Wondering what sort of odd coding appears above? These are the emergency numbers for each of the countries I have visited in the past 5 years. If you’re planning to attend the Olympic games this summer, do you know the emergency numbers in Brazil?
When we were traveling around the world for 11 months, to 30 different countries, we of course tried to be safe wherever we were. We made sure to register with the State Department while traveling, we carried antibiotics with us, we had google translate to help us navigate language issues, and we had two kinds of travel insurance to cover us in case of injury. But we didn’t always know what we would do in case there was an immediate emergency – robbery, fire, accident, theft.
It wasn’t until we were several months into our trip that I realized that each country had a different emergency phone number to call. 911 is burned into our American brains as the emergency number, but do you know what it is in Europe? Now I do: it’s 112. Mostly. But if you’re in Turkey, while the ambulance number is 112, the fire department is 110, and the police number is 155. How on earth are you supposed to remember all that if you’re only there for a week?
Travel App Gives You Vital Information Wherever You Go
Allianz Global Assistance has launched its new TravelSmart Mobile App featuring real-time flight status, a medication dictionary, a translation tool for first aid terms, local emergency numbers for each country, an international hospital search tool, insurance policy management and a click to call hotline. Many of the included tools will work without an internet connection, which is nice in case you don’t have data service on your phone while traveling.
The tool for translating first aid terms is brilliant and essential and I can’t believe we didn’t have such a thing when we were traveling. We were stuck, so to speak, in China, and one of us was suffering from constipation. We went to the pharmacy to find a laxative, using Google translate, drawings, and performance art that I wish I had on camera, but still managed to come back with an anti-diarrheal, which was of course the exact opposite of what we needed. With the TravelSmart Mobile App, basic symptoms can be translated at the touch of a button on the screen.
There’s a medication dictionary, so that you can find local names for the medications you use at home. I wish that the foreign names were included as well for reverse lookup, so if I came across Paracetamol in Australia I could look it up and find out it is the same as Acetaminophen, but perhaps that will be included in a future update. Another handy feature is a place to store photos of your medications and prescriptions for reference on the road.
An international hospital finder allows a quick search for Allianz-approved hospitals nearby. This tool is designed to help when you are on the road and not for advance planning, and it seems to work best with GPS, as the search function did not turn up any results when I searched for “Brazil” and “Rio de Janiero,” but it did show me the closest approved hospitals to my house.
The click to call button is a nice feature, giving Allianz customers immediate access to either medical assistance or customer service from the US or overseas.
For a look at the app in action, check out brand ambassador Lee Abbamonte using the app in this video.
Overall, this is a handy app to have installed when you travel, even if you do not have an Allianz policy in place.
So, the Emergency Numbers in Brazil Are…
And by the way, the emergency numbers in Brazil are 192 for ambulance, 190 for police, and 193 for fire. Let’s hope you don’t have to use them.
Thanks to Allianz for sponsoring this post, providing travel coverage for the unexpected. All Over the Map received financial compensation from Allianz Global Assistance (AGA Service Company).
This past Friday was Simon Bolivar’s birthday. In case you don’t know, Bolivar was a Venezuelan military and political leader who was critical to establishing Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia and a couple of other Central and South American countries no one in the United States cares about as independent of Spanish rule. He’s the Southern Hemisphere’s equivalent of George Washington. La Libertador!
I read a biography about Simon Bolivar when we were in Ecuador in 2008 and when I came back to work I put an annual reminder for his birthday on Outlook. June 24, 1783. I don’t know exactly why I did this – I haven’t done it for any of the Kardashians or U.S. Presidents. Washington and Lincoln have that day in February, but it’s not their birthday and I don’t know when their real birthdays are; I think that Federal holiday is designated mostly so department stores can have sales to boost corporate profits.
This year when that Outlook reminder popped up reminding me that it was Bolivar’s two-hundredth and thirty-second birthday, which also believe it or not by some coincidence happened to be my last day at work for the year before we drive through Mexico and the Americas, I used it as an opportunity to get a little bit nostalgic for our time spent in Quito when I knew that if I needed shoelaces I could buy them from the woman in the plaza.
I also used it as an opportunity to think a little taller. See, Bolivar was inspired from a young age towards liberation of Latin America from Spanish rule and not only did he nail it, but he managed to get a country named after him. (Hint: it’s not Simonia.)
