3 Important Considerations Before Emergency Travel Abroad

Hauptmarkt_TrierThis is not a post about preparing for travel at your leisure, nor will I cover what and how to pack. Most travel agencies offer comprehensive tips and guidelines.

An emergency trip with a short window of planning prompted me to share my experience with you.

One phone call and all plans for the month change. It was a call from my sister in Germany. Her husband, my brother-in-law, had passed away. We were closely connected. I felt that I needed to see my sister, her family and my siblings. We are four, three in our seventies and one trying to catch up with the senior crowd. We have not been together for over five years. 

For many of you, I am sure, this is a familiar situation. It can get a bit hairy to stay calm and focused in planning a sudden trip overseas. Fortunately, if the passport is up-to-date, the ticket purchase is easy. If not, today you can renew your passport online very quickly at http://uspassportonline.com That used not be the case in earlier years. But here is what I learned.

Three Considerations that Cannot or Should not be Ignored Before Travel

128px-Credit-cards1.  MoneySmart Chip & Pin Card

There is a new twist in using a credit card in Europe that is not well publicized yet in the United States. Europe has upgraded their credit cards with smart chip & pins technology. The smart credit card has a tiny computer chip which adds significant fraud protection. For various reasons, America is lagging behind this technology. So you will need to contact your credit card company and ask about issuing you a smart chip & pin card.

I learned this the hard way. Unlike all my trips to Germany before, 5 years ago I experienced difficulty using my credit cards, Mastercard and American Express, even at major banks. As such, I contacted both credit card companies today. Both confirmed the need for a smart card to prevent transaction difficulties in Europe. However, American Express does not have a smart card available yet while Mastercard will issue one upon special request. They promptly sent one out to me via overnight express.

For further money considerations, e.g. cash or checks, exchanges etc.  refer to Rick Steves’ Europe site. You will get all your questions answered in a most informative and practical way.

2.  Health Insurance

Medicare and Medicaid will not cover health expenses outside the United States. If you have a supplemental health insurance, check whether they reimburse you for medical expenses. If yes, find out whether there are limitations. If the restrictions are too limiting and depending on your current health, you may want to consider purchasing a short-term travel  insurance that covers short-term health and emergency assistance.

3.  Legal Documents

You will travel in peace if you have your affairs in order. That means, leave a current will, insurance documents and power of attorney with a trusted person. This will give you the peace of mind.Bring copies of your passport and leave one at home with someone you trust.

During this time of emergency arrangements I so appreciate the power of the internet technology. There were moments I could not think clearly and Google was once more my friend to have all the information at my fingertips.

To summarize, here are once more the three most important considerations I learned while preparing for this emergency trip to Europe:

1. Money – smart chip & pin credit card update; 2. Health insurance; and 3. Legal documents

Safe and enjoyable travel with a peaceful mind!

About Ute Goldkuhle

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