No one ever seeks out trouble, especially on their vacation. But sometimes you might find yourself in a difficult situation and therefore need a little help from the local authorities. Preparing yourself a little bit beforehand can go a long way in case you run into issues, but while you are travelling there are a number of steps to take to ensure any problems you have can be dealt with fairly. Whether you are a victim of a crime or a possible perpetrator, be ready to deal with local authorities that may be different from what you are used to.
Before you leave, it is always important to research a bit of information about your destination. While you may look at countless images of the amazing beach, or read endless reviews of your ideal hotel, many people don’t think to look up information on local laws, customs and levels of government. Most guide books have a section on international laws, but you can also find a lot of information online. Being aware of what is legal and how the law in your destination works is invaluable information if you find yourself in a bit of trouble while travelling. Such insight might also help you avoid these difficult situations in the first place.
Now you are on vacation, away from the comforts and information of home. Something has happened and you think it is best to contact the local authorities. Immediately following an incident, it is important to record the situation in as much detail as possible. If possible, take some time to write down some notes and specifics that you might forget later on – local authorities, wherever you are, will be interested in hearing as much as you can remember and a few written cues can help jog your memory when needed. Be sure to record facts, there is no need for you to start the investigation with your own perceptions.
Your first choice after recording some information is who to contact, ensuring you call the right authority for your particular situation. Your hotel accommodation may be able to help you answer these questions, and in fact security at your hotel is probably the best place to begin when seeking help. For many incidents, your hotel should be a helpful asset, whether you end up seeking further assistance or not. For example, local insight from staff at your hotel will be able to tell you who to contact next and they may even share important information required when contacting authorities in that country.
One of your next lines of contact will most likely be the local police. Depending on where you travel, there may be multiple levels of police so be sure you are contacting the right people – this is another reason to seek advise from local travel authorities as they are usually able to help you navigate a foreign system. If it is an emergency, don’t be afraid to call the urgent line for the police, but for other enquiries use the local non-emergency line or drop in to a nearby station or outpost. If you are going through the assistance of your hotel, they will most likely be able to contact the right number and ensure you are helped in a timely manner.
Do not feel afraid if local travel advisors tell you to contact the military or government officials – depending on the situation and where you are, these might be the necessary groups to call. When dealing with either the military or government, it is probably advisable to contact your embassy or other national representative. They can often relay important legal advice and may be able to consult with these authorities on your behalf.
Sometimes the situation is more complicated and you might find yourself needing legal consultation. While judges and lawyers from that particular nation may be offered to you, it is advisable to seek legal advice from a lawyer at home to ensure you are getting treated fairly. Keep in mind that the law, and how rules are implemented and enforced, differs from place to place. While a local legal authority could give you insight into these specific dynamics, a lawyer from your home country should be on your consultation list.
One of the best ways you can help yourself with overseas problems is by doing your research beforehand. Get familiar with international laws, learn a basic understanding of that country’s legal system, and be aware of your rights as an international visitor. Never assume that you will encounter the same local authorities that you are used to at home, but there are always ways to protect yourself and your interests.