Responding to a Crisis While Traveling

Photo credit: Kriss Szkurlatowski;

Photo credit: Kriss Szkurlatowski;

While I don’t use Daily Post themes on a regular basis, I thought today’s was an appropriate discussion for travelers, especially with our upcoming trip to Europe. “Honestly evaluate the way you respond to crisis situations. Are you happy with the way you react?”

This is something I’ve been thinking about frequently, particularly in regards to the trip I’ll be making with my mom this summer. Normally when we go on vacation, my dad has always been the one who keeps a cool head in any crisis situations.

When we were in Yellowstone, we stopped at a campsight in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. I had just stepped inside and closed the door when I heard a series of loud *cracks* from the woods nearby. My dad was outside waiting for me, and my mom, brother, and grandma were in the minivan about 15 feet away, which was still running.

I paused when I heard the cracks, and all of a sudden my dad started yelling at the top of his lungs “GET IN THE VAN GET IN THE VAN GET IN THE VAN!!!”

So I sprinted outside toward the minivan. My dad got there first, since he was closer, and he had opened the side door already. As I got closer, he grabbed me and threw me in to the van, closing the door on my heels. He opened the drivers’ door and jumped in, slamming it shut behind him. The next thing I knew we were pulling out of the parking lot at high speed.

I never knew for sure if a grizzly bear was coming out of the woods or not, but it’s not something you mess around with. If my dad – someone who keeps a cool head in emergencies – was in such a panic, it was better to just go along.

So this gets me thinking about the trip to Europe. It will just be me and my mom, thousands of miles from home. My dad won’t be there to step in if a crisis occurs.

I am a very logical person, prone to planning and rational thinking. I try not to get worked up about things, as I know that just makes things worse. That said, I did have a panic attack once. It was the weirdest feeling in the world. It felt like I was tripping on drugs – everything slowed down, got distorted and wobbly, my heart was racing but it felt like it was beating so slowly. And it was over nothing at all – a feud my husband was having with his roommate.

Ever since then, I’ve been calmer than ever. I decided I never wanted to feel like that again, so whenever something seems to be making me anxious, I step back and look at it from a more rational point of view. Most situations do not deserve the energy required to panic.

I haven’t really been in any crisis situations, so I can’t say if I am happy with the way I respond, but much of my response depends on the responses of people around me. If someone begins to panic, then my instinct to protect/lead kicks in and I am coolheaded and calm. If someone like my dad is around, who can take care of the situation, I don’t necessarily panic, but I do let my guard down knowing that someone else is in control of the situation.

I’ve learned a lot from my dad over the years though. Mainly, that crisis situations can typically be contained with a little advanced planning, and a backup plan.

Crisis Containment Plans:

  • Have a list of emergency contacts and their phone numbers.
    (written on paper in case you are unconscious, someone else can access them)
  • Have a form of health insurance in place that will cover you while traveling.
    (even if they bill you up front, having it in place will allow you to get reimbursed)
  • Be aware of emergency resources in foreign countries.
    (what is the equivalent of 911?)
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
    (don’t wander around with your headphones on, oblivious to the world – keep an eye out for suspicious things around you)
  • Know where your country’s embassies are located.
    (if a war breaks out or even if you just lose your passport, your embassy can help you get home – don’t forget to email yourself a digital copy of your passport for this purpose)
  • Have prearranged meeting locations if you are traveling with others.
    (if you get separated, arrange to meet up at a specific hotel, restaurant, or other easily found public place – also have a photo of the others in your group in case you need to provide it to authorities if the other person gets lost)
  • Don’t keep all of your money and important documents in one place.
    (keep spare money hidden somewhere it can’t be pickpocketed, keep a copy of your passports in an email account, etc)
  • And this one is more minor, but equally as important: Alert your bank in advance that you will be traveling in certain countries.
    (you don’t want to run out of money and have your credit and debit cards to be frozen on a weekend when you can’t call your bank to unlock the accounts)

Many of you are experienced travelers, solo and in groups. Do you have anything to add to the list?

Categories: Memories, Musings, Planning

Tags: , , , , ,

7 replies

  1. Planning ahead is always a good thing.

  2. Use a travel agent rather than buying your tickets online and keep his/her phone number and email handy. Besides the fact that your TA often gets better deals than the ones online, if there is some emergency and you need to quickly change your flights, a quick email or phone call to your TA will usually get you the help you need. When we were travelling in Europe 3 years ago, my husband’s father passed away. Our travel agent was able to quickly arrange a flight for my husband to get home in time for the funeral. Trying to do something like this online when you are in shock and grieving is very difficult.

  3. That almost bear story had my mother and I rolling. I agree with all of your tips for safety. It is best to always be prepared.

    — Lauren

    P.S. thanks for the visit to my blog

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