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"Delay Preparedness" - Future Trip Planning!

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Apr 17th, 2010, 10:14 PM
  #1
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"Delay Preparedness" - Future Trip Planning!

As we watch the volcanic ash hover over Europe and people's travel plans
going into sudden limbo, I'm wondering about people's ideas on the
best approach to 'trip preparation' that might take into account the unexpected?

A few preparaitons that are time-honored but which we might want to remind
ourselves of these days: -

- Bring 4x the length of the trip. fo any meds you *must have* even if going on a short trip... (or a longer supply if you think it is prudent)....

- Bring prescriptions for refills; phone numbers/ FAX/ email for your regular MDs; inform your MDs you'll be overseas, as well.

- Bring any health history (flash drives work wonders as little medical IDs!), including jpegs of xrays, scans, etc - a PDF scan of your medical file- anything that would be important to have on the road...)

- Access to cash in Europe-figure out the best way for you to do this...

- Emergency numbers and info to at least 2 sets of people at home.

- Where's your car when you leave home? Will you have to pay out-of-this-world
fees if you are delayed in returning?

- Plan "A" and Plan "B" travel trip itineraries.. the 'quick return home' plan if necessary, and the 'what if I'm stuck here' plan if necessary.

- If going to a country where you don't speak the language- do you have reliable translators and/ or friends to help out if necessary?

- What do you know about the 'crisis response' system in the countries where you will be traveling? Do you know how to contact local police / fire/ medical in the cities you are visiting, for example?

- Consulates? / Embassies ?/ International travelers' aid organizations?

- Other?

Any thoughts? Thanks for the brainstorming!?!

"It's Better to be safe than sorry.."... and you'll also able to help others around you,
if you have an idea of how to create a strong safety net- at home or abroad.

==========
Thanks for any contributions to this Forum!
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Apr 17th, 2010, 10:51 PM
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I am in Italy now and by far the most useful tool has been the access to the internet to check status and rebook all sorts of things. I bought a Vodafone 3G internet USB stick for 69EU for my computer which comes with data unlimited 30hr connection time.
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Apr 17th, 2010, 11:11 PM
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I'll second greg's remark re. "connectivity" any time.

When I got stranded (only for 2 additional days) in January, it was either queueing up for HOURS at the airline's desks, or 15 minutes on the internet to change my booking and find a hotel near the airport (at a still very cheap rate).

Travelling abroad without a mobile phone also does not sound like a reasonable idea. Not because that there were no pay phones, but if there are major travel disruptions, you will hardly find an unoccupied pay phone at the airport or station.

Re. crisis response phone numbers. The EU-wide emergency phone number is 112.

Prescriptions for refills can be useless since many countries don't know the system of refills but you need to see a doctor each time you need a new prescription. Furthermore, many prescription drugs have different brand names in different parts of the world. If you MD writes you a list of your prescription drugs, he should add the generic information on the active agents/components.

If you think that a situation may persist for a longer period, get away from the airport. It does not make sense to pay outrageous money for an airport hotel for just sitting there and not being able to do anything.
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Apr 17th, 2010, 11:34 PM
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I bought a Vodafone 3G internet USB stick for 69EU for my computer which comes with data unlimited 30hr connection time.

Greg, where did you buy it? I would love to get one.
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Apr 18th, 2010, 12:53 AM
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Have more than one credit card with you in case you top the limit of credit with one card you have another or more to use. Have two checking accounts and an ATM or ATM/Debit card for each in case one card suddenly is not being accepted. And always have a back up pair of glasses if you wear prescription glasses. Of course all this is good even if nothing goes wrong during your trip.
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Apr 18th, 2010, 01:16 AM
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If you can work remotely, I'm thinking now that it's a good plan to bring your work laptop along in the event of a delay. If you're going to be stuck somewhere unexpectedly for a week or more, it would be nice to be working rather than burning more vacation days that you may not even have. This would also solve the connectivity problem, and you can use Skype for otherwise expensive long-distance calls.

