help and advice

Travelling solo does have its challenges and when there is no one else to ask, you can find yourself completely unsure of what to do. Inevitably something will go wrong, whether you miss the train to your next destination, your flight gets delayed or you realise you’ve forgotten to extend your travel insurance and it has now expired. Here is a checklist for what to do if something goes wrong:

I feel ill

It’s really important to monitor how you feel when you’re solo. You know your own body and when something isn’t right. Whatever the symptoms it is better to get it checked out especially if you have flu in a malaria area or stomach problems for 72 hours as you may have contracted a parasite and need antibiotics. Some pharmacies abroad have their own doctors and can prescribe antibiotics over the counter. The IAMAT website can help you find an English speaking doctor in more than 100 countries in the world.

TIP – Learn how to say ‘I need a doctor’ or ‘help’ in the language.

Useful Website – IAMAT

I’ve forgotten to get travel insurance

If you are a European or British resident you can book True Traveller travel insurance to start when you’re away (restrictions apply). You can also extend your cover when you’re abroad. World Nomads offers this for worldwide citizens.

Useful Websites – True Traveller / World Nomads

I don’t have any malaria tablets

Although malaria tablets will greatly reduce your risk of catching malaria they are not 100% effective. If you are about to enter a malaria area go to a local pharmacy where you may be able to buy them over the counter. Check the Travel Pharm website for advice.

Useful Website – Travel Pharm

I had unprotected sex

Firstly always take condoms with you but if the inevitable has happened go straight to a clinic when you get home. If you’re not on the pill, find a local chemist for the morning after pill. If you need to see someone abroad check the local hospital for departments.

Useful Websites – Hospitals Worldwide

My laptop / tablet has broken

Apple has international technical support numbers and Apple stores worldwide. Look for your closest store and make an appointment online. If you use Microsoft, they also have worldwide offices for technical support.

Useful Websites – Apple Technical Support / Microsoft Worldwide

My debit/credit cards aren’t working

Some banks may put a stop on your debit or credit cards abroad if they suspect fraud. Call the emergency overseas number from your bank or you can find an international number on the back of your card.

My visa has expired

Some countries are strict on people overstaying their visas. Contact the Immigration office within the country and explain the situation. You may be fined for each day you have overstayed or it could be taken more seriously.

I’ve been offered the chance to work/study

Contact the country’s Immigration office for the rules. You may need to apply for a student or working visa and have a contract from your potential employer. Each country can vary.

I feel threatened

Don’t be afraid to alert the authorities in any way. If you can’t find a police station then contact your nearest Embassy or Consulate.

Useful Websites – British Embassies / US Embassies and Consulates

I’m at a hostel / hotel and I don’t like it

Once you’ve arrived there probably is no way of getting your money back but if there is a problem with security or your room speak to the manager. If you still don’t feel comfortable leave and find another. The cost of one night’s room isn’t worth compromising your safety.

I don’t like my volunteering teaching placement

Speak to the organisation involved and see if they can move you onto another project or placement. It may be that you just need to give yourself time to adjust. Allow yourself a few more days before making a decision but if you don’t feel safe then get moved.

I need to call home but have no money to call

You can make a reverse charge call through the international operator on 155 (or the inland operator on 100). There is also 8000 Reverse, an international reverse charge service that you can use to fixed land lines.

I need to communicate and can’t speak the language

Google Translate is a free online language translation service and will translate what you need to say.

Useful Website – Google Translate

I’ve ran out of money

Western Union provides money transfers to specific countries and there’s often one in your country. Contact a family member or friend and ask them to book your flight or transfer money until you get safely home.

Useful Website – Western Union

Out of Your Control

A family member is ill and I don’t know whether to go home

Contact your travel insurance company to see if you’re covered. Ask other members of your family for their advice on whether you should return home.

I’ve missed my flight

If you have missed a connecting flight with the same airline, the airline is responsible for putting you on another flight. If you miss a flight due to other reasons contact your airline straight away, who may either charge you for another flight or reschedule you. Contact your travel insurance if the situation was out of your control.

My baggage has been lost/delayed

Go to the airport lost luggage desk and inform them. If you bag turns up within the next few days it should get delivered to your accommodation. If it hasn’t turned up within twenty-one days you can claim compensation.

Useful Website – Your Travel Rights

The country I was travelling to has stopped tourists coming in

Check the FCO Twitter feed for the latest advice on the country. Is it just a temporary ban or will it be resolved soon? If it is no longer possible to travel to that particular county look at extending your visa where you are (contact the Immigration office) or travel to another country which doesn’t require a visa. Contact your travel insurance company regarding changing or cancelling your flights to that specific destination.

There’s a threat of terrorism in the country I am in

Contact the Foreign embassy within that country for advice. If there is an attack in the country you are in, the embassy has assistance measures in place for the victims of terrorist attacks abroad. Visit their website for the latest news.

Useful Website – Gov.UK

My travel company has gone bust

Find out if your holiday is ATOL bonded and what your rights are in the event that your tour operator or travel company collapses during your holiday. Contact your travel insurance company for advice.

Useful Website – ATOL Bonded

My travel plans have been disrupted and they have closed the airport

Contact the Foreign Office who will liaise with tour operators and airlines for up to date information.

More Serious

I’ve been assaulted /attacked

If you have been attacked or sexually assaulted you should tell the relevant embassy as soon as possible. They can help to arrange a medical examination by a female doctor.

Useful Website – Gov.UK

I’ve gone into hospital

The Foreign embassies will contact British nationals within twenty-four hours of being informed that you have been admitted to hospital.

I’ve broken the law

Consular assistance is provided to British nationals by the Foreign Office.

Useful Website – Prisoners Abroad

Stolen or Lost

My passport has been stolen / lost

Report it to the local police straight away and make sure they give you a statement. Contact the Embassy in your county to apply for an urgent replacement travel document or for a new passport.

My phone has been lost / stolen

Call your mobile phone provider within twenty-four hours and they will block it to stop anyone from using it. If you have insurance, report it to the police and obtain a crime reference number to make a claim.

I have lost my driving licence and can’t hire a car

If you lose your driving licence abroad contact the local police and your Embassy or Consulate to find out what to do. They may be able to issue a provisional document to enable you to drive for a short time.

My money has been stolen

Report it to the local police straight away and make sure they give you a statement so you can claim on your insurance. Contact your bank within twenty-four hours to put a stop on your cards. Ask for funds to be transferred to you via your bank or a relative through a money transfer company such as Western Union.

Useful Website – Western Union

Things can go wrong and the most important thing is to remember to breathe and look at the situation logically before taking action. Unless it is something really serious, think long and hard before deciding to give up on your trip and go home. Situations can only make us stronger long-term.

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