En español | It happens to most of us at some point: There's an emergency, and you're needed right away — by your college student, your elderly parent, your friend. Here are some things to keep in mind so you can move quickly and efficiently.

AARP MEMBER DISCOUNTS
Travel Discounts for AARP Members

Savings on hotels, car rentals, cruises, tours and airfare

SEE MORE

Subscribe to the AARP Travel Newsletter and get inspired for your next trip

Prepack

Pack yourself a small bag and keep it close at hand. What's in it? Miniature soaps, shampoos and other sundries you collected from your last hotel stay, plus whatever amount of cash you might need to get to the airport or train station. If you're driving, don't forget money for tolls plus an accurate map or a GPS device. Have a car kit prepared and in the trunk for roadside problems.

Keep a list in your prepacked bag to remind you what to collect as you walk out the door: your wallet, medications, electronic devices and chargers. Use the list to remind yourself where to find important documents (passport and power of attorney: file cabinet in den, middle drawer). Put in a spare pair of glasses or contacts, and a book to read or crossword puzzles to work.

Keep a list in your prepacked bag to remind you what to collect as you walk out the door: your wallet, medications, electronic devices and chargers. Use the list to remind yourself where to find important documents (passport and power of attorney: file cabinet in den, middle drawer). Put in a spare pair of glasses or contacts, and a book to read or crossword puzzles to work.

If you'll want to take advantage of frequent-flier miles, hotel honors programs or car rental deals, keep all those numbers together in a notebook. Or look into electronic wallet apps such as Personal.com's Fill It and Apple's Passbook, which allow you to have just that kind of information at your fingertips. Don't forget important phone numbers — especially the ones you know might be difficult to remember when you're under stress.

For clothes, follow the "rule of three": three bottoms and three tops, all of which can be mixed and matched. That will give you nine outfits. Make sure you have appropriate shoes, up to three pairs. You can save packing space by wearing layers and your bulkiest shoes while traveling.

Finally, have a backup. Think of a friend, coworker or neighbor with whom you can form a pact "just in case." This is the person who can take care of your pets and tend to other household needs while you're away.

Keep a list in your prepacked bag to remind you what to collect as you walk out the door: your wallet, medications, electronic devices and chargers. Use the list to remind yourself where to find important documents (passport and power of attorney: file cabinet in den, middle drawer). Put in a spare pair of glasses or contacts, and a book to read or crossword puzzles to work.
Keep a list in your prepacked bag to remind you what to collect as you walk out the door: your wallet, medications, electronic devices and chargers. Use the list to remind yourself where to find important documents (passport and power of attorney: file cabinet in den, middle drawer). Put in a spare pair of glasses or contacts, and a book to read or crossword puzzles to work.
Two suitcases packed for an emergency trip
Chalermchai Chamnanyon/Alamy

If you'll want to take advantage of frequent-flier miles, hotel honors programs or car rental deals, keep all those numbers together in a notebook. Or look into electronic wallet apps such as Personal.com's Fill It and Apple's Passbook, which allow you to have just that kind of information at your fingertips. Don't forget important phone numbers — especially the ones you know might be difficult to remember when you're under stress.

For clothes, follow the "rule of three": three bottoms and three tops, all of which can be mixed and matched. That will give you nine outfits. Make sure you have appropriate shoes, up to three pairs. You can save packing space by wearing layers and your bulkiest shoes while traveling.

Finally, have a backup. Think of a friend, coworker or neighbor with whom you can form a pact "just in case." This is the person who can take care of your pets and tend to other household needs while you're away.