I love myself an adventurous, action packed vacation, but sometimes things can go array on many vacations especially action packed ones. Traveling can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Trains missed, flights delayed, baggage lost, etc…You get the jest. Many things tend to happen that can make your long-awaited vacation a bummer. Don’t panic! I’ve been through them and I’ve got some solutions for your problems that will hopefully ease some of your worst vacation nightmares and avoid a bad trip.
9 Problems & Solutions:
Problem #1. Flight delays/canceled flights
I find that in the summertime, more flights that I’ve been on tend to get delayed. Always plan as if you’ll be delayed and always check your flight status beforehand. Be prepared at all times, that means to pack your most important things in your carry-on. I always pack 1 extra change of clothing, my simple toiletries(tooth brush, toothpaste and contact solution), and my electronics with me. I check in everything else for the sack of staying sane. Most of the time for delayed flights or the same day canceled flights you won’t need much of anything else.
Get yourself a lounge pass and more importantly find out where and when they open before you leave for your vacation. That way once you realize you’ll have a longer layover than you had in mind, you’ll know exactly where to go for a nice shower and/or lunch. I have the Chase Reserve card which gives me access to certain lounges that will accept a Priority Pass. Not all airports will have one but most do. And an added plus is if I book with my Reserve card, they will ensure me up to $500/ticket for delayed flights longer than 6 hours or requires an overnight stay! And no I do not get paid to advertise for them. It’s honestly my favorite card for travel. Other benefits are elaborated in problem #3: the lost/delayed luggage.
If getting rebooked on the next flight isn’t until the next day or out of the question. You can also ask an agent to try to re-book you a different flight that may have a connection to your final destination or on one of their partner airline. It can also be helpful and a lot quicker if you are proactive about searching on google flights for different connections to your final destination as well. But the most important thing to remember is to be nice and don’t feel entitled to anything. There are probably many other people trying to get on the next flight out as well!
Problem #2. Missing flights
I have to say, this is probably one of the worst issues I’ve come across, especially because my pockets are not as deep as some to repurchase the same day flight. Most of my trips are booked with separate legs and sometimes one-way with different airlines which mean if I miss a flight(sometimes due to a prior delay), it’s always my fault. Most often, this is the cheapest option to book airfare but also the riskiest. I’ve missed my flight to Belize once because of a delay in Dallas to Houston by a mere 5 minutes. The best solution I’ve found to lessen this issue is to make sure you leave enough time in between each flight to account for any delays! If time allows, arrive the night before. Long delays make great opportunities to explore the city you’re in. If that is not an option, I’ve sometimes booked multiple tickets in advance with different departing time(while they are cheap) in case of a flight mishap and cancel them once I find out I won’t be needing them. This is only an option of your ticket is refundable like on Southwest flights.
Problem #3. Lost/delayed baggage
I’ve come across this twice, once to Iceland and the other on the way back from Thailand. I’m not quite sure if that is a lucky or unlucky thing as lost baggage only happens in a small percentage of flights. The solution? Get a bag tag, and I don’t mean those paper things you fill out at the counter. This can help you and others differentiate generic looking bags from each other as well as help airlines return or contact you if your bag is lost. The 2nd solution is to not check it in. Pack as light as possible, eliminate the clutter so you won’t have to check-in any bags. Sometimes this isn’t possible so get a credit card that will reimburse you for baggage delays and use it to book your flights. My travel credit card will insure me up to $100/day for 5 days for delayed bags longer than 6 hours and up to $3000 for lost bags granted your things are worth that amount.
Problem #4. Your things get stolen
My biggest advice is to prevent any situations that may target you or your belongings. Try not to look clueless or lost even if you really are. Stay confident and do not panic in unknown situations or places. It is very important to familiarize yourself with the area before you go! I rarely ever carry a map and never use in the open, I will download offline maps on my phone for all my destinations to avoid any unwanted attention of looking lost. Have an idea of where you are heading before you go. And always have copies of important documents such as your passports.
