What to Do when a Natural Disaster Occurs while You Are Traveling

What to Do during a Natural Disaster while Traveling

With Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and the 8.1 earthquake in Mexico, the world has experienced one natural disaster after another. As you travel, it is important to be aware that natural disasters can happen at anytime and anywhere.

Preparing before your trip and learning basic information can keep travelers safe and out of trouble. Experts even say the first step to natural disaster safety is preparing for it ahead of time.


It is important to learn about your destination beforehand. Travelers should learn what kind of natural disasters (typhoons, earthquakes, hurricanes and etc.) can occur within your destination. Travelers can also use the internet to check the weather, warnings and news information regarding the destination.  

Government sites also constantly post and update travel warnings and alerts.

You can learn more about travel warnings at: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings.html


Travelers should bring and keep important phone numbers and addresses with them on paper. Important contacts include family, relatives, travel agent, travel insurance provider and the embassy.

In a time of emergency, most experts recommend contacting your embassy or consulate. They will be able to assist their citizens with shelter, food and a flight home.

If you are calling family, friends or anyone back home, remembering how to make an international call is also imperative.


The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program is a free U.S. government service that allows U.S. nationals to enroll their trip or stay with the nearest embassy or consulate.

The free program provides travelers with safety information and conditions regarding the destination. It also helps the embassy contact travelers during a state of emergency.

Travelers can enroll in STEP at https://step.state.gov/step/


Keeping a copy of your itinerary and distributing your itinerary to family and friends can be extremely helpful. In times of emergency, family and friends can use the itinerary to know where their loved ones are.


Purchasing travel insurance is highly recommended because you can spend more than a year to plan for your trip but it can all be ruined within seconds. There are too many unpredictable situations that can occur while you are traveling. It is also helpful to know the extent and limits of your coverage. Most insurances can cover trip cancellations, interruptions and emergency medical assistances.

In addition, take the time to learn about your medical coverage. Learn whether the insurance applies overseas or not. Some medical coverage plans can include emergency medical evacuations as well.

Local Authorities

Listening and paying attention to local authorities and their instructions are also crucial. They will provide the best advice and updated information regarding safety and conditions.

Travelers should look to radio, television, social media and the Internet for local authorities’ messages and alerts.

Because one disaster can lead to another, experts recommend leaving the destination as soon as you are able to. In addition, leaving not only helps travelers get away from following dangers but also helps locals as organizations will have more time and resources to help those who are in dire need.

Preparing in advance and planning for the worst case scenario can save lives. Even though travelers should not be constantly concerned about unpredictable dangers, taking cautious measures can certainly help down the road.

To learn more about travel insurance, travel warnings, best seasons and emergency resources, check out our Travel Handbook Guide.