that you have at least one debit card and one credit card with one of these brands. For your debit card, you can withdraw money from an ATM, and in case of emergency, friends back home can send you money if needed, and you can withdraw from your bank without having to do an expensive wire transfer.

For your credit card, I recommend getting a card like the card_name which comes with emergency evacuation and transportation coverage. This protection is worth up to $100,000, and it pays for eligible transportation expenses, medical services and medical supplies that are necessary during evacuation.

Between the 10x total points on hotel stays and car rentals purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, access to the latest chain of airport lounges — the Chase Sapphire Lounge by The Club — and plenty more bonus points opportunities, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is one of the best credit cards to have in your wallet if you’re a traveler.

Health and Safety Measures

You also need to think about health and safety as a key part of your travel emergency action plan. Start by looking for possible dangers on your trip.

A good first step is making a list of all the risks you might face. These could be as simple as bad weather or food that makes you sick. It could be more serious things like natural disasters, too.

Next, come up with plans to keep yourself safe from these risks. It could be as simple as ensuring that you never get dehydrated while traveling. Travel dehydration is a cause for so many ailments that you get while traveling so  by bringing a Lifestraw or using a UV water bottle so that you can drink (most) tap water is a way to prevent travel dehydration on your own terms.

By assessing the overall risks you may potentially face on your journey, you can map out what steps to take if something bad happens healthwise on your trip. Then share this plan with everyone involved in your trip.

Using a service like Medjet can also help with this process. They can give you advice and even help you predict risks from the journeys you will take so you don’t have to think about how to stay safe while traveling with your own limited knowledge.

Communication Strategy

Having a clear chat plan for emergencies is key. You need to know how you will reach your friends and family if there’s trouble. Think about different ways to get in touch –  use of phone calls, emails, or text messages. But, also think about how you would reach people if wifi and cell towers are down. Social media can also help with this. Also, knowing where the U.S. Embassy or consulate is located is smart. 

Evacuation and Shelter Plan

So many of us don’t think about this (and honestly, who really wants to think of this worst-case scenario when you are on vacation). But, you need an evacuation and shelter plan for your trips. This plan keeps you safe in times of danger. It can be really simple, just take a few moments to map out the main route to leave a bad area quickly. Then pick a meeting spot outside this area for everyone in your group.

Think about what types of disasters could happen where you’re going. Know the local plans for each disaster kind too. These steps are key parts of any good travel emergency action plan.

For example, if you get invited to a big party or festival. Before you jump in the fun of it all, scan the room or event space, and know where you could run, hide, or escape should something tragic happen.

Recommended Travel Insurance

A collection of travel essentials including a passport, map, and camera while planning your travel safety.

So, you’ve got your bags packed, itinerary set, and you’re buzzing with excitement for your next adventure. But wait, did you remember to sort out your travel insurance? I know, I know, it sounds like just another boring adulting task, but trust me on this one—it’s a game-changer. Think of travel insurance as that trusty umbrella you pack “just in case” it rains. Whether it’s a lost suitcase, a surprise bout of Bali belly, or a cancelled flight that leaves you stranded, travel insurance has got your back. It’s that peace of mind that lets you fully dive into your travels, knowing that if things go sideways, you’re covered. So, before you jet off, take a few minutes to get that safety net in place. 

Here’s my recommendations for different travel scenarios.

World Nomads: Best for adventure and remote travel

World Nomads is a top choice for travel insurance. It gives you peace of mind when you are far from home. This service helps those who love exploring new places and taking part in exciting activities.

World Nomads covers over 200 adventure sports, so it’s great if you’re the type to go hiking or bungee jumping on your trips. If you’re a frequent travel you can get an annual plan.

Being hurt overseas can cost a lot of money. But with World Nomads, your medical bills can be covered. You don’t have to worry about paying out of pocket for any surprise illness or injury while abroad.

The best part? People like us made this plan! It understands what we need when we step outside our comfort zone and venture into the unknown.

image 100824864 15379553


Safety Wing: Ideal for digital nomads and long-term travelers

SafetyWing Insurance is a top choice for digital nomads and long-term travelers. It gives global coverage when you are far from home. The plan even covers COVID-19, which makes it fit for today’s health needs.

This insurance is made just for those who work while they travel. Even if you have a full time job that is based in the U.S. that offers medical insurance, it likely will not cover you abroad. So this is the top choice for Digital Nomads. It has both travel and health help. It also offers personal liability coverage to protect you.



Medjet: Suitable for high-risk or specialized trips

Medjet is a top choice for high-risk or specialized trips. You can buy it just for the time you travel or opt for an annual plan according to your travel risks and lifestyle.

