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In Case of Emergency

What would you do if you were trapped on a motorcoach for an entire day?

Last month, winter storms made headlines when they pounded parts of the eastern United States, leaving thousands of motorists stranded for prolonged periods. So far, I haven’t heard of any tour groups being caught in these particular traffic nightmares. But a snowstorm isn’t the only cause for a traffic jam, and there are myriad other events and accidents that could leave a motorcoach group stranded for hours at a time.

You can’t completely eliminate the possibility of being stuck on a motorcoach for extended periods, but you can take some steps to make sure you’re prepared if it happens. You or your transportation provider should make sure that the following are available on a coach in case of emergency.

1) Food and Water

On most group tours, you’re never more than a few hours away from food. But if you encounter problems on the motorcoach, there’s no telling when you’ll get to eat again. While most people can miss a meal or two without its causing more than some stomach rumbles, travelers with diabetes or other medical conditions could face a dangerous situation if they can’t eat. At the outset of each trip, you should make sure the coach is stocked with snacks and bottled water.

2) Toilet Paper

On a motorcoach, you’re fortunate to have access to an onboard restroom. But if there’s not enough toilet paper, that restroom will become useless during an hours-long delay. When you book a motorcoach, ask the provider if they’ll have enough toilet paper on hand to keep the bathroom supplied during a long delay. And when you get on the coach, double-check the supplies, and purchase more before departing if needed.

3) First-Aid Kit

There’s a good chance your motorcoach has a first-aid kit somewhere on board, but you should always ask ahead of time to make sure, then familiarize yourself with it once you get on board. Check to make sure it has all the necessary supplies, and stock up on more if need be. It’s also smart to have your own small pack of first-aid supplies to carry off the motorcoach while your group is sightseeing. 

4) Medications

Experienced travelers know they should always keep essential medications in their carry-on luggage. But chances are you’ll have some inexperienced travelers in your group from time to time, so you’ll need to remind them how important this is — on airplanes and on motorcoaches. Tell your travelers to keep medications with them in the cabin, as luggage may not be accessible during a bad traffic or weather delay.

5) Backup Batteries

If you encounter a long delay on the road, the phone calls, texts and web browsing necessary to handle the situation can drain your cellphone battery quickly. Motorcoach power outlets may help with this, but not every vehicle has them. And if the driver can’t run the engine, it can’t deliver any electricity. You should keep a fully charged battery pack with you to charge your phone in case it runs low in an emergency.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.