You've finally taken that overseas vacation you've promised yourself for years. You're having a great time, as you expected. Then the unexpected and unimaginable happens: A natural disaster or other activity hits that makes where you are a dangerous place to be. What do you do? What if a family member's the one in the middle of it? How can you check on her from the US?

These aren't pleasant thoughts, but we need to think about them. Last year there were the Haitiian and Chilean earthquatkes, and now in 2011, unrest in the Middle East and an earthquake in New Zealand. These tragedies serve as a reminder to be prepared.

First Steps

Of course, before the trip actually takes place, there's travel plans to be made, right? Airline reservations, hotel accommodations, etc. As part of the travel plans, take some steps to prepare for a natural disaster:

  • Make an itinerary of your trip and include as much detail as possible, such as flight numbers and arrival/departure times and dates; the name of the hotel where you'll be staying and its telephone number. Leave a copy of it with a friend or family member who's staying home
  • Register your travel plans with the US State Department. It's free, and it may go long way towards helping you in case of an emergency
  • If you regularly use any prescription medicine, talk to you doctor about getting several days' worth of extra medicine to take along on the trip. Take an extra pair of prescription eyeglasses, too, if you have them
  • Take some extra money and promise yourself not to use it except for an emergency. Try to take some cash. Credit cards and traveler's checks are good to have from a security stand point, but if there's a natural disaster, it may be impossible to use credit cards or checks
  • Make sure your passport and driver's license are up-to-date
  • Make sure your immunizations are up-to-date

If it's your family member or loved one's who's traveling, make sure he takes all of the steps. Also, make sure you get the cell phone numbers of anyone he's traveling with. Of course, try to convince his traveling companions to take the same precautions.

While You're There

Here's a list of some things to do when you get there:

  • Contact someone back home to confirm your arrival and your hotel or other accommodations and contact numbers
  • Find out where the US Embassy or Consulate is and how to get there from your hotel
  • Look for a hospital and police station near your hotel
  • Be sure that your cell phone is charged fully and that you have it and your passport with you at all times, whether your going out to eat or to the hotel lobby to get a newspaper
  • Try to keep your things together and organized, especially your extra medicine and money. If possible, keep it in a small bag that you can grab in hurry 

If you stayed home, and if she hasn't called yet, call your family member or loved one to make sure she landed safely and that there's been no change in her plans, such as a change in hotels or other lodging accommodations.

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Tagged as: Government, natural disaster, government lawyer