Emergencies, basics, and “ohshitohshiti’mgonnadies” UPDATED AND CORRECTED

  THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN HAVE IS AN OPEN MIND AND A REALISTIC WORLD VIEW – YOU MIGHT HAVE TO BREAK THE LAW TO SURVIVE OR EVEN JUST TO GET HOME. BE PREPARED AND REMEMBER YOU ARE NOT AT HOME AND THE SAME RULES DO NOT APPLY. ALSO DO NOT BE SHY ABOUT USING LANGUAGES, AVAILABLE HELP,OR OTHER RESOURCES. ALIVE AND EMBARASSED BEATS DEAD EVERY TIME. 

 

IN AN EMERGENCY

 US:

Okay, absolutely worst case scenario, you are stranded, have no money, no cell, and no food, and are in danger of your life.

First remember that bad options are better than no options so…

Break a store window, piss on a street corner, hit a stranger, shout bad words at the tops of your lungs. Attract attention. At best, you end up in a hospital and someone tries to help you. At worst, you end up in jail, but police offices are at least required to see you remain alive and you’ll get medical attention, a safer place to be, and access to a phone.

If you are not in immediate danger but are hungry, cold, etc, try a hospital, a soup kitchen, or a church. You can find help in all those places.

If it’s not that extreme, try a library, chamber of commerce, or welcome center.

Ask a store clerk for directions.

Be careful, however, not to produce maps, guidebooks, or translators in public areas…as these mark you as a lost tourist to anyone looking for an easy victim.

Don’t flash money, gadgets, or valuables. Try not to look lost or injured if possible.

FOREIGN COUNTRY:

 The above applies even here, even the worst jail is better than being dead. But there are rules for foreign countries. They are simple should be tried if possible. 

If you are not in immediate danger, try to find a fellow traveler who speaks your language, try to find your local embassy, try to find an informations area or welcome center. Go to a chamber of commerce. If you know any of the language, try it out.

 AGAIN AGAIN:

 Be careful, however, not to produce maps, guidebooks, or translators in public areas…as these mark you as a lost tourist to anyone looking for an easy victim. Don’t flash money, gadgets, or valuables. Try not to look lost or injured if possible.  

SOME BASIC TIPS (To be expanded upon later) 

It is a VERY good idea to get inoculated for local disease and to know in advance where the local hospital, soup kitchen, or aid stations are. You should also have an idea where the American embassy is, where to replace lost passports, papers, checks, cash, or god help you, credit cards is, and to carry those phone numbers on you.  

I personally recommend carrying the minimum of the actual things on you, however. And putting them in weird or gross places like in your shoes, in a money belt (a leather belt with a hidden zipper compartment available at travel stores) in your bra or in your underpants. Do not carry large amounts of money or credit cards, do not carry them all in the same place, and try not carry irreplacable things. In Mexico a xerox of your passport is usually enough to get you back aboard ship or back to your car. 

If you carry a wallet it is a wise to carry some cash and some ID in a different pocket. A friend of mine got mugged in NYC but he still got home because he keep an emergency ten in his shoe. 

 It is a good idea to know the language or at least some basic phrases, whether you are in a black are here at home or in a totally foreign country…a well traveled friend of mine suggests that you know these. 

Help!

Where is the bathroom? 

Stop!

Please. 

Thank you.

Where is the American Embassy?

How much?

Where is?

I’m sorry.

To this I would add…

Where is the local church? (Not for religious reasons)


How do you say…

Where is the local library?

 I am sick.

Personally I carry a card with these phrases on it in five languages – Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, German, French as I have run across all of these just here in my home state and frequently in my travels. 

On the back of this card is all my emergency info in all those languages plus English. 

I also recommend some idea of the local dialect/job skills/education levels as all of these people DO speak differently and with different emphasis. At best, you’ll be recognized as a stranger, at worst you could get in serious trouble – even here in the US and in a city you thought you knew.

 Example: white people do not refer to black people as “ni@@ers”, or Hispanics as “pendejos” although these can be terms of endearment or friendship inside those cultures. You do not call a white guy in an Alleghany bar “friend” unless you are seeking a fight, and “you think you’re smart, don’t ya.” is not a compliment in most of the Blue Ridge region. 

It is a good idea to know which body language gestures are different or offensive in the place you are going to.

Some examples: 

The gesture “he has heart” in Spanish cultures, a fist to the chest – a gesture you’ll see in Florida, California, New Mexico and Texas by the way – means “he’s retarded” in most of the rest of the US. Head shaking means “no” in the US and “yes” in Eastern Europe. You never show the soles of your feet in Muslim countries or enclaves. The thumb and forefinger “okay” of the US, means “asshole” in most of Europe. 

And so on…there are whole books about this. I suggest buying some and reading them if you plan to do any serious travel. 

Even in this country there are differences as noted and if you find yourself in jail or in a mental hospital this gets worse. Gang sign, palms up/down, hands moving up/down all have meaning in such places; and in sign language and some oriental cultures how far out or up your hands go indicate “volume” or “loudness” a person signing at face height is angry and “shouting”. 

It is a good idea to have cash money in the local currency AND trade goods. 

The oldies are the best, cash, cigarettes, tobacco, alcohol, drugs, luxury foods (for where you are) – ranging from chocolate to caviar, wristwatches and small electronics. These things can help you make friends with the natives, bribe the local police if needful (I’ve had to do it twice.) or just make friends with the people who will be important to the facilitation of your travels.  And if you end up in a hospital, asylum, or jail, these things buy privileges, aid, and time. 

It is a good idea to travel as lightly as possible. Remember the idea is to experience things not take the old ones with you. 

The less you carry, the faster you move – security checks and packing, and quick escapes all get easier. 

In most places in the US and abroad, you will be provided with the basic necessities or be able to purchase them locally. Do not over burden yourself with the unimportant. Soaps, shampoos, deodorants and paper goods can all be purchased wherever you are going or will be provided to you by the hotel or hostel. 

I also do not carry books, computers, or bulky electronics. I can find access to books at libraries and thrift stores and to internet in libraries and internet cafes. 

It helps to know about thrift stores, Goodwills, and Salvation Armies here, as you can get these things and say that sweatshirt you forgot to pack in such places without parting with too much money – and yes, foreign countries have these too. 

In bad cases, you can swap trade goods for needful items and aid. 

And in worse case scenarios, churchs, soup kitchens, and hospitals will provide food and a bath and a place to sleep for free. 

And if you are really screwed, try to get arrested.

I’ll do a page of recommendations on this later.

Call the police/ambulance.

Advertisements
Leave a comment

4 Comments

  1. Richard

     /  September 19, 2010

    A good tip while in countries other than the U.S. is to drink bottled, rather than tap, water. This can save you from spending inordinate amounts of time sitting on toilets.

    Reply
  2. Dan

     /  November 17, 2011

    These are some of the first useful tips I’ve seen at a travel site. Way to go!

    Reply
  3. Bob

     /  November 17, 2011

    I’ve traveled literally a million plus miles and wish I’d read some of this before.

    Reply
  4. Great post! I did (look|percieve) at it the same way you did.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: