Thursday, October 31, 2013

Travel Nightmares! How to avoid them & how to deal with them

In honor of Halloween we’ll be talking about travel nightmares!

I am a self proclaimed worry wart and highly risk adverse. I do what I reasonably can to avoid incidents when traveling. I purchase travel insurance, makes copies of everything, arrive early, and bring extra medication for whatever might ail me.

Travel Nightmare: I missed my flight!

Before you’ve actually missed your flight but you know you will no matter how fast you hustle, call the airline asap! They may be able to put you on standby for the next flight right away. If you are at the airport and missed your flight, I know your first instinct is to panic, but it’s crucial that you remain calm and patient. Regardless of whose fault it was, it won’t help anyone if you cause a scene. Gate agents deal with demanding, irate passengers all day. Screaming at the person who holds all the power won’t do you any good. And believe it or not, the airline will try their best to get you on the next flight. If it was your fault you will probably get charged a fee, so be prepared to fork over some dough.

If you have missed the flight heading to your destination you may be tempted to find a cheap one way flight online, especially if the change fee is very expensive. Before you do that, make dang sure that your return home flight doesn’t get cancelled if you miss the first leg of your trip. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself having to book yet another flight to get home. If it’s your returning flight that you’ve missed and you find a flight home that’s less expensive then the change fee, go for it!

Although this is a bit of a long shot, some airlines have a policy that entitles you to a free change fee if you show up at the airport within two hours of your flight but still miss your flight because you were in an accident, got a flat tire, or simply got stuck in traffic. This policy is not widely publicized but it’s rumored to be true at US Airways, Southwest, and American Airlines. Just don’t forget to keep that smile up as it’s up to the gate agents’ discretion.

Travel Nightmare: I lost passport and wallet!

This may seem like the end of the world but it happens more than you think. If you’ve lost your wallet, first notify the police. If it’s been stolen, they can keep an eye out for it. Second, call your bank and cancel all your credit cards. Hopefully you stashed some cash and an extra credit card back at your hotel, but if you did not, here’s how you can get money right away. Your credit card company may be able to provide you with a cash advance (for a fee of course) and wire you money. You can also ask friends or family back home to wire you money as well.

Replacing a lost passport is a bit trickier. First, let the police know so they can watch for it and then get to the nearest U.S. Embassy. Once there you will need to ask for the American Citizens Services unit and fill out new passport application. They will need proof of your identity, but if you don’t have an ID (if you were unlucky enough to have also lost your wallet), you will need to prove your identity in other ways. The consular officer will ask you various questions to accomplish this. Do not, I repeat, do not make jokes. They won’t think it’s funny if you tell them you’re a Russian spy. And of course, there will be a lot of waiting in line and fees too, but in most cases this can be accomplished in one day.

Hopefully, before you left, you made copies of your important documents and left them in your hotel, with loved ones back home, or scanned them into your computer. Having these documents will make the process much easier.

Travel Nightmare: I’m hurt!

This didn't actually happen aboard but it gets the visual point across

This is one of my worst nightmares and thankfully I have never been in need of medical attention abroad, which probably means I’ll need to take my own advice on my next trip!
First of all, consider travel insurance. I always buy it and not because I care that much about losing luggage but I care about my life. I always purchase travel insurance that covers medical expenses and, occasionally, emergency evacuation as well.

If you were in an accident where the police were involved make sure to get a copy of the police report, as well as the doctors medical report on official letterhead. And take home any scans, x-rays or test results.

If are sick and in need of a doctor you can call the U.S. embassy 24 hours a day for assistance. Even your hotel may be able to direct you to a hospital with English speaking doctors. You can also try calling your regular insurance provider for help in locating a doctor.
Even if you did not purchase travel insurance before your trip, make sure to keep all your receipts and documentation in case your regular insurance provider can reimburse some of your expenses. Even some credit cards offer travel insurance that may cover some medical expenses.

These are just a few of the things that can go really wrong on your vacation. And usually something, big or small, won’t go your way. You just have to try your best to be prepared. It will offer you peace of mind and, if something bad does happen, it will make your life much easier! Use common sense, be safe, friendly, and have good time!

And if you liked this post and found it helpful, or just want to share your thoughts, please leave a comment!


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