Safe travels

Published On: June 9, 2017 10:50 AM NPT

Nothing is much more exciting than planning for an international trip. Granted, the whole motive of traveling is to unwind, relax and have some fun but if you are going that far away, it also pays to take moment to prepare for some emergencies. The thing about emergencies, of course, is that we never know when such scenarios may arise. So the best we can do is prepare ourselves for a few things. 

As you are planning your trip, remember that different countries also come with different laws, cultural norms, and safety needs. To further help keep traveling abroad safe, legal and above all fun, The Week brings you a list you might want to check off before you fly anywhere.

Learn about your first responder in a case of emergency.
If you are in any kind of a tight spot in a foreign land, your first call will obviously be your country’s embassy or consulate. They are considered the representative of our country and thus are there to help native travelers. 

Khagendra Bardewa, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, advises Nepali travelers to check out the Ministry’s website before leaving for their destinations. Under the headline of ‘Diplomatic Mission’ you will see a list of Nepali embassies that are overseas. It also directs you to their specific websites and shows you how you can get in touch with them. 

This will also make one aware of the countries that don’t have Nepali embassies. In those cases, consulates are the alternatives. Their information is also provided on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website under the same headline. 

Though if a Nepali finds himself/herself going to a country that neither has a Nepali embassy or consulate, Bardewa informs that in those cases the embassy of a neighboring country will take on the responsibility. One can call the ministry for more information on the matter before their travels.    

Families here in the country can also approach the Department of Consular Services in Tripureshwor, Kathmandu, to inquire about their traveling member, if they suspect that they may be in trouble of some sorts. 

Narayan Prasad Poudel, from AceTravels also shares that as an agency they are fully prepared to deal with any emergencies that might occur during travels. Nevertheless, some basic advices and suggestions are listed below. 

Make photocopies of your passport and other travel documents.
Keep one copy of your passport, along with your itinerary and all other travel documents, handy in case of an emergency. Then make sure you keep them separately from your original documents in different places. That way if one item is stolen or misplaced, everything isn’t lost with it.

Give the other copy to a friend or relative at home for their reference. Also consider keeping your documents safe in the cloud, not just on your phone or tablet. You could even download a scanning app on your smartphone for this. 

Even if you are off on a soul searching solo adventure, tell somebody you trust where you are going.

Even experienced travelers insist on making sure a family member or a friend or both, know about your travel plans. Telling someone you trust where you’re going as well as updating him/her on any change of plans might ensure your safety.
Whether you are traveling solo or as a family, make sure you don’t lose touch with your contact back home. Even a short text will suffice. However, do not give out extensive information about your travel plans to strangers. 

Always take time to research and learn about your destination.
It is simple logic, being aware of our surroundings will play to our benefit.  What with the internet at our disposal, we really don’t have an excuse. So you might want to brace yourself for some extensive browsing and reading as this will take some time. 
The travel community on the net has a very big presence. From advices from travelers themselves, to tips from travel guides and in-country guides, there are many perspectives and experiences that you can check out. Depending on the site, you may even be able to interact with some people who have already been to the destination you are headed to.
They will help you fill in the gaps in your knowledge. Often even answering questions about practicalities like money, ATMs, taxis to good places you might want to go and some you might want to avoid. 

Seriously consider travel insurances.
Poudel reveal that 90% of their clients skip this part of their travel preparations. Only visitors to Europe tend to buy travel insurance and that’s only because it’s been made compulsory. 

“Most people are looking for cheaper fares and insurance is rarely on the list of priorities,” says Poudel. However, he continues to highly recommend insurance as it cuts down the risk factor by a significant margin. It’s also not only about cases of casualty or disability, from medical expenses in case you have to visit a doctor on your trip to losing your baggage or passport, travel insurances covers many emergency scenarios. There is even a separate coverage for children and the elderly.  

Further, it isn’t as expensive as most seem to assume. The factors that dictate the rate of our travel insurance are age and destination. For instance, a 30-something-year-old traveling to Europe will only have to pay around Rs 4,000 as his or her travel insurance.

Don’t hesitate to ask questions beforehand.
Emergencies come in all forms and the more information you have the better it is. Mostly if you just know whom to contact in certain circumstances it can really save the day.
So, for example, if you miss your flight while in a foreign country, Poudel from AceTravels informs us that both the airline and agent can help you. However, it also depends on the circumstance. So if you want to rebook an immediate flight, one that is less than three hours, then the agents can’t do anything. They don’t have access to the system in this scenario. You will be completely dependent on the airline. But if you have missed a flight today and wish to rebook another one for tomorrow, then you can comfortably leave the task to the agent.

Similarly, if you require somebody to send you some emergency money, Poudels says his agency often link up with their agents in the foreign country to help out their clients. Since sending money from Nepal itself might be a logistically tricky and lengthy process, they provide this service. Learning about your choice of agency’s protocols for such emergency scenarios beforehand will come in handy. 


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