The Dos and Don’ts of Dealing with Natural Disasters While Traveling

The devastating effects of Super Typhoon Odette (International name "Rai) in Lapu-Lap City, Cebu, Philippines.

Traveling to new destinations can be an exciting experience, offering numerous opportunities for adventure and personal growth. However, while exploring unfamiliar territory, travelers may also be faced with unforeseen natural disasters. Preparing oneself to respond to such situations is essential for ensuring one’s safety and well-being during a trip.

In this article, we’ll discuss the dos and don’ts when it comes to dealing with natural disasters while traveling. By taking preventative measures before embarking on a journey and staying informed about potential risks, travelers can better navigate unexpected challenges and mitigate potentially dangerous situations. These practical tips will help equip adventurers with the knowledge needed to respond effectively to natural disasters, ensuring a safe and memorable journey.

Preparation and Planning

Research Your Destination

Before embarking on a trip, it is crucial to research your destination. Become familiar with the region’s geography, climate, and any natural disaster risks. This knowledge will help you be better prepared for potential hazards, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, or floods. For example, if you’re traveling to an earthquake-prone area, familiarize yourself with building safety codes and evacuation procedures in case of an event.

Travel Insurance and Health Insurance

Investing in travel insurance that covers natural disasters is essential in mitigating potential financial losses during your trip. Look for policies with comprehensive coverage for trip cancellations, delays, and lost or damaged baggage. In addition, ensure that your health insurance has sufficient coverage for medical expenses that may arise during travel, particularly in disaster-prone areas.

Travel Insurance Components:

  • Trip Cancellation/Interruption
  • Medical Expense
  • Lost or Damaged Baggage
  • Emergency Evacuation

Keeping Track of Travel Alerts

Stay informed on travel warnings and advisories issued by your government and international organizations. Register for government alerts—such as the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in the United States—as they provide real-time notifications and updates on safety conditions in your destination. In addition, monitor local news and weather forecasts regularly to be aware of potential natural disasters.

By following these guidelines, travelers can minimize risks, ensure their safety, and enjoy a more stress-free trip. Remember, thorough preparation and planning are key to dealing with natural disasters while traveling.

Safety Measures During Natural Disasters


During an earthquake, it is crucial to Drop, Cover, and Hold On. Find cover under a sturdy piece of furniture like a table, cover your head and neck with one arm, and hold onto the furniture with the other. If you are outdoors, move to an open area away from buildings, trees, and other hazards. Do not enter buildings immediately after an earthquake due to potential aftershocks.


When a hurricane warning is issued, follow local evacuation orders and stay informed with updates from official sources. Secure your accommodation by boarding up windows and doors, turning off gas supplies, and filling bathtubs with water for non-drinking use. During the storm, avoid windows and remain indoors until it is safe to venture outside.


To stay safe during a flood while traveling, prioritize these measures:

  • Avoid low-lying areas and bodies of water.
  • If flooding is imminent, evacuate to higher ground.
  • Do not attempt to drive through flooded roads.

Stay informed about the situation via official channels and follow local authorities’ advice.


In case of a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately. The safest place would be in a sturdy indoor structure, ideally in a small central room without windows such as a closet or bathroom. If you are in a vehicle, park and find a nearby building for shelter. Avoid seeking cover under bridges or overpasses. Remain updated and listen for official guidance.


If you are at a coastal area when a tsunami warning is issued, move away from the shoreline and head to higher ground as soon as possible. Follow evacuation routes and instructions from local authorities. Avoid entering the water until the risk is confirmed to have subsided. Pay attention to official sources for updates on the situation.


typhoon over yemen

When a typhoon warning is in effect, secure your accommodations, stock up on essential supplies, and stay informed through official updates. Follow local authorities’ instructions and adhere to evacuation orders if necessary. During the storm, stay indoors and away from windows. Wait for the all-clear announcement to return to your activities.

Volcanic Eruptions

In the case of a volcanic eruption, follow instructions from local authorities, move away from the volcano, and evacuate if necessary. Stay indoors if a volcanic ash cloud is present and close all windows and doors. Protect your respiratory system using masks or wet towels. Avoid areas with heavy ashfall, as it can cause roofs to collapse. Keep updated about the situation through official sources.

Dealing with the Aftermath

Evacuation Plans

In the aftermath of a natural disaster, travelers should follow evacuation plans provided by local authorities or their accommodation provider. Make sure to listen to announcements on the radio, television, or social media for updates. It’s essential to stay calm and not panic during an evacuation. Don’t forget to carry essential documents, medication, and a valid ID with you.

Adjusting Travel Plans

Due to the unpredictable nature of natural disasters, travelers may have to adjust their travel plans accordingly. This could involve rebooking flights, changing accommodations, or even altering your entire itinerary. It’s crucial to contact your travel agency, airline, and accommodation provider about the situation and inquire about their policies for cancellations or rescheduling.

Property Damage

In case of property damage, travelers should take pictures of the affected areas as evidence. This will help when making a claim with your insurance provider. It’s also essential to report the damage to local authorities, your accommodation provider, and your insurance agent as soon as possible.

Insurance Coverage

Having appropriate insurance coverage while traveling is crucial, especially when faced with natural disasters. Travelers should ensure that their insurance policies cover their belongings, medical expenses, and possible trip cancellations. In the event of a disaster, contact your insurance provider as soon as possible to discuss the details of your coverage and the necessary actions to take.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Great East Japan Earthquake in Iwate

How can I prepare for potential natural disasters while traveling?

Thorough research on the destination’s history of natural disasters is crucial. Familiarize yourself with local emergency plans, and consider purchasing travel insurance that covers natural disasters. Make sure to share your itinerary, including accommodations, with family and friends.

What safety measures should I follow during a natural disaster?

Remain calm and follow any instructions given by local authorities. Stay indoors and move to a safe area, such as a small interior room, away from windows. If outdoors, avoid hazardous locations like steep slopes, coastlines, and rivers. Do not attempt to cross flooded areas.

How can I stay informed about potential hazards in my travel destination?

Monitor local news sources and weather websites before and during your trip. Download a trusted disaster alert app, and follow social media accounts of reputable organizations like the Red Cross for updates. Additionally, register with your country’s embassy for assistance in case of emergencies.

What are the best practices for evacuation in case of a disaster while traveling?

In an evacuation, heed local authorities’ instructions and follow designated routes. Do not delay, and have an evacuation kit ready. Keep important documents, like your passport and identification, in a waterproof container, and carry enough cash and essential supplies for several days.

How do I create an emergency plan when traveling?

Start by researching the most likely types of disasters in your destination. Identify local emergency resources such as police stations, hospitals, and shelters. Establish meeting points and communication plans with your travel companions, and familiarize yourself with disaster response procedures in your accommodation.

What essential items should be in my travel survival kit?

A travel survival kit should include a portable phone charger, flashlight, whistle, basic first aid supplies, and non-perishable food. Additionally, pack extra medication, a multitool, personal hygiene items, and extra clothing. Remember to store all items in a waterproof, easy-to-carry bag.

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