Travel emergency tips

Below are some helpful travel emergency tips for you. But first, here's a little travel emergency story to illustrate how things can easily go wrong...

Sue found herself in quite a predicament in the land of tequila, Mexico. Long story short – her passport was stolen, and with no Australian consulate nearby she reported it to the Mexican police and another department. They provided her with a document in Spanish, that allowed her to board the plane without a passport. Then to only arrive into the United States where she was classified as an “illegal alien” and ordered to leave the country within 24 hours. Fortunately, the airline responsible for letting Sue on the plane took pity on her and helped to resolve the situation by contacting two consulates. Consequently, she was required to spend the night in a hotel guarded by a security officer until all the paperwork could be finalised. While it might sound like a great story to tell the grand kids, I’m sure it wasn’t as exciting at the time.

So how did she get on a plane without a passport? It was 1984. Of course that would not be possible today!

Here are some travel emergency tips to put into play to avoid holiday stress and anxiety.

Before you depart



Photocopy the ID page of your passport and keep it somewhere in your bag/suitcase.



Scan the ID page of your passport and save it on your smartphone/tablet/laptop as well as emailing it yourself as an attachment. Then you'll be able to retrieve it from any computer should your passport photocopy is in the bag that just has been lost or stolen.



Look up your own governments travel information website and review the health, security and travel alerts for the countries you intend to visit. Examples are below.


Smart Traveller

You can create an account to receive latest updates & travel advice. Plus  register your travel plans and contact information so DFAT can either contact you or your family in an emergency event.

British citizens


US citizens

Offer a registration service called STEP.


Smart Traveller

You can create an account to receive latest updates & travel advice. Plus  register your travel plans and contact information so DFAT can either contact you or your family in an emergency event.



Offer a registration service called STEP.



In like manner with the passport ID, take a photocopy of your insurance policy and emergency phone contact numbers with you. Plus keep a scanned copy on your digital devices and email account too.

Then if you need to call the insurance company while overseas (to make a claim or get advice), you will have the details they need handy. For example, they will always ask you for your policy number.

Also ensure that your insurance policy will cover you for all the activities you will partake in. For example, skiing, snowboarding, surfing and other adventurous stuff.

I highly recommend taking out travel insurance cover. I never leave home without it. Your travel insurance policy is cheap compared to a medical emergency! I have listed a couple of recommendations below this box.

I say this because during my travel agent days, I know too well how costs can blow out during unforeseen events/mishaps. A 3 hour medical emergency flight from Bali to Perth would have cost my client AU$60,000 if he didn’t have travel insurance.

What to do when your luggage is lost/stolen

My friend had her daypack stolen while we were relaxing (umm… sleeping) on Ipanema Beach in Brazil. It contained her passport and money. We eventually found the Australian consulate office in Rio. We discovered that if we had a photocopy of the passport, they could have issued my friend a 10 year validity passport immediately. Otherwise they could only issue a temporary passport valid for 3-12 months. This was a problem because we weren’t planning to return to Australia within 12 months. However, it was fortunate that I was travelling with her so I could sign a legal document to verify that I’ve know my friend for at least 10 years. We picked up the new passport the following day.

Three major steps to follow if you ever find yourself in this situation:


If your credit cards are stolen, immediately call you bank to cancel the credit cards. Therefore, ensure you have a copy of your banks Lost/Stolen Cards phone number. Quite often banks have a special reverse charges phone number to call when you’re overseas.


Then report to the police the lost/stolen items, such as passport, credit cards and any other items of value. This must be done within 24 hours of the event and you must get a police report. This is required for travel insurance purposes; otherwise the insurance companies will reject your claim.


If your passport is missing, locate your nearest consulate to get a new passport. A quick Google search will provide you with the location details. Sometimes you may find yourself in the situation where you will need to travel to another city for the nearest consulate.At the consulate you will need:

  • To complete an application form. For some countries, you can complete the form online.
  • Provide details of the lost/stolen passport. This is where a photocopy of your passport comes in handy.
  • Supply a passport photo.
  • Attend an interview.
  • Pay any applicable fees (application plus lost/stolen fees).

If your money/credit card is stolen, hopefully you’re travelling with a friend that can lend you some money until new funds arrive. If not, ask the bank how quickly they can get money to you. Failing that, ask family members back home to wire money to you.

Security is so high these days, you really can’t go anywhere without ID. Certainly not on plane!!

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