I’m on a mission. It’s to try to convince you to do one of two things:
- Make a simple card containing emergency contact information that could be useful in an emergency.
- Assess your present system for storing and readily accessing emergency contact information. If there’s room for improvement, incorporate the changes you identify.
What’s a traveller’s emergency contact card?
It’s a physical credit-card-sized card containing emergency contact numbers and related details. For example:
- If you lose your credit card to a pickpocket, you’ll need to report it as stolen without delay.
- If you require emergency medical treatment, someone needs to call the insurance plan administrator. Many policies specify this needs to be done before seeking treatment.
- There may be a situation when your ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact needs to be called. You know the person’s name and number, but you might not be in a position to convey that information to someone else.
It helps to have this type of information at your fingertips, or available to others if you’re not able to speak for yourself.
If you’re interested in making your own traveller’s emergency contact card, follow these five easy steps.
Step 1: Find a laminating tool
The card will last longer if it’s laminated. Information could change from time to time, so the cheaper and more convenient option may be to buy a self-laminating tool from your local dollar store. Look for a self-laminating luggage tag kit or a pack of self-laminating cards.
Step 2: Identify what to put on the card
Gather your financial cards, passport, insurance documents, information on consular services and anything else with information that’s handy to have in an emergency. Here are some suggestions on what to include:
- your name;
- country of citizenship and passport number;
- name and telephone number of at least one ICE contact;
- toll-free numbers of the financial institutions that issued your debit and credit cards;
- 24-hour number for consular services; and
- name of the company or administrator of your emergency medical insurance, policy number and toll-free number.
Step 3: Draft, print and laminate the card
If you have a lot of information to include, or use larger print, there’s always the option to use both sides of the card. Just be sure to place “OVER” or “TURN” or an arrow to direct the reader to the other side of the card.
If you’re adept at word processing, you’ll nail the draft on your first try. Print a copy and place the laminating pocket over the text to ensure the card will fit in both the pocket and your travel wallet. If not, you might need to change the font type or size, and print another copy. If it’s a good fit, print as many copies as you need. With a ruler and pencil, create borders so each card has a straight edge for cutting. Cut out each card and laminate it.
Step 4: Add “Emergency Contact Cards” to your packing list
You’ll want to strategically distribute your cards throughout your belongings. Keep in mind that these places aren’t just for you to be able to put your hands on a card in a hurry. There may be a time when you’re not in a position to do so. A travel mate, first responder or Good Samaritan needs to be able to readily access the information, so place the cards where they can be found. Your wallet is a logical place as it will be with you most of the time. Choose other places such as your passport sleeve, the identity pocket in your travel vest, a slot in your phone case, or in an outer pocket of each of your bags. Write down each place on your packing list.
Step 5: Enjoy your trip
Head off on your travels with the knowledge you’ll have emergency contact numbers at your disposal when they’ll be most needed.
For more information on how to be prepared to deal with emergency situations, you might be interested in Emergency preparedness toolkit for travellers.
Mission accomplished? Will you be making a traveller’s emergency contact card? If so, what information will you include? If not, what are the key elements of the system you have for storing and accessing emergency contact information?