I suppose I will continue to book nonrefundable hotels, because this event is simply not very likely, and if it's a true crisis like this one where travel is just impossible, you can often get a refund anyway.
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Apr 18th, 2010, 06:04 AM
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These are such great ideas! Thank you to the contributors thus far! The complexities of medical prescriptions overseas are significant, as I can see reading your posts. I am a bit naive about that.

I have been worried for the elderly people, anyone who has a serious or chronic illness, people who don't have the right prescriptions, etc.... the delays currently have been presented as an economic burden to the nations of the world and especially Europe, etc. -- and as a 'discomfort' to passengers. However, there are elders, ill people, children, pets... everybody is on the road traveling. The people for whom life gets difficult fast without the basic amenities - how are they faring? What are the medical support structures, how about food at airports, how about cleanliness and restrooms, etc. with that number of stranded people in airports? These are not small issues....I must admit part of the reason I started this forum is that I have been bothered at the ' human compassion ' level by a somewhat cavalier tone to the news media. Yes it is 'mother nature' with all of its unpredictability -- and it is also human nature, with the odd 2lst century 'congealed' compassion - we have people stuck for days in uncomfortable places... and I have had to *search* for information on how they are faring health-wise and etc. ... how very odd.

So, sorry for the momentary soapbox.. and now.. back
to the basics...!!

INTERNET connectivity during delays or crises.!!

Does anybody have suggestions about the rental of
cell phones vs. bringing your own unlocked phone with
a country SIM card..? I rented a cell ph in Florence, IT when there for several months. I went through torturous preparations with an expensive phone purchase in the USA to prepare for the international calling in Europe, and then upon arrival in Florence every internet kiosk offered a $10 euro a week phone rental, with 10cents calling internationally. I was amazed at how prepared the town was for short-term international travelers (of course...).- Internet cafes at $3 euros an hour (late night) and $5 euros daytime, and cell phone rentals requiring a miniscule deposit.

Very thoughtful of Florence..!!

Do the readers here find that a simple wireless computer
does the trick for connectivity in most locations where
you travel? (general question of interest..!).

And... what's the easiest way to fill a drug prescription in your country of choice, if you've had to go through that?

As someone with a boy scout / girl scout mentality (I guess I liked the uniforms)...I travel with 1) a full 2 rounds of antibiotics- usually Zithromax and Erythromycin; 2) a nice amount of a basic painkiller such as Tylenol and codeine; 3) basic other first aid over the counter gauzes, band aids, etc. 4) temporary tooth repair kit.

That's about it... so far have not decided to carry an emergency tent or desalination... or a solar panel.. but ya never know..... (how about an inflatable boat... hm.)



Here's to the 'wannabe armchair travelers' who travel nonetheless in the physical world... ha ha...

Interested in any other postings, thank you to all!!

And here's to Pilgrims Progress the journey in each of us.
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Apr 18th, 2010, 07:20 AM
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"It's a good plan to bring your work laptop along in the event of a delay" - only if you would be OK with US customs taking it away to read everything on it. They've been doing that for some time, and an appeals court has OK'ed it. (See http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/...d-your-itunes/ )

pilgrimsprogress - if you're in Europe you will find medical services much, much cheaper than in the US (sometimes free). Certainly, a copy of your health info can't hurt, but if you run low on meds just visit a doctor for a new prescription (the drugs will be cheaper, too). What you really need is medical evacuation insurance, although of course you wouldn't be able to get home anyway right now

Cell phones - I have an unlocked quad-band Motorola I bought from their web site I use for travel - either with a "universal" SIM bought before I leave over the 'net, or country-specific SIMs bought on arrival. You can buy suitable phones on eBay for less.
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Apr 18th, 2010, 07:40 AM
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I have started taking my netbook with me because it is so light and there are so many internet cafes. Also many of the apartments we rent now have internet provided. It is great for Skype for calls.
Prescriptions. I don't know if this is customary but once in Portugal and also Ireland we found that my husband's prescriptions were low. We just took the bottle and pills into the local pharmacy and they filled them. Maybe the generic name was printed on the bottle. I don't remember.
And I always take my quad band phone. This next trip I have a universal SIM.
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Apr 18th, 2010, 08:53 AM
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Thanks for these valuable and detailed posts! I wonder if bringing a zip drive or portable hard drive is better than full computer, for individuals who can work at the cybercafes. Has anybody found a problem with simply connecting the USB and having access to your data in a cybercafe?

