Fortunately, I was not one of the people forced to seek emergency, overnight accommodations in a Home Depot, grocery store or other friendly retailer.
But the recent storm that walloped the South did present me — and the approximately 22,000 other attendees at the National Automobile Dealers Association Convention & Expo in New Orleans — with some very real personal and professional challenges.
As the weather continues to huff and puff and blow travelers’ plans off course, here are some tips for dealing with a storm like the one Reuters said brought “once-in-a-decade” ice and snow.
1. Scout your location
Before I arrived, I had scouted out what restaurants and stores were within walking distance of my lodging. My hotel was under renovation, so I wanted to know where to buy food and other essentials if needed. There are numerous sites that provide that information, but I usually rely on TripAdvisor.
2. Don’t automatically leave
Although my hotel was very cold, due to under-powered and malfunctioning boilers, I opted to stay in New Orleans rather than try to outrun the fast-approaching storm. Some of my colleagues did rent SUVs when flights out of New Orleans were canceled. Many planned to drive to Atlanta to catch flights. NBC News reported that thousands of motorists were trapped in Atlanta for days.
3. Don’t be cheap
You might hate to fork out money for snack foods and bottled water you might never consume. But I always buy a few supplies as soon as I arrive at a destination, especially when inclement weather is approaching. It saved me this time. At one point in the storm, our hotel restaurant’s power was dicey and local restaurants were closed. I dined on my makeshift snacks.
4. You don’t necessarily need a rental car
Many business travelers almost automatically rent cars when they travel. I often do, too, but I always check other options. While I knew public transportation in New Orleans would be limited, especially in inclement weather, I’m glad I didn’t rent a car. Not only would I have paid for the car and parking, but many sections of roads were closed, reports The New Orleans Advocate. It was cold and icy, but I walked most places.
5. Plan for no cell service
I have very reliable cell service, as do most of us, but I always carry a telephone calling card with me. Sounds old-fashioned but I have learned from experience that if cell service goes down, you may need to rely on landlines. And if you don’t want to pay top hotel charges, it’s more cost-effective to use a pay phone with a calling card. You can buy them at many retail stores or online from various companies.
Do you have stories to share from the recent storms? Comment below or on our Facebook page.