A stolen passport. A broken leg on a remote mountain. Civil unrest. Natural disasters. A positive COVID-19 test. Whatever the emergency, wherever you are, this service offers help that is unique to all other insurance.  They have a team of medical and security experts — staffed by veteran Navy Seals, Army Rangers, Air Force Pararescue, Defense Intelligence Agency Analysts, paramedics and physicians — come through for you when it matters most. 

Traditional insurance won’t rescue you, and a medical evacuation can cost up to $300,000. Without Medjet, your travel emergency could take longer, cost more — and make a dangerous situation a lot worse. That’s the value of a travel protection membership.

With Medjet, you get the peace of mind that the finest medical, security evacuation, field rescue, intelligence and telehealth personnel always have your back.

Utilizing the Government’s Resources

For Americans traveling abroad, the U.S. State Department has easy-to-use and read resources on what to do in case of a travel emergency.

Inlcuding if you find yourself in the following scenarios.

Additionally, when you travel abroad, especially to countries and regions that have a history or may be going through civil and political unrest, it is recommended that register your trip with U.S. State Department’s STEP program. 

U.S. State Department’s STEP program

The STEP program is free for U.S. travelers. It is run by the U.S. State Department to keep people safe on their trips. You can join this service online from your home before you start your journey.

This service has a lot of good things to offer. It sends you updates about safety and other important stuff straight from our government. If there’s an emergency, it helps them find and talk to you faster too!

It’s simple and quick to register your trip, and with all its resources, STEP even guides you in making a solid travel emergency action plan.

Travel Emergency Quick List

The key is to plan ahead for the worst case scenarios.

Be Informed

Learn about the country, including visa requirements, local laws, customs, and medical care in the countries where you will be. 

Check the destination’s website for required visas for your passport.

Check the U.S. Department of State for any Travel Advisories

Consider enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive important safety and security messages and make it easier for us to locate and assist you in an emergency.

Know the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate with you. They are available for emergencies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, overseas and in Washington, D.C. 

888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444

Be prepared

Digital copies of your passports, travel documents, itineraries and emergency numbers stored online where you can access by logging into any computer, anywhere (i.e. emailed to self or emergency contact, Google drive). Mad money, have cash on hand in local currency, enough to cover your for at least five days. If you take medication, make sure to have at least five days’ worth at any given time. Always have a fully charged extra battery pack. Recommended minimum 10000mAh.

Travel insurance will help to protect you by giving you resources and save you thousands during emergency situations. 

Always have an exit stratgy. If something were to go down, know how you can escape harm’s way.

Be connected

Keep a hard copy of emergency contacts. Have at least one place on social media where you are active. Phone lines are usually affected during a crisis. Many U.S. embassies and consulates, along with the Bureau of Consular Affairs, use social media to provide information.
world nomads logo square

When looking for good travel insurance plans, you want to find coverage that suits your particular trip needs.

World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance policies for more than 150 activities, emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation and more.

World Nomads is a good place to start your research, because their quote process is easy and quick.

World Nomads travel insurance offers:

  • Single-trip travel insurance plans
  • Multi-trip plans
  • Annual travel insurance plans

If you travel more than 4 times a year, it’s well worth the investment getting an annual insurance plan. 

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is essential in my book. It can help protect your budget and your travel experience during travel emergencies. If you have travel insurance, you can be compensated for losses from canceled and delayed flights, if you need to cancel or stop your trip, in addition to covering needed accommodation if you need to stay overnight. It can also help with medical emergencies.

It’s recommended to purchase travel insurance from a travel insurance company – instead of what is offered at the bottom of your ticket purchases for flights, hotels and car rentals.

Travel insurance is more affordable than you think. 

A comprehensive travel insurance plan should be 4-10% of your total trip cost and you can buy travel insurance anytime before your depart for your trip. 

If you’re on the fence, consider how much you can be out of pocket in an emergency situation. 

Most of the time you will not need to use your travel insurance but you will be glad to have it when you need it! 

Travel Emergency Checklist

TWD travel emergency checklist

Emergency Contact Template

TWD Emergency contact



Having a travel emergency action plan is crucial. This step-by-step guide makes it easy. With this plan, you can face any danger that pops up on your trip. Your trips will be safer and more fun with good planning. Check out my other travel resources on Dayvee’s Ultimate Travel Resources Guide“.

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Dayvee Sutton is a national TV correspondent, host, and top expert who covers travel experiences, local cultures, and the environement.

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