Better safe than sorry

by Donia Simmons 16. January 2013 19:49



“Are you ready … for a disaster?”

A roadside billboard with this message greeted me each morning throughout the month of September. The first time I saw it, I actually got a little nervous. It made me think about things I had never thought about. After visiting the website posted on the sign, I discovered that September was National Preparedness Month.

I realized that our family wasn’t prepared for any type of disaster. I thought a lot about whether or not emergency preparation was something we should plan for.

In the end we decided that disaster preparedness was important for our family. Better safe than sorry, right? We now have an emergency kit in the car, one in the entryway closet and “go bags” for each member of the family. We’ve stored away a supply of food that could feed us for three days in case of an emergency, and we’ve gathered phone numbers for every critical service and family member under the sun.

Will we ever need to use these emergency supplies? I sure hope not. But if we do, I will feel better knowing that we have a plan in place, and that we are better equipped to face the elements or other unknowns than we were before.

As travel planners, you certainly know the importance of being prepared for the unknown, and you may have encountered your own kinds of disasters while traveling with your groups. Many of you buy travel insurance so that you and your travelers will be covered in the case of illness, inclement weather or other unforeseen issues. If you aren’t currently taking these steps, perhaps it’s time to think through the possibilities a little more. It will give you peace of mind and the confidence that you are ready to face the challenges that an emergency might present in your travels.

How are you preparing? Go to our Facebook page www.facebook.com/grouptravelleader , and let us know the clever ways in which you have prepared for travel emergencies.

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Multi-generational travel brings blessings

by Donia Simmons 20. March 2012 01:26



When my husband’s parents invited us to go on an Alaska cruise with them last May, it proved to be an opportunity of a lifetime!

For me, this was my first cruise, but his parents, who are seasoned cruise goers, were heading back to Alaska for the eighth time. They are both in their 80s and just celebrated 60 years of marriage this last December. Travel has always been a very important part of their lives, and we were overjoyed to share this time with them.

In the late 1940s my husband’s parents caught the travel bug while stationed over in Germany after World War II, and they have been traveling ever since. His mother has been to China, seen the Monarch butterfly migration to Mexico and visited the Taj Mahal. They have both been around Cape Horn, passed through the Panama Canal, cruised the Russian waterways, seen the Holy Lands and extensively traveled Europe, Canada and the United States.

I would have to say they’ve covered almost everything you could ever have on your bucket list.

The past few years, travel has proven to be much more difficult as his father’s Alzheimer’s progresses and his mother’s recent stroke and failing knees have begun to take their toll. Time is precious, and both of us realize it. That made this opportunity to cruise together such a blessing!

Our presence allowed his parents the security of knowing that plane departures would be met, boarding passes were already printed, wheelchairs or transportation would be waiting at the gates, and we were there to assist them when they got turned around on the cruise ship or at port.

Our children in turn got to spend precious time with their grandparents in a secure and fun environment. Meals were the highlight of all our days with waiters that entertained us with magic tricks and created napkin animals for the children to play with. Mr. Lyndon, our headwaiter, played a round of tic-tac-toe with our daughter every night — much to my husband's parents amusement — which culminated in a championship match on the last night of the cruise.

The grandparents enjoyed daily ice cream treats with the children, watched them swim and Grandmother read books to them at night as we watched whales and icebergs go by from the large window in our room.

I am confident that as the years go by that more breathtaking than the Tracy Arm Fjord, more captivating than the pristine views and more memorable than seeing our first humpback whale will be the treasured times we spent together with loved ones.

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