How to Survive an Earthquake While Traveling

I’ve lived in California my entire life and have only experienced three earthquakes that I can remember. One was the massive earthquake that hit the Bay Area in 1989, and the two smaller ones were when I was an adult.

The earthquake in 1989 was one where my Mom had to take action and move us to a safer location, while the other two weren’t a big deal. I’m not going to lie, the last one made me sit up in bed and say “Oh, I thought that was an earthquake.”

My non-Californian husband didn’t even realize he had experienced his first quake. For me, an earthquake is something that could happen, but isn’t a priority on my mind.


how to survive an earthquake

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be well prepared for it and how to survive an earthquake if one should strike.

I know if I feel the room begin to move, it’s time to get under a table or in a doorway to protect myself. For travelers unaware of proper earthquake practices, it’s always good to know what to do and what you might need in case of an earthquake.

It’s time to break down everything you might need to know and need while traveling in California to help prepare you for an earthquake.

Read our complete 3-Day Guide to Palm Springs, CA

How to Survive an Earthquake

How to Protect Yourself

Californians know what to do during an earthquake, we practice it in school, and it’s something engrained in us.

From experience, I realize not all people might know what to do, including my husband who is from North Carolina and didn’t have clue.

How to survive an earthquake

Find a safe space inside

The most important thing to do is find a safe space. This safe space will be under a table, a heavy-duty desk, or maybe even in the corner of the room between two walls.

You want to stay clear of windows or anything that could fall on you. You want to crouch down, protect your head, and hold on until the shaking stops.

Remember– when an earthquake hits there will be numerous aftershocks. 

How to survive an earthquake

Precautions when outside during an earthquake

If you’re outside, move away from overhead utility poles, streetlights, and wires. Stay clear of large trees if you can, and keep away from large buildings.

Anything that could possibly fall on you should be avoided. 

What to do while driving during an earthquake

For people driving during an earthquake, the big thing to note is you probably won’t feel the earthquake unless it is significant.

If you feel the quake, pull your car over and stay inside the vehicle with your seatbelt on.

Do not pull over on a bridge, under an overpass, or near power lines, as these can all collapse during a quake.

Emergency Earthquake Kit for your Car

When You’re in the Car or in Nature

When you’re in the car when an earthquake hits, there are a lot of factors to remember. If a powerline falls on your vehicle, stay in the car and wait for assistance.

Sitting in a car with a power line on you might seem scary, but this is the safest spot for you.

Be alert for rocks and falling debris if you are in an area with mountains and cliffs. Landslides often happen after an earthquake, and the area can be unstable after one occurs.

Stay clear of bridges and ramps that could be damaged during the earthquake while driving your car too.

One big thing to remember is not to move until the shaking stops. If possible, you may also want to stay put for a while since aftershocks are usually worse than the original earthquake.

How to survive an earthquake emergency kit

Mini Emergency Earthquake Kit

Californians should have a large emergency earthquake kit ready to go, but if you’re travelling and visiting the area, you probably won’t have one.

It’s always wise to have a small kit with you in case of emergencies, and they’re simple to make. Here are some essential items to have with you:

  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Whistle
  • Food and water for three days if possible
  • Emergency blanket
  • Manual can opener

It is recommended that an emergency earthquake kit has enough supplies for three days per person.

This isn’t usually feasible if you’re traveling by plane, but try to have a few gallons of water and non-perishable food like granola bars and canned meat or veggies handy just in case.

Emergency Earthquake Kit for Your Pets 

Pets during Earthquakes

If you bring a pet along with you for traveling, make sure to have extra supplies for them as well. Having your pet microchipped and up to date on vaccines is essential too.

A small pet emergency kit can include the following items:

  • Food and water
  • Toys, treats, and bowls
  • Medication
  • Extra leash and harness
Earthquake Emergency Kit

Emergency Earthquake Kits you can Buy

You might not have the time to make your own kit, but you can buy one to throw in the back of your car as a precaution.

A lot of these kits have important items that are great for any emergency, so it’s an excellent investment.

Earthquake emergency Kit - How to Survive an Earthquake

RedforA Complete Earthquake Kit


This kit allows you to choose how many people you need it prepared for, between 1 to 6 people. It includes water, food, shelter items, and first aid supplies in individual water-proof bags that fit nicely into an included backpack.

Earthquake emergency Kit - How to Survive an Earthquake

Ready America 2-Person Emergency Kit


If you’re on a budget, this kit is perfect. It’s lightweight and allows additional room for whatever you want to store. It includes a first aid kit, protection, food and water, and a whistle.

Read our 1-Day Guide to Death Valley California

Earthquake emergency Kit - How to Survive an Earthquake

Protect Life Emergency First-Aid Kit


You need a first aid kit no matter what, and we like this one. The kit is compact and easy to store, plus it features specialty bandages, scissors, and tweezers. There is also a poncho, whistle, and blanket for emergency use.

While it is unlikely an earthquake will hit while you’re traveling in California, it never hurts to be prepared. The most important thing to remember is to duck, cover, and hold on during an earthquake. Protect your head and eyes if you can and try to avoid anything that can fall on you or out from under you. Stay safe out there.

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How to Survive an Earthquake while traveling
What to do if you experience an earthquake when traveling

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