Marybeth Bond of Gutsy Traveler knows how to troubleshoot travel disasters -- even the unexpected ones. Here are five tips on how to head off adverse situations when you're on the road. She'll be giving advice on packing and preparing for trips at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Los Angeles Times Travel Show at the L.A. Convention Center.
I don’t court disaster, but it can strike unexpectedly away from home: a cracked tooth causes a toothache, a hurricane or tsunami shuts down stores and cash machines, or you are the victim of an accident or crime.
While you can’t avoid natural disasters, or control all situations, you can be prepared. A hurricane and subsequent power outage at Cape Cod could have ended badly. This is what I’ve learned.
Cash is king
The Asian tsunami hit when my family and I were in Thailand. We had a close call but were not injured. There was a power outage, so credit cards and ATM cards couldn’t be used. I had a similar situation in Chatham, Mass., during a hurricane. Several hundred dollars in cash, in small bills, helped to buy supplies, baby food and flashlight batteries.
Help is on the way
Register your travel itinerary online at the U.S. State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. During the recent tsunami in Japan the State Department was aware of U.S. citizens who were missing and went looking for them in the devastation.
They had registered on this site which allows you to enter your local and home contacts, itineraries and passport numbers. U.S. embassies and consulates abroad are there to help Americans who are victims of accidents, crime or illness, or to help family or friends contact you in an emergency or disaster. Overseas consular officers will also provide you with the names of reputable local hospitals, lawyers and doctors and issue a temporary passport and even provide small loans if you have lost all your cash and credit cards
Remember Tom Hanks in the gripping survival movie "Cast Away"? Using a rock, he knocked out his sore tooth to end the excruciating pain. A cracked tooth, that I was unaware of, could have sent me to a rural hospital in Myanmar. Most people neglect to pack a dental repair kit.
If you lose a filling, cap, crown or inlay in a foreign country, you don’t have to worry about finding a dentist you can trust. The filling material in Dentek First Aid Kit is designed to repair with the same ingredients dentists use. This is a temporary remedy until you can see your dentist.
A common problem for women traveling in tropical countries is a yeast infection. Take medicines with you if you’re prone to them. Pack enough prescription medicine to last four days more than your trip and carry them in your carry-on bag. It can be inconvenient or difficult to replace them if your luggage is lost or disappears.
Running low on supplies
Don’t assume it will be easy or convenient to buy feminine hygiene or health products overseas. Many countries close drugstores and pharmacies on weekends, holidays and religious days. Pack a sufficient supply.
On a business trip to India, I ran out of my supply and the gift shop at the five-star-hotel didn’t sell them. At the front desk I asked for help so they called the (male) manager who assigned a (male) bell man to accompany me to a hospital pharmacy (with a male staff). Drugstores were closed. After an hour of navigating back streets in high heels, I finally got what I needed but missed dinner. Above all, it was most embarrassing.