The Weather Channel-12:30 PM Pacific, 8/26/2011
My regular readers know that I travel a lot. Although I have not experienced a hurricane first hand, I have been in plenty of storms and been stranded a time or two at airports. Here is some advice on how to prepare if you must travel this weekend.
Hurricane Travel Tips
- If you don’t really need to go, don’t go. Cancel everything to avoid charges and experience the Hurricane through The Weather Channel or CNN.
- Bring high protein snacks like breakfast or energy bars
- Bring at least one fully charged cellphone backup battery or extended use battery. When the power goes out, the next thing to go out is a phone that can’t be charged. You may not loose cell service, or cell service may return before power, so be prepared to let loved-ones know where you are.
- If you haven’t left yet, take a copy of your home insurance papers with you along with pictures of the home. I suggest you prepare ahead of time by scanning them in and storing the documents, along with photos, on a USB stick you routinely bring with you.
- Make a reservation at a hotel near both your departure and arrival hotel. You may not be able to take off, or get to your destination once you arrive. Getting to an airport area hotel is a good backup, and if you work the times, you won’t need to pay for this equivalent of an insurance policy. If you are forced to check-in to one of them, ask for a mid-tier inside room. You don’t need a view of a hurricane. Don’t forget that if you do take off, to cancel the departure room before the cancelation cutoff to avoid charges if possible. Go with a major chain and they may let you cancel even after the deadline given the weather conditions. And remember, hotels don’t chat, so don’t feel bad if you have two hotel reservations for the same night, they aren’t going to tell each other.
- Bring a small pocket flashlight with extra alkaline batteries – rechargeable batteries are great and environmentally friendly, but they aren’t power outage friendly. Alkalines last longer and they work out of the box. Most hotel rooms don’t come with flashlights, so it is good to have your own.
- Bring a small radio. Likely that the Internet will be down along with cell service, so your only option may be traditional radio. I know, its quaint, but not as quaint as being completely disconnected from everything.
- Have your information handy in paper form. Again, if you need to talk to an airline or a hotel, and all of your records are on TripIt, then you might not be able to get to them. Print out your stuff and put it in a zip-lock plastic bag for extra safety.
- Download your airline’s app or check their website for updates. Many airlines suck at proactive communication. Be prepared to make your own determination of what is right for you and act on it. Don’t wait for the airline to tell you about a cancelation.
- If you are already in the airport, buy more water than you may think you need. If the power goes out, the kiosks and stores probably close. If there is flooding associated with your location, even tap water may not be available or drinkable. So get some bottled water on the way in. Tip for travel club members: pocket an extra bottle from the club, or bring empties to fill with their filtered water. Bottled water is expensive at airports. Club members get it free. You pay a lot for the privilege. Take advantage of it. Clubs may also be the best place to hang if you get stuck, and the best source of information. Stay away from the windows though.
- Pack enough medications for a week.
- Pack in a roller bag of some sort and don’t over back. If you get stuck in an airport, you don’t want to carry everything everywhere for a couple of days. Bring a roller bag even if you don’t usually bring one so that you don’t tire yourself out. And with the right roller, the top is also a great place to sit a Happy Meal while munching.
- Be patient. Unlike so many travel issues, whatever happens this weekend (outside of poor communications) isn’t going to be your airline’s fault. Don’t blame them. Don’t blame fellow passengers. Stay calm and cool and helpful. And stay safe!
Please comment if I left something out.