Water Wine Travel™

Seeking The Best In Leisure, Wine and Travel

Water Wine Travel™ header image 2

6 Things You Need to Know About Travel and Disasters

March 13th, 2011 · 4 Brilliant Opinions · International Travel, Travel Tips

The horrific earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan last week, made me do two things in earnest. First, I started to pray for Japan. I had the opportunity to visit Tokyo, Kyoto and Nara as a medical student. I have not been to Japan in over 20 years. When I was there, I found the people to be friendly, polite, talkative (they love to try out their English on foreigners) and proud. Many Japanese love jazz music so I had that instant connection with folks.

Two, it made me realize that hurricanes, drought, terrorism and civil unrest (think Egypt and Libya) can turn anyone’s travel plans into a travel disaster. Here are 6 things you need to do before you travel abroad.

  1. Leave a family member, close friend and/or colleague a copy of your itinerary (Include your flight information and contact information for your hotel). This may sound silly, but this week my sister is in Trinidad and my brother is in the Dominican Republic on vacation. I hope they are having a great time, but in the event of a family emergency – I don’t have a clue where they are staying. Flight info – dunno. If you are in danger abroad, and possibly without access to telephones or internet, its going to be hard for your family back home to advocate for your safe return – especially if they don’t know your specific travel plans.
  2. Think about alternative travel options if an emergency arises. If the air traffic is disrupted (think 9/11) would you be able to get to a safe place via roads, rail or ferry? If I’m in London and some pre-Royal wedding catastrophe occurs – I’ll be hopping on the Eurostar train to France or Italy or Germany.
  3. Cash is King or Queen. During the Egyptian protests, the stock market there shuttered, ATMs were out of order and banks closed. Travelers with cash will have more options for getting transportation to safer areas.
  4. They call the United States Big Brother for a reason. U.S. citizens should familiarize themselves with the U.S. State Department’s website www.travel.state.gov. Travel advisories and alerts are posted there. In addition, there is a drop down menu to get country specific information. Say you’re traveling to Algeria, you can access the country’s description, entry/exit requirements, information on safety, security and crime, medical, traffic and even aviation safety oversight. I know you’re thinking, “I’m off to Jamaica not Afghanistan – what can happen?” Well, my mom got caught in a Jamaican hurricane two years ago. Let’s not forget the sunny Caribbean isle of Grenada where medical students and tourists got caught up in the cross-hairs of a U.S. invasion in 1983.
  5. Register with the U.S. Embassy before you travel abroad. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) can help you if your passport is lost or stolen. It can also assist U.S. citizens in natural disasters. According to the website, STEP helped evacuate 16,700 U.S. citizens and family members after the earthquake in Haiti. If friends or family members are trying to reach you when you are abroad, registering with the embassy will be a huge help to them.
  6. Social Media and Networks can be really extremely helpful in times of crisis. Don’t underestimate the power of Facebook or Twitter to inform, inspire and advocate. A friend of mine contacted me earlier today, concerned about a cousin in Japan, living close to one of the unstable nuclear reactor sites. She was desperate for information on the status of Japan’s airports. She knew I had traveled to Japan in the past, was travel blogging and reached out to me for help. I posted this tweet.

    Shortly, thereafter (not sure on the time but definitely not more than 1/2 hour) I received an email from a producer at Good Morning America/ABC News. She had seen my tweet and wanted to know if my friend lived in NYC and if she would be open to speaking with her! I could not believe it.

    I forwarded my friend the email and then left for my daughter’s robotics competition. When I returned, I called my friend. Good Morning America/ABC news had contacted her and her cousin in Japan. They are heading over to her home this evening to interview her and assist with getting these folks out of Japan. I am praying that in the midst of all this suffering and sorrow that all works out for this family.

    Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a natural disaster, emergency, war, disease outbreak, terrorist attack or other disaster while traveling? Please share your tips and suggestions in the comments section. Stay safe and please pray for Japan.


Tags: ···········

4 Comments so far ↓

Leave a Comment, beautiful!