Stranded Travelers In The Arctic Receive Emergency Supplies From Canadian Military

Earlier today the Canadian military conducted an operation to deliver emergency supplies to a group of stranded travelers that are adrift on an ice floe in the Arctic Ocean. The supplies were dropped onto the ice via a C-130 Hercules cargo plane and included life-rafts and other survival gear to help keep the castaways safe until further assistance can arrive on the scene.

The nearly two dozen travelers were exploring remote Baffin Island on a tour offered by a company called Arctic Kingdoms. Late Monday evening or early Tuesday morning, the 30-mile long ice floe on which they had made camp broke away from land and began to drift out to sea. With no way to get back onto Baffin, the travelers are at the mercy of the ocean currents while they wait for someone to come rescue them. Canadian authorities say that they are currently about 12 kilometers (7.8 miles) off shore.

Arctic Kingdoms provides adventurous travelers with an opportunity to go on wildlife spotting excursions in the Arctic. The tourists on this particular trip were hoping to encounter polar bears, seals and other animals unique to the region, but now they are getting a bit more of an adventure than they bargained for. According to a post to the company’s website however, everyone is in good health and spirits.

Due to the remote nature of Baffin Island, it is taking some time to scramble helicopters from Newfoundland that can mount a rescue operation. Those helicopters were expected to be onsite later today at which time search and rescue teams hope to begin evacuating the travelers.

Winter weather got you stranded at the airport? Use these ten gadgets to kill some time!

winter weather stranded

Being stuck at an airport for any length of time is never an entertaining experience – and when winter weather forces you to spend more than a day inside the terminal building, things get really boring. There are only so many ways you can keep yourself busy with CNN Airport edition and a stale bagel.

Thankfully, technology can once again come to the rescue – we’ve collected ten gadgets and accessories that can help make the experience of being stranded a little less horrible. None of them can magically make flights appear and delays vanish, but every hour you can spend doing something fun is one hour closer to getting the heck out of the airport.Monster Outlets To Go

winter weather stranded

If you have ever spent any time at the airport, you’ll know that there is usually just one outlet for the entire terminal building. Do yourself (and your fellow strandees) a favor, and travel with a compact power strip. The Monster Outlets To Go Laptop is the perfect solution for this – it features a built in surge protector, folding prongs, 2 USB charger ports, and packs away nice and compact.

Product page: Monster Outlets To Go
Price: $29.95

Smartphone

winter weather stranded

This is a pretty broad recommendation, but a smartphone can mean the difference between reading the terminal monitors for two days, or actually having something to do. A decent phone can also help pick alternative flights, book hotels, and look up phone numbers of a cab service.

Price: from free (on contract)

Battery pack

winter weather stranded

That shiny new smartphone won’t be much use when it runs out of power. And since most phones have trouble making it past a day, you will eventually run out of power. You can of course travel with your phone charger, but chances are outlets will be rare, all occupied or worse.

Battery packs come in a variety of sizes – some are powerful enough to charge a laptop, others can only power a small device. Prices start around $15 for an iPhone battery, up to $200 for a powerful laptop pack.

You Bars

winter weather stranded

Not battery operated, and completely without any lights, buttons or touchscreens – You Bars are custom made energy bars and trail mix that are designed by you. Pick all the ingredients you want, and this company will create your very own bar. Prices are obviously higher than store bought bars. but you’ll never run into another lousy bar again (unless you pick ingredients you don’t care for!).

Product page: Youbars.com
Price: from $32/box

Boingo

winter weather stranded

When an airport terminal is full of stranded passengers, chances are your 3G mobile phone speeds will grind to a halt. Thankfully, most decent airports offer Wi-Fi, and one of the most affordable ways to get on that Wi-Fi is with Boingo. With plans starting at $7.95, Boingo Wi-Fi covers thousands of airports, hotels, restaurants and more.

Product page: Boingo
Price: from $7.95/month

Netflix streaming movies

winter weather stranded

Before leaving, make sure to fill your iPod, Windows Phone, Android, Blackberry or other device with a good assortment of entertainment. If you are lucky enough to be stuck at an airport with Wi-Fi, get online and use Netflix to stream movies to your laptop or mobile device. With a massive assortment of decent movies, Netflix has what it takes to get through a whole day at the airport (and I speak from experience here).

Product page: Netflix
Price: from $7.95/month (streaming only)

Headphones + splitters

winter weather stranded

Keeping a pair of cheap headphones in your ears for a day is going to hurt – so consider a decent pair of on-ear headphones, and if needed, carry a splitter so you can share a movie with your travel partner. If the terminal is full of crying kids (or grown ups), you’ll appreciate a pair of noise canceling headphones. If your budget allows for it, we recommend the new Denon AH-NC800.

Product page: Denon AH-NC800
Price: $349.99 (MSRP)

Kid tech

winter weather stranded

If you think it is hard entertaining an adult when stranded at the airport, then you’ve never tried entertaining a toddler. With an attention span of just over 2 minutes, keeping kids entertained on the road is a real challenge – but a challenge that can be conquered with technology.

Sure, in the old days, we had to settle for a coloring book, but unless it beeps, kids are just not interested in it nowadays. The iPod touch is a great option – it serves parents and kids, can be loaded with free and cheap games, and it does movies and videos. For a sturdier option designed for pre-K and K kids, consider the Leapfrog Leapster Explorer.

