Please sign in to post.

Pre-planning for climate disasters

Thinking about the fires in Maui, the heat waves this summer in Europe, the fires in Greece....it might behoove us to have an emergency plan. Some of this may or may not apply to those traveling on a Rick Steves' tour. It's a Washington Post article--you might need a subscription to read it. https://www.washingtonpost.com/travel/tips/natural-disaster-wildfire-preparation-travel-planning/?utm_campaign=wp_by_the_way&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_bytheway

Posted by
7453 posts

Interesting article! And thank you, Muriel S!

  • Passport - we’ve had plenty of discussions on the forum, but this is just one reason I always wear my passport in my money belt, especially traveling solo. If needed, I could leave the country immediately.
  • Cash - since using Apple Pay is so convenient, I’ve carried less cash. Maybe something to consider.
  • Medications - after 2020, I now bring two extra weeks of my prescriptions when I travel overseas.

Here’s one I would add: Telephone numbers of family or friends. I’m so used to pushing my “favorites” button on my phone that I could give you my husband’s phone number but would pause at reciting our adult kids’ numbers. If I’m separated from my phone, I really need to have at least three critical numbers memorized.

Posted by
6708 posts

This is one reason why I always carry cash- I would aim to always have enough cash to get me out of any situation if card systems failed for any reason. Why I just don't buy the cashless society.

I always, always travel with insurance. I would hope to be able to fall back on their evacuation cover if it was really expensive to get home, but am not going to trust it unless really backed into a tight corner. UK insurers you have to call them and ask their advice before committing to expenditure and supposedly let them make arrangements. In most circumstances I would rather call them and agree that I spend the money up front and they later reimburse me.

You hear all the time of clueless people stranded in Europe -like the Greek fires recently, and no idea how to get home under their own steam by other means.

Even in the UK- if I am travelling by train on the most basic of journeys, I will always have a plan B and C for other modal choices or a re-route if the train line goes on red alert with no alternative provision.

Or by road will always know my diversions- not relying on data for internet mapping- will be carrying paper mapping.

And I always have basic plans in my head or on paper as to how I would get out of places using my own gumption. If in Europe that would always be a land based alternative.

Similarly always travel with paper documents. What happens if power is lost for a prolonged time so your phone can't be charged, or cell towers are lost and you have all documents you need on apps for which you need data, or just stored off line on your mobile device which then goes dead.

I may not currently actually print off paper tickets etc (except train tickets), but will always have a piece of paper with the relevant details on.

This is all basic timeless travel advice going back decades.

Posted by
840 posts

Methinks it would be much easier on vacation. I only have one bag, Not a roller. And we never completely unpack. The only thing to consider for me is to have more cash than I would usually carry overseas. If the ATMs are down, it is a problem.
Traveling, I have no consideration about what to snatch and go, or where it is. I have the one bag and I could even leave that. No pets, relatives, computers, valuables, keepsakes.
I think that in many cases you just have to move. As in get out and get away. With nothing to hold you back. The fires in Maui said to move at 60 mph, or one mile a minute. There is no time to equivocate. No time to even look and think about, hmmm, should I go.
Other than moving immediately, one should think about moving sooner if the threat is possible. Don’t get stuck in traffic because everyone is going last minute. Be proactive, more so in a time frame than the others. If you have to even think about leaving, that is the time. Plus, you then have to ability to get anything you need before it is gone. Another hotel room, food, supplies. Before the last minute people even get there.
Perhaps we should all suppose that any wildfire in the area is cause enough to go. When it is first noted. Why be stuck on Rhodes and have to seek safety by wading into the sea when you could have left soon as you heard about the fires? This, for tourists as people who live there are not so likely to abandon their homes too early.
As in, who now, as a tourist, is still camping, planning a hike, or going to LA, Death Valley, or Zion at this point in time with Hilary on the way.
How many on these forums know the escape routes from their hotel room should here be a fire? Do you know where the stairs are? Have you used those stairs so you actually are familiar with them?
Fire in your hotel may be the most likely event while traveling.

Posted by
4473 posts

treemoss, excellent advice that if you're even thinking about leaving, you should leave immediately and beat the crowd. And this post is a reminder that all of us who live in areas subject to hurricanes need to make sure all our plans are in place and that we have a list of what possessions to grab when we go, since we get more advance notice of hurricanes than do the people who have to escape fires.

