If you’ve turned on a TV at all this past week, or checked your Twitter feed, then you know about the string of natural phenomenons that have been affecting the East Coast. First, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck in Virginia and its effects were felt from Georgia to Martha’s Vineyard.
Now, Hurricane Irene is headed for the East Coast, and meteorologists project it will be the worst hurricane to hit the coast in decades. Friendly Planet’s office is based right outside of Philadelphia, and we’re preparing ourselves for potential flooding and strong winds as we speak.
We have six tours leaving from or arriving to Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Houston, and Charlotte this weekend, and have already made arrangements to do our best to avoid significant delays and cancellations for our travelers. Travelers scheduled to depart on Sunday from these airports have been rebooked on earlier flights to avoid losing days of vacation due to the storm.
Travelers returning from destinations to eastern cities have been rerouted to other arrival cities predicted to miss the storm, or they have been rebooked on later flights to arrive a day after the storm. Airlines have waived change fees, and our hotel partners abroad have offered very special extra night rates for our travelers in case they need to arrive a day early or stay a day longer.
As always, our emergency phone is staffed by professionals who will know how to assist passengers who need us, so come what may, we’re ready. As I’ve said before, when it comes to traveling, safety is key, and we’re preparing as much as possible in advance for Friendly Planet customers.
For anyone who is traveling to or from the East Coast this weekend (or ever finds themselves traveling during a natural disaster), there are a few simple things you can do to ensure things go as smoothly as possible.
- Stay calm. Don’t become overwhelmed as you’re navigating busy crowds and security lines. Staying calm, doing as asked, and going with the flow will help make your travel experience as pleasant as can be under the circumstances.
- Don’t waste any time. Take action yourself, and don’t depend on someone to come rescue you. If you’re supposed to be leaving for a vacation, find out what’s going on from your travel provider or tour operator. Will there be any change in plans? If you’re trying to come home, do the same. Some states have already declared a State of Emergency due to Hurricane Irene, so be aware of what’s going on in your area. Finally, if you’re in an area that is being evacuated, follow direction and get out. Take precaution and use your best judgment to ensure safety for both you and your family.
- Keep your cell phone fully charged. Same goes for your tablet, computer or any other device you use to stay connected. If possible, buy a redundant power supply that works like a case for your phone. Most electronics stores offer these handy combination cell phone cases and extra battery supply for less than $50. Having one of these devices will extend your cell phone’s battery life at least 100 percent. If power goes out, or if you’re stuck without ability to recharge, this extra battery power can make all the difference.
- Have cash. Always have extra cash on hand. Hopefully you’ll never have to dip into your stash, but if you have some extra costs in an emergency, you’ll be covered and won’t feel panicked.
- Be informed. Stay up to date with what’s going on around you so you can make informed decisions based on the most current information. Use the internet to find out the latest information, or just stay close to the TV monitor in the airport lobby. This may be a great time to carry a small, battery-powered radio. You know, the old fashioned kind that you couldn’t live without before the internet?
- If you don’t have to travel, stay put. The best way to avoid chaotic airports and jam-packed highways is to forget your plans and stay home. If it’s a business trip that could be postponed for a day or two, or a weekend with friends, think carefully before you put yourself in a messy situation.
When you’re planning a vacation months in advance, it probably never crosses your mind that the storm of the century will hit the exact day you’re planning to leave. And that’s why so many forgo travel insurance
. If you’re one of the people who’s concerned about money wasted on vacations planned for this week, use this as a learning opportunity. Travel insurance is relatively inexpensive and can eliminate your financial stress during an already stressful situation.
We hope that all our of fellow East Coast travelers are preparing themselves for Irene and will take all precautions this weekend. Be safe, stay dry, and we’ll see you when it’s all over!