What do you imagine when you read the word “travel”: Visiting famous monuments? Exploring new places? Capturing every moment with your camera? White beaches and turquoise water? Enjoying the days away from your busy schedule?
Usually, the word “travel” reminds us only of happy thoughts and memories. But travelling is not always pleasant and amazing as most people think it is. If you don’t plan your trip with caution you might end up in some of the worst travel disasters that could happen to a person.
There is no guarantee you will manage to avoid these accidents no matter how well you prepare for them. But it’s worth trying.
These are the 5 worst travel disasters along with tips for avoiding them when you plan a trip.
Note: the disasters are in descending order and number 1 is the worst that could happen to you during a trip.
#5 Lose Your Luggage or Passport
Lost luggage is one of the most common travel disasters. For some people it’s not even a disaster but a part of their busy everyday life. During 2013 nearly 22 million bags were lost, delayed or damaged. And when you think about these numbers it seems that we are all bound to lose our bags at least once in our lifetime.
So here is how to prepare for it:
- When you plan your trip and itinerary, you can print a copy of it and place it in your suitcase. So the airline company will manage to easily track you in case your luggage is delayed or lost.
- Always put a name tag on all of your bags with address and contact phone number.
- Place all of your valuable items in the carry-on luggage (money, documents, tickets, laptops, cameras, medicines, etc.) I would also recommend packing a change of clothes and a pair of underwear in your carry-on because sometimes it takes more than a day for the company to find and deliver the lost items.
- Try to be on time for the check-ins of your flights since the most common reason for lost luggage are late check-ins.If your bags get lost despite your efforts, you should immediately inform the airline. Give them your number and an address where they can send the luggage once found. And don’t worry, it usually doesn’t take more than a day to be reunited with your bags. The only bad thing is that your suitcase might visit a more interesting place than you do ☺
Losing your passport is quite worse than losing your luggage. That’s why you should always place your documents in your carry-on luggage. Before the trip make a digital copy of the passport’s front page and e-mail it to yourself. This will ensure you will always have access to all important information such as passport number, issue date and so on.
If you lose your passport, don’t panic. There is always a way out of such stressful situations. UK citizens can report a lost or stolen passport here: https://www.gov.uk/report-a-lost-or-stolen-passport/ and issue an emergency travel document if needed. More details about the latter here: https://www.gov.uk/emergency-travel-document
#4 Rent a Hotel Room with Bed Bugs in It
Bed bugs are tiny insects which feed exclusively on blood. You may think of them as small vampires who like to hide in beds, mattresses and night stands. They crawl out during the night and enjoy the hot meal lying on the bed … sounds gross, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, it’s true and every year the number of bed bug infestations increases. Hotel and hostels rooms often become the perfect accommodation for these bugs and from there you can even bring them back to your home. And believe me, bed bugs can be pretty hard to get rid of and in most cases you have to call professional exterminators.
Here is what you can do to avoid this travel disaster:
- Use the bed bug registry to find the cities with most bed bugs. Check the bed bug activity for the place you are about to visit. If there is no information in the registry, try searching for a travel forum where people share their experience for your hotel/hostel.
- Before the trip, spray your suitcases with a bug repellent.
- Pack your clothes in plastic bags. Don’t take them out at the hotel before you make sure there are no signs of bed bugs.
- Once you enter the hotel or hostel room, put your bags in the bathroom since it’s the area least likely to be infested by bed bugs.
- Inspect the bed, mattress, sheets, pillows and night stands. Look for tiny brown spots (faecal stains or old blood stains) which indicate the presence of bed bugs. The insects themselves are brown, flat and around 4-5mm big. If you wonder what bed bugs look like, here is a picture to give you an idea:
6. Usually the signs of bed bugs are easy to see, but if the infestation has just begun, they might not be so obvious. When you wake up in the morning check your body for bed bug bites. They look like a red swollen rash.
If you have been bitten by bed bugs, then immediately change the hotel, not just the room. There is no guarantee the other rooms won’t be infested as well.
#3 Accidentally Hook up with a Ladyboy in Thailand
Thailand has become a very popular destination in recent years. The country is famous for its beautiful beaches and cheap prices, but that’s not all. Perhaps, you’ve heard the term “kathoey” or “ladyboy” which refers either to transgender woman or an effeminate gay male in Thailand.
Ladyboys are more visible and accepted in Thailand than any other country in the world. They usually work in female occupations including cabaret dancers and sex workers. Some kathoeys have undergone so many feminising procedures that it’s impossible to tell the person is male. If you don’t believe me, have a look at the photos from the latest beauty pageant for ladyboys in Thailand.
So, how to avoid accidentally hooking up with a kathoey in Thailand:
- Look for an Adam’s apple. As you know — girls don’t have one!
- Compare the height. Thai girls are generally short so if your new friend is quite taller than the others, the chances of her being a ladyboy are also quite high.
- Take a look at her hands and feet. The above rule also applies here.
- Listen to her voice. Most ladyboys talk slowly and softly in order to cover up their deeper voices.
- Take a look at her friends too. Kathoeys usually go out in groups, so if any of her friends looks like a ladyboy, then she might as well be one.
Hopefully, you will read these tips while planning your trip to Thailand, not afterwards ☺
#2 Witness a Natural Disaster
Unless you are a fan of disaster tourism and like to visit damaged or completely destroyed areas, then you probably won’t have the ambition to witness a natural disaster. Unfortunately, there is not a lot you can do to avoid such a calamity. Most natural disasters strike suddenly and there is no way people can prevent them from happening.
However, you can at least gather some useful information about the place you want to visit and plan your trip accordingly:
- Check the weather forecast and search for weather reports which can give you some insights on the local climate.
- Avoid areas with potential threat of hurricanes or storms.
- See if the place of your interest is located nearby an earthquake, flood or volcano zone.
- Search for local old news which cover previous natural disasters to see how the local authorities dealt with the problem.
- Cross your fingers and pray that nothing bad will happen during your trip ☺
When it comes to natural catastrophes, our hands are tied down. Unless you are one of the people featured in National Geographic’s show “Doomsday Preppers” who are ready to deal with any type of natural and unnatural disasters.
#1 Be Kidnapped
If you have seen the movie “Taken” with Liam Neeson, then you’ll now precisely what I have in mind. In the movie two girls go to Paris, meet a cute stranger at the airport, share a taxi with him and then he sends his crew to kidnap the girls and make them prostitutes. Luckily, the father of one of the girls is a retired CIA agents, so he travels to Europe, kicks some ass and manages to save his daughter.
But what do you do if your father is not an ex secret agent?
- I may sound like your mom when I say this but don’t trust strangers so easily.
- Research the area you want to visit. Find information about the crime rates and previous cases of kidnapping (hopefully, there will be none).
- If you travel alone, make sure there is always someone who knows your whereabouts.
- Always have your mobile phone with you and set the speed dial buttons.
- Don’t consume too much alcohol on your own because it may affect your judgement and alertness.
- It’s always an advantage to know the basics of a martial art for self defence.
Not that I want to scare you too much, but nobody is safe. So when you plan your trip have these tips in mind.
I hope that after reading this article, you will still have passion for travelling. It’s always good to be prepared for any type of situations and know how to deal with travel disasters.
So enjoy your trip and travel safe!