Other than an early fascination with the Hells’ Angels, which I eventually ruled out as a career option because I didn’t own a motorcycle and couldn’t stomp on someone’s face with a jackboot, and a desire which I can’t seem to shake to abuse my knee joints and back alignment by hiking the length of the Appalachian Trail, my life aspirations have been fairly traditional: job, marriage, mortgage, kids. Satisfied in that order.
Happy family! Though, sometimes Coconut is not a morning person
I don’t know whether my vision of life inside a white picket fence sprung from the stable and loving home life provided by my parents, from watching countless re-runs of the domestic bliss embodied by The Munsters, or just from a lack of imagination. But that was the path I was on and I probably would have been very happy in living it, or at least in my ignorance of the chance I had to live some other way, but for that ingredient which has showed up at all the important junctions in my life – dumb luck.
I think I’ve already introduced you all to R, my wife. She’s behind all of this with little resistance from me. So, let’s just accept that I was lucky that she called my name and I was smart enough to call her back and that we got married and had two children (daughter, Coconut; son, formerly Rooster but heretofore referred to as J), and that we purchased an affordable house, and leave work at 5 each night, and aren’t hooked on caffeine or cable TV, and have saddle bags on our bicycle so we can grocery shop and borrow books and movies from the library, and that we decided that an overland trip to South America was about the best thing that we could do right now when Coconut was 12 and J was just about to be ten.
Without getting into why the doctor thinks it’s crazy how we got here, I want to give myself a little bit of credit because I think I may have been leading you all to believe that I am an unwilling passenger in all of this. No Siree Bob! I was actually looking for a smart, good-looking girl with her own wok and holes in her Birks to lead me to this point in our “Admirable Campaign” – sitting on sagging IKEA Henriksdal dining chairs for the last six years because we needed to put the $480 that we could spend on new chairs and better back support into this trip. And now we are on the verge of turning the wheel south on a trip around the world.
On your marks, get set . . .
I wonder what Coconut and J think about life right now. Before we stuff them in an aluminum box and drive off. They haven’t told me, in spite of my threats to perform Flashdance on the school playground if they don’t. Do they want what we’ve given them so far – a rainbow ice cream treat of a palace? Or would they care to make different plans? Because whatever itch R and I are scratching from realizing whatever it is we’ve been hoping to realize over the last bunch of years, this is when Coconut and J may get swallowed whole.
They’ve already been bit – Coconut is twelve and has been on four continents and spent time in over ten U.S States and paints her nails black. Think she’s going to do what everyone else wants her to do? Opening her eyes to the world in this way may buy her a lifetime passport. J has starred in a very informative and entertaining documentary on the hot water spouts of Iceland and likes to lie face up on a mattress placed directly under darts stuck into an asbestos tile ceiling and turn out of the way of the falling dart at the last second (well, not yet really, but I can see him doing this in college.) Basically, he’s up for anything, and he may realize on this trip that anything is possible.
It’s like this: are Coconut and J going to be happier knowing that they scored in the 90th percentile in standardized testing, or that the oil pan wasn’t cracked after Pop took the tope, which is Spanish for giant Mexican speed bump, too fast? It’s like this: maybe the captives didn’t think they had it so bad until El Libertador rode to town. And this time, he’s embarking on his Admirable Campaign hand-in-hand with La Libertadora!
Whether you call it immersive travel, cultural travel, experiential travel, or adventure travel, it is a kind of travel that takes you deeper into a destination – beyond a place to its people, its culture.
For my family it involves learning about a culture through the arts. For Vero’s family, it often involves leaping off of giant rocks, but she’ll talk about that in a later post.
During my family’s month-long stay in Buenos Aires, we made a real effort to immerse ourselves in the city’s culture, and as a result it remains one of our favorite travel memories. Here are some tips for immersing yourself in any new culture.
Stay in a neighborhood, not a tourist district
To get to know any place, its best veer a little bit – or even a lot – off the beaten tourist path. I like to start by finding a place to stay that is in a lively neighborhood away from the central business district. Vacation rental websites like HouseTrip, HomeAway, Airbnb, and others make this possible by renting furnished apartments and houses. It’s fun to find your local market and figure out the public transportation options, and it’s great language practice, too. And on that note…
Learn the language
It’s tough (but not impossible!) to get to know local culture if you can’t converse with the locals. We took a Spanish class that included cultural lessons as extracurricular activities. One of our first lessons was on how to prepare and drink mate, the ubiquitous Argentinian tea drink that has a culture and ritual unique to this part of the world.
