Java’s tragic earthquake and how you can prepare for the worst on your next trip

What to do in a vacation natural disaster.


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News emerged on Monday of a devastating 5.6 magnitude earthquake that has claimed the lives of over 250 people on the Indonesian island of Java. Bali, the popular tourist destination and digital nomad hub, is located in the same tectonic zone and is prone to similar events, leaving us to wonder how many tourists are prepared when nature deals its worst.

While trips are often about hoping for the best, consider some of these tips to ensure you’re ready for any scenario.

Buy travel insurance

So many of us think of travel insurance as a “nice to have” as opposed to an essential, which is a huge mistake. While the obvious benefit of an insurance plan is covering any potential medical costs, you might not realize that many travel insurance options come with disaster coverage. These range from small benefits, like accommodation if travel plans are changed, all the way to repatriation. As they say, insurance is only expensive until you need it.

Plan with your group

If an earthquake, hurricane, or flood hits your destination, there’s a fair chance the power will go out, along with cellular. If you’re traveling as part of a group, make sure you discuss a plan of action. This could include a place to meet or how long to wait before seeking help.

Notify your embassy or consulate

It might seem unnecessary to let your nearest embassy know you’re in the area, but it could be the difference between getting on a flight home and waiting another week. You can contact them directly or use the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to notify embassies and receive significant updates from them too.

Pack a few extras 

We’re not talking outfits. If you rely on specific medication, always take a few extra days’ worth to ensure you still have some if things go south. Make copies of your passport or travel documents, and if it’s possible, bring a second phone — preferably an older one that’s battery lasts for days.

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