submitted by Jason “Oz” Oszczakiewicz, Owner/Supervisor, Varcoe-Thomas Funeral Home of Doylestown, Inc.
When making travel arrangements, such as to a foreign country or on a cruise, there are endless details to arrange. We pack our clothes and essentials, update passports, coordinate care for children, pets or loved ones while we are away.
However, the one thing we tend to overlook is to make arrangements for what would happen if a death occurs while vacationing or travelling.
Over the years, I’ve encountered situations where someone has died while on a cruise or while vacationing in Italy or the Caribbean. And at these times, there is not only the stress of this sudden loss, but also dealing with foreign funeral homes, mortuaries or consulates to make the arrangements necessary to send a loved one back to the United States.
So what can be done to help everyone be better prepared in the event this occurs?
Before leaving, it is important to keep certified copies of birth and marriage certificates and photocopies of recent passports in a place where family members may gain access to them. Many consulates want originals or faxed copies of these documents before a funeral home or mortuary can send someone back to their home country or state.
This could save valuable time to gain clearance from a foreign consulate and book a flight for a loved one to return home.
Also, it is advisable to leave family members certain vital statistical information and items such as the travelers – date of birth, place of birth, social security number, parents names (including mother’s maiden name), educational level, occupation, preference for burial or cremation, and veteran information including discharge copies.
Other valuable information to be aware of is that each country or consulate also requires different regulations for shipping human remains, especially if someone died due to an infectious or contagious disease. Also, know that travel insurance may cover some of the expenses, but many foreign firms want to be paid up front, which can also be stressful and expensive.
Having this knowledge and planning accordingly will be a great help and alleviate a lot of stress if anything unfortunate were to occur while travelling abroad or vacationing.