What do I do if I get into Trouble Abroad?

Diane Goettel

Traveling can be a wonderful experience. You can learn about new cultures and cuisines, explore beautiful landscapes, and simply enjoy the experience from being away from your daily life. There are, however, a number of places and experiences that you should avoid during your travels.

Woman with a headache
Woman with a headache

Getting to know the local law officials or exploring the inside of a foreign holding cell, for examples, should certainly be avoided. While being detained or arrested in a foreign country is likely to be quite a learning experience, it will likely put a damper on your otherwise enjoyable vacation. Furthermore, depending on the reason for your detention, your return home could be significantly delayed.

Hopefully you will never have the experience of getting into trouble abroad; but it is important to know what to do if you are. The very first and most important thing you must do in this instance is to request access to your Consulate or the American Embassy. This is a request that should be understood and respected internationally. Although you have a right to this representation on the behalf of the American Government, if you get into trouble abroad, you will likely be treated as locals are while you are detained.

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Although you should do your best to make this information obsolete, it is a good practice to pack a list of the consular offices in all of the countries that you plan to visit. This, of course, is something that can be tucked into your wallet for your ready reference. It will also be helpful for you to be able to prove your identity and nationality at all times, especially if you get into trouble abroad. If you cannot prove who you are or where you are from, you may have a more difficult time gaining access to the Embassy. If you get into trouble abroad and do not have these documents, you may face serious problems in establishing your citizenship from inside a foreign prison.

One of the best ways to avoid into getting into trouble abroad is to research local laws before you depart. Laws vary greatly from country to country. Something that may be commonplace for you may be forbidden. Therefore, just a bit of reading before your trip can keep you from getting into trouble abroad.

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