Paige and Calla sample the mate.
Learn about the place from a local
Before we arrived in Buenos Aires, we contacted Cicerones, a Buenos Aires non-profit that matches visitors to the city with locals who can show them around. Part of the Global Greeter Network, Cicerones are volunteers who love to show of their city. Our Cicerone happened to be a native Colombian who had been studying in Buenos Aires for some time, and enjoyed sharing the city and practicing his English with visitors. Since we were heading to Colombia after Buenos Aires, we benefitted doubly from his knowledge.
Our Cicerone took us on a walking tour of Buenos Aires to introduce us to the city.
Find shared interests
Back home, I participated in a Brazilian samba-reggae percussion group called Batala, which has groups all over the world. I contacted the Buenos Aires group and was not only able to join them for their regular practices in a part of the city I would not have found on my own, but even played a couple of shows with them as a performer. The members of the band took me under their wing and showed me all kinds of things about Argentinian culture.
Paige joined Batala Baires for a month.
My daughter had been missing her gymnastics classes, and we had had trouble finding her lessons on the road. But in Buenos Aires, we found several circus schools in the neighborhood where we were staying, and one allowed her to join an aerial acrobatics class for the month, which she loved. We worried she might have trouble with the language, but I guess the language of gymnastics is universal.
Magnolia joined an aerial acrobatics class in Buenos Aires.
Do what the locals are doing
We saw in a local paper that Fuerza Bruta, the multi media show that has been playing in New York for several years, would be returning to the place it all began in Buenos Aires with a free show. The trick was that you had to stand in line mid-day on a Thursday. We stood in line and met several locals while we were waiting, who gave us tips on other fun cultural things to do in the city.
Standing in line with locals for free tickets to see Fuerza Bruta allowed us to meet more locals in Buenos Aires.
Become a regular
This one is my favorite. If you find a local spot you enjoy, why not go there repeatedly and get to know the staff and other regulars? You might find a local spot to buy your daily coffee and pastry, or a cheese shop, or even a place to play dungeons and dragons (oddly, we found such a place not far from our Buenos Aires apartment). We found a great craft beer bar just down the street from our rental apartment, and often ended our evenings there. When we had to leave before the band was to play one night, the lead singer gave us a private impromptu set at the bar.
Our favorite brew at the Bodega Cervecera in Buenos Aires.
Of course, there’s no right or wrong way to travel, but if you want to really get to know and understand the culture of the place you are visiting, it’s best to just jump right in and try living like a local, rather than sitting on a tour bus with all the other foreigners.
I was recently walking along the National Mall in Washington, DC, when I saw a family leaving the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. As they passed a trash can, the mother tossed in her empty water bottle.
Her son stopped in his tracks and his eyes grew wide. “But Mom! That’s recyclable! You can’t put that in the trash!”
The mom sheepishly fished the bottle out of the trash and scooped it into the neighboring recycling bin.
We’re so careful at home to recycle, reduce our water use, and save energy, often at the urging of our children. So why shouldn’t we use the same consideration when booking our family vacations?
Here at All Over the Map, we try to be mindful of our environmental impact when traveling, but it’s not always easy. There is no one universal standard to tell us which destinations or tour companies are eco-friendly.
Greenloons to the rescue
Our friends at Greenloons aim to take the guesswork out of vacation planning by offering tours that have been fully vetted not only for their environmental impact but for their safety, comfort, educational value and fun for the whole family.
Don’t like surfing? Want an option for grandma while you’re out biking? If there’s something missing, most of the tours are customizable, and private tours can be arranged.
All Over the Map partners with Greenloons
We are happy to announce that while Greenloons director Irene Lane is out vetting some new European tour options this summer, we’ll be helping out in the home office with booking tours and spreading the word about the fabulous tours they offer. And we’ll be trying to figure out how we can manage to get our own families onto their Antarctica wildlife expedition!
Antarctica wildlife expedition
Contact us for more information about any of the tours, or let us help you customize one for yourself.