Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Know Your Travel "Surroundings"


Summer is over. School is in full swing—and so is hurricane season. Changing weather conditions and local media will digest the latest information from The National Hurricane Center to keep you informed, but who will help you navigate uncharted waters if you need to evacuate to an unfamiliar city or state?

If the unpleasant happens, take some time to acquaint yourself with your new surroundings. Upon arriving at your hotel, locate the nearest exits as well as the closest fire alarm and fire extinguisher.  Make a list of important phone numbers, and place it in your pocket, wallet, or leave it at the hotel. Include the local police station, babysitter, family members, close friends – anyone you might need to contact if your phone is lost or stolen.  Purses often get stolen in high tourist areas, so keep the list on your person or in your hotel room. 

Acquaint yourself with the laws of the state you have evacuated to.  Most vary from state to state, including seat belts laws, motorcycle helmets laws, cell phone driving laws, etc. If you break one of them, “ignorance of the law” will probably not be a valid excuse. For instance, talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving is banned in 12 states, as well as the District of Columbia.  Text messaging is banned for drivers in 41 states and the District of Columbia. (Click here for more information about different state laws.)  

Some driving violations are subject to prosecution in both the state where the violation occurred and your home state.  The Interstate Driving License Compact is an agreement among states, in which they share conviction information regarding traffic offenses and driving suspensions, including speeding, suspension of license, or DWIs.  Getting a DWI in one state could result in a suspension of your driving privileges both in that state and your home state. (Click here for more information regarding different state laws.) 

Travel preparations, however, don’t always happen during emergencies.

When traveling to another country, check the website for the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs (www.travel.state.gov) for travel advisories and other helpful information for Americans. Consider registering with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website.

What it all boils down to is to stay safe, enjoy the ride, and be prepared for whatever adventures you may encounter on your travels. When time is of the essence, knowing what to do and where to go in the event of an emergency saves time..and much more.

Written by Carmen Ryland

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