I have a Canon 6D that I carry with me everywhere. One thing I tend to do is duck tape it, cover any logos and make it look as rugged as possible. Leave in your bag if you don’t plan on using it. Other things I do is carry 2 wallets and transfer only enough money from one to the other to use in one day in the one I plan on using. If you are traveling with other, divide your belongings in case you lose it or get robbed. And never ever leave your bag behind you or anywhere you cannot see it. Most robberies are opportunists so don’t leave your things lying around unlocked or in the open. Put your valuables inside other things or around other things in case your bag gets cut. It will be harder for them to reach if your valuables are not in the outside pockets.
Problem #5. The hotel does not have your reservation.
I like to contact my hotels through email before I leave in case I arrive late/early or need helpful directions to get there. It is always a good idea to contact them beforehand with your reservation details. That way you’ll have an idea that they have you confirmed and if anything happens on the day you arrive, you’ll have written evidence you communicated with someone. Print out and bring necessary documents with you if internet connection is unavailable wherever you’re going.
Problem #6. Running out of things or having too much to do.
This is the easiest but also the most time-consuming part of any vacation. Plan your vacations beforehand to relieve any stress while on vacation. A lot of people go without any idea of what there is to do, when or where. The best way to make the most of your vacation is through planning. This assures that you won’t miss any fun activities once you arrive. Jot down a list of all the things you want to do, see, or eat. Prioritize your list and utilize excel sheet on google docs to organize everything. I find this is the easiest resource to plan on and use when I’m abroad. Here is an idea of how my planning goes.
You can also add notes to yourself for helpful directions or mindful things to keep in mind.
Find out where everything is in reference to distance and time from each other. Sort places and activities that are closest to each other by day and have an idea of how much time you want to spend in each place. This will help your planning tremendously and increase the amount of activities you can get done or places you may want to see all together. That way if something goes wrong, you can have a feasible plan B. Leave enough time in between each place and activity plus extra for stops for photo opportunities and getting lost. List additional activities or places to see in case you have more time. Make sure to list them according to where you’ll be that day. In addition to distance, find out what time each place opens/closes. The last thing you want is to drive hours out-of-the-way to find out it’s closed.
Problem #7. Your shoe and/or clothing is uncomfortable.
Depending on where you are going, be reasonable. Don’t bring a pair of stilettos as your primary shoes. Don’t bring new shoes! Know how your shoes fit and wear before bringing them. If you are in need of a cute pair of sandals for your upcoming trip. Buy them weeks beforehand and wear them around town. If you can’t survive around town, you will not survive abroad. This also goes for clothing. It’s hard to have fun when you’re wearing something uncomfortable. I like to bring a pair of walking shoes OR comfortable ballet flats and a pair of flip-flops which I use as hotel, shower, and in-flight shoes. The flip-flop doubles when my feet has had a beating the day before. If I have a nice event to attend, a pair of nice shoes is okay to bring.
Problem #8. Debit/credit card gets declined.
Probably the worst and most embarrassing thing to happen especially if you are trying to pay for a nice dinner. Remember to contact your card companies beforehand and carry multiple cards just in case one card gets blocked. I also try to have enough cash on hand for a day’s activities in case of cash-only establishments. One thing to remember is that outside the U.S. most foreign credit cards have pin numbers. When paying for gas, most stations are unmanned and only accept pin only cards. For a lot of us U.S. travelers, that means a debit card, so don’t totally leave those behind.
Problem #9. Missed trains and connections.
Most likely this problem will arises in Europe far more often than anywhere else. The day before your train departs, find out if there are other departing times after your departure. Most likely if there is, you may only have a short window in between to act and may need to buy a new ticket. Knowing beforehand will cut down a lot of the stress related to missed trains. To help prevent missing trains, plan to be there at least 30 minutes before departure. And in the case of a connection, make sure you know which platform you need to be at, which train you will need to board, how to get there and how long you have before the next train. Sometimes, the connections can be rather short 10-15 minutes and sometimes they may be at different stations! It’s always a good idea to check the departure monitors to check if your platform. Simply match your train number and the departure time to the ones on the board. Familiarize yourself with helpful terms in each country you’ll be riding the train in. On tickets in France for example, voie/quai=track/platform, voiture=car number, place assise=seat number, classe=comfort class.
Hope this helps! Get traveling!