Many individuals and families are not traveling this year. They’re worried about the world’s health situation, and what they would face if there was a death while traveling. It’s understandable since illness is everywhere.
However, some families are still traveling in 2020. Maybe you’re taking the whole clan to see some relatives. You’ll practice mask-wearing and social distancing when you’re there to stay as safe as possible.
Maybe you’re going to an exotic location destination or a big amusement park. It’s all about how much risk you feel is worth it right now.
Ideally, your trip will go great, and you’ll take back many happy memories from it. However, sometimes the unthinkable happens, and a family member loses their life while traveling abroad or in a different state.
If there is a death while traveling, you’ll need to act accordingly, even during this tragedy. Here are four things to remember if this ever happens to you.
Death While Traveling – What You Need to Know
You Must Be Honest About What Happened
Sudden, tragic death takes a heavy toll on family members. Maybe the individual who died was:
- Your spouse
- A child
- A parent
- Some other relative
At the time, you might feel lost, like your whole world is falling apart. You’ll need to take some time to mourn, but in the meantime, you have to tell the police and medical personnel what happened.
You should always be honest about what took place that cost your family member their life. If they ate some undercooked food and got violently ill, and then died from the complications, that means no wrongdoing on their part.
However, if they ingested illegal substances and then went skinny dipping, that paints them in a harsher light. You might not want to admit that’s what happened.
It’s still best that you tell the truth. Your loved one is dead, and there is no bringing them back. You can get yourself in a lot more trouble if you try to alter the story of what happened.
You May Have to Seek Protection from an American Embassy
If the death took place when you were out of the country, you might want to seek out the nearest American embassy. You can tell the staff what happened, and they can advise you on what to do next.
They can help you because:
- You might not speak the Native language fluently
- They can act as a liaison between yourself and local authorities
Maybe what happened to your relative was their fault, or perhaps it wasn’t. In either case, the local authorities might not look too kindly on a foreign national dying on their soil.
It means more paperwork for them and a full inquiry. They might look at it as an annoyance more than anything else. Having the American embassy staff on your side should help you during this terrible time.
You Might Have to Stay Longer Than Anticipated
Perhaps the death took place on the last day of a week-long foreign country vacation. You planned on heading back the next night.
Now, the local police are bombarding you with questions. It’s probably going to take you a great deal of time to sort through what happened.
Don’t plan on leaving anytime soon. Maybe if you’re there with your kids and another adult, they can head back to the states while you sort out the tragic occurrence’s details.
You won’t be too happy about the delay, since being stuck in that country will cost you more money. Maybe you have work responsibilities waiting for you back home, pets to take care of, etc.
You have no option but to remain and deal with this situation. You can’t leave until you’ve ironed out all the details.
You’ll Have to Figure Out How to Ship the Body Home
If it’s possible to retrieve your loved one’s body, you’ll probably have to wait for the autopsy. Once that’s done, you must arrange a way to get the body home.
In some countries, this is relatively easy, while in other places, it’s more complicated. It will take more time for the authorities to release the body to you if you feel there’s any ambiguity or questions about how the death occurred.
This will likely be one of the most stressful times of your life. You’re in mourning, and you’re also in unfamiliar territory. You desire nothing more than to get home and surround yourself with your loving family members and friends.
First, you must tie up all the loose ends. Hopefully, the local authorities will at least not find you or any of your other family members liable for the death in any way. Before too long, you can take your loved one’s body home and gradually start to pick up the pieces and move forward.
If you find yourself in a predicament abroad, there are guidelines available for how to handle things from losing your passport to finding a hospital. Hopefully, all your vacations will be incident-free and you will never have to deal with a death while traveling.