Posted by
1979 posts

I just signed up with STEP

One disaster that I did not see mentioned are earthquakes. I do not believe there ever is advance warnings and what does one say about earthquakes. I only know what I have read or heard but .... I hope that I never have to deal with this disaster.

You can try to prepare but can you fully prepare for what might come.

I agree that it is important to always have some cash on hand, some very important meds, and specific papers. I always keep my mobiles fully charged. I will have a backpack and sling bag on this trip.

I did see that kidnappings were mentioned in the article. I really do not think about this while traveling but one probably has to consider an uprising whether it be extreme right or extreme left.

I am taking a cruise and there is always very tight security on a. cruise ship and with good reason.

Furthermore the captain and cruise line has to be very aware of ports they are sailing into as well as
weather conditions. I read reviews about cruisers and guests are sometimes very angry and unhappy because they could not port due to weather or water conditions. Well, the captain is responsible for the safety of the guests and has to make a decision about whether to port or not port.

Posted by
6708 posts

How many on these forums know the escape routes from their hotel room should here be a fire? Do you know where the stairs are? Have you used those stairs so you actually are familiar with them?
Fire in your hotel may be the most likely event while traveling.

That is the first thing I always do when I arrive at my hotel. ALWAYS. And check the route(s) is/are unobstructed, lit and unlocked. In Ireland once I was at a hotel where the main escape route was unlit, went outside to a courtyard, then back in again.
Bizarre.

I always travel with a little palm held torch/flashlight which covers that kind of situation.

Likewise on a ship (ferry or cruise) I check all my escape routes to my muster station and where the watertight doors are. Before Day 1 muster, before my Day 1 lunch. Every night before I go to bed at sea I have my lifeboat gear laid out ready to go, ready for instant abandon ship.
Or on an overnight train I know my routes of escape- aware of the Taunton sleeping car fire in 1978 and having been in a real train fire once.
There may not be time to muster.

Posted by
15690 posts

Besides many of the things that have been mentioned above. Here are some additional things I do.:

-- Take screenshots of all important documents as well as tickets, boarding passes, etc. If power goes out, you can still get hold of these.

-- If there is no Wi-Fi, turn it off. When wi-fi is turned on it is constantly seeking a signal and that uses up the battery.

--travel with a small backup battery for your phone, and don't forget the cable and small charger. (Or at least make sure the backup battery is charged at all times.) With prudish use, and even a small backup battery, you should be able to get 3-4 days out of your phone. . ( No game playing or videos).

-- If you have Medjet Assist for emergency medical evacuation, they also offer an additional policy for emergency evacuations due to war, terrorism or natural disasters. With one phone call, they will figure out a way to get you home. They contract out to a third party who specializes in evacuating people from these kind of situations They're mostly hired by big corporations to evacuate their top executives. They may be able to find ways to get you out that you can't.

Posted by
8642 posts

Most people aren't even prepared for emergencies at home, let alone while traveling. Having cash is a great idea, that belies the whole "cards-only trend". We've been traveling during two hurricanes where the airlines preemptively called us to offer early departures as they were moving their planes out of the path. It's those disasters that happen without advance notice that are the problem. I'd be interested in knowing what the folks staying in Maui resorts north of Lahaina were told to do.

We were on a cruise off the coast of Central America when an earthquake off Ecuador happened. The Captain headed rapidly out to deep water (where the effects of a tsunami would be minimal) and the wave passed with barely a ripple.

Posted by
289 posts

All good points.

There is a travel blogger who recommends wearing an emergency ID bracelet or dog tags, like a medical bracelet. She also recommends making emergency contact cards with information like your country of citizenship, passport number, your credit card company and insurance company toll-free numbers, the number of the Embassy, emergency contacts, etc.

https://packinglighttravel.com/travel-tips/health-safety-and-comfort/emergency-id-bracelet-for-travellers/

https://packinglighttravel.com/travel-tips/health-safety-and-comfort/make-travellers-emergency-contact-card/

Posted by
289 posts

Posted by Frank II

--travel with a small backup battery for your phone, and don't forget the cable and small charger. (Or at least make sure the backup battery
is charged at all times.) With prudish use, and even a small backup
battery, you should be able to get 3-4 days out of your phone. . ( No
game playing or videos).

If you are travelling with a laptop or tablet, there's another battery for your phone as well.

Posted by
7453 posts

I have a Road ID rubber bracelet with a metal engraved plate that I wear when out biking or traveling solo. I have my name, and in Italian “my husband “ with his name & phone number.

Between that and wearing my passport in my money belt, my identification is always with me.

Posted by
960 posts

Thank you, Hank for that anecdote. I am a firm believer in following your 6th sense if something feels "off", even if undefinable and others are forging ahead. I believe that has prevented me from blundering into several unsafe situations.

Also, isn31c . I'm glad to see another traveler that notes the fire escape routes. I have had to evacuate hotels due to actual fire, not false alarms, on 3 occasions over the years. None was a tragedy in the end, but in each case, we could smell the smoke.

Posted by
1695 posts

One thing I always do is register my trip with the government of Canada, which offers a "Registration of Canadians Abroad" service. https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration I figure that, if there is an emergency, it might be helpful for my government to be aware I'm there.

Not sure if there is a similar service in the US, but it might be worth checking into.

Posted by
3260 posts

Ever since I can remember, I've checked out where the emergency exits are and how many doorways from my room...incase there is too much smoke to see. When I enter a theatre or other such location, I look to see where the exit signs are in relationship to my seat. It is common sense.

I let the cash issue slip on my most recent trip, but not here at home. I will up my supply when traveling next time. Cash is King in a worse case scenario. This is hard for me to say as I absolutely love Apple Pay. I guess when my last international trip slips away, I'll have money to give away (or my daughter will). LOL

This is why I always, at least, carry my passport, a debit and CC when out during the day on my trips, and have this information on or in my shoes in the hotel room in case of fire, etc. I did let go of the natural fiber clothing on my last flight, but maybe I will reinstate this. There are so many things a former loss control person must think of, sigh. ;)

Posted by
289 posts

So passport, credit cards, insurance cards and cash are a given to have on your person and not back at the room.

What about carrying all your meds and a change of clothing in your daypack? Or at least a few days worth of meds and a change of underwear, socks and maybe a shirt? Because what if some disaster fell on the hotel while you were out and everything was lost or non-retrievable for several days/weeks?

I think people plan on what to have ready to grab if they had to evacuate the hotel. But you are probably spending more hours per day out being a tourist than at the hotel.

Posted by
6708 posts

Prescription meds certainly.

Clothing more debateable. If you end up at a disaster relief centre one of the services provided will likely be emergency clothing. If you can't reach a place of safety and are in the wilds or trapped under debris is your clothing going to matter?

In the latter circumstance such needs will be met when you are ultimately recovered, or at least that's my personal feeling.

A whistle (to attract attention) is also a good idea- no weight and takes up no room.

Posted by
677 posts

Even if you are just planning on traveling domestically, it can be important to have your passport. My's son's co-worker was in the air on 9-11, and the pilot was directed to land at Winnipeg. If he would have had his passport, he could have left the airport, rented a car, and driven to his home in the US. But, because he didn't have it, he was stuck for at least a day in the airport.

Posted by
18783 posts

Climate Disasters are reason 7 to cancel all unnecessary travel.

The commercial aviation industry is responsible for 2-3% of emissions annually, and in 2021 alone the industry emitted 547 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Although this number is a huge decrease from prior years, emissions totals are starting to rise again along with the urge to travel post-pandemic.

Posted by
289 posts

Posted by mnannie

Even if you are just planning on traveling domestically, it can be
important to have your passport. My's son's co-worker was in the air
on 9-11, and the pilot was directed to land at Winnipeg. If he would
have had his passport, he could have left the airport, rented a car,
and driven to his home in the US. But, because he didn't have it, he
was stuck for at least a day in the airport.

Had not considered this. I grew up on the Mexican border, but don't take my passport home because my sister has never been too keen on crossing the river anyway, and since there is more gang activity even in the local border towns there is no way she would take a walk over with me now.

Thanks for pointing this out.