In light of the recent violence in Oslo, Marrakesh, Cairo and Acapulco, it’s easy to feel like man-made catastrophes can happen just about anywhere — even places considered relatively safe.
Throw in the natural
disasters that have affected Chile (volcano), Australia (floods) and eastern
Japan (earthquake and tsunami), and you have even more cause to prepare a basic
Plan B in the event your trip goes bad.
In addition to
insider secrets of how airlines operate and having the right
type of travel insurance, several high and low tech travel tips will prepare
you for many emergencies that arise. Pick and choose the preparedness tips that
work for you.
obvious response to a crisis is to get to a safe place. Waiting things out at
your hotel bar is a wiser option than attempting to, say, photograph the
calamity. But if you lose access to your hotel, and in turn, your passport, make
sure to have a backup. Before leaving home, scan a copy of your passport (open
to the page with key identifying information) and email the scanned image to a
webmail account that you can access overseas. This will make it easier to get a
new passport and return home.
In the unlikely
event that you fall unconscious because you are a victim of a catastrophe, make
sure hospital personnel can easily pinpoint your next-of-kin. Paramedics and hospital
workers will likely not have the time to fumble through your cell phone and look
up your contact information. Using old-fashioned pen, paper and tape, affix your
emergency contact information to the back of your photo identification.
prefer to be ultra-prepared can create dog tags that list essential information ($3 from Amazon.com). Larger versions of
these tags, which also come in bracelet form, can be used to note any allergic
reactions or special medical conditions that paramedics would need to know.
If you accidentally stumble into harm's way, you may need to call police or
medics. The mobile apps Travel SOS (iPhone, free) and Useful Numbers (Android, free) fetch relevant emergency numbers
based on your location.
and Internet data connections aren't always available during a crisis. Or sometimes an
itinerary takes you beyond the reach of standard communications tools. SPOT Connect ($99), a
hand-held satellite GPS device that broadcasts SOS signals, connects with your smart
phone via a Bluetooth signal, then transmits the phone calls you make via satellite.
The company also sells devices that send out automated SOS signals by satellite
without requiring the use of a phone.
way to get information is through a traditional shortwave AM/FM radio. Grundig
makes a durable small-sized version, the ETON
Mini GM400 Supercompact (recently $30 on Amazon). Remember, as long as
you're not injured or in immediate physical danger, chances are that things
will work out all right.
Sean O'Neill is the
tech travel columnist for BBC Travel