The Costa Concordia luxury cruise liner tragedy, which to date has resulted in 11 confirmed fatalities and thousands of passengers who incurred bodily and emotional damage, brings to surface an aspect of travel that's often overlooked by vacationers: safety.
Many of the shipwreck's survivors voiced concern and outrage over Costa Concordia’s emergency procedures. However, there are precautions that travelers can take to prepare themselves for an emergency.
It’s impossible to foresee every unfortunate situation and circumstance when planning a vacation, and frankly, the whole point of going on a leisurely retreat is to relax. However, taking safety precautions is not only the key to providing peace of mind while traveling, but also saving money in the process.
1. Do your research. Conduct a quick search for current events or news about your desired destination in advance. Major public demonstrations, recent rioting, or any other violent acts breaking in the news could lead to trouble during your stay. Always keep your eyes and ears open to world news leading up to your vacation, so you can cancel the trip and save your deposit in time, if necessary.
Additionally, whether traveling by air, land, or sea, it’s helpful to read up on the dos and don’ts of your travel method. According to a study on maritime accidents, 70 percent of victims were found to be bewildered and have impaired reasoning during a crisis.
Unfortunately, some Costa Concordia passengers felt that they had no other alternative than to risk hypothermia--and their lives--by jumping into frigid waters. Educate yourself about how to safely evacuate a distressed plane, ship, or train.
2. Consider travel insurance. If your travel budget permits, it may be beneficial to acquire travel insurance as extra security. There are a variety of travel insurance types, bundles, and offers, although some come at a premium rate.
If you’re vacationing a considerable distance from home, find out whether your existing medical insurance covers international medical services. Most do not. Certain travel insurance policies can protect vacationers from incurring significant financial losses due to medical reasons.
Also, read the fine print associated with travel insurance options. Often, they include waivers for special situations like an on-board assault.
The most secure kind of travel insurance for overseas vacations is called a "cancel for any reason" insurance package, which can also include coverage for personal belongings. This travel insurance option reduces the limitations on cancellations and claims typically imposed on travelers, but often is the most costly.
3. Know the vessel. Acquainting yourself with your plane or ship is essential, as it’s all too easy to get lost in the mayhem aboard a sinking ship or plane. When booking your trip, obtain a floor plan or map of your convey and keep it close while traveling. Identify all emergency access points, evacuation meeting areas, staircases, and fire extinguishers.
Often, this information is disclosed during the required safety procedures/drills conducted before leaving port or before lift-off. It’s not uncommon for travelers to disregard these safety announcements in the interest of grabbing their first cocktail or taking a nap, but these demonstrations are performed to ensure your safety when traveling.
4. Keep an ID and flashlight. Keeping a copy of identification on your person can help make search-and-rescue efforts more efficient. Whether it’s a copy of your passport or state ID, ensuring that you are clearly documented and accounted for can give family and friends at home some semblance of relief.
Additionally, bringing along a small flashlight on your trip may prove handy in the event of a blackout. The Costa Concordia disaster occurred in the dead of night with no electricity aboard the ship. Having a flashlight handy can help you navigate through the chaos and make your way to safety.
[See why some passengers Travel Without Luggage.]
5. Forge trust. Start a conversation with crew, staff, and officers about their personal experiences on your particular route or flight. Instead of being nosy, keep the conversation friendly and genuine so that in the wake of an emergency, you’ve hopefully established yourself as a cooperative passenger who can remain calm and dilute the panic.
On the Costa Concordia, travelers united to form a human ladder to get people off the vessel. Working together with your fellow passengers can be your key to escape. Remaining level-headed with a sense of urgency can enlist enough trust toward an allied effort to help each other--which can mean all the difference in a deadly situation.
Taking the time to adequately prepare for travel--beyond packing your swimsuit--can give you the peace of mind to truly enjoy your much-deserved vacation. The fact is that accidents are a reality of travel. However, with a bit of planning, your trip can have a better chance at success.
Jennifer Calonia writes for www.GoBankingRates.com, which provides readers informative personal finance content and helpful tools, as well as the best interest rates on financial services nationwide.