This paper explores the conditions under which people are likely to evacuate. It does so by contrasting a success case of evacuation before Cyclone Phailin in India with a failed case in the Philippines before Typhoon Haiyan. This paper examines this striking variation by examining the importance of two main factors suggested by previous research: experience and trust. The paper argues that prior experience of a natural disaster increases individual perception of risk and may lead to institutional learning, but only where the experienced disaster was traumatic. Trust between citizens and public officials is held to further increase the likelihood that people will evacuate in advance of natural disasters. Evidence of these causal mechanisms is found in the empirical analysis, which is based on 41 interviews and six focused group discussions in India and the Philippines between August and November 2014.