Despite the incredibly officious sounding title, this is simply a post emphasising the importance of staying safe on the road especially when it comes to documentation and the very small but vital thing called the passport.
It has been nearly a decade since I fell prey to a squat couple in the hills of Barcelona, who managed to snatch my passport, my debit card and a small amount of cash as they squirted something disgusting – resembling bird shit – on me. I wished I’d obeyed my instincts to whip around then and off them down that steep slope.
What followed was a series of painful events that created unnecessary stress for a holiday that I now remember as the ‘godawful robbing one’. In short, I had to reapply for a temporary travel pass at the embassy (thankfully there was one in Barcelona), reschedule my plane flight, redo the accommodation, make a police report, spend hundreds on overseas calls to frantic family members and to the insurance company and generally stay unhappy until everything was sorted out.
But isn’t travel these days more perilous than worrying about petty crime, particularly when travel advisories have been rather rampant these days?
1. Don’t ignore them though. They’re important. It shouldn’t stop your travel plans especially if you’ve booked the trip months ago, but use your discretion. A bomb blast in the Southern region of Thailand doesn’t mean you can’t visit Bangkok and still stay vigilantly safe. But I wouldn’t go as far as deliberately organising a trip to Iran or Iraq just to tempt fate because my stubborn side insists that this particular trip will give me bragging rights.
2. Make copies and backups (hard and digital) of every travel document you have for your trip. Then give a whole set to your travel partners and to friends or family back home. It helps with when it comes to insurance as well, especially when you’re in a bind.
3. Which is clearly, more and more important now than ever. Choose your premiums wisely, particularly if you’re going into more extreme sports like skiing or diving or ice-climbing. Read the fine-print because the devil is in the details, even if it’s bloody tedious. Reputable companies don’t come cheap, but they also don’t offer everything, right down to terrorism coverage.
4. Let’s hope you’ll never ever have to use your emergency contacts while gallivanting. But have those handy on you. Conversely, do up a comprehensive itinerary that provides the address and contact number of the places you’ll be staying in, as well as the 24-hour helpline for the embassy for friends and family back home.