When a massive hurricane heads your way and you are forced to evacuate, what to you do? Danielle shares with us her experiences turning a mandatory evacuation into a vacation below:
I want to start this article by acknowledging the families who were deeply affected by these natural disasters. These storms like many others leave homes and lives destroyed and the citizens devastated. As nomads, we love every part of the world and it hurts to see any place battered and its people suffering. Everyone can help the victims of the recent hurricanes and during any Natural Disaster by donating to the following relief organizations:
*Although this is written light heartedly we would like to reinforce that your safety is always the number one priority. If time, money or other factors restrict your options during an evacuation always seek your safest option or local shelters*
This post comes to you after experiencing my second (hopefully not annual) evacuation vacation. Last year Hurricane Matthew and now Hurricane Irma drove me into the mountains for an unexpected retreat. Of course, I took advantage of having to leave home, and not having work or go to school for a few days. If I had to leave why not make the best of it.
Where to Stay:
The first and most important factor of your evacuation vacation is of course where you will be staying. If a storm is expected to be serious early on it is always good to reserve something as far in advance as possible. As soon as the media says you need to leave, everything, for hundreds of miles, is going to be sold out. You have a few options:
- Reserve a hotel:
…in a city you’ve always wanted to go to. If it is too early to tell that an evacuation is going to happen look for hotels with free cancellations to be on the safe side in case you decide not to leave (Although if you’re going to be without power and have a few days off from work why cancel right? Just do it). If the storm is still a few days away you can always check last minute flights deals. Use google flights to search the dates and departing city to see the cheapest destinations. That’s how Carley found a good deal to Colorado.
- Look for an AirBnB:
…with flexible cancelation policies. If you find an AirBnB you like that does not advertise flexible cancellations, try sending them a message letting them know the situation. You can also ask if in the event you do not have to evacuate, if they will put your payment towards a stay in the future when you have more time to plan your trip. An AirBnB or home rental is my preferred accommodation for my Hurrications. Both evacuations I headed to the mountains and each time it was pure bliss. We enjoyed campfires, indoor fires and sitting on our private deck in our own slice of Heaven on the cool mornings with a hot tea. The privacy was also awesome to enjoy the outdoor bath tub featured at our place in Brevard (can I go back?!).
P.S. for those who are parents to cute little furry babies a cabin in the woods is the way to go. My pup loved sitting on the deck all day and being able to run free and enjoy the wild.
- Take this time to visit family
Do you have relatives or friends within driving distance but can only ever justify the hours in the car for a holiday or special occasion? It may not be our first idea of a vacation, but anywhere offering free accommodations is always on the radar.
Who to go with:
An evacuation is a perfect time to do that trip with your friends you all talk about but have never done. Having multiple people going in on a home rental will also lower the price per person which is great of course since I am sure most of us don’t have an emergency vacation fund (although that would be nice). Also, you all might as well take advantage of everyone having the same time off. Choose somewhere within driving distance if you’re going to do this, and take multiple vehicles because some may have to go back to work sooner than others and you might want to stay, forever!
Don’t forget about your four-legged friends. Please do not leave your pets behind during an evacuation. On Airbnb and other similar sites, you can filter your search to show homes that accept pets. If those options are all taken try messaging the hosts and letting them know your situation, they may make an exception or have an outdoor accommodation for dogs. At the very least, they may know of a nearby boarding place you can call and check the availability of. When preparing for an evacuation, if going to a hotel, make sure to have plenty of pet-friendly places in mind because they will sell out fast.
***There was recently false information being promoted on Social Media about the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standard (PETS), passed in 2006, saying hotels were required to accept pets in the event of an evacuation. This is false, so be prepared to look for hotels and motels that advertise as pet-friendly***
Also, because I am an animal lover here is a link to donate to pets displaced during natural disasters:
What to Do:
I am located in the South East’s Low Country and during both Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Irma in 2017, I retreated to the mountains. The first time to Dahlonega, Georgia and most recently to Brevard, North Carolina. With similar terrains both times I could enjoy hiking, visiting nearby waterfalls and rivers (which my dogs love), vineyards, fishing, cute towns and more. So, in case you are headed for a higher elevation, as I was, here are some suggestions of things you can do on your improv vacation.
- Go to a vineyard or brewery.
In Georgia, we had the luxury of multiple vineyards in the area to choose from. Even in early October, with the grape vines mostly bear, we enjoyed an amazing wine tasting overlooking the mountains. In North Carolina we found a local brewery 5 minutes down the road. Whether you’re feeling hot or cool a booze fix always finds its way on the itinerary.
- Outdoor Activities
…such as horseback riding, ziplining, ATV rentals are usually available in mountainous regions. Check out the area you’re in to see what outdoor pass times are nearby… There are also plenty of other things to enjoy without having to shell out more cash than you already have.
- Go for a hike
Everywhere I turned in both Dahlonega and Brevard there were signs for paths or National Parks that had several hiking trails. Pack a picnic and spend the day exploring the woods. This is also a great option when you have the dogs. Most national parks allow leashed pets.
- Find a waterfall
All over the Appalachian region you will find waterfalls. Take advantage and spend the day driving to different ones in the area. If it is still warm bring your bathing suit and go for a swim. Even when it isn’t warm enough for us, it always is for my dogs so make sure you bring a towel to dry them off after your venture!
- Drive to a nearby city
Last year when we evacuated we took a day trip to Helen, a little Bavarian Alpine look alike town in the Georgian Appalachians. We made it for the end of Octoberfest which draws a large crowd of people every year that celebrates German heritage. We enjoyed an authentic Bratwurst at a local restaurant and shopping in the German themed store fronts, which you will see throughout the entire town. This year in Brevard we were only 40 minutes to Asheville, North Carolina, an increasingly popular destination. So, be sure to evacuate to the safest place for you and your wallet, but don’t forget about the towns nearby you may want to explore for the day!
From both Carley and I, we hope that you and your friends and family are safe! Even though we DO NOT want any more hurricane tumbling towards us, if they do, I hope my experiences have helped you and give you some ideas for your next evacuation vacation!
Stay safe out there Nomads, and enjoy
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