New York Times Best Seller and Longmeadow Native, Michael Tougias’ latest release is “Extreme Survival: Lessons from Those Who Have Triumphed Against All Odds.”

In this digital exclusive, Tougias talks about the perils of letting your guard down while on vacation and shares a cautionary tale included in his book. 

Learn more about the book three decades in the making in our full interview with author Michael Tougias. 

Read the full transcript:

Michael Tougias, NY Times Bestselling Author: So in “Extreme Survival” Chapter six is labeled, “Question the experts, especially on vacation.”

And I think we all let our guard down on vacation so we’re so pumped to see a new area and do all these things — and I interviewed a man who let his normal questions or precautions go because he was so excited to go bonefishing off the Bahamas.

And — so they’re coming back in the little boat with the guide, it’s the two, the two tourists and the guide, and “each man was lost in his own thoughts as they gripped a seat or a gunwale so as not to be tossed about in the boat.”

They were hitting some bad weather.

“They just had to hang on, try to ignore the discomfort and in Donald’s case, say a prayer. He knew the situation was serious, but he had no idea of just how dangerous the voyage would become. About 5 minutes later, Donald said his silent prayer, then the drone of the engine suddenly ceased. The vessel had run out of gas. ‘Where’s the spare tank, Travis?’ Donald shouted. ‘I don’t have one’ said Travis. ‘What? You’ve got to be kidding me.’ ‘No, man.’ Donald held his temper in check. Now is not the time to argue. The boat was drifting and taking on more water.”

And what happens is they get into the night and a big wave comes in and sinks the boat.

All because Donald, who is a very safe boater, was so excited on vacation, he didn’t ask the guide a few questions like, “Are there life jackets in the boat? Do you have extra gas? When will we be coming back? Do people know when will be coming back?

And that’s a little tip for all of us about leaving an itinerary with someone trusted if we’re going to do a difficult hike.

So in case we don’t come back, they know where we were and when we had planned to return.

So the mistakes Donald made, boy, I’ve – I’ve made them.

And I’ll just say one funny story.

I got hired to speak, I do these inspirational talks, and I got hired to speak to the Coast Guard in Puerto Rico.

And before the talk, I had a couple extra days, so I went to one of the beaches and said, “Oh, this snorkeling is great. I’m going to go way out by the rocks.”

Well, I didn’t ask anybody, how safe is it out there? What’s the current like? The next thing I know, the current had been — had to be so far out. I was like, “I can’t believe I’m here to talk to the Coast Guard about safety and I’m going to die.”

I’m being dragged out to sea. And it was a surfer who helped rescue me — I swam part of the way, I shouldn’t have fought the rip current, but I got so anxious I did. And a surfer helped me a little more.

But there’s a perfect example of on vacation, all alone, didn’t ask a single question, just went charging right in.