Traveling is meant to be an adventure that is enjoyable and culturally enriching. That is what people plan and hope for, and most times that is exactly what they get. There are times, however, when problems do occur when traveling, no matter how well prepared the person may be. This is compounded when traveling abroad due to language and cultural barriers that might be present, in addition to a host of other factors that must be taken into account as well. Travel insurance and trip protection certainly go a long way towards helping in such situations, but sometimes even more assistance is required. Americans do have an Embassy to call upon in most countries of the world, however, and there are certain ways that these facilities can effectively help travelers when they are in need.
Health Related Emergencies
While an Embassy is certainly not a hospital, they can help facilitate the location of medical services that might be useful, in addition to helping contact friends and families should the illness become serious enough. If a traveler finds that they will need additional money to pay for medical services, and they cannot return home until they do, then an officer at the consulate may be able to help facilitate the transfer of those funds from America. It is important to remember that medical care abroad is not covered by most U.S. insurance companies, so travel insurance is a wise idea in order to provide the protection and peace of mind that travelers need.
While a U.S. Embassy cannot necessarily get an American abroad out of prison should they find themselves locked up, they can often facilitate discussions and notify friends and family back home. It is important to remember that this varies greatly from country to country, so not all embassies will be able to assist traveler in this manner. The consular in the country, however, will attempt to provide assistance in the form of various services typically offered to citizens who are arrested in another country.
While certainly not a pleasant topic to discuss, U.S. Embassies will typically become involved when a citizen dies while visiting a foreign country. Trip protection will help pay for the costs of repatriation, but the embassy will work to notify family members back home and work on making the arrangement to get the American back to the mainland should there be nobody else available at the time to do so.