Hurricane Patricia is barreling down on the Pacific coast of Mexico causing tourists and locals in the affected areas, including the coastal resort city of Puerto Vallarta, to involuntarily swap out sun and sand for sand bags and evacuation shelters.
Preparing for your big vacation should always be 99.98% good times, filled with excitement and anticipation. After that, 0.01% should be dedicated to planning for the unlikely event that a disaster, natural or otherwise, may hit during your trip. The remaining 0.01% may be dedicated to possibly considering going to the gym to be somewhat beach-bod ready (yeah, um, no . . . hence the use of “possibly considering”).
The time needed to fulfill the 0.01% for disaster planning is minimal and will 100% help immensely should the need arise. A great place to start are these 7 tips:
- Travel Insurance: Anything with the name “insurance” in it is inherently unsexy. But the protection it affords your dollar-investment is highly sexy for either pre-trip cancellations or trip-interruptions due to a natural disaster.
- Register for the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP): STEP is a free service for international travelers that helps the U.S. Embassy to contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency, and will help family and friends get in touch with you. You can enroll here.
- Pack a Small First-Aid Kit: It’s great for the inevitable cuts and scrapes and will be invaluable in an emergency when local medical personnel may not be immediately available.
- Extra Prescription Meds: You may be stuck for a day or two, maybe longer. Bring enough of your medications for double the length of your trip.
- Good Old-Fashioned Pen and Paper: Write down phone numbers for family and friends back home. Our smart-phones aren’t so smart when the battery dies and the power is out. Don’t rely on your memory in a crisis – write it down. Also keep a printed copy of all your travel documents and a photo copy of your passport.
- Airline Phone Numbers – ALL of Them: Or at least the airlines that serve your vacation destination. Flights will be canceled and rebooking will be rough. Go ahead and stand in the customer service line at the airport. BUT, also start dialing up airlines while you wait to increase your chances of getting a somewhat timely rebooking. If your originally scheduled airline is full-up, call up the next one your list.
- Cash is king: There are some pick-pocketing-perils to bringing too much cash on vacation with you. However, an ATM doesn’t dispense any money without power and stressed out merchants aren’t going to take the time to convert traveler’s checks for you. Bring a small wad of cash exclusively for emergencies and keep it in your hotel room’s safe.
For more travel planning tips (the good stuff and the “I’m allegedly a grown-up” stuff) please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy traveling!