Mad Mother Nature
August 27th, 2011

This past week has been a weird one for the US east coast.   We experienced an earthquake – however small it may have been – and now we’re prepped for a hurricane. It may be down-graded to a tropical storm as we speak, but either way, a tough thunderstorm ruffles our feathers so people are quite reactive.

Taking a step back from the east coast and looking more globally, it seems mother nature has had it out for us in the last couple of years. It started with earthquakes in Haiti and Chile. There was Icelandic volcano that disrupted travel for weeks (not to mention the damage it did to Icelandic farms). There were the floods that tore through Tennessee. Then you had the Japanese tsunamis and earthquakes. New Zealand was also the victim of multiple earthquakes. Chile got it again with the collapse of the mine, which only gave us slight hope with the virtually miraculous survival of the miners. Somewhere in there was the tornado that tore through the midwest United States.  I’m sure I’m forgetting some in there, but you get the point. We seem to have made mother nature mad. People have their theories as to why, but whatever the reason, it feels as if the world has been nothing short of catastrophic as of late.

While certainly delayed and cancelled travel plans aren’t nearly at the top of the priority list when these types of things happen, they are impacted. More than that, you could be enroute or stranded away from loved ones during a natural disaster, and this can be scary if not dangerous. Do you have a good plan for what you’d do if traveling during a disaster? While one certainly can’t control the path of the hurricane or ash of a volcanic eruption, there are some things you can do to take care of yourself and traveling companions as best as possible.

1. Leave a detailed copy of your itinerary with a loved one at home. It should have dates of when you’ll be where, names and contact details of accommodations, flight details, and any other travel details (trains, buses, private transfers, tours, etc). Choose someone that will react well in an emergency. You may love your great-grandma, but her inability to read without a magnifying glass and fading memory may not be the best choice for your emergency contact.

2. Put the same detailed itinerary somewhere in your carry on and/or checked luggage. If you somehow get separated from your luggage, say during changed/cancelled flights, it will at least provide some link to where you might be.

3. Keep your most important contacts obviously labeled in your phone and computer/email address book if you have it with you. For instance, I have my parents cell phones labeled with their names and their home phone labelled “home”, even though I don’t live there. I presume if something happened to me, the first person someone would look to call would be my parents. I want them to know how to get ahold of them.

4. Further more, if you’re in a situation that you think could become dangerous (ie a mountain climbing trip through remote, snowy mountains) create a list of the people that you’d want contacted first in an emergecy and their contact details. My parents and I are very close, and they’d know the names of people to contact, but they don’t know their numbers. Plus, what if someone can’t reach my parents and time is of the essence? This provides a “plan B” for contacting loved ones.

5. Know how to locate the US Embassy at your destination. You can actually register with the embassy before you travel, so that they know where to find you if needed.  Also, if you loose your passport/have it stolen or are dangerous situation, this is a good place to go. It’s “neutral territory” so to speak.

6. Use your common sense. I’m adventurous, and my idea of a great trip might not match a lot of peoples. I don’t believe a lot of the “oh that’s too dangerous” people. I went to Zimbabwe during a supposedly dangerous time and was in South Korea a few days after North Korea bombed a ship in South Korean waters. I was perfectly safe both time and felt no ill effects of the events in either case. But there are situations that I would not put myself into because I don’t have a death wish. When my flight to Europe was grounded during the Icelandic volcano, I stayed put. I didn’t try to get around it because I was so determined to go on my trip. If ash is going to shut down a plane’s engine, I want no part of that!



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