…and the unescapable travel nightmares.
With over 50.9 million people on the roads and 28.5 million passengers in the air (just during Thanksgiving week alone!), it is important that we take some time to pause, BREATHE, and regroup a second. There are a few things to keep in mind this holiday travel season that will give us the confidence to know that – no matter what situation we find ourselves in – we can be more prepared than our fellow weary wanderers.
As trite as the “Be Prepared” Boy Scout motto is, it has stood the test of time for a reason. That reason is this simple truth: It is much better to be proactive than reactive. No one knows this better than our poor daughter, who’s “just in case” emergency kit fills her trunk and leaves no room for anything else (the product of two security/contingency-minded parents). While the majority of us don’t need to plan for Armageddon (unless you’re into that sorta thing), a few minutes of planning and preparation before the mad scramble and rush of holiday travel helps prevent a lot of issues that can ruin an otherwise festive occasion. Over the next two days, we’ll be introducing our Holiday Travel Security/Safety strategies. In Part I, we will talk through some tips on the use of technology and the importance of planning. In Part II (tomorrow), we’ll concentrate more on building our emergency kits/go-bags and how to respond when Murphy rears his ugly head.
So, let’s begin:
#1. Use Technology. In today’s high-speed, interconnected world, there is no excuse to not be up-to-date with the latest and greatest information available. There are many apps out there to help you stay on top of weather, traffic patterns, airport wait times, etc. So many, in fact, that this topic could be an entire article all by itself (and maybe it will be!). The point is, find the apps that resonate with you in terms of capability, functions, ease of operation, and use them!
We would recommend you also have on your phone some sort of group/family tracker app that can help you stay in touch with family members’ locations as they wander “over the hills and through the woods”.
Additionally, FEMA has a great app (just search FEMA in your favorite app store). Among other things, the FEMA app allows you to set weather alerts for up to 5 locations, has great emergency and safety tips, and even shows you FEMA shelter locations in case of an emergency. You can sign up for text alerts from them as well as share photos of that 8-hour TSA wait line at your favorite airport (Hey, misery loves company, right?).
On a more serious note, if you are planning on traveling overseas, attending a big sporting event, or some other venue that attracts large crowds (like a Thanksgiving Day Parade, Turkey Trot, Black Friday, etc.), you may want to consider getting a security alert app. Most of the good ones are a paid service, but will allow you to get near-real time security alerts on any credible threat warnings. If you need more information on this (specific to your travel details) just email us as info@7SpearsSecurity.com.
7Spears’ Playbook: We love to use the app Life360. Every member of our family has it loaded onto our phones. Through this app we are able to set up home/work locations, alerts for travel, and check in on that loved one’s location whom we haven’t heard from for a while. It tracks driving statistics, has an automatic crash detection and emergency services notification, and a built-in communication function. It gives us great peace of mind; especially when the weather is bad, if traveling late at night, or when we just want to see if someone made it to their destination okay.
#2. Have a Plan. No, we’re not talking about what pair of favorite sweat pants you are changing into after the turkey dinner! Here, we are talking about having a PACE plan. For the uninitiated reader, the acronym PACE stands for Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency. Notwithstanding Tip #1, you should have a plan for when technology fails. You should have a PACE plan for your routes, your modes of travel, your methods of communication, etc. We know, we know…the PACE plan for Turkey-Day side dishes is occupying most of the RAM in your brain right now, but Travel PACE plans don’t have to be complicated. For example:
PACE Communications: Learn to use your phone without cellular data enabled. There are a lot of functions on a phone that just won’t work in a spotty coverage area or if the service provider is overloaded. When this occurs, high-speed data connectivity is usually the first thing to go. But it still may be possible to get a simple SMS message out over the cellular network. Know how to do that for your particular cellphone. You can also buy a prepaid/pay-as-you-go phone on a different network than the one you have your plan/family plan on. This inexpensive investment allows you to get a call or message through on a cellular provider that may have coverage/less congestion than the one you normally use. Map out areas along your route of travel that will have free Wi-Fi / internet access (public libraries and coffee shops are a good place to start). If you lose power to your phone, lose your phone, (or have maybe shattered the screen in traveling nightmare frustrations), knowing there is a place where you can hop on the internet to at least let someone know your status is a good idea.
PACE Navigation: If you are traveling with a partner or family, it is likely you’ll have more than one cellular device in the car with you. It’s hard to believe that we actually have to say this, but in today’s modern world of GPS, route calculation and automatic “re-calculating”, it is worth mentioning: Have a map and learn how to read it. Depending on your length of travel, you may have a road atlas or just a simple city map. The point is to have them and know how to use them. The time to learn how to navigate with a map is not when Google decides to go into a never-ending loop of, “Recalculating” and “At the next intersection, make a U-Turn”. Before you leave, let your favorite navigation app help plan your route with up-to-date travel information. Then, look at a map and identify this primary route, but also plot out different routes that get you to the same location, just in case. Plan out contingencies of inclement weather, a huge traffic accident, a sudden case of “turkey trots”, travel fatigue, or any other unplanned emergency, and mark places on the map that may be ideal for an unplanned stop-over. Pay attention to where hospitals and police stations are along these routes.
7Spears’ Playbook: Anytime we take a road trip, we bring a printed, back-up copy of the directions with us. We usually use Google Maps or MapQuest. Both of these services allow the option of printing both the directions AND the maps. We choose this option. We review the suggested route on a road atlas and have back-up/contingency routes; especially around major cities or areas where congestion/accidents are more likely.
International travel brings its own sets of challenges and PACE planning. We’ll be covering this topic more in depth in a later series entitled Travel Security. In the meantime, if you want a FREE Pre-Travel Checklist, email us at info@7SpearsSecurity.com, or click on the “Contact Us” link at the top of this page.
If you think through your trip with an “If this, then that” mentality, you will find it fairly easy to come up with a PACE plan to cover most likely contingencies. The important thing to remember is to have a plan, consider contingencies, and then communicate the plan with someone you trust (who obviously isn’t accompanying you!). Keep in mind to plan for the loss of technology, the loss of power, and everybody’s weird, drunk Uncle Murphy who seems to show up uninvited for many of us during the holidays.
That’s enough for today. Time to go get the turkey out of the freezer, fight the mobs in the pumpkin spice and marshmallow aisles of the grocery store and get back to sanctuary as quickly, safely and securely as possible. Good luck, God’s speed, and we’ll see you back here tomorrow for Part II of our Holiday Travel Safety and Security edition.
P.S. We love collaboration! Please leave a comment, disagreement, or point of discussion in the comments below. If you liked this article, please feel free to share it on social media! If you need more detailed assistance on challenges specific to your family, group, or company, please contact us via the “Contact Us” link or email info@7SpearsSecurity.com.