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When it comes to prepping for an emergency disaster, we don’t blame you if it’s the last thing on your mind. After-all, you’re going on vacation to have a good time. You don’t want to think about terrorism, natural disasters, or conflict.

And granted, it’s very rare that you’ll be caught up in an event that qualifies as a disaster, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen, and the key to survival in any situation is being prepared for anything. 

There’s no doubt that worldwide disasters are on the rise; climate change is seeing extreme weather patterns become more normal, and everything from flooding, to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and devastating bush-fires are ravaging countries around the globe.

And then there’s terrorism, and civil conflict, which seems to be touching everybody. So, what items always come in handy if you find yourself in an emergency situation abroad?

Let’s get started.

 Are You Prepared in an Overseas Emergency? 5 Essentials Everyone Forgets to Travel With

First Aid Kit

First Aid Canva RF

It’s absolutely essential to travel with a first aid kit if you want to be in a position to help yourself through a disaster. And yes, this even applies if your version of disaster is having a blister on your toe!

But it’s something that most travelers don’t pack, or even think about.

According to a recent survey, a massive 80 per cent of us are not equipped to deal with minor medical emergencies in our own homes – let alone when we’re caught up in an emergency abroad.

You generally don’t have to be a doctor to help yourself, or others, in an emergency, though you do have to have the first aid skills and tools to administer the care required; you need to be traveling with a first aid kit.

This doesn’t have to be massive; you don’t have to carry around a paramedic grade tote bag with you everywhere you go. But you should have emergency medications (painkillers etc – though make sure these are legal in the country you’re visiting), and enough to deal with minor injuries like bites, grazes, cuts and scrapes.

Antiseptic for sterilizing and cleaning wounds is a big one to have with you; read this post on everything you should have in your travel first aid kit, or buy one of these already assembled kits from Amazon:


Kenya vs Tanzania Africa Safari Binoculars RF

Binoculars are a highly underrated tool for disaster prep. First and foremost, they help you get a scope of your immediate area. You can see threats, friends, and whatever else might be in your upcoming path.

It’s important to get lightweight compact binoculars so that they aren’t cumbersome while you travel. You want to be able to whip them out if you need to and put them away just as quickly.

It’s typically only adventure travelers heading on safari that travel with binoculars, but these are such an essential item for keeping yourself safe, and out of harm’s way in an emergency. And they don’t have to take up too much space in your luggage.

They’re also very affordable.

Water Filtration

Water bottle drinking

One of the first things to happen in a disaster or emergency is raiding of local supplies. Food and water may become scarce, so it’s a good idea to have a water filtration device. That way, you’re able to find natural sources of water and avoid any health issues when drinking.

Even if you’re not caught in a disaster, and just traveling to a country where it’s not safe to drink the tap water, it’s a great idea to have a water filtration device. This is small enough to include in your first aid kit, so there’s really no reason not to carry it.

Options range from water purification tablets (for those travelers trekking off the beaten path who may not have the option to drink bottled water), or water filtration devices like Life Straw and the SteriPEN Freedom.

Devices like steripens use ultraviolet light to sterilize the water so that the bacteria are unable to multiply thus making the water safe to drink. We recommend you buy the following from Amazon:

Emergency Contacts

While it’s important to let someone know where you’re going, and register your travel plans with your Government (that way, in an emergency overseas, people know that they need to find you), it’s equally as important to travel with a list of emergency contacts.

Again, this is something that most travelers totally forget, but could save your life in the event of an emergency or disaster.

It’s important to have a list of contacts for your loved ones, to keep them updated on your situation, though it’s equally as important to have contacts for the country your visiting; things like the phone number and address of your embassy, as well as numbers for the local police and emergency services.

And you should have this printed out on a piece of paper. One of the first things to go in a disaster or emergency are the power lines – whether it’s civil unrest or a natural disaster, you might find yourself cut off from comms and electricity.

If your cell phone is dead, but you get to a local hotel who has a working phone line, having numbers written down on paper will be a lifesaver. Likewise, if all comms are down, and you can’t Google your local embassy address, you’ll thank yourself for having the details on paper.


Pexels Money

Who travels with cash anymore?!

Yes, travelers checks have long since gone out the window, but cash is quickly following. Most countries throughout the world are moving to a cashless society, with people heavily reliant on digital systems.

But what if these go down in an emergency? The worst thing in the world is finding yourself in a foreign country without any financial assistance. So even if you don’t plan on spending it, travel with a small stash of emergency cash for the country you’re visiting.

Related Post: Tips For Keeping Money Safe Abroad

You’ll probably find that in a disaster situation, people pull together, and help each other as much as they can – but having a supply of cash can get you through until you find assistance.

You may find you need it for something as simple as buying food.

The above 5 are essential for being prepared in an overseas emergency, so please make sure you include them on your next trip. They’re all small enough to fit comfortably in your luggage, so no excuses please!

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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