Nobody wants to think about all the things that could go wrong when they travel. Realistically, you probably won’t run into any trouble – but on those occasions when everything takes a turn for the worst, you need to be prepared.

Take it from me. I’ve heard my share of horror stories!

Travel accidents are rare, but they happen. Here are the five worst things that can happen to you when you travel.

1. Needing Surgery in a Foreign Country

After arriving in China to spend six months teaching English, I went through a medical exam that came back with some unexpected results: gallstones.

After a few questionable experiences with the Chinese healthcare system, I decided to go to Singapore for my surgery. Although my travel insurance covered evacuation, it also stipulated that my coverage would only be included at the nearest medical center – not the most reasonably safe one.

So I made my way to Singapore, ended up with an incredible surgeon, and had a minimally invasive surgery that kept me in the hospital for just three days. Two gallstones later, I was out exploring Singapore on my own.

This really could have gone a whole lot worse, though. I’m glad I knew my options. And although I felt very safe in the hands of the Singaporean surgical team, it was still a surreal experience. Nobody wants to be alone in a hospital!

2. Being in the Middle of a Natural Disaster

It’s impossible to predict when natural disaster might hit. It can happen anywhere, anytime, and we mere mortals are completely unable to fight the forces of nature.

Some days it seems like Indonesia is constantly in the news for its tsunamis and volcanic activity, and it’s impossible to forget the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean that took the lives of 230,000 people in Southeast Asia – including many tourists.

In these cases, it’s all about being in the right place at the right time (and perhaps keeping your head in an emergency). But with proper insurance you should be covered for emergency evacuation and medical care.

The chances of this happening to you are slim to none! Don’t let the fear of disaster keep you from hitting the road.

3. Finding Yourself in a Conflict Zone

Here’s another rare but serious situation: finding yourself suddenly in a conflict zone.

First of all, it goes without saying that you should avoid conflict zones at all times. Most travel insurances won’t even cover those areas with known conflict.

If we learned anything from the horrible recent abductions and murders of Canadians in Burkina Faso, it’s to pay attention to government travel advisories and warnings.

But if conflict breaks out unexpectedly, you need to get out of there as fast as possible. Avoid open spaces, dress in dark colors, and move away from populated areas as fast as you can. Just move!

4. Getting Violently Mugged

It’s one thing to be pickpocketed – it’s an entirely different thing to be robbed at gunpoint or with a knife against your throat.

People are unpredictable, especially when stress is high and the situation is a risky one. If you’re being violently mugged, the best thing to do is to calmly hand over whatever the mugger wants, and do not put up a fight.

It’s hard to keep your head in a situation like that, but you can do it. Don’t make any sudden movements, and cooperate with the thief.

5. Getting into a Serious Vehicle Accident

Road safety isn’t always up to Western standards in other parts of the world, especially in developing nations (including some of those in Southeast Asia and South America).

If you’re relying on public transportation to get around, there’s little you can do to prevent accidents from happening. You’re at the mercy of your driver and the other drivers on the road.

It’s unlikely you’ll experience a car accident while traveling. It can happen at home, too. But if you find yourself in a serious vehicle accident, you’ll be at the complete mercy of the rescue team and the doctors that come to your aid.

It’s good to keep your travel insurance documents as well as some identifying documents on you at all times in case this happens.  Especially contact info for your next of kin!

All of these examples above are usually beyond on our control. We can’t stop earthquakes from happening, and even if you’re the safest driver in the world it won’t stop other people from being reckless.

There’s no need to be afraid of the world. How would we have any amazing experiences at all? Take precautions, research your destination, and purchase your travel insurance. It could literally save your life!