THE ONE TIP TO ALWAYS DO BEFORE TRAVELING INTERNATIONALLY
AMERICANS IN PARIS
Often when the topic of traveling internationally comes up in conversation, especially in this current political climate, people often unload their warnings and advice on what you should and should not do. Where to go, where and what to avoid, how they did this and that. I still get that and I am 28 years old, regardless of if I am traveling with family, friends, or alone. Then it came to the media forefront since the October 3rd, 2016 robbery of Kim Kardashian that shocked the world. I had always believed that I could handle myself in any situation and handle anything while traveling as I have always been very prepared, careful and aware of my surroundings. Then something did happen, not to me but to a friend of mine that I was traveling with. They were drugged in one of the most famous nightclubs in Paris. Another shock to me about the situation was that in of all the places in the world I would have expected a situation like this to occur in, one of Paris’ most celebrate clubs was not one of them. Like they say, sometimes things truly happen when you least (or in this case where) you least expect them.
It’s ironic that I am writing this post almost exactly 4 years to the day that this incident took place, but that isn’t what inspired me to write this post now. The inspiration is that I am heading back to Paris Fashion Week this year I am bringing my best friend with me, and they have never been out of the country. So I began thinking a lot about what they might ask me, or what her parent’s might ask about the trip. I would have probably never thought to prepare for a trip overseas each time like I do now had this event not occurred, so in a way I am grateful that it happened. Another reason I wanted to write about this was a situation that became headline news worldwide last year, when Kim Kardashian was assaulted at gunpoint and robbed of $10 million dollars worth of her jewelry during Paris Fashion Week. Just as I never expected what happened to friend to occur where it did, I guarantee the Kardashian’s didn’t either in their apartment at a hotel that is so exclusive, it is literally dubbed the No Name Hotel. I remember the chaos that ensued the following day when I was in Paris, and while these situations are drastically different, the both would have benefitted from knowing this tip. Kim herself even mentioned she did not know this on Keeping Up With The Kardashians, so this seemed like the perfect time to write about this simple yet potentially life changing tip.
Now to the short story of what made this tip one of my many travel prep must haves, and one that can now be useful to you and become one of yours as well. My friend and I had been enjoying ourselves at VIP Room, and I had excused myself to go use the restroom, and then happened to run into an old friend of mine with whom I chatted with for a bit. When I returned to our table, my friend’s demeanor had gone from 0-60 in the matter of time I was gone. So I decided It was time to get us out of there, we said goodbye to our friends, and made what I thought would be a quick exit. Now to paint you a picture of the layout of VIP Room, you enter and exit the same way, up and down a very long set of stairs. One that seems much longer when you leave.
Once we got outside I started walking and went to order an Uber, and as I naively assumed my friend was walking right behind me, I heard a loud thump. I quickly turned around to find my friend flat on their back, and he was just mumbling incoherently. I couldn’t even get him to sit up or understand what he was saying, so I immediately grabbed my phone to call an ambulance. (The hospital would later confirm that someone had put something in one of his drinks). I was frantically trying to call 911, but to no avail. It had never occurred to be that 911 wasn’t a universal worldwide emergency number, and that perhaps it could be different in France than in the United States. So as I frantically trying to sit him up and figure out my next move, a group of local frenchman approached us and tried to pull me away from my friend while yelling at me in French. Dumbfounded and rapidly trying to explain the situation, one of the men luckily understood English and what I was saying and relayed this information to his friends. Once they understood I wasn’t a thief trying to rob my friend, they instructed me on how to call an ambulance in Paris and waited with us until they arrived. They later told me that they thought that I was trying to rob my friend, which in hindsight that’s exactly what it must have looked like.
That incident really woke me up that you don’t have to be in a third world country, a back alley, or jungle for an emergency to happen abroad where you need to know how to contact emergency services. I look back and just remember my head spinning in the back of that ambulance, thinking “we are in Paris, the jet-set capital of Europe, at one of the most sought after nightclubs in the world, how could this happen?” While they don’t share the same emergency numbers, ironically just like here in the United States, Europe also has a 24/7 universal emergency number, which is 112. if I had not gotten that number or known how to reach them that night could have ended much differently. Those kind frenchmen that guided me through the call and translated what was happening to the emergency transponders, could possibly have saved my friend’s life.
The moral of the story here is that wherever you are going and whoever you are, while preparing to travel internationally, this is something you must know in advance. I didn’t know. My friend that got drugged didn’t know. Even Kim Kardashian didn’t know how to call the police in Paris. So as 911 is to us in the United States, the universal European equivalent number is 112. Since this post is set in Paris, I will also tell you that if you need to get ahold of the police you dial 17, and for firefighters (who can also handle medical emergencies and accidents) you dial 18. The US Travel Department put together a list of all countries and the numbers for their Ambulance, Fire, and Police services around the globe. This is a Mr. BGB travel MUST, and now it should be one of your’s too! So before you travel internationally, find your destination on that list and write the numbers down and put them in your phone. Trust me, its worth the two minutes it will take you and the peace of mind!
To wrap things up and just to make this semi-serious post a little lighter, here is the emergency number for the police of the most Instagramed places of this past year, Tulum. If you find yourself in need of emergency services while there, dial 066!