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Being detained abroad can be one of the most alarming and terrifying experiences of one’s life. We have all heard of travelers being tossed into crowded prisons on all corners of the globe. Although most travelers never have to deal with this kind of nightmare, everyone should be prepared in the event of being questioned or detained abroad.

Knowledge is power, or so they say. In this situation, what you know is of the utmost importance, as it could save you in the instance of being detained. Having a working knowledge of the local laws, customs, and understanding your rights in the country you are in is imperative, even if such an emergency does not occur. If you are not aware of the local laws, you may be violating them without knowing it, and placing yourself in great danger. Education is always the first step.

The following are a few tips to keep in mind if you ever find yourself the subject of questioning or detainment.

Notify Your Country’s Embassy

This is one of the most important steps if you are detained. Inform your country’s consulate so they can provide assistance if possible. One of the reasons consulates exist is to provide support for its country’s nationals. There are a great number of ways your country’s embassy can assist you if you find yourself in an altercation involving the law in a foreign country. In such an event, your embassy is your best friend.

Contact Your Travel Insurance Provider

If you have a trip protection plan, it is a good idea to notify your travel insurance provider. Since there are so many variables involving such a situation, it would be difficult to say exactly what your insurance company could do in any given situation. If you have trip protection, though, you should see if their 24/7 emergency assistance services can help reach your family, the local embassy and lawyers who may be able to help.

Contact Family, Friends, Interpreters and Lawyers

Along with your embassy and your insurance provider, these groups need to be contacted immediately. Your family and friends back home can create a dialogue with the embassy and get in touch with local lawyers to get you out of trouble. They are a vital lifeline in the case of such an emergency, and contact with them should be on the top of your list.

Although being detained or questioned is usually the last thing on one’s mind while they are planning their upcoming vacation, things like this do happen, unfortunately. While it is quite unlikely that you will find yourself in such a situation, it is always better to be prepared.

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