When Your Wanderlust and Natural Disasters Meetup There Can Be A Lot Of Uncertainty
In August of this year I started planning a two week December road trip down the Florida Keys, up to Orlando and then over to Vero Beach. I would be flying into Fort Lauderdale Airport, renting a car, and then driving to each planned destination within the state. We booked our flights, reserved a rental car, reserved our various hotels, and gleefully started our vacation countdown!
And then the Hurricanes came. The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season (including Harvey, Irma, and Maria) has cost over $367 billion dollars and has affected a wide range of locales. Many of the areas affected by the three major Hurricanes are coveted holiday travel destinations because of their warm weather and tropical settings whilst most everywhere else has winter weather in full swing. The people living in these areas are often financially dependant on positive tourist earning and after a tremendous amount of disaster it can be hard to imagine vacationing in a place that has just been surrounded by turmoil. I watched along with everyone else as people struggled and I hoped the very best of what could be in the circumstances for each and every one of them. I donated to relief efforts I trusted on my own; Flightbucks as a whole made financial contributions to relief efforts as well (shoutout to all of our customers who partnered in the support of our relief efforts!). As bad as the news was, it was far off, it was not really affecting me personally. Then I heard access to the Florida Keys had been cut off. I thought about my travel plans. What should I do? How long does it take for a major bridge to be repaired? Would it be swift or would it be like the Big Sur bridge closure in California that took 8 months to fix? I wondered about accessing the Florida Keys and the condition of the resorts we would be staying at. We hear all of the bad news coming out of these places on every platform while the events are transpiring and then are left to wonder what is unfolding once the events are no longer in the spotlight. In trying to piece together a good overview of the condition of my travel destinations I came up with a few tips for others in similar situations.
Check the local news:
Although the national news eye spend some time on natural disasters, we seldom hear anything about recovery efforts or how quickly some of these places bounce back with heart and hard work. Having lived in a suburb of Houston, Texas that was affected by severe flooding, I can attest to the reality of how a unified community effort can effectively restore affected infrastructure.
Join a Facebook Group that focuses on your travel destination: People who are currently there or will be going days, weeks, or months before you will be keen on sharing photos and tips from their outings and that will help you make better plans.
Checkout the Hashtags:
Doing a location search on Instagram and Twitter was very useful for me. I was able to see a Key West local’s post about returning back to work at the resort I’d be staying at. I read tweets describing the joy of making it back across the bridge onto the islands and I saw visual proof.
Try Google Maps:
If you are going to be driving in an area where there may have been road and bridge damage it is a great idea to take a test drive on google maps. By entering your route into the application you will be given real time traffic information and will have time to prepare alternate routes if necessary.
Call your Hotel(s):
Perhaps you are like me; when I used to book a hotel I would employ the ‘set it and forget it’ mindset of making the reservation and then checking in on the day of my arrival without any other contact. Since I have been traveling to a new place every week for business purposes these last six months, I have learned that I prefer the first floor and that most every hotel is willing to provide you with your prefered accommodations if it's a reasonable request. Calling your hotel is a great way to get a good perspective of what the current conditions are at your upcoming destination. It’s a great idea to call at least a week before to find out what events will be held in the vicinity and if there is any issues accessing the location.
A lot of people plan trips to get away and that is the appeal, however, the reality of a natural disaster can leave a lot of uncertainties for travelers. Our desire to get away can put us in some challenging situations (international flight delays and cancellations are what we see everyday). Having social media is a great way to access the latest happening from real people well after the news stories have blown away. Rest easy, fellow travelers in knowing you can access all of the resources of a travel destination well before you arrive, and remember Flightbucks is here to help with any travel delays.
About Joanna Medina
Born and raised in San Diego, California. I am a writer, dreamer, traveler and all around Truth seeker. I have a passion and desire to help others and truly enjoy seeing people thrive. I have been partnering with Flightbucks since January, 2016 to educate travelers about their rights and have the added perk of sharing travel insights through our blog.