What To Do If Disaster Ruins Your Travel Plans

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay 

As recent events have thrown future travel plans into question, it's made people really think about what happens when you have booked a trip and disaster strikes. From the ash cloud in 2010 to the Australian bushfires to the current pandemic of the Coronavirus, it is important to know what you should do if you are out of your home country and disaster strikes. While it can be very disappointing, especially if you have done everything to prepare, including checking the weather, some trips are just destined to be trouble and it's out of your control.

However, if disaster invades your holiday, don't get too stressed. Just take a breather, and start trouble shooting.

Regardless, you should do some preparations to avoid travel disasters altogether. Here's a quick list to go by.  

Check the State Department for all international travel
This should be the first step before you even buy your flight.
(Each country has their own department. For our friends in the UK, it's the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).)
For the U.S. State Department, there are four levels - from normal to do not travel.
Image result for state department travel restrictions chart

If it is recommended to not travel, then you should heed that advice. Essentially, the warnings reflect your government's ability to protect you should something happen while you are out of the country.

Essential travel
The State Department may advise to only take "essential" travel either globally or to a certain area. "Essential travel" is a fluid definition that the State Department allows for case-by-case considerations. However, when this warning is in place, it is best not to travel to that area, as the biggest problem may be when you are trying to return home. You may not have access to do so for a variety of reason ranging from canceled visas to detainment.

Check Your Insurance 
In all circumstances where there is active travel advice warning against travel to a country, it is crucial for you to call your insurer and get something in writing, which will specify that you will be covered on all the basis that you need- from medical care, to repatriation if the worst case scenario happens. It's important to know what your insurance covers and what it doesn't. For example, many people have discovered in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, that their basic travel insurance plans don't cover pandemics or epidemics. But, they may be covered for some situations, like refund of flights and accommodations with an upgraded cancel-for-any-reason plan.

What if you are already abroad?

If you're already on vacation and your trip has been affected by a disruption, like a natural disaster or a war, then check in with your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for help in getting you home. (For our friends from the UK, there is the resource of the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements 2018. This legislation obliges your tour operator to make suitable alternative arrangements, at no extra cost to you, in case of an emergency.)

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