Published On: Wed, Nov 15th, 2017

Tips for Handling Travel Emergencies

Nobody wants to think about emergencies while they are on vacation, but the reality is that they can happen. From unexpected storms to illnesses, something can always go wrong.

Cassie Staiger recently had a client with a travel emergency while visiting Mexico.

“They were at the hospital and then headed to the United States before I knew what was going on. But when they needed me, I was there,” said Staiger of CS Travel Planners in Bismark, North Dakota. “I was able to book same-day flights and accommodations, text them boarding passes and instructions and just be a source for them to turn to. I was happy to help and even happier to know my client was going to be ok.”

Here are more tips from travel agents on handling emergencies:

Buy Travel Insurance

“It can be a significant expense, and you never need it until you need it and then you really need,” said Casey Carr, General Manager at Sharon Carr Travel in Dallas, Texas. “Most policies will cover you for things like hurricanes, but also for medical reasons, including if you are injured or become ill on your trip and need to be evacuated, which can be an incredible expense.”

Carr recently had a client who suffered a bad injury to her leg on an Alaska cruise, and she had to be flown home first class with a nurse.

“If she hadn’t had travel insurance, she would have been responsible for that entire expense, plus, it covers you in case someone in your immediate family becomes ill and you have to cancel your trip,” said Carr.

“For many of us with aging parents, this is can be very important.”

Watch the Weather

Tammy Shamblin-Renie recommends this for both the traveler and the travel agent.

“Stay due diligent with the news and weather reports starting with the storm’s first development,” said Shamblin-Renie of Red Parrot Travel in Longwood, Florida. “Start looking for alternatives for your clients that are in, or could be in, the storm’s path before the airlines, airports and resorts shut down. Stay in touch with your clients. Let them know their options, good or bad.”

READ MORE: 5 Ways to Save on Travel Insurance

Register with the Government

“With the recent hurricanes this past year, my best suggestion is to register with your Federal Government before traveling,” said Olga Leonetti, travel advisor at Travel the Skies in Canada. She recommends visiting before traveling as a Canadian citizen, a free service from the Government of Canada.

“Put in where you are going, your length of stay and contact information,” she said. “If there is any sort of natural disaster or civil unrest in the country you will be traveling to, you will be alerted as will any other contact information you provide through email, text and phone calls.”

Be Prepared:

It may be common sense, but Greg Antonelle, managing partner of MickeyTravels in Long Valley, New Jersey, said, “If you know there’s a chance of a hurricane during your vacation (and with technology today, most travelers have knowledge of potential emergencies), make sure you have local emergency numbers stored in your phone.

“Emergency numbers can vary based on the country you are in. Additionally, it is wise to have a portable phone charger that can hold many charges in the event of a power loss.”

READ MORE: Affordable Holiday Gift Ideas for Every Type of Traveler

Antonelle has a charger that holds 10 full charges for his iPhone, and it comes in handy once or twice a year.

“Additionally, it is important to listen to the authorities’ advice,” he said. “They know the area much better than travelers and, if they advise leaving the area, it is much better to listen to them and disrupt your vacation than to ignore them and risk serious injury or loss of life.”

This past hurricane season affected many travelers and threw their travel plans into a frenzy. For example, in a survey by international luxury travel network Virtuoso, sixty-two percent of advisors had clients impacted by Hurricane Irma. Of those, 54 percent rebooked their travel plans for the Caribbean and Florida.

Advisors also helped clients who had to cut short their vacation to an affected area or who needed to evacuate from their homes.

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