Earlier this year we decided to book a cruise for our 15th anniversary, taking the whole family (2 adults, 3 boys). Living in Texas, we're a short drive from the port of Galveston, which means we don't have to pay for airfare. This makes traveling to another country (even if it's just for a day or two) relatively cheap!
So I found a five day cruise to Mexico for a good price and booked it. Can you guess what ship I booked it on? Yup, the Carnival Triumph! In case you didn't see the news, the Triumph was the ship that lost power in the Gulf of Mexico recently and had to be towed back to port. After seeing some of the passenger reports it appears the news media seriously exaggerated the conditions on the ship (so what else is new?), but it still wasn't anyone's idea of an ideal vacation.
Fortunately we were able to switch to a different ship leaving from Galveston the same weekend, but that got me to thinking - everyone talks about Bug Out Bags and Get Home Bags, but how would you pack an emergency bag for a situation like this? What should we take for our upcoming trip?
To begin, let's set a few ground rules.
- Most people would be flying to board a cruise, and we're travelling in a small, tightly-packed car, so we want as minimal a bag as possible.
- We're only planning for the possibility of delays and inconvenience, not for a shipwreck! So no life vests, shark repellent, etc.
- We're onboard a ship, and have to go through security, so no need for firemaking/cooking items, no weapons, etc.
- This kit is just emergency items, not all those little items that frequent travelers would tell you to take on a cruise anyway.
So first we've got the items that we'd be taking anyway; we'll just carry a few extra items in the emergency bag:
- Hand sanitizer & extra soap to combat Norovirus.
- A small power strip - some cruise lines may confiscate your power strip when you board, so you might want to have one in the emergency bag and another in a carry-on.
- LED flashlight and extra batteries - you're going to want a flashlight anyway, those cabins can get dark! Just throw extra batteries in the emergency bag.
- Extra seasick medications like Bonine, Ginger Gum or even Sea-Bands - even if you don't normally get seasick, if the ship is under tow the pitch and roll may be more severe.
- Wipes, both regular baby wipes for hygiene and Lysol wipes for sterilizing. Again, it's a good idea to carry these anyway, just throw in some extras.
- Water filter bottles - we love the Berkey Sports Bottle and will be taking these with us anyway. We're going to assume the water supply won't go out completely, but we may not have any in the room itself.
Now, for the extra stuff that we hopefully won't need:
- Food - no need to pack MREs, just throw in some protein bars that are 200-300 calories each. 4 total per person should be fine, we're assuming food service wouldn't be totally suspended for days.
- First aid kit
- Over the counter medicines - at the very least, something for headaches and tummy trouble.
- Extra prescription medicines - I'd carry an extra 5 days worth.
- USB charger, either hand-cranked or solar powered.
- Duct tape and para-cord - don't leave home without them!
- A knife or scissors - nothing massive that's going to alarm anyone who might see it on an x-ray.
- Emergency poncho (1 per person).
- Space blanket (1 per person) - you can use it for warmth on a cold weather cruise or for shade if you're stuck without power and AC in the tropics.
- Trash bags.
- No-rinse soap and shampoo - in case the water goes out.
I figure all of this for five people should fit into a small school-size backpack that will just be one of our carry-ons. Can you think of anything I missed?