One thought I will share on cybercafes.. not so positive. In Italy I found that the cybercafes were very sleazy places in some corners... the webcams were everywhere, there was non-stop porn being exchanged, clearly, and there was a lot of quiet activity on some computers that were 'in the back room' - who knows what was being transmitted.

I finally decided to change ALL of my PWs after realizing that the webcams could be picking up keystrokes or etc. (I know a bit of paranoia there but ... hm...).

I do not think that this is the norm for cybercafes overseas, it was in Florence, and may have been that I was unfamiliar with the neighborhoods and picked a bad spot.

But the question of whether to even temporarily put any of your own info. on public computers overseas, as in the US, is one that mitigates in favor of carrying your laptop, not even zip or portable hard drive.

I've just inquired into my own question in a big circle...

Any other circular or linear thoughts welcomed..!

Yours in Pilgrims Progress, on the path.

Which of the Marx Bros said 'Other people get results,
I get consequences!'

Seeking good results when traveling... ! (oh and typing!)

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Apr 18th, 2010, 08:56 AM
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Pack your sense of humor, some patience and a realization that "stuff" happens.

Realize that screaming at, threatening etc. the airline/hotel/rental car employees might make you FEEL better, but will actually make the situation worse.

Honestly, having been stuck more then a few times... the ability to just accept reality helps! Some things are out of our control!
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Apr 18th, 2010, 11:02 AM
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Makes much sense!! I think that the relatively few 'incidents' of airport rage that have been reported (have there been *any* ...) - thus far in this scenario, attest to the fact that many people are of your frame of mind.

Sounds like you could do a very good workshop on this, to train the rest of 'us' - I'm not so sure I'd be a very happy camper - or very quiet about it-- if days and days went on... you find out about people's tolerance level for discomfort etc. fairly fast. I was looking at the airport pictures and thinking 'If I had to sit packed in with thousands of people maybe sitting on an uncomfortable window ledge, or waiting on a line for food, or sleeping next to strangers in the airport for a few nights in a row on a cot..' how would I fare?

Didn't receive any training for that.. could probably use some...!

Point very well taken, thanks.

Informally moderating now and again,

Pilgrims Progress (over rough and smooth pathways).
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Apr 18th, 2010, 12:43 PM
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Pilgrim, your description of internet cafes in Italy have been the description that I have heard from various Italian women friends. At first they didn't think they wanted to bother with having their own computer so they would go to an internet cafe oh every week or so to receive and send emails. Well you know how it goes, they all discovered there is a lot more than just emails in the cyber world. And little by little they all had computers in their homes as the internet cafes rather creeped them out so they wanted to spend very little time in them. Now this was some time back but the situation probably hasn't changed. I have never been in one so I personally have no experience.

I will say a family member who is head of computer security for a large government agency told me to never ever use a public computer in regards to anything that could involve ID theft as often the computers have "what ever you call it" they does pick up the computer user's keystrokes. With her strong security background I have always followed her instructions.
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Apr 18th, 2010, 01:38 PM
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I got my Vodafone USB stick at a Vodafone store...hmm rather obvious. There are some tiny stores that can only do top ups, so need to find a big enough one. The amount of paperwork hassle was same as getting a voice SIM: about 20min.

Since I am using my own computer, I signed up for a one year VPN servicefor $60 at www.witopia.net. The setup process favors computer geeks so be sure to test it out thoroughly before you go. Last time I used a cheaper service from somewhere else using PPTP protocol. It was useless in hotel rooms as ALL the hotels blocked PPTP VPN. Internet shops did not block PPTP.

WITOPIA uses SSL VPN so at places I had hotel wifi access, I was able to use the VPN.
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Apr 18th, 2010, 03:47 PM
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Greg,
Thanks a lot for the advice, we'll look for one once in Italy, hopefully there is one in Genova.
I'll let my son take care of that, he is studying Cisco.
We got one of those in Chile and they were a joy to use everywhere, I don't think the one we have for Chile can be use in Europe.
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