Product page: Leap Frog Leapster Explorer
Price: $69.99

Lugsac

winter weather stranded

While the rest of the terminal tries to get comfortable on the most uncomfortable seats in the world, you could be resting peacefully with your inflatable pillow and blanket. The Lugsac was picked as one of the best travel products of 2009, and is an innovative blanket/pillow in a single product.

Product page: www.lugtravel.com
Price: $28 (NAPSAC) $30 (SNUZSAC)

Combo laptop charger + USB

winter weather stranded

If you travel with the usual assortment of gadgets, you’ll most likely have a laptop and at least one mobile phone. Instead of dragging along several chargers, consider a single laptop charger with USB charger port.

Product page: Kensington Laptop Chargers
Price: from $49.99

Travelers stranded in Punta Arenas, Chile due to strikes, road blocks

Strikes in Punta Arenas, Chile stranded travelers for daysThousands of travelers were left stranded in Punta Arenas, Chile over the past few days due to protests, general strikes, and road blocks throughout the region. Unrest exploded in the area late last week when the Chilean government announced plans to raise the price of fuel by 17%, which caused riots in the street and closed off traffic both in and out of the city. Strikes and protests were also underway in the nearby town of Puerto Natales. Both cities are located in the far south of the Patagonia region of the country.

Punta Arenas is a port city with a population of about 155,000 and is a major launching point for tourists cruising the Southern Ocean off the coast of Antarctica each year. During the high season, which is currently in full swing, thousands of foreign visitors pass through the city as they come and go from their various cruise ships. Those arriving back to port over the weekend were greeted with violence in the streets, protestors carrying signs, and a virtual stand still to all travel.

Reports from the city indicate that many shops and cafes have been closed for the past few days, and food is in short supply. The airport has been closed as well and road blocks have made it difficult for travelers to leave by ground vehicle to other destinations. Some made plans to go by bus to Argentina to seek passage back to their home countries.

There has been some encouraging news however, as protesters have agreed to allow the passage of some vehicles on the roads and there are indications that the airport would begin to open for limited traffic as well. As a result, travelers were expected to slowly start to filter out yesterday and today, finally getting the opportunity to begin their journey home.

This story is another good reminder that anything can, and will, happen when we travel in foreign countries. Some of the visitors to Punta Arenas have been stuck there for as much as four or five days and while most have places to stay, food has certainly been in short supply. Hopefully normal air travel will resume today and they can finally begin to head home, but it sounds like it has been quite an ordeal for foreigners, who have been caught in the crossfire between the government and the local population in Chile.

[Photo credit: South Atlantic News Agency]

Snow and ice strand travelers in their Smoky Mountain cabins

Snow and ice left many stranded in their Smoky Mountain cabinsDozens of travelers to the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee were left stranded in their rental cabins earlier this week thanks to snow and ice covered roads. Most had a minimal supply of food and were unsure when they could resupply thanks to the treacherous conditions.

Winter storms dumped several inches of snow on the region, but it was the ice that posed the real danger. The narrow and winding mountain roads became impassable thanks to a thick coat of ice which caused many vehicles to slide off the pavement and become stuck in ditches. Without ice chains on their tires, most vehicles were useless on the slick surface, which meant that visitors to the Majestic Mountain Lodges near Gatlinburg were forced to stay in their cabins and wait for assistance.

Some couldn’t wait however. Running low on food, many of people set out on foot for the nearby town, pulling sleds behind them as they went. Once they made the walk into Gatlinburg, they would purchase their needed supplies and then hike back up the mountain to their cabin. That round-trip trek would take several hours to complete.

Slowly the conditions have begun to improve over the past few days, but even salt trucks and plows have had problems getting up the steep mountain roads. For now, most of the visitors have had to stay in their cabins and wait for the ice to clear.

Would this kind of ice storm be a fun winter adventure or leave you with severe cabin fever? It seems that if you were well stocked on food and supplies, it would be fine just relaxing by the fire. But if you were running low on those things, it wouldn’t be much fun at all. I’d hate to be the guy that drew the short straw to make the beer run.


Hundreds of trekkers stranded in Himalaya due to bad weather

trekkers stranded in HimalayaMore than 2000 travelers remain stranded in the Himalaya after bad weather moved into the region earlier this week. High winds and thick cloud cover have conspired to cut off all flights back to Kathmandu, leaving the high altitude trekkers with an unexpected extended stay in the mountains.

Most of the travelers were returning from treks in the Khumbu Region of Nepal, which includes hikes up to Everest Base Camp, located at 17,600 feet. Those treks generally begin and end in Lukla, a small and remote village in the Himalaya, which sits at an altitude of roughly 9100 feet, and offers the only true airport in the region. That airport is little more than a runway that runs up the side of the mountain, and is widely considered to be amongst the most dangerous in the world. The already tricky approach to the village becomes impossible when you add bad weather to the equation.

Fortunately, help began arriving yesterday when the Nepali army sent helicopters to Lukla to start evacuating some of the stranded travelers back to Kathmandu. Their helicopters perform much better in the poor weather conditions and offer plenty of lift to get the trekkers and their gear out of the Himalaya safely. With so many travelers waiting for a ride however, it’ll take a few days before everyone is back in the capital.

Having visited Lukla this past spring, I can’t even imagine where all of these trekkers are staying at the moment. While it is one of the larger villages in the Khumbu Valley, that isn’t saying a whole lot. There are a number of good teahouses to stay in there, but the rooms fill up quickly, and generally it is a very transient place, with adventure travelers coming and going on a regular basis. With 2000 trekkers in the village, it must be one very busy and crowded place.