The weather is starting to get beautiful and we are itching to take a week off of work and head somewhere with the family on the yearly Vacation! Ah, yes, vacation… that once a year oasis of fun to get our mind off the stress of work, finances, family and just every day life.
But what if disaster strikes while you are in paradise (or on your way to paradise)? Will that beach towel, sunscreen and wallet full of cash help you survive?
These are the questions I asked myself while planning my families vacation this year. I did a quick Google search of the worldwide web but could not find a good forum discussion, blog post or anything regarding “How to prepare for your family vacation”. So that is why I decided to do a write up about this topic because I think it is very important. Why? Because we are extremely vulnerable during vacations. We are for the most part hundreds of miles from home (and sometimes familiar ground), we have our family with us, guaranteed to stick out as “tourists” and our minds are most likely relaxed.
There are hundreds of possible disaster scenarios while on vacation; ranging from something as small as a bee sting or cut that needs minor medical attention using a First Aid Kit that you have in your Bug Out Bag (BOB) or Get Home Bag (GHB) to something severe as an earthquake or tsunami.
One easy step that can help mitigate vacation disasters is to check with the United States Current Travel Warnings website. This vital information can help you plan a safe vacation and avoid possible disasters. Also on the same website, the section Emergencies and Crises has a wealth of information that you should read about regarding possible Lost or Stolen Passports, Death Abroad and even Arrests Abroad.
Recently in the news as of August 2013 is a massive travel warning in the Arabian Peninsula for a potential terrorist attack. Imagine being overseas in either of those countries. US Embassy’s closed and you are there to fend for yourself. What would you do?
White House: Terror threat emanating from Arabian Peninsula
August 3rd 2013
The White House late Saturday said President Obama had been briefed on the potential threat by National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Lisa Monaco, the assistant to the president for homeland security and counter-terrorism. Earlier in the day, Rice chaired a meeting with 12 administration officials including the secretaries of State, Defense and Homeland Security and the directors of the FBI, CIA and NSA.
And if you think bugging out to your hotel is safe when traveling abroad? Think again! In November 2008 the news was filled with reports of a massive attack on two five-star hotels in Mumbai, India.
At Least 100 Dead in India Terror Attacks
November 26 2008
Coordinated terrorist attacks struck the heart of Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, on Wednesday night, killing dozens in machine-gun and grenade assaults on at least two five-star hotels, the city’s largest train station, a Jewish center, a movie theater and a hospital.
Even by the standards of terrorism in India, which has suffered a rising number of attacks this year, the assaults were particularly brazen in scale and execution. The attackers used boats to reach the urban peninsula where they hit, and their targets were sites popular with tourists.
The Mumbai police said Thursday that the attacks killed at least 101 people and wounded at least 250. Guests who had escaped the hotels told television stations that the attackers were taking hostages, singling out Americans and Britons.
A previously unknown group claimed responsibility, though that claim could not be confirmed. It remained unclear whether there was any link to outside terrorist groups.
Gunfire and explosions rang out into the morning.
Hours after the assaults began, the landmark Taj Mahal Palace & Tower Hotel, next to the famed waterfront monument the Gateway of India, was in flames.
Guests banged on the windows of the upper floors as firefighters worked to rescue them.
Why Does The Article Say Bug Out Bag In It?
Depending on the level of disaster you may not be able to get home. For 99.9% of the time a standard Get Home Bag is perfectly applicable during vacation trips. But what about the ones across oceans on different continents? You may need a little bit more gear to sustain your families survival.
How To Get Your Bug Out Bag To Your Vacation Destination?
While some bug out bags can easily go through airport security, due to heavier than normal airport security it is best advised to ship your bug out bag to your hotel or vacation destination PRIOR to leaving.
One option we have used in the past is FedEx drop box sent before hand to your destination and repeat process on the way home.
- First Aid Kit
Or First Aid Items For Everyone Traveling With You
- Quality LED Flashlight
AA or AAA preferred as they are most commonly found
- Map of Your Surrounding Area
Who needs a GPS? When it hits the fan, I’d rather have a map of the city, state and/or country than something that requires power and communication with a satellite.
Leatherman, Gerber, etc.
- Glow Sticks
Great if you run out of batteries for your flashlight.
- Anti-diarrhea medication
Be sure to have this one hand in the event you or a family member does suffer from diarrhea, which can lead to life-threatening dehydration very quickly in a survival situation.
- Water purification tablets/drops
Boiling water is the most effective way to reduce the risk of ingesting a parasite. However, purification tablets are a close second when boiling isn’t practical.
- Cash and coins
We keep a couple hundred dollars in cash in a waterproof tube (originally purposed to hold waterproof matches). Also consider taking along a roll of quarters for any coin-operated vending, or to make change.
When traveling to other countries make sure you have ample supply of their currency as well as US Dollars.
- Roll of duct tape
Duct tape is the do-it-yourselfer’s best friend, at home and in an emergency situation.
- Hand sanitizer
We personally packed a few bottles of Purell hand sanitizer. If you shop the cheap stuff, just be sure it has a alcohol content between 60% and 95% to maximize germ-killing effectiveness.
- A safety whistle for each family member
Safety whistles can be used to attract attention from rescuers, and to communicate with family members if separated. Plus, they take a lot less energy and make a lot more noise than screaming.
- Signal mirror
Putting a signal mirror’s reflection on a rescue pilot or boat captain is one of the best ways of attracting attention. Signal mirrors can also be used to communicate with family members far away.
Nothing fancy needed here. Just look for a compass that can reliably provide a north heading.
- Emergency blankets
These Mylar blankets help hold in heat in an emergency. In addition to those in our bug out bag, we also have a couple in the glove compartment of our car, just in case.
- Spare Pre-paid Cell Phone
Leave it in your bag in case you have to leave quickly or lose your phone during your vacation.
Some 550 paracord is a must-have in your survival kit for tying up food, making a shelter, and plenty of other uses.
- Plastic Fold-able Water Containers
You should have at least two plastic, fold-able water containers such as the Platypus Water Bottle or Platypus Water Tank. One for gathering contaminated water and the other for purified, clean water.
- Deck of cards (to fight boredom)
Don’t discount the psychological aspects of survival. After a day or two, boredom will set in and you’ll be glad to have a deck of cards to pass the time.
* While these items may not be permitted during travel you can ship your bag with these item(s) to your destination prior to your trip.