How To Overcome The Top 5 Travel Problems
For people who travel a lot, it’s normal to encounter an issue or two while having fun. Although most of these problems are minor (cold soup at the hotel, having an annoying seatmate on the plane, etc.), others could put you — and your loved ones — in terrible danger. This could be serious if you’re travelling abroad.
But don’t let these issues stop you and your family from enjoying an otherwise good trip. If you can’t prepare for them ahead of time, remember these helpful tips the next time you’re stuck in a similar scenario.
Common Travel Problem #1: Lost/Stolen Items
Whether you’re travelling abroad or within the country, having a personal item lost or get stolen is like a horrible nightmare. One of the worst things to lose is your passport. The minute you realize an item of yours is gone, retrace your steps. It could just be back at your hotel room or at the restaurant where you last had dinner.
If you have searched high and low but to no avail, it’s time to call for back-up.
· For lost/stolen wallets, call a friend or relative and have them wire cash to you. Use reliable services like Western Union. You will be required to present proper identification. Your passport should suffice in this case.
· For lost/stolen passports, call the police and then your embassy. If a relative has access to a copy of your photo/number page, then it’s easier to have it replaced. Otherwise, you will be issued an emergency passport.
· ALWAYS have a copy (either a physical copy or a digital one in your email) of your important documents. Leave duplicates with a trusted friend or loved one, so they can help you immediately should you run into this kind of trouble.
· NEVER walk around with your actual passport or with a wallet full of credit cards! Take what you need, but leave the rest at home.
· To avoid lost/stolen luggage, place an RF tracker inside your bags. Remember to turn it ON before it’s checked in, and you will always know where your belongings are.
· Carry a change of clothes in your carry-on bags. Should your luggage go missing, you won’t need to go on an early shopping spree.
Common Travel Problem #2: Cancellations/Delays
You thought you still had 5 minutes before your flight leaves — but you’re in shock as you saw your plane leave the runway. OR you happily enter your hotel, only to find out that they did not receive your reservation. Now what?
· Keep calm and DO NOT cause a scene. Personnel are more likely to help you if you stay cool.
· Approach an official and quickly relay your story. If your excuse is valid, you may be bumped into the next open opportunity.
· If they insist that you pay for the missed/cancelled transport, offer a compromise instead. Say something like: ‘My budget doesn’t really cover that, and I’d hate to fly with someone else. Maybe you have something around ___? I’m willing to wait for a few hours if that helps’
· For reservations, mention that you’re a regular and that you’re okay with extending your stay as long as they have a room. Again, compromise.
· No matter how intense the situation gets, avoid sounding demanding. That will get you nowhere.
· ALWAYS account for traffic and other delays during travel. Leave extra early if you need to.
· Print out proof of reservations. They typically send this to your email after paying online.
· Call the hotel or resort a day early to check if they really prepared for your arrival.
· Keep cash on hand. You never know when you might need to call a cab or to stay at a cheap motel.
Common Travel Problem #3: Natural Disasters
It’s one of a traveler’s worst nightmares: one minute you are enjoying the sand and sea at the Caribbean; then next thing you know, there’s a storm. Natural disasters account for millions of damages and thousands of fatalities each year. As much as you don’t want to be caught in the next hurricane, there are times when this cannot be avoided.
· Follow local natural disaster protocol to keep yourself — and those traveling with you — safe.
· Save phone batteries to keep in touch with your friends and family. Invest in a power bank if you can!
· Contact your embassy or consulate. In the event of a natural calamity, they need to know where their people are so they could respond accordingly.
· Stay informed and protected with the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ STEP Program. Enroll and/or create an account, and always be within reach of your home country.
Common Travel Problem #4: Getting Jailed
What could be worse than being imprisoned? Being imprisoned in a foreign country. As the popular saying goes ‘Ignorance Of The Law Excuses No One’. Even if you’re behind bars, you are still entitled to ONE more right — even abroad. So make that one phone call count — get in touch with your embassy or consulate immediately. They will give you legal advice on how to best handle your situation.
· Be familiar with the laws and regulations of your destination. You don’t need to memorize law books; just know common do’s and don’ts so you won’t run into trouble.
· If you would be carrying medication, remember to bring along your doctor’s prescription in case you are questioned.
· Avoid taking random pictures UNLESS you are absolutely certain that it is okay to do so. When in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask the locals.
Common Travel Problem #5: Travel Injuries
It’s never fun to be hurt or be in pain when you’re supposed to be having the time of your life. There are a hundred and one injuries that could happen during one of your travels. Whether it’s a swimming incident or whiplash, NEVER ignore it! Seek medical help immediately.
· Ask your hotel for reliable local hospitals or clinics.
· If it’s something serious, contact your embassy right away.
· If you’re in doubt of medication or syringes (due to hygiene reasons), feel free to refuse or ask to be transferred to another medical facility.
· For minor injuries, visit a local pharmacy and buy the right medical necessities like bandages, Povidone, or alcohol.
· Contact your friends and/or family so they know what happened to you.
· ALWAYS bring your own medication and/or first aid kit supplies.
· Call your insurance provider before your trip to ensure that you are covered for emergencies.
· Practice caution in every activity. Wear a seatbelt when driving, don’t drink and swim, etc.
· Check out iamat.org for a list of approved health facilities around the world.
Who doesn’t like traveling? Whether it’s an interstate road trip OR a backpacking adventure abroad, we all wish to go out of our comfort zones. Sometimes though, we forget to prepare ahead and we end up regretting our decisions. Still, as long as we learn from the experience, the world will always call to us.
So pack your bags and grab your passport. Don’t forget a little courage, too. So when a problem hits, you’ll know what to do.