“Wendy, thank you for your tips on what to do if an emergency happens when you’re traveling. I feel that a traveler ought to devise a ‘scheme B’ for getting out of the country in the event that ‘things go sideways’ due to political turbulence or unrest. You shouldn’t rely only on your country’s embassy. Shouldn’t you have a ‘scheme B’?” —Valerie
That’s true, Valerie. Fortunately, there’s an easy Plan B. It requires zero effort on the traveler’s part and should, in fact, be your Plan A: Use the right destination-specialist travel-planning firm to arrange your trip in the first place. The destination specialists on my WOW List are chosen partly because they can and will rescue you in any emergency. Toni Neubauer of Myths and Mountains, for example, operates stellar trips to Asia and is the Nepal specialist on my WOW List. To understand how Toni came to the rescue when the Nepal earthquake struck, read this review posted to WendyPerrin.com by Joe and Rowena Burke, who were in Katmandu, Nepal, when the quake struck on April 25. Here, in the Burkes’ words, is how Toni got them out of the country:
“Behind the scenes Toni Neubauer of Myths and Mountains worked tirelessly to coordinate our hasty departure. We were able to reach out to her several hours after the quake. She immediately sprang into action and somehow, through her extensive network of contacts in the region, booked us a flight the following afternoon. Booking the flight was miraculous, but it would have been meaningless but for Toni’s people on the ground, as we needed transport from our hotel.
Toni’s (and our) guide, Ananta Gubhaju, and his colleagues were there whenever we needed them. They safely transported us through the chaos at the airport and then waited there for more than 8 hours, having promised not to leave until our flight departed. When the flight was cancelled, they promptly returned us to the hotel, which welcomed us with open arms.
All the while Toni continued to work behind the scenes, anticipating that the flight might not work. She confirmed the original flight for the next day and booked a back-up. She maintained constant contact with our relatives stateside. It was unequivocally clear that she had established a reliable, professional network of wonderful people as a result of her years of travel to the region.
Her efforts, and those of her network, did not end when we safely arrived in Varanasi. Somehow she marshaled people who met us at the gate and whisked us through customs as we ran to make a connection to Delhi. When we arrived at the gate after the flight’s departure, there was no cause for concern. Within minutes we were booked on the next flight out, giving us an hour or so to decompress before we travelled to Delhi, where, once again, Toni’s people were patiently waiting for us when we arrived.
It was apparent from my first contact with Toni that Myths and Mountains is much, much more than a travel agent. Her organization knows the region and has an incredible appreciation of the needs of its clients and the idiosyncrasies of travel to the region’s special places. Her understanding of the area reflects her decades of travel and commitment to the region, as evidenced by her support of READ Global.
I will not allow our trip to the foothills of the Himalayas to be defined solely by the catastrophe that struck Nepal because Toni made it so much more. We spent 8 captivating days in Bhutan, where her contacts were absolutely fabulous. Her colleagues in Delhi and Agra made our short time in India a truly great experience that forever changed my perception of that country. And when we return to Nepal—and return we will—Toni will be the person who will get us there and who will get us back.”
So you see, Valerie, relying on a country’s embassy to get you out in an emergency is really Plan B. Plan A is to use the right destination specialist to arrange your trip in the first place.