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Required Reading for the Trip from Hell
by Dan Richardson

The Must-Read Book for Travel Emergencies

Half-way through a trip across Italy a few summers ago, I would have gladly traded my guide book for one slice of edible American pizza. But even the best hometown pie wouldn't be a fair trade for the newly published Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Travel. With its helpful action plans for travel's misadventures, I've resolved to carry this book to my grave - a very real possibility if a person were to run into some of the scenarios described here. 

Not all of them are life-threatening. One's life probably won't depend on controlling a runaway camel. But it's both comforting and smart to know what to do when the chips are down, especially if you're in a strange place; changing a tire in your own driveway is a snap, but try it during a mountain blizzard when you're 100 miles from the nearest town.

Knowing what to do when things get interesting is the book's raison d'Ítre. Penned by a couple of freelance writers and world travelers out of Philadelphia. It's a well-researched and compact manual for when Murphy's Laws are the ground rules.

The scenarios range from the truly helpful (finding water on a deserted island; treating a severed limb) to the doubtful-but-good-to-know (negotiating a mine field; crash-landing an airplane) with just one or two forays into the sublimely silly (really, UFO abductions?). In each case, authors Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht drew upon one or more well-versed, real-world researchers, instructors and safari guides. 

One example: Want to know how to build a snow shelter? Ask John Lindner, as Piven and Borgenicht did, director of the Wilderness Survival School for the Colorado Mountain Club, and director of training for an organization that teaches mountain survival skills to search-and-rescue teams and government agencies.

Worst-Case Scenario offers impressive sources and a quick, bullet-point format. There's not enough information here to make anyone an expert in a given field - you probably don't want to get a tracheotomy from someone who's just read it from the book - but plenty enough to thumb through if a person needs some pointers on offering a bribe at the next border or jumping from a moving train (to avoid the border?).

The book, with its emergency-red cover and exciting scenarios, makes for a great conversation starter, but is it a necessity for travelers? That depends. If you're the kind of person who makes photocopies of important documents and stashes them in a safe place before heading overseas, you'll likely agree Worst-Case Scenario is a handy bit of preparation. 

If, on the other hand, you're the kind of person who flies into Thailand without any reservations, wanders its back alleys alone at night and drinks the water, than Worst-Case Scenario should be required reading.

People who agree that travel and adventure are worthwhile pursuits have to face the possibility that something could go wrong. I consider myself a fairly well-prepared traveler, but in one six-week period in Alaska one autumn I happened upon a mother grizzly with cubs, hauled an injured hunter's slain deer out of the woods and survived a shipwreck with friends in a borrowed boat. The unexpected happens, in Alaska's wilds or Rome's crowded streets. 

Indeed, misadventures and little emergencies are the spice that flavors travel. Given that, reading Worst-Case Scenario Survival Guide: Travel just makes sense, like stashing a roll of duct tape in your backpack. 

As improbable as getting caught in a high-rise hotel fire may seem, Worst-Case Scenario is the book I'd want on my night-stand if flames did break out.

Buy this